An interview with one of our fantastic volunteer mentors – Nileema Patel

An interview with one of our fantastic volunteer mentors – Nileema Patel

Mentoring Volunteer interviews What's new?

Please tell us a bit about yourself
Many years ago, I used to teach primary school students as a volunteer and that was a very rewarding experience. Unfortunately, due to increasing time commitments elsewhere I couldn’t continue along with that. Recently, when things had settled back down, I realised I wanted to do something to help young people again and came across GT Scholars not long after I started looking for opportunities to do so. It’s been really nice to help out through mentoring, which has been completely different, yet just as rewarding, experience when compared to teaching. Outside of volunteering, I work in healthcare and enjoy baking and reading in my spare time.

How did you first hear about GT Scholars?
I came across GT Scholars through an online search engine. I was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to give more to my community, particularly in a way that would help young people. I went on your website and got a good feeling about the mission, which very much aligns with my values. Reading about Temi and her background was really inspiring and it gave me confidence in GT Scholars as a committed and genuine social enterprise. I got in touch through the online application form and it all went from there really.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
So this term we focused on public speaking a lot; how to feel more confident and assured. We worked on different techniques to apply before a speaking assignment to see what helped and felt most natural. You know, just simple things like practising a lot, practising with different people, trying out tips from the famous Ted Talk on confidence by Amy Cuddy.

A recurring theme during our sessions has also been about career choices, university choices and progressing to sixth-form. These are longer-term goals that are useful to start thinking about early on and I look forward to helping Erica achieve them as we move into the next term.

What qualities does Erica have that makes her a good mentee?
Erica is a wonderful mentee. She’s punctual, listens well and is forthcoming about topics of interest or any issues that she’s worried about. She’s organised as well and very good at managing her time and extracurricular activities. I think all of those skills really make her a good mentee as well as a good student, and I think this will translate very well professionally, too, in whatever area she decides to go into eventually.

Why do you think mentoring is valuable to young people?
I think the most valuable aspect of mentoring is the confidence that a young person might gain from it. Being a young person, particularly in a big city like London, it can be difficult to have self-confidence. You don’t have a lot of experience and everything seems new and sometimes unapproachable, particularly in areas such as applying to university. So I think the support that comes from mentoring can be extremely valuable in terms of validating a young person’s ideas and goals. Practically, mentoring is a great way to highlight opportunities to get involved in.

What challenges did you face while mentoring your scholar?
For me, the first session was probably the most challenging because I did not have a lot of mentoring experience. However, I found that GT Scholars had sheets to prepare mentors which I read beforehand and which were very helpful in giving me an idea of how to build rapport and understand what the priorities of mentoring are.

I also tried to think back to times I have been mentored in the past, informally and formally. I thought about what made my mentors so good and then tried to embody that in my role as a mentor.

What did you enjoy most about volunteering and mentoring?
I really enjoyed getting to know the mentee, as well as her mother. You know Erica, she’s already a very bright, ambitious person, on the lookout for opportunities to support her goals and a little bit of guidance. I enjoy being a sounding board for her, hearing about her goals and being able to guide her as she achieves them. I particularly like that, over the sessions, I am able to see her progress, and get to hear feedback from her and her mother about how our sessions are impacting her social and academic development.

What have you gained from being a volunteer mentor with GT Scholars?
It’s been really nice to be able to pass along some of the things I have learnt along the way to an enthusiastic young person who might be able to benefit from that advice. Building relationships with the team at GT Scholars, my mentee and her mother, has been personally very rewarding and the whole process has a been wonderful way to give back.

 

How The Combination Of Private Tutoring and Mentoring Can Help Your Child

How The Combination Of Private Tutoring and Mentoring Can Help Your Child

What's new?

Young people can have a lot on their plate when it comes to setting up their future. They need to ensure that they meet their academic goals while also preparing for their future and career path.

That’s why both private tutoring and mentoring is important for your child. This combination of private tutoring and mentoring is a multi-strategy approach that can help them to be successful in their present and in their future. Private tutoring can help them with reaching their academic goals and improving their attainment, while mentoring can help them with their personal development and reaching their career aspirations.

Let’s go into more detail about the specific benefits of each activity and then the holistic benefit of the combined approach.

Private tutoring
Private tutoring refers to one-to-one tutoring with a tutor who is an expert in a specific subject field. These tutors are usually undergraduates or graduates in their field of expertise and they can help your child to understand difficult topics in the subject field. They can also offer valuable advice when it comes to tackling school work, assignments, tests and exams in the specific subject and in other subjects. This can help your child to improve their grades and overall attainment.

Private tutoring sessions are set up in a more regulated format to ensure that all the necessary topics are sufficiently covered and that your child is confident with each new topic they learn at school. Each session is planned in advance by the tutor in collaboration with the student and the parent, with specific goals set in place for each session and for the tutoring relationship overall.

At the end of each session and at the end of the tutoring relationship, the tutor should assess the student to ensure that they understand each topic that was covered and to monitor the student’s progress.

Together with being an expert in their subject field, the private tutor needs to have the necessary skills to be a good tutor. These skills include interpersonal skills such as being a good listener so that they can determine what topics the student struggles. Another important skill is being able to teach – the tutor needs to effectively communicate their subject knowledge to their student so that they can understand it well and they need to make sure that they monitor the student’s progress so that they know that the student is comfortable with one topic before moving onto the next. 

A good tutor should also be creative and flexible in their teaching methods. Private tutoring needs to go beyond the usual lessons received at school by tailoring the sessions for the individual student. Each student learns differently, so it is important that the tutor takes this into account. Creativity also allows the tutor to offer creative solutions to the student so that the can understand how to solve complex problems and also tackle their test and exam questions independently.

Mentoring
Mentoring refers to one-to-one discussion with a mentor who is usually a professional or expert in their career field. The mentoring sessions aim to guide your child with a variety of issues. This can be issues they face at school, at home or beyond and the mentor will offer them advice and solutions to tackle these issues.

The advice will also help them to develop personal development skills such as interpersonal and time management skills and to develop solid strategies to reach their career goals. This can include advice on finding the best career path, colleges, universities, and alternative options.

In contrast to tutoring sessions, mentoring sessions are not as structured. Most mentoring sessions are open discussions facilitated by the mentor where the student is made to feel comfortable to voice their concerns and issues. There is still a sense of structure to ensure that the mentoring relationship has a goal to progress towards, but the most valuable part of mentoring is that the student feels heard and attended to. 

Progress is less tangible compared to tutoring as there are no grades and scores that can be improved. However, the mentor can still assess the student’s progress to ensure that they remember the strategies and tools that were covered during the sessions.

A good mentor needs to have valuable experience and knowledge that they can use to provide trustworthy and reliable advice. This can be experience related to their career but it can also extend to life experience and any challenges that the mentor was able to overcome to reach their own goals. They need to be open to share their skills, knowledge and even past mistakes if need be to show their student how they can approach their problems.

A good mentor also needs to be emotionally intelligent so that they can set up a mentoring relationship that suits the personality and needs of their student. They need to be good listeners so that they are able to determine what the student needs. Sometimes this will mean waiting and just listening to the student, instead of trying to offer advice.

They also need to have a positive attitude and have a positive outlook on life. They need to be encouraging and ensure that the student feels emboldened and motivated to reach their personal development and career goals. The mentor will usually be a sort of role model to the student, so it’s also important that they understand and be responsible with the influence they have on their student and that they lead by example.

Benefits of the combined approach
The specific benefits of private tutoring and mentoring listed above can interact with one another to create even more benefits when they are done during the same time period. The benefits and skills of each are not limited to one or the other, but they actually can go hand in hand.

For example, personal development skills such as time management and leadership that is covered during mentoring can be used to help your child reach their academic goals at school. Similarly, the structure of tutoring can teach your child valuable personal development skills such as independent learning and coming up with creative solutions to a range of different problems. 

GT Scholars offers various programmes that combine the private tutoring and one-on-one mentoring to help your child reach their academic and career aspirations. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses for young people aged 11-18.

What Education Should Look Like In The 21st Century

What Education Should Look Like In The 21st Century

What's new?

Education is a constantly changing system that needs to adjust to the way current generations think while also embracing new information and new technologies. Gone are the days of text-heavy textbooks and outdated subjects, education is already moving forward to embrace and develop new methods to help young people learn effectively.

With this being said, there are still many ways that the education system can still improve and innovate. Here is what education should look like in the 21st century.

Embracing Edtech
Technology has taken over every aspect of our daily lives, which has made young people more reliant on technology. This means that if education embraced technology, it would make young people more susceptible to learning.

There are many innovative ways that education and technology have combined to produce powerful edtech tools and learning methods. Edtech is able to stimulate and improve learning in the following ways:

  • Visualisation
    It’s easier to understand abstract concepts or topics when it’s visualised. Tech tools like apps, interactive diagrams, and 3D visuals make it easier for young people to grasp and memorise new topics. Colours and patterns also stimulate the brain and help young people to think creatively and critically.
  • Interactivity
    Using interactive tools allows young people to take charge of their learning and be more energised and motivated to learn. Using mobile games and apps makes learning fun, but still challenging. Other interactive tools can give students individual challenges, guide and support the learner when needed and allow learning by doing which promotes active learning.
  • Analytics
    Grading exams, papers, and presentations can take a lot of time and there’s always a risk of subjectivity due to human nature. Using technology allows automation to make grading and evaluation simple and fair. Analytical tools also help the learner to follow and reflect on their own learning progress through self-evaluation and peer-evaluation.
  • Portability
    Technology makes learning on the go far easier. The vast worldwide web offers thousands of online tools, resources and information that can be accessed on various mobile devices. This makes it easier for young people to complete homework and assignments, learn new skills, and keep track of their learning. Virtual classrooms and labs also offer remote learning possibilities and for young people to attend classes and complete tasks from the comfort of their own home.
  • Collaboration
    Online, cloud-based and social apps and tools offer various ways for young people to take part in creative and collaborative activities that can help them with assignments and projects. Online collaboration is also useful for teachers and parents to communicate with one another to effectively monitor a student’s learning and academic progress.
  • Accessibility
    Online apps and tools make learning easier for young people with learning difficulties or special needs. For example, young people with visual impairments can access information through audiobooks and podcasts or young people with special educational needs can be taught through the use of interactive and visual tools. 

Focusing on Careers
Choosing a career path is a very important step for pupils and school leavers. This will greatly impact the choices they make and their future, making this decision a very important one. Education needs to include a greater focus on helping young people choose the career path that is right for them and their goals. Many young people today end up changing career paths down the line, which can set them back on their course to achieve their goals. 

In a survey conducted by the London Business School, it was determined that 47% of the 1,000 individuals surveyed wanted to change their careers, with younger people aged 18-24 and 24-34 most likely to want a career change. According to this survey, one of the main reasons for them wanting a career change was job satisfaction. 

One of the best ways to counteract this is to help young people to ensure they find a career that they are passionate about through career guidance in schools, career counselling and strength testing. This can also be combined with building soft skills that will help them in the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork, presentation skills, interpersonal skills and digital skills. In addition, programmes that help young people to get into the university or career field of their choice should also be included in school so that everyone has access to these valuable resources.

Personal Development and Mindfulness
There has been a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing of young people in recent times. This is due to the greater awareness of mental health issues that can affect young people and due to improved scientific research in human behaviour and psychology. 

The effects of mental health issues can greatly hinder a young person’s progress in school and also in their personal development. Education should include a greater focus on holistic wellbeing to help young people counteract mental health issues and deal with negativity. This can include peer counselling, behaviour management and strategies to deal with cyberbullying. Moreover, young people can be taught how to deal with stress, social anxiety and other issues that may affect them in some way. There should also be a more significant integration of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in schools to ensure that these services and easily accessible to all young people.

To conclude, there needs to be a sustainable plan set in place across all stages of education, from early childhood to schools, to universities. This plan should include supporting young people with the challenges they face in their current stage while also preparing them for future stages. In addition, education should not be something that is only taken care of by schools – other stakeholders, including parents, organisations and companies, should also be more responsible for the education of young people to ensure that they feel supported every step of the way. 

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

Understanding the Challenges Faced by Young People Living In Care

Understanding the Challenges Faced by Young People Living In Care

What's new?

In 2015, just 6% of young care leavers attended university and in 2014 over 37% of care leavers between the ages of 17 and 19 were not in education, employment or training (NEET). In addition, according to Crisis UK, one third of care leavers become homeless within the first two years of leaving care and 25% of homeless people are care-experienced.

Young people living in care, also known as looked after children, are young people not living with their biological parents due to a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for a child or young person being taken into care include abuse, neglect, family breakdown or a parent or child’s illness or disability.

In 2018, there were 75,420 children in care in England according to the Department for Education. The care system is well established, however young people living in care still face various challenges that hampers their success.

This means that young people living in care are still far behind compared to their peers when it comes to academic attainment and career prospects. In fact, according to the Department for Education, care leavers are unlikely to apply to university and their educational attainment at the end of school is still very low compared to other groups with just 14% achieving 5 A*-C GCSEs (including maths and English).

Young people face multiple challenges as outlined below which leads to these negative outcomes.

Instability
Due to the high number of young people living in care in England, there is significant strain on the care system. The majority of looked after children are placed in short or long term foster homes, and there are a limited number of carers in England and each carer will have a limited number of places. This means that young people living in care often have to go through many changes thoughout the year, with 10% of fostered children having had three or more placements in 2018 according to the Department for Education. This instability means that young people living in care can often become withdrawn and develop a sense that nobody really cares about them. They often feel that they have no control over their lives, which leads to low aspirations and attachment issues.

Adoption can provide a more stable living situation, but the number of looked after children with a placement order for adoption has fallen by 44% since 2014. Additionally, according to the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies, in September 2018, there were 2730 children waiting for adoption in England and 41% of these children had been waiting eighteen months or more.

Mental Health
Young people living in care face very tough situations that has far-reaching consequences on their mental health and wellbeing. For some children and young people, being taken away from the home where they have been unsafe will be a relief. However, for many others, being separated from their parents and/or siblings will be extremely distressing. Many looked after children will be placed in a home that is far from where they live or far from where their siblings live. In some cases, they may not know where their sibling is placed. 

This distress negatively affects their mental health. They may struggle with triggers (post-traumatic stress disorder) and not be okay with certain sounds, smells, places or experiences. They may also suffer from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, and struggle with psychological issues such as attachment disorder as they find it difficult to build close, secure, trusting relationships with people around them.

Problems at School
Understandably, young people living in care often struggle at school. According to research from the Department for Education (Care leavers’ Transition to Adulthood 2015) and research from Howard League for Penal Reform (Criminal Care 2016), young people who have lived in care between the ages of 10 and 17 are five times more likely to be excluded from school. They are also more likely to struggle with learning, with over 68% of looked after children being diagnosed with one or more Special Education Needs or Disabilities (SEND).

Together with learning difficulties, they also often struggle with social difficulties at school. Many of them do not want friends at school to know that they are living in care, and this can add to the burden of having to pretend that they are living with a parent or a family member even though they are living with a carer. Many looked after children will also have developed a sense of having to protect themselves and take care of themselves and may struggle with trusting adults such teachers and support staff at school.

GT Scholars seeks to help young people living in care to work around the challenges they face through the Raising Aspirations Programme. This programme will use a multi-strategy approach combining one-to-one mentoring, enrichment days, and skill-building workshops.

The one-to-one mentoring will help them work on their career aspirations and personal development. In a report called Forging futures through mentoring 2018 by The Children’s Commissioner, it was stated that looked after children themselves appear to value mentoring because of the soft skills such as self-belief and confidence that are imparted through mentoring programmes. The report also stated that mentoring has a positive impact on looked after children’s relationships with others.

Many young people living in care struggle with a lack of awareness of opportunities along with low confidence and lack of self-belief and this impacts their academic attainment at school and their likelihood of pursuing certain careers and professional routes after school. However, many universities have teams dedicated to increasing the number of care leavers that apply to and study at their university. In addition to this, many companies are providing work experience specifically to care leavers, especially since the introduction of The Care Leaver Covenant 2018.

The Raising Aspirations Programme will aim to bridge the gap between young people living in care and the universities and companies that want to reach them. The enrichment days and skill-building workshops take place at top-tier universites and companies across London to help these young people to build academic and career aspirations and develop the strategies and skills to achieve them.

If you want to find out more about the Raising Aspirations Programme and how you can get more involved, then contact us today. GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. Our after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programme is designed to help young people aged 11-18 achieve their academic and career aspirations.

How Can Education Address The Social Mobility Dilemma?

How Can Education Address The Social Mobility Dilemma?

What's new?

According to the Social Mobility Commission’s State of The Nation Report 2018/19, social mobility in the UK has remained stagnant over the past four years, despite government interventions. This means that young people from low-income homes are less likely to access high-income careers and break the cycle of poverty.

Those from better-off backgrounds are almost 80% more likely to be in a professional job than their working-class peers. Due to this gap in access to professional jobs, people from working-class backgrounds earn 24% less a year. In addition, the report found that even when those from working-class backgrounds are successful in entering professional occupations, they earn on average 17% less than their more privileged colleagues.

These facts can be quite disheartening to young people and people who are working towards improving social mobility. However, it is important that we understand these issues so that we can develop strategies that are effective and sustainable. It may be a complicated issue, but we can start working on it if we make at least two significant changes – improving education and increasing the number of high-income jobs.

Education is key
It comes as no surprise that education has a profound effect on social mobility. The widening gap in attainment between young people from low-income backgrounds and their wealthier peers has far-reaching consequences. 

In fact, a 2019 report from the Education Policy Institute has found that the gap in GCSE attainment between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils has stopped closing, which strongly correlates with current social mobility figures. This means that by the time they leave secondary school, disadvantaged pupils are now over 18.1 months behind non-disadvantaged pupils.

This huge gap means that young people from low-income backgrounds are not able to access university or other higher education routes, which means that they are shut out from accessing professional and high-income careers, which makes it increasingly difficult to break out of the cycle of poverty.

So how can we close this gap? Well, firstly we can help young people from low-income homes to access tutoring and mentoring programmes. Good tutors and mentors provide an invaluable resource to help young people to understand difficult topics, improve attainment, increase personal development skills, and develop strategies to reach career aspirations and goals. At the moment, young people from low-income homes simply cannot afford a good tutor or mentor. After school tutoring and mentoring programmes in state schools should be funded by the government so that these young people are provided with the same support as their peers from private schools.

State school funding should be increased to improve the opportunities and resources that they can provide to their pupils. This includes more funding for extracurricular activities and more funding for support staff. The University of Bath found that young people who participate in extracurricular activities are able to gain confidence and build up their social skills which is much sought after by employers. They are also more likely to aspire to go on to higher or further education. Unfortunately, the Social Mobility Commission reported huge disparities in children’s participation rates across a wide range of extra-curricular activities depending on their social background, with young people from wealthier families being much more likely to take part in every type of activity especially music and sport. This can be changed if state schools are able to provide access to a wide range of high-quality extracurricular activities.

With more funding, state schools will also be able to employ more support staff. This can help to reduce teacher workload which will increase the contact time between teachers and their pupils. An increase in contact time will give young people more time to understand difficult topics and increase the amount of individual attention given to them. Schools will also be able to employ full-time staff to support their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing needs. The Social Mobility Commission reported that young people from more disadvantaged areas are more likely to suffer from lower levels of wellbeing, which has far-reaching effects on their academic and personal development.

After secondary school, young people from low-income homes also need more support in accessing higher education routes such as colleges and universities. The Government has worked on increasing apprenticeships and will also introduce T-levels and other further education routes. However, according to the report from the Education Policy Institute, this has led to an over-representation of disadvantaged students in further education, which actually damages the government’s ambition of rectifying imbalances between further and higher education. Access to colleges and universities needs to be improved for young people from low-income homes so that they are able to attain the qualifications to allow them to access high-income and professional careers. 

This can be done through the introduction of a student premium to help college and university students from low-income homes, according to an article by London Metropolitan University. University access should also be further improved by increasing access to universities with higher prestige so that young people from low-income homes are able to compete fairly with their wealthier peers when looking for a job.

Increasing the number of high-income jobs
It’s all well and good to improve education and narrow the gap in attainment, but what will happen after school and university when even more young people need to compete for a job in a high-income career field. 

The good news is that over the last few decades, there has been a growth in the proportion of professional jobs and a corresponding decline in the proportion of working-class jobs, with the Social Mobility Commission reporting that nearly half of all current jobs are professional, while less than a third are working class. However, despite this growth, those from high-income backgrounds continue to get most of these top jobs, squeezing out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

This means that there is still a fierce amount of competition for a high-income career, and if more young people are able to access university and higher education, then the competition will become even fiercer. So, it is imperative that the number of high-income and professional jobs is increased to meet the greater demand so that young people from low-income homes are able to access high-paying careers. It’s also important to increase the number of high-income jobs to allow their wealthier peers to still be able to access high-paying careers. If they are shut out of high-income jobs, it will cause downward mobility which further worsens the issue of social mobility in future generations.

The Government needs to invest in creating more professional jobs by increasing investment in growing industries such as digital and technology, increasing investment in small businesses and entrepreneurship, and attracting more investment by continually developing and strengthening the workforce.

By improving education and increasing the number of high-income jobs, more young people from low-income homes will be able to access high-paying careers, which will stimulate social mobility and break the cycle of poverty for future generations.  The issue may be complex, but it can be solved if the Government, the private sector, and non-profit organisations are able to work together and do their part.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

With So Many Alternative Options, Is University Still Worth It?

With So Many Alternative Options, Is University Still Worth It?

What's new?

With there being so many available options for young people after school, many parents and young people are wondering if going to university is still worth it. 

Well, like many other things, university has its pros and cons that also depend on your goals and career aspirations. Here are a few reasons why university may be worth it to you and some information on alternative options for young people after school. 

Benefits of going to university
There are many considerable benefits of going to university that you should think about. After all, there is a reason that going to university remains the most popular choice for young people after school. 

  • Going from school to a full-time career can be a little daunting for young people. University offers a learning environment that can support young people while also giving them a chance to be more independent and take control of their learning. You will learn professional skills and knowledge that is important for your career, but you will also learn many important life skills such as managing your time effectively and formulating your own opinions.
  • A university degree will open up many career opportunities for you after you graduate. Many career fields, especially those that are highly-skilled, will require a university degree, while other career fields will allow you to move easily from an entry-level position to a higher level if you have a degree qualification. 
  • A university degree increases your chances of getting a better salary once you start working. Entry-level employees with degrees often earn more than those with none.
  • If you go to a well-established university, it increases your chances of securing opportunities such as working abroad. Many universities also offer exchange programmes that will allow you to study abroad for a semester or two.
  • University life offers you the chance to experience many new things, meet people from all around the world, and take part in extracurricular activities that will develop existing and new interests from sports to music to politics.

Alternatives to university
Not everyone can go to university, unfortunately, or at least not straight from school. This could be due to financial limitations, not getting the required grades, or universities simply not having enough space to accommodate every young person after school.

Thankfully, there are many alternatives to going to university and even alternative pathways to getting into a university or getting a degree. Some of these alternatives are within the higher education system while others offer completely different opportunities. 

  • Apprenticeships
    Apprenticeship programmes are a fantastic and credible alternative to going to university.  These programmes can be joined after you complete your GCSEs or after you complete your A-Levels. The best part about apprenticeships is the fact that you will be able to build your career experience and even earn an income while you are learning. This on-the-job experience can be vital for your career path, especially in practical career fields. In fact, if you complete a degree apprenticeship which means you will attain a degree, your work experience can actually set you apart from university graduates. The only difference is the fact that getting a degree through an apprenticeship will take you a little longer compared to university. However, it is certainly much more cost-effective.
  • Online Learning
    The internet is a powerful and effective learning tool where you can build new skills and learn important topics through a range of online courses and programmes. These courses can also be used to attain a degree from credible online and distance learning institutions which will cost you a lot less compared to studying at a full-time university. These online courses can also be done in your own time and from the comfort of your own home, which gives you the opportunity to work while you study part-time. There are also many free online courses offered by reputable organisations and learning institutions that can help you build useful practical skills from digital marketing to photography. 
  • Entrepreneurship
    If you have a business idea, product or service that you can’t wait to share with the world, then why not think about starting a business? Entrepreneurship is a bold alternative to university, but it can be just as rewarding if not even more rewarding for you. In the age of technology and opportunity, starting a business has also become a lot easier – you literally can start a business from the comfort of your own home. Being an entrepreneur can also be a part-time option when you first begin, giving you the opportunity to build useful skills or get a job before you become a full-time business owner. Entrepreneurship does take a lot of hard work, determination and resilience, but if you can set your mind to it, it is definitely both possible and profitable.

So, is university still worth it? Well, simply put, the answer lies with you! It depends on your career goals, aspirations and future plans. What’s actually more important to note is that university is not the only option for you after school, and there are a wealth of alternative options for you to choose from.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

An Interview with a Parent: ”The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths. ”

An Interview with a Parent: ”The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths. ”

Parent Spotlight What's new?

We had the pleasure of interviewing a parent of one of the scholars on the Bright Ambitions Programme this term. It was great to hear about her experience with the programme and to find out if being on the programme made any positive impact on her daughter’s life.

How did you find out about GT Scholars?
We first got introduced to the programme when Laura’s religious (RE) teacher passed on information about a GT Scholars Workshop called the Career Insight: Pre Launch Event. Laura was very interested in going and shared the information with me. Just days before, my friend and I had a conversation about career choices and about the fact that most young people do not have enough in-depth information on different careers these days. After she attended the workshop she was fascinated by the different career choices available to her. This workshop was a real eye-opener for my daughter and after the workshop, she decided she was not completely set on pursuing a career as an architect and wanted to look more into a career in business. Since then, she’s been thinking about a career where she can combine her love for art and her interest in business.

Have you seen any positive change in your daughter since she joined the Bright Ambitions programme?
I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement in her maths. It’s great because I cannot help her that much with maths since it’s not one of my strong areas. It was important for her to fill in the gaps on areas that she’s been struggling with. Maths is an important subject for my daughter because she’ll definitely need it for the career paths she’s interested in. Since having her regular online tutoring and mentoring sessions she’s become more confident. She recently completed her exams and we are very pleased with the results. My daughter has moved up an entire set in Maths and she is also one of the top two students of her class!

Do you feel that it was worth enrolling Laura to the Bright Ambitions programme?
I would say yes, it was definitely worth it. The online maths tutoring sessions have definitely helped her excel in maths and the mentoring sessions have helped build her confidence and made her more open-minded.

As a parent, how did you find interacting with the tutors and mentors?
I am very pleased with Derek, he is a very nice guy and he’s absolutely wonderful as a tutor. Our mentor, Rachel is also a wonderful lady and my daughter gets on well with her. She really guided her on finding her own career path and keeping her options open.

What do you like about the fact that tutoring is done online?
What I like most about online tutoring is the convenience of it. It eliminates the stress of having to travel to a location for every tutoring session and my daughter can enjoy her tutoring sessions in the comfort of our home. The fact that there is a dedicated tutor that works with her to reach her goals is also great.

Would you recommend GT Scholars to other parents out there looking for a tutoring and mentoring programme?
Yes, I would because I think it works out and is worth it in the end. The results are great!

In the Know – Get an inside look with work experience!

In the Know – Get an inside look with work experience!

In The Know What's new?

Work experience allows young people to discover their strengths and explore all of their options, while also increasing the chance of them finding their dream job after school or university. It also provides a perfect opportunity for them to get a first-hand look into their chosen career field. Here are a few work experience opportunities at top companies that your child can look into.

Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that is primarily engaged in the research, design, development, and manufacturing of advanced technology for various fields, from aeronautics to space. They offer a two-week work experience programme that aims to support young people aged 14-18 with making their future career decisions. Applications are currently open for their work experience programme, and you can find out more here

Arcadis
Arcadis is a leading design, consultancy, and engineering firm that operates across a wide range of sectors including infrastructure, water, environment and buildings. Their Inspiring Futures work experience programme is designed for students aged 14-19 who are passionate about the environment, engineering and buildings. The week-long programme consists of a number of interactive sessions including team-building, challenges, and an office-based experience. Applications are currently open and you can find out more here.

Bentley
Bentley is a top-tier automotive company that aims to create extraordinary cars for extraordinary customers. They offer a work experience programme that aims to give young people aged 14-19 a taste of what it’s like to work at Bentley. This week-long programme is offered in their Engineering, Manufacturing and Commercial departments and will involve getting first-hand experience in your chosen area and gaining an insight into the day-to-day running of their business. Applications are currently open and you can find out more here

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

How To Build Resilience And Keep Yourself Motivated!

How To Build Resilience And Keep Yourself Motivated!

What's new?

Being resilient and staying motivated is an important part of personal development. It gives you the confidence to face any challenge head-on and it will help you to never give up, even when the challenges get tough.

The first thing to understand when building resilience and keeping yourself motivated is that being motivated and staying motivated are part of the same team but they are not the same players. There are a multitude of things that can inspire you to be motivated but staying motivated is where it can get tricky for most of us. 

However, this is not something one should worry about too much as there are definitely easy and effective ways to learn how to stay motivated. Here are a few tips and tricks that you can use to consistently keep yourself motivated and build resilience in your day-to-day life. 

Form good habits
We all have regular habits we do, like exercising or playing a sport, watching a certain TV show or walking the dog. These are small things that are routine and become habits, which is perfectly okay as it always good to have some form of routine, but it is also good to be more intentional about your daily habits. This simply means finding impactful and effective things to incorporate into the daily habits that help you to grow mentally. For example, you can listen to a short informational and motivational podcast while you get ready for school, you can take up regular meditation or mindfulness, or you can read one book a week. This will help you to keep yourself motivated as it engages you in small habits that make you a better person each and every day.

Set achievable goals
We all have goals that we set out for ourselves which is important, but it’s just as important to be specific and practical when setting out these goals. You also need to know how to achieve your goals – especially your larger long-term goals. One of the best ways to make your larger goals more achievable it to break it down into smaller, short-term goals that are easier to achieve. These small, short-term goals also contribute to building your resilience and keeping you motivated. The reason behind this is that you can see more immediate results from setting small goals, whereas long-term goals will take a lot more time to achieve. If you are not seeing the results that you want sooner, it opens up the door to you becoming demotivated and losing resilience. 

Examples of short-term goals include setting a set number of books to read or videos to watch about something you want to pursue in the future, or saving a small amount of money every week from your pocket money to grow a substantial savings account that you can access in the future.

Find a mentor
Another highly beneficial way to help build your resilience and self-motivation is to get a one-to-one mentor. Mentors help you to find ways to better yourself and they can help you to mould your character in ways you may not be able to do by yourself. Mentors also provide a useful platform to talk about and get advice on your future plans for your career and academics as well as other personal development goals you may want to explore. Mentors can also provide you with good references and recommend other people or organisations who can help you with your future aspirations. If you aren’t sure where to find a good mentor, you can always talk to your parents to help you find a mentor and GT Scholars also offers impactful mentoring programmes to help you reach your goals.

Keep a journal
It’s important to keep track of your goals, aspirations, dreams, and plans. This helps you to see the progress that you make which can motivate you to keep going. Having a journal is one way to keep track of all the things you are doing or planning. You can update it daily or do a weekly account of how far you got with achieving the plans you set out for the week. In your journal, you can also have your long-term goals set out so that you can always refer back to them to remind yourself of where you are wanting to go with your future. You can even create a timeline for your goals so that you can make sure that you are on the right path that you have set out for yourself.

Join after-school activities
Participating in after-school programmes or extracurricular activities help you to engage with other young people and build on your social skills. This can help you to develop self-motivation and resilience. These extracurricular activities also help to grow other personal skills and also expose you to different aspects of life beyond the confines of school and your existing everyday activities. There are so many different extracurricular activities to choose from, from debate teams to sports to volunteering – the options are plentiful and you are sure to find something to pique your interest. You must always remember that learning is not limited to the classroom but comes in many other forms that can really shape you as an individual and help you to realise the options available to you. 

Building resilience and staying motivated is an important part of your growth. When you think of your growth, you should think of it like a city that has many avenues, buildings, stores and a world of other engaging things to discover and learn about. So let your growth be something that you can fully engage in and explore. This will let you enjoy the journey of building resilience and self-motivation you need to achieve the best for yourself. 

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

7 Useful Skills You Can Develop Through Volunteer Mentoring

7 Useful Skills You Can Develop Through Volunteer Mentoring

Volunteers What's new?

Volunteer mentoring is a rewarding role that offers the opportunity to really make a tangible and effective difference in the lives of young people. Volunteer mentors receive a real sense of purpose and many other emotional paybacks from their work.

Together with these rewards, volunteer mentors also learn valuable new skills and experiences that they can apply to their career or personal life. Here a 7 useful skills that you can gain from volunteer mentoring.

Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is defined as the capacity and ability to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions effectively. Emotional intelligence affects all areas of your life, especially with regards to handling interpersonal relationships and displaying empathy. As a mentor, you have to listen to your mentee and empathise with their situation. You have to put yourself in their shoes so that you can understand what they are going through and relate it to yourself. You will then have to communicate your understanding in an effective way so that they feel like their feelings are being acknowledged and appreciated. These interactions will build up your emotional intelligence and help you to handle all interpersonal relationships well. In a work environment, this skill will be especially useful when working in a team or with your colleagues in general. It will help you to lead team discussions, resolve and avoid conflicts, and ensure that everyone is cooperating and working together effectively.  

Leadership and Management Skills
As a mentor, you are put in a position of authority and you are looked upon as a role model and a source of guidance. Though this may seem daunting, being a role model teaches you important leadership and management lessons such as responsibility, effective communication, time management, and accountability. It is your responsibility as a mentor to ensure that mentoring sessions take place on schedule, that discussions are productive, and that desired outcomes are reached. It is also your responsibility to motivate your mentee and ensure that they feel supported. These skills will help you manage your work tasks well which will show employers that you are responsible enough to take on leadership roles. 

Adaptability
As a mentor, you will usually work with a different mentee every term or year. This will expose you to a wide range of various young people with different personalities, talents, and aspirations. They will also be from different backgrounds and face different challenges in their everyday life. Through this, you will learn how to adapt your mentoring sessions to the young person specifically. This will build your adaptability skills which will make you more versatile and make it easier for you to work under change or pressure, which is something valued by employers. This exposure to different people will also build interpersonal skills and that will help you to relate to different types of people. This is valuable in the workplace as you will be interacting with many different people from various departments and companies, and also from various cultures and nationalities. 

Self-Reflection and Self-Evaluation
Volunteer mentoring and listening to a young person’s thoughts and feelings will put you in a position to reflect on your own life. You will use your own life and the decisions you made to mentor the young person, setting examples of good and bad responses, reactions, and decisions. Reflecting on yourself allows you to become more self-aware and better at making future decisions. It allows you to pause and evaluate yourself to make sure that you are doing the right thing, and it makes you more aware of the consequences of your actions so that you will now know how to prevent negative outcomes. For example, if you know that a certain habit or behaviour has negative effects on your colleagues or friends, then you will learn to work on changing this habit or behaviour. Self-evaluation is an important part of personal development and it will have positive effects on various aspects of your life.

Resilience
Resilience is about keeping a positive attitude in the face of adversity, and it is often related to self-confidence and self-belief. It is one of the main skills you will teach a young person as a volunteer mentor. It is an important skill that will help them to face current and future challenges, keep a clear mind when dealing with adversity, and to never give up. As a volunteer mentor, you will set a good example by building up your own resilience and believing in yourself. This will greatly increase your confidence which will improve the way you work and interact with people. 

Developing a Personal Brand
As a volunteer mentor, you will be delivering a consistent message to young people that you have developed from your own life, your past decisions, and your experiences. This consistent message will become a personal brand that will be easily identifiable to your mentee. A personal brand will show others that you are someone who has specific skills and talents. It will make you stand out to employers and colleagues and it will make you more confident in yourself and more charismatic. Developing a personal brand is also helpful to entrepreneurs as it will help develop your business identity and to network with other businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Problem Solving
During mentoring sessions, your mentee will usually approach you with a problem or situation that they are facing or not sure how to deal with. They will come to you for encouragement but more importantly for advice and effective solutions. This builds up your problem-solving skills. It will teach you how to look at a problem with objectivity, to find a solution for the problem, and to find a way to prevent the problem from happening again. This skill is something that you will definitely need for any workplace in any career. Even if your work is straightforward and easy, you will eventually face challenges in some way or form that you will need to solve. If you have good problem-solving skills, you will be able to show employers that you can solve a range of challenges, and you will also show them that you can solve challenges without their help. This independence will show them that you are capable and efficient.  

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the skills that you can gain from volunteering as a mentor. You will find even more useful skills and tools that you can apply to both your career and personal life. 

If you would like to help a young person between the ages of 14 and 18 to achieve their career or personal aspirations, then contact us to find out how you can join our after-school mentoring programme. Our mentoring programme welcomes volunteer mentors from various career fields and backgrounds. Visit our website to find out more.