5 Things You Need To Consider Before Signing Up For Private Tutoring

5 Things You Need To Consider Before Signing Up For Private Tutoring

What's new?

A study commissioned by the Global Industry Analysts Incorporation (GIA) detailed how the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass $102.8 billion in a few years time. According to the GIA, the private tutoring market has experienced exponential growth in recent years, which has been driven by the failure of standard education systems to cater to the unique needs of students. This is in conjunction with the desire by parents to provide the best possible education for their children in an increasingly competitive global economy. 

Globally, Asia is at the forefront of the private tutoring boom with at least 90% of the market share. Private tutors in these countries have become top earners with some South Korean private tutors supposedly earning £3.3million per annum, which is nearly as much as an average NBA player. 

In the UK, the private tuition sector is now worth an estimated £2billion with many parents and carers paying for children as young as four to receive additional tuition in a variety of subjects. Parents and carers are realising that a bit of extra help could be instrumental in helping their child to reach their academic and career aspirations. 

With this boom in private tutoring, we are also seeing this industry change and develop. In the past, tutoring was geared towards helping children who were falling behind in particular subjects, but now the industry has evolved and expanded to help any pupil through difficult courses and to also give them an edge over their peers in terms of applications to selective schools and colleges. With this being said, the growth of the private tutoring industry calls to the forefront some important issues to consider, which you should also take into account before signing up your child to a private tutoring programme.

Private tutoring has embraced technology
Private tutoring is not limited to in-person long and drawn out lessons anymore. Technology has now made it possible for new and innovative private tutoring methods to develop such as online one-to-one tutoring. This makes it easier for pupils to access a skilled tutor while also being in the comfort of their own home or tailored learning environment. Online tools such as video chat platforms and instant messaging services work hand-in-hand with edtech tools such as online whiteboards and animations to create a fully-fledged virtual learning experience. Online tutoring makes private tutoring more accessible, easier to set up and easier to maintain for both the parent and the tutor. 

Private tutoring can narrow the gap in attainment
Pupils from wealthier homes are able to attend exclusive private schools that offer them a wealth of resources and opportunities to better their learning. Unfortunately, most pupils from state schools are not able to access these resources due to the limited budget given to state schools. This has created a large gap in attainment between young people from low-income homes and their wealthier peers, which has far-reaching consequences on their aspirations and career paths. Private tutoring is able to narrow this gap in attainment as it is can give young people from state schools the chance to access more learning resources and opportunities to improve and maintain their grades. Many private tutoring programmes have been quite expensive, which has limited their use to young people from wealthier homes, however, the increase in the private tutoring industry has made it more competitive. This competition means that there are now more affordable quality private tutoring programmes that can make private tutoring accessible to all.

Private tutoring is largely unregulated
One downside to the private tutoring industry is that it still largely unregulated compared to the education system. The exponential growth of this market can attract tutors who are just in it for the money, which is not something you want in a tutor. However, this can be avoided if parents make sure to carefully check the credentials and experience of the private tutor. This can also be made easier through private tutoring organisations that only enlist the best tutors and conduct rigorous background, reference and safeguarding checks as well as interviews and skill assessments. These organisations also make their track record publicly available, so it is important that parents look into the impact they make and any reviews and testimonials from past parents and pupils.

Private tutoring offers a tailored learning experience
It is important to note that private tutoring does not just offer the same learning experience that pupils receive at their school. Each pupil learns differently, whether they prefer learning that is visually stimulating or learning that is more interactive. Private tutoring is able to offer a learning experience that is individually tailored to these specific needs. Pupils need to make sure that they take full advantage of this by making their needs and learning objectives clear to their private tutor. Parents can also assist with this by sitting down with private tutors in the beginning and laying down specific goals their child wants to achieve and by keeping track of their child’s progress throughout the tutoring programme to ensure that these goals are being met.

Private tutoring goes hand-in-hand with other programmes
It’s important to note that private tutoring can only help your child with specific academic goals. They may also learn other important soft skills such as time management and independent learning, but there’s many other skills and knowledge they will need to meet their career aspirations. This is why it is important to enrol your child in other after-school and extracurricular programmes to ensure that your child has a balanced learning experience. This can in the form of mentoring or coaching, skill-building, or various other programmes. These programmes work hand-in-hand with private tutoring, providing your child with a multi-strategy approach to reaching their aspirations and personal development goals.

GT Scholars offers a private tutoring programme that aims to help your child reach their academic aspirations. This programme is affordable, efficient and effective, offering your child a way to accelerate their learning. We also offer mentoring, enrichment and skill-building programmes that work hand-in-hand with private tutoring to give your child all the necessary skills, strategies and knowledge that they will need to achieve their academic, personal development and career goals. All of our tutors, mentors and workshop facilitators undergo rigorous assessments and background checks to ensure that we provide the best learning experience for your child. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

10 Of The Best Online Learning Resources

10 Of The Best Online Learning Resources

What's new?

As parents, we all feel the need to ensure that our children are growing and developing and that we’re doing all that we can to facilitate a stimulating environment for their young minds. But carving out time in our own daily grind for homework, maths revision and science projects can be tough, not to mention also finding time to keep them entertained!

That’s where online learning and education resources can lend a helping hand. Online learning resources give young people a fresh perspective on the topics they learn at school and they also offer a new way of learning. High-quality, online learning environments can also help young people develop key problem-solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking skills using a platform that is fun, engaging and motivating. 

But with so many online learning resources and websites out there, where does one begin? Well, we’ve rounded up 10 great sites which promise to keep the young people entertained AND learning for hours on end. These sites ensure that your young ones learn something new in a safe, online environment that also makes learning fun and interactive.

FunBrain
One visit to FunBrain and you’ll want to bookmark it right away! This site’s educational games are designed to build on skills that young people are already working on in school. It’s aimed at young people aged three to 13 years old, and it offers interactive games in numeracy, literacy and science which make developing maths and reading skills fun. With interactive games like Math Baseball and Grammar Gorilla, this site is free to use and also has online educational books and comics which can be read on the go. Visit this great website here: https://www.funbrain.com/  

Science Bob
Let your child geek out on this informative site. It’s the go-to spot for all things science, with experiments to try, research tips and a weekly Q&A section. On Science Bob, young people can watch science-related videos, print out directions to more than 25 experiments, and find links to other useful websites about space, earth science, and more. The site’s experiments and research are perfect for piquing the interest of young science fans. Science Bob is also a great website for parents and kids to look at together, and the kid-safe science videos offer interesting edutainment for after-school entertainment. Take a look at this fun website here: https://sciencebob.com/ 

Kids Know It
The Kids Know It Network provides free and fun educational content for young people, including educational movies, games, and fun activities, in addition to tons of information on a wide variety of subjects. Learn about animals, chemistry, spelling, geography, astronomy, and read fun facts about everything from bats to bones! Kids can also find homework help in a number of subjects including astronomy, biology, geography, geology, history, maths, and spelling. Each subject area includes games and activities to keep students involved. When it’s time for just fun, students can also head over to the game section to play games which are not found in other sections of the site. Visit Kids Know It here: https://kidsknowit.com/

CoolMath
Launched by a maths teacher, this online amusement park of maths offers online games that help young people with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, money and much more. They can check out algebraic property definitions, learn multiplication tricks, or test out the online graphing calculator. The site is geared toward ages 13 and up, but they also have a sister site called CoolMath4Kids which is appropriate for ages three to 12. It’s truly a one-stop maths experience and also has a helpful section for parents and teachers. Visit this website here: http://www.coolmath.com/ 

BBC Bitesize
The BBC’s Bitesize website covers all subject areas of the curriculum, ranging from primary school level up to GCSE exams. It’s free to use and includes a host of resources such as useful animations, revision flashcards and interactive sections to help your child learn and revise their school work. Bitesize also has lots of fun educational games that promote learning in maths, science and literacy. Young people love learning through these interactive games and can easily navigate their way through the site independently. Check out their website here: https://www.bbc.com/education  

NASA Kids’ Club
Calling all space buffs! Blast off into learning with this galactic page where young aspiring astronauts can do puzzles and games and learn all about the famous space program. There is information for children of all ages, with footage from Mars and the International Space Station, interviews with astronauts and news on the latest launches. There are also games and craft activities for younger children. Young people can also check in on current space missions, play games in a clubhouse, join an asteroid naming contest, and view exclusive NASA photographs. Visit their website here: https://www.nasa.gov/kidsclub/text/index.html 

Make Me A Genius
Make Me A Genius is filled with entertaining videos that cover a variety of subject topics that can help your child learn more about their favourite subjects. Topics include physics for kids, photosynthesis, the nervous system, solar system and electricity. All of the videos are child-friendly and will keep your child interested from start to finish. Take a look at their website here: http://www.makemegenius.com/ 

National Geographic Kids
The world-famous environmental network, National Geographic, hosts over 100 fun, engaging, and interactive science, action, adventure, geography, quiz, and puzzle games for young people. They can spend hours engaged in learning in their five major sections which include animals, videos, activities, games, and stories. Other sections include word games, brainteasers, geography games, action games, interactive games, puzzles and quizzes, a video gallery, some very interesting science stories, and activities that can be done online and at home. Visit their website here: https://www.natgeokids.com/   

BrainPOP
This site offers heaps of educational games and videos on subjects like maths, science, art and history. Full access to the site requires a subscription, but there’s also plenty of free content to explore. The team at BrainPOP sifts through hundreds of online games by various publishers and selects only the ones of the highest quality – only the best games make it onto the site. Their animations also bring learning concepts to life and all with the help of a plucky learning bot and his friends! Visit the BrainPOP website here: https://www.brainpop.com/ 

Oxford Owl
This website is best for expert advice, educational resources and free eBooks to support children’s learning. With over 250 free ebooks from the reputable Oxford University Press, this site helps young people to learn reading and maths. They also have heaps of tips and advice for parents who want to expand their child’s learning. Visit this great website here: https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/ 

While online educational and learning resources can go far in creating a fun learning environment and hours of entertainment, sometimes students need a little more extra attention, care and guidance. Among the many options to consider, many busy parents often opt for tutoring, short courses and mentoring programmes. Investing in one of these learning avenues can give students the opportunity to nurture their talents, improve on their weaknesses and develop confidence in themselves and their abilities.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise that offers various programmes and workshops to provide young people between the ages of 11 to 18 with the necessary skills to set them on a successful career path, improve their grades and enrich their learning experiences. Contact us to find out more about our programmes, workshops and courses.

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.

5 Tips To Help You Prepare For Your First Tutoring Session

5 Tips To Help You Prepare For Your First Tutoring Session

What's new?

So you’ve signed up for one-to-one tutoring on one of our programmes? But what are the next steps to help you prepare for your first tutoring session and what do you need to think about before the first session?

The most important thing to remember is that the first tutoring session is the best chance for you to get to know your tutor and set up your tutoring process. This can be instrumental in making your time on our tutoring programme successful for you.  If you come prepared to this first session, it will be easier for your tutor to help you reach your goals and help you to improve your grades. 

Another thing to remember is that there is no assessment or test to study for. Our tutors are more interested in helping you improve your grades and overall attainment – there is no harsh judgement if you are not doing as well as you expected in your subject. 

With that being said, there are a few things that you can do to prepare for your first tutoring session.

Think about your goals
Firstly you should think about your academic goals. These can be short term or long term goals that you want to achieve at school and beyond. You should ask yourself questions such as: What GCSE results are you aiming for? What subjects are you interested in for A-levels? Are you planning on going to university? Do you have a career path in mind? At the same time, you don’t need to worry too much if you don’t have the answers to all these questions just yet – that is perfectly normal. Part of the benefit of tutoring is helping you to clarify some of these questions and discover your strengths and skills that you are best at.

Think about your current challenges
Challenges are different to goals in that they are more specific things that you seek to overcome through the one-to-one tutoring programme. This can be challenges you may have with specific topics or subjects areas or challenges with the way you study or complete your work at school. It’s important to be honest with yourself and your tutor so that they can help you properly. Remember, they are not there to judge you, they are there to help you overcome any challenges you face and to help you improve your grades and attainment. It will also be good if you can expand on any reasons you think are behind these challenges you face. For example, if you are struggling with studying, one of the reasons could be time management. This will enable your tutor to give you more specific advice and tips to help you overcome your challenges.

Think about what you want to gain from the programme
Beyond understanding your goals and challenges, you should also understand what you want to gain overall from being a part of the tutoring programme. Do you want to learn more about yourself and your strengths? Or perhaps you just want help with tackling upcoming exams and assessments? It’s important to list these things so that your tutor can keep track of this so that by the end of the programme, you would have gained what you wanted. This also goes hand-in-hand with your priorities so that your tutor can understand you better and help you to benefit as much as possible from the programme.

Think about the practical things
To help you reach your goals and overcome your challenges during the tutoring programme, we need to make sure that the process is as efficient as possible. This will ensure that all your needs are met by the end of the programme and that you are ready to tackle your goals and challenges. To ensure efficiency, you should make sure that you list the practical things that will make tutoring easier for you. Some examples of practical things include preferences for sessions on weekday evenings or on weekends, preferences for visual learning or textual learning and even preferences for Skype or Google Hangouts. Remember, one-to-one tutoring is tailored for your individual needs, so make sure that you make it clear what works best for you so that your tutor is able to help you as effectively as possible.

Think about any questions you may have
Tutoring is aimed at helping you to achieve your academic goals, but you can also ask your tutor for guidance when it comes to meeting other goals such as personal development and career goals. For example, if you want to follow a certain career path, you need to know which subjects will you need to do in school and at college, how well you need to do to get into university for that career, or what are the alternative options if that path does not work out. So it would be best if you have some questions noted that you want to ask, as this will help your tutor help you with good and sound advice and guidance.

If you use these tips to prepare for your first session and you are willing and open to learning and growing, we are confident that you will see the results that you are looking for by the end of the programme

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.

How Have GCSEs Changed Over The Past Few Years?

How Have GCSEs Changed Over The Past Few Years?

What's new?

In an effort to raise the standard of education in England, the government has revised the 30-year-old GCSE system. This new system is the result of a long process of reform that began in 2011 with the national curriculum review in England, involving extensive consultation with schools, further education, higher education, and employers on the principles of reform and subject content.

The new system has proven to be more demanding, but the idea behind this is to enable young people to be fully equipped with all of the necessary knowledge to compete in the increasingly competitive global job market. According to Michael Gove, former secretary of state for education, making GCSEs more demanding and more fulfilling will give young people the broad, deep and balanced education which will equip them to win in the global race.

These changes have been taking place since August 2017 and by 2020 all new GCSEs will be graded using the new system. The main changes to be aware of in this new system are the new exam and assessment procedures, the new grading system, the exam scopes, and the effects this has on job and university applications. 

What are the new exam and assessment procedures?
Under the new system, pupils will sit for their exams at the end of the two-year period. This is in contrast to how pupils used to take several exams spread out during the course of their GCSE education, which covered various sections of the curriculum.

This new examination system will, of course, affect the content that pupils need to study for their GCSE exams. For example, the new English Literature and History GCSEs require pupils to study the entire curriculum, whereas the previous exam only required pupils to cover a narrower range of content.

The content of each subject will also be more challenging, with more substantial texts in English literature and a number of new topics in maths. The exams will also look different and will have fewer ‘bite-sized’ questions and more essay-style questions.

Coursework assessments and other controlled assessments will also be used less in most subjects, except for practical subjects such as art, drama and dance. In addition, every pupil will also be required to do at least two science GCSEs with single science options having been dropped a while ago.

What does the new grading system look like?
The most noticeable change with the new GCSEs is the grading system. Previously GCSEs were graded with letters ranging from A* – G. However, the new grading system is arranged in a number system ranging 9 -1.

The new grading system will look as follows:

  • 9 is higher than the current A*
  • 8 is between and A* and A
  • 7 is are equal to an A
  • 6 is equivalent to a high B  
  • 5 is between a B and C (strong pass)
  • 4 is equal to a grade C (standard pass)
  • 3 is in between a D and E
  • 2 is between an E and F
  • 1 is a G
  • U refers to an ungraded paper

As you can see, the new grading system has more range than the old system which can narrow how young people are assessed. This also means that far fewer pupils will end up achieving the very top grade available, and many who would have been A* students under the old system could wrongly regard a 7 or 8 as a failure.

How will GCSE resits work?
For pupils that need to resit their GCSEs, they will be able to resit only maths and English in November, with no resits available for any other subjects. Grade 4 will remain the level that students must achieve without needing to resit English and Maths. 

How will this affect university and job applications?
The new system will change the way universities and employers will assess their candidates. This will also rely on further education routes such as A-levels and the new technical qualification called T-levels that will be implemented soon.

Overall the new system will be more challenging for young people, but not impossible as future cohorts will adjust to the new changes. The important thing to focus on is how these changes will set up young people in the global market so that they are able to compete with young people from countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore where the education system is extremely challenging. This will allow young people in the UK to access more rewarding career prospects around the world.

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.

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

Should We Focus on Schools or The Home to Improve Social Mobility?

What's new?

With a leadership election and a cabinet reshuffle looming, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP’s speech at a Reform event last week on social mobility will likely be his last. It continued to be shaped around his flagship “seven key truths about social mobility” that he pioneered while chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility. It focused on five areas of disadvantage: ethnicity, language, place, the home and childhood adversity. Most significantly, Hinds placed emphasis on the influence of the home (“the last taboo in public policy”) that he had noted a year previous as having the strongest influence on disadvantage. But what was new in this speech, what will be the legacy of Theresa May’s Government on social mobility and where does the future lie?

Home is where the disadvantage is
A heavy emphasis was placed by Hinds on early-stage development – if, what and how children are taught in the home via their parents. Hinds used an eye-opening statistic: Children who experience parental disengagement at home are the equivalent of nine grades lower across eight GCSE subjects than their peers. The promise on how this will be resolved was an ambiguous, but not “patronising and lecturing” programme to help support parents that will arrive in July. This follows on from Hinds’ promise last year, made during his first few months as Secretary of State for Education at the Resolution Foundation, that the development of apps to help parents create a home learning environment for children would be encouraged. The result of that reached its first stage in February 2019, where parents in 12 pilot areas across the country were given interactive learning tools and tips via text message to help support their children’s early language and literacy development. 

There was also a heavy emphasis on mental health, with Hinds celebrating the increased attention given to the issue across all cross-sections of society. Mental health is a much-needed area of focus that has also been given heavy significance by the review of the Government’s Children in Need policy paper, which focuses on the most vulnerable children. Measures announced to support children included a plan to ensure new teachers in England are trained in how to spot the early warning signs of mental illness, with better sharing of information between councils and schools and tackling of absence and exclusions. 

The elephants in the room
Yet the elephants in the room were apparent: positive and encouraging moves in early stage development and mental health are only being hindered in other ways. Hundreds of children’s centres which are key support systems for disadvantaged families and key environments for early investment in children are being closed across the UK as a result of cuts to council funding. Total school spending per pupil has also fallen by 8% between 2009-10 and 2017-18, and schools have only been too vocal about the limit this has placed on support staff such as school counsellors in what has been deemed a “mental health crisis” in schools.

Too cool for school
While Hinds is correct when he states that “schools cannot do everything”, they are just as character-forming and as developmental a space as the home. When schools remain underfunded, they won’t be able to even meet the margins of their responsibilities towards disadvantaged students, and most importantly the generations of disadvantaged students of today who are too late to garner the benefits of early development initiatives. Without adequate levels of funding for schools and local councils, the positives of the Government’s measures will only be cancelled out.

This is viewed only too clearly through the establishment of the Pupil Premium, brought in in 2011 as a grant to help schools in England decrease the attainment gap for the most disadvantaged children. Despite this, school funding has been cut back since 2010 and according to Education Datalab, in 2017, the attainment gap between the long-term disadvantaged (those on Free School Meals) and other groups grew. 

There is also the argument used by the All-Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility in its 2019 report, ‘Closing the Regional Attainment Gap’, that stated that evidence was growing behind the stance that the “single most important factor” in raising a disadvantaged pupil’s attainment is the “quality of the teacher providing the instruction”. Hinds’ “seven key truths about social mobility” also points to the fact that education can break the multigenerational cycle of disadvantage and that the most important factor in education is the quality of teaching.  

But schools in England continue to face teacher shortages, with teacher-pupil ratios rising from 15.5 pupils per teacher in 2010 to 17 in 2018. Teachers also face heavy workloads, and many Science & Maths teachers were found to not have the relevant degrees. While the Education Endowment Foundation recently published new guidance for schools on where to invest the Pupil Premium and identified investment in teachers as the first tier of investment, this is limited to primary and secondary education. The needs of higher education and specifically colleges, which a high proportion of disadvantaged students attend, are neglected. 

The two sides of progress
There have, of course, been steps made towards social mobility in the past year, most notably the commitment made by UK universities to invest in programmes aimed at widening access, which Hinds challenged them to last year. There has also been an increase in awareness and interest towards apprenticeships and further research commitments to understanding social mobility and its web of influencing factors. Hinds’ commitment to exploring this web of factors – the complex interplay between home and school – is a positive and encouraging approach to social mobility rather than just being purely focused on academic learning. However, focusing on one to the detriment of the other is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged students in underfunded schools today, and replacing positive initiatives solely with apps is an injustice to the millions of disadvantaged families both in the present and the future.  

Shortly before Hinds’ speech in April, the Social Mobility Commission’s annual ‘State of the Nation’ report rang loudly in the ears of all working towards social mobility with its statement that social mobility has remained stagnant for the past 4 years. As Theresa May exits No 10 with her legacy of £27bn for education in the next spending review in tatters, and the sound of leading man Boris Johnson’s pledge to ensure every secondary school in England receives at least £5,000 per pupil (despite the fact that schools are already supposed to receive a minimum of £4,800 per pupil), it remains to be seen whether progress on social mobility will be music to the Government’s ears in the future. 

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. Visit our website if you’d like to know more about the GT Scholars Programme and how you can make a significant difference in young people’s lives.

Nature vs Nurture: Are gifts and talents down to a child’s natural ability or can they be nurtured?

Nature vs Nurture: Are gifts and talents down to a child’s natural ability or can they be nurtured?

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Young people discover their gifts and passions as they grow. As they discover their abilities, should parents take an active role to nurture these abilities, or should it just be left to nature?

In this context, nature is defined as the innate disposition of someone or the inherent attributes of a person – simply put, it is what makes up the person. Nurture, on the other hand, means to actively care for or develop someone so that they certain skills or abilities.

Each child has natural abilities that may depend on biology, genetics or the environment they grow up in. Abilities that depend on biology and genetics are usually to do with physical attributes – for example, for a child to excel in basketball, it would be easier if they are tall. It is not impossible if they are short, but it is far easier.

Natural abilities are part of what a child is made of and may play a role in their personal identity. They usually manifest themselves in the early stages of a child’s life. However, these natural abilities are usually just seeds waiting to grow, and as with any other seed, they need to be nurtured and nourished to grow and develop into a plant.

Hence, as your child grows, you can play an active role in nurturing their natural abilities to grow into fully-fledged abilities and talents. You can make sure that they are exposed to the right environment and experiences, that they are receiving enough resources and support from someone that can help them such as a teacher or coach, and that they are guided in the right direction.

You can also help your child to explore and discover their natural abilities by being observant of what they excel in, providing opportunities for them to explore various things from creative to academic, and getting them help from a guidance counsellor or insight workshop if need be.

How you can nurture your child’s gifts and talents
Like anything in life, a gift cannot grow on its own, it requires deliberate and intentionally guided steps to develop it to its maximum potential. However, when nurturing a child’s gifts, it’s important to listen to their needs as well. Here a few helpful points when helping them to discover and develop their natural abilities.

  • Give them time to discover their natural abilities by themselves. Generally, children like to explore, and they do this better without a parent’s preconceived ideas of where they would like their children to go in life. Give them time to do what they are interested in without being directly involved but just being there to observe and guide them
  • Provide them with resources and opportunities that will help not only unlock their gift but further develop it. Resources could include a musical instrument of their interest or identifying opportunities where the child can showcase their gift in front of an audience, even if it is just family members or at school. This can also help to build up their confidence. You can also play an active role in helping them practise their talents, for example, if your child’s talents lie in playing chess, you can buy them a chess board to practice with and you can play with them to develop their skills. If you don’t have the skills, you could also get someone else to play with them which will develop a healthy competitive element in them
  • Be their biggest supporter. They may not always feel inspired to do what they love, especially if they fail to perform at their best, so it is up to you to encourage them. They need to be taught that sometimes it’s okay to fail, it doesn’t mean they are bad, it just means that they learn from their mistakes and improve on that. As a parent, it means the world to your child when they know you support them. Whether you know much about their gift or not, let your child know you are there for them
  • Enlist the help of someone with more knowledge regarding their gift to guide them. Professional help goes a long way especially if your child wants to make a living out of their gift. Finding a coach or teacher to provide specialised support/guidance is important as it helps to identify the child’s strengths and areas that still need improvement so they can perform at their optimum.

In conclusion, one would say that, for a child to fully realise their potential in any area of their interest, both natural abilities and the nurturing of these will play an integral part. It’s only when the gift has been identified that one can help further develop the talent by providing the right environment and ensuring the child gets the necessary support. This support can either be in terms of the supply of resources/tools or emotional support.

GT Scholars offers many opportunities for young people to discover and develop their gifts and talents. 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 Practical Tips For Online Tutoring

7 Practical Tips For Online Tutoring

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In a world dominated by technology, online tutoring has become a convenient and reliable solution for young people seeking a tutoring programme. 

Although mostly similar to the classic method of in-person tutoring, there are a few differences that both the tutor and the student need to adapt to. This will ensure that they are able to reach their academic goals and get the most out of the tutoring programme.

Here are a few tips that tutors can use to make online tutoring work best:

  1. Set up the perfect learning environment
    Since the tutoring will be done online, most of the ‘human feel’ can be lost. However, this can be overcome by creating a more natural and relaxed environment for your student to feel welcome and not feel like they are alone in a room. Doing simple things such as asking the student to get a cup of tea or a glass of water can make them feel more at ease.
    You should also ensure that you have chosen a quiet and private place to do your tutoring so that you are not disturbed or bothered by loud noises. This helps you to remain focused and make the student feel like they are your first priority. Any distractions can cause your student to be unfocused, so you can also ask your student to put away their mobile phone so they are not tempted to check their messages or play games. Remember, young people will follow your lead so you should remove all distractions from your side as well.
  1. Be well organised
    To make sure that your time is used efficiently, ensure that you have structured the lesson well by making a lesson plan that is well organised. You should focus on reaching specific goals, while also allowing sufficient time for interaction and for the lesson to digress a little as you want it to feel more relaxed and not too rigid. However, if you find that the lesson is digressing too much, gently steer the conversation back to the problem at hand. You should also ensure that you have additional material in case you have a fast learner or if tutoring went by swiftly.
    On the technical side, ensure that your laptop or computer is fully charged and that there is no lag or delay with your internet connection. No one wants to be tutored if they have to keep waiting for the screen to stop buffering. If there is a technical glitch, ensure you have already established a back plan so that you and your student are aware of what to do should you be disconnected.
  1. Be easygoing and open while still maintaining professionalism
    The best way for a student to feel relaxed and at ease is to be open and easygoing, while still maintaining a level of professionalism. Finding the right balance can be hard, but with time, you’ll find it easier. You can use ice-breakers to make things lighter. You can also mix in a bit about your personal life in the conversation, but you don’t need to reveal too much about it. For example, it is fine to share some of your hobbies but it is not appropriate for you to share your dating plans. You should also keep conversations age-appropriate and avoid letting your personal problems from affecting your lesson as young people can sense when you are not in the right space of mind.
  1. Encourage discussion and interaction
    Always ensure that you set aside sufficient time for discussion and feedback. You can even allow for a few minutes of downtime by doing something that can allow them to refocus. It can be difficult to monitor their engagement during online tutoring so ensure that you make use of props, charts, or objects to help keep the student engaged. You can also find something that will allow you to connect with your student, such as music or making reference to movies or to a hobby that they may be interested in.
    You should also set realistic expectations, as each child has unique learning capabilities and will learn at their own pace. Do not rush through each lesson but rather be patient and remain focused. It will also be useful to develop an understanding of the kind of student you are tutoring. Some can be very direct and will give you a lot of feedback, while others can be more reserved and prefer that you do most of the talking.
  1. Set objectives and specific targets
    When planning your lesson, you should also set objectives and targets that you can use to measure your progress. Try to be slightly ahead of your targets so that if you fall behind a little, you will be able to easily catch up on your lessons. You should also ensure that you do not rush through your curriculum and that you adjust your lesson plan depending on the speed at which your student is learning. This means that your lesson plan has to be tailored to suit each student to ensure that you cover all sections of the subject that you are tutoring. You do not want to be rushing the last section if you did not plan correctly.
  1.  Prepare tests and quizzes
    The best way to measure your student’s progress and ensure if they have understood your tutoring is to set tests, quizzes, and assignments. Setting tests can help train the student to utilise their time well for their real exams. It can also help to specifically see where your student is excelling or falling behind. Tests can be scheduled ones so that your student can prepare for your test but it is also beneficial to set a spot test or two to ensure that your student is able to understand the work rather than just memorise it. Assignments help to allow the child to work independently and figure the work out on their own.
    Don’t set too long assignments or tests as this can deter them from doing the work since they already have homework from school. If they do fail the test, do not get upset or angry. Rather be supportive and encouraging as students thrive better in a positive environment. Use words like, “Let’s see where WE went wrong” or “Let’s see how WE can find another way to arrive at the correct answer.” Always be optimistic.
  1. Know your student and make tutoring fun
    Part of making online tutoring a success is to make sure you fully understand your student and what their needs are and how much can they retain before they become disengaged or uninterested. It is also important to keep tutoring fun so that the student is excited to learn and does not feel anxious or stressed for the tutoring session. Everyone retains much more when they are having a good time, so make sure to keep sessions exciting.

With these tips, you should be able to make your online tutoring sessions productive, impactful and useful so that your student can reach their academic goals.

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.