An interview with one of our volunteer online tutors – Arash Khosravi

An interview with one of our volunteer online tutors – Arash Khosravi

Online volunteering Volunteer spotlight Volunteers What's new?

Tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today?
I went through school and after that, I did Economics at A-level and then studied Economics full time at UCL. During my time at UCL, I was the president of the UCL branch of the charity Team Up. After graduation, I was offered a job at the Bank of England where I worked as a Data Analyst.

What made you decide to become a volunteer tutor?
I really feel like I want to give back to society and give back to people that are in a less fortunate position than I am, through no fault of their own, and help them achieve their full potential. I did some informal tutoring a few years ago and I got really good feedback. That made me think and I then decided to take my strengths and use them to help people that really need the support. Since volunteering at UCL, I was trying to find other opportunities to volunteer that could fit in with my work schedule. I find that tutoring is a really good option and that I can make a real difference in a young person’s life.

What did you enjoy most about tutoring your scholar?
What I enjoyed most was really seeing the development of my scholar throughout the 12 week term. I think the highlight for me was in week 4 when I logged into Skype for our session and my scholar said: ‘’Sir, sir you know the thing we’ve done with the area of the square? I tried it in class and my teacher said I got the question right!” She was really chuffed about it and that was great to hear. I think engaging with the scholar and building a good relationship is what I’ve enjoyed most. I was very lucky to be matched with someone who is really engaged and ready to learn.

What challenges have you helped your scholar to face?
What I found at the beginning of this term in my scholar was the fact that she was doubting herself. I think the challenge was to reinforce the knowledge she already had and building her confidence. In the beginning, I would ask a question and she would attempt to solve 60% of the question but wouldn’t have the confidence to work through the remaining 40%. She would then say she did not know how to do it. I focussed on building her confidence and to say to herself, I do know how to do it and I won’t give up. It’s really great to see how much her maths has developed and improved.

What goals have you helped your scholar to achieve?
I think a good example of one of our goals would be the mock test my scholar had coming up. A week before the mock test we did two tutoring sessions so I could help her prepare for the test. After the test, she came back and said that a lot of the work we revised did come up in the test and she really felt confident answering them. We also set up goals for some of the topics she felt a bit weaker in and although she was struggling with it earlier on in the term she was able to tackle them after a few week’s sessions.

Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people?
Because I feel that students at school have a wide range of abilities and are at different levels. I don’t think that the modern skill system can factor that in with a class of 30 students, with different abilities and learning styles. Some young people need additional support and a lot of them don’t have the opportunity to get 1-to-1 support and can fall behind. I think tutoring can help fill that gap between school and home. Free tutoring is great to bridge the gap between young people who can afford private tutoring and those who cant.

Do you have a message for young people?
I would say they should keep working, keep trying and keep persevering with whatever they want to do in life. There’s no one path to get you where you want to go. Be who you are and don’t try to be anyone else. And with that mindset try things and really persevere. Like with the GT Scholar Programme, even if you don’t get the results initially, keep trying and pushing forward and towards where you want to go.

How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
My dad is a maths lecturer, I could not get away from maths as a young person (laughs). Until about GCSE I was rubbish at maths, I used to get 40%. I think it was because I wanted to get away from maths because my dad will always be talking about it. At that age, I did not realise the importance of it. Until my dad sat me down and got me to engage and focus and made me realise the importance of it. In terms of other subjects, I did not have formal tutors but had support from my peers and family that helped me a lot.

What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
I feel like I gained a lot of confidence. I was a bit nervous before my first session because I see it as a real responsibility and duty to help a young person on their journey with mathematics. I really wanted to do a good job and make an impact on my scholar’s life. Having my scholar come back by the fourth session saying how she benefited from our sessions had really boosted my confidence. I think there are a lot of children out there that don’t see their own potential and it’s really opened my eyes to that. I have also gained a great relationship with my scholar and we even joke around during sessions sometimes.

Would you recommend becoming a tutor with GT Scholars?
Definitely. I think the whole process is really good and I gained a lot from the experience. For a tutor to be able to come in and really feel the positive impact made with a scholar and really seeing the journey you’re both going through during the 12 weeks is just amazing. The programme is really great for those scholars who are at average or just below, to give them that extra boost they need. Volunteering as a tutor is a nice way to start volunteering, whether it’s your first time or if you’re an experienced volunteer. I definitely recommend it in terms of it being a great way to volunteer and help young people.

What Parents Need To Know About State Boarding Schools In England

What Parents Need To Know About State Boarding Schools In England

Independent school scholarships Parents Scholarships What's new?

With state-of-the-art facilities, highly-qualified teachers and a wide range of extracurricular activities, boarding schools in England are among the most prestigious and sought-after in the world. In addition, young people who attended boarding schools frequently go on to study at top-ranked universities.

However, boarding schools can be really expensive. Fees vary widely from school to school, but the average boarding fees per term for pupils at boarding schools across the prep, senior and sixth-form age groups in 2016 was £10,317. This makes it really difficult for young people from low-income homes to access a boarding school education. 

But there is good news! In England, there are at least 38 state-funded boarding schools that offer the full boarding school experience at a fraction of the cost. Normally, these schools will offer tuition for free, and parents will just need to pay for boarding, which can be as little as £4,000 a term. This means that young people from various socio-economic backgrounds are able to attend a boarding school if they wish. Here are a few reasons why parents need to know about state boarding schools in England.

Stability
A boarding school offers your child a stable environment that is conducive to learning. Many young people who travel to and from school struggle with focusing at school, understanding difficult topics, and getting homework and assignments done. A boarding school works around such challenges by providing ongoing, often individual, support and attention that can ensure that your child feels completely supported in their learning. This makes it easier for them to reach their academic and attainment goals.

Path to university
The learning environment and highly-qualified staff at boarding schools make it easier for young people to reach their attainment goals so that they can get into university. However, it extends beyond their attainment as boarding schools also offer specialised university support for their students that will help them with the application process and securing their place in the university of their choice. As a result, boarding schools often have high numbers of pupils who go on to attend top universities across the country. 

Personal development
Boarding schools directly and indirectly promote the personal development of your child. A recent survey from The Association of British Boarding Schools revealed that 70% of students believe boarding school has helped them develop self-discipline, maturity, and independence, as well as valuable critical-thinking skills. Being away from home gives them the space to develop their independence and responsibility, which makes it easier for them to adjust when they leave school. They can also develop other valuable soft skills such as time management, leadership and self-confidence, which will help them in their future.

Social development
Living in away from home with like-minded, highly motivated individuals with similar goals and ambitions, young people will be able to form strong connections with classmates from different backgrounds all over the world and establish friendships that last long after they leave school. This is important for developing their interpersonal skills which makes them into well-rounded and self-confident individuals. Interpersonal skills are valuable in the workplace and in social settings and it makes them more personable, easygoing and it boosts their self-esteem. 

Extracurricular activities
Boarding schools in England offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities. With hundreds of clubs and activities, boarding schools offer much more compared to local schools, from various sporting disciplines to cultural pursuits like music and art. Being exposed to this diverse range of extracurricular options encourages students to try things they never would have before, helping them to develop their range of interests and grow into more well-rounded individuals. This diversifies their experience and skills, which makes their CV stand out when applying to university or for a job.

As you can see, boarding schools offer a wealth of benefits for young people and with state boarding schools, many more young people are able to access these benefits. There are also a variety of options for different age groups and either mixed or single-gender schools. So if you would like your child to attend a boarding school, find out more about state boarding schools in England 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 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 Scholar 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!

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?

Corporate Social Responsibility 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.

Great Ideas For One-to-One Tutoring Sessions

Great Ideas For One-to-One Tutoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

Tutoring should be a fulfilling experience for your scholar and for yourself. It should not be something that will be dreaded by your scholar and it should be something that is different from how your scholar learns at school.

With that being said, there can sometimes be a tug-of-war between trying to keep the tutoring sessions serious to complete the task at hand and making the sessions enjoyable. Creating a balance between the two is key, and once you are able to achieve that, you will find yourself looking forward to the tutoring sessions with your scholar and they will run more smoothly and effectively. 

One thing to keep in mind is to maintain your structure in terms of the content you intend to teach and the goals you have for those sessions, but be flexible in how you deliver the content and also how you interact with your scholar. Here are a few ideas you can use to keep your tutoring sessions energetic and effective.

Use icebreakers
Your first one-to-one tutoring session can be nerve-wracking for both you and your scholar. One of the ways to combat this feeling is to create or implement session icebreakers. This is a good way to get both of you comfortable and a good way to get to know a bit more about each other beyond the formalities of tutor and scholar. These icebreakers can simply be a 5-minute discussion about general topics outside of the planned content. These discussions can also help you to find the best ways to make the sessions most effective for your scholar.

Personalise your sessions
It is one thing to tutor someone, and another to tutor them effectively and produce the best results. It is important to find out more about your scholar and what they are looking to get out of your sessions and also what they want to personally achieve at school and beyond. Once you can establish a general outline for the first few sessions, you can personalise the sessions in a way which works well for both you and your scholar. 

Be supportive
Providing your scholar with support during each of your one-to-one sessions can greatly improve the way in which you interact with one another and it helps to boost their confidence. You need to be encouraging and to show them that the tutoring sessions are a safe space for them to be open about the areas or topics they struggle in. This will allow them to feel more comfortable and confident in how they approach the content you are tutoring, as well as establishing a respectful and comfortable relationship with you as their tutor. 

Encourage independent thinking
Tutoring is also important for encouraging your scholar to think independently. The idea behind this is to foster a growth mindset within your scholar so that they are able to tackle tasks independently and build their self-confidence. One way to do this is to help them to stand on their own feet and to think beyond the assistance you provide. During your tutoring sessions, you can create a short quiz or other mentally stimulating techniques that will help your scholar to build confidence in the subject and to not be dependent on your teachings alone. This will shift their perspective on how they approach topics, and it will promote their ability to think critically.

Engage your scholar
Another way to make your one-to-one tutoring sessions more productive and fun for both you and your scholar is to keep them engaged. During the session, you can get your scholar to actively participate by asking questions as the session progresses. If you only wait to ask questions at the end, you might lose their attention during the session. Keeping them engaged also creates room for them to ask any questions they may have regarding a particular topic and it allows them to better understand the topics being presented. 

Switch gears
Rather than sticking to the conventional methods of tutoring, you should use different methods to relay the information to your scholar. There are tons of learning tools available for you to use such as online videos, presentations, and other content. Introducing different learning tools makes the sessions less monotonous and more engaging, and it creates different ways for your scholar to learn and retain information. You can also get your scholar to participate by getting them to create short presentations to go over the content and pose any questions they may have for you at the end of their presentation. Furthermore, you can also incorporate the use of funny gifs or memes to get a particular point across. Just as long as it does not take away from the effectiveness of your tuition and their ability to learn, you should always explore new ways to teach your scholar.

Get their feedback
It takes two to tango, and feedback should not only be for you to give but also for you to receive from your scholar. Allow them to express and share their thoughts through feedback sessions, and be open to any constructive criticism. This feedback can then be used to learn how best to work with and for each other through your sessions.

For many scholars, learning can seem like such a task. However, your tutoring sessions should shed a different light on learning and stimulate their desire to learn. So don’t be afraid to try something new in your sessions and give you and your scholar something to always look forward to.

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.

How To Keep Your Scholar Interested In Their Tutoring Sessions

How To Keep Your Scholar Interested In Their Tutoring Sessions

Volunteers What's new?

Being a tutor can be one of the most satisfying and fulfilling roles a person can take on. The opportunity to get to help and guide a young person to improve academically and seeing their progress from the hours you put in during tutoring is worth the time and effort invested.

However, tutoring can sometimes be challenging when trying to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going from the first session to the last session with a scholar. But, there are a few things you can do as a tutor to avoid this or in some cases get out of this slump. Here are a few ways to keep your scholar interested in their tutoring sessions.

Understanding your Scholar
One of the best ways to avoid the disinterest of a scholar is to understand them from the get-go, including what works best for them in terms of grasping concepts and how they relate to you. A constructive way to go about this is to make sure that they are comfortable enough to be able to discuss any potential issues that may or may not arise in the time that you are tutoring them. To do this, you need to create a safe space for your sessions. In creating this safe space, it is also important to establish boundaries with your scholar regarding respect for your role and understanding that there are also rules to ensure that you can do your best as their tutor.

Mutual Feedback
Another avenue to explore is having regular feedback sessions with your scholar. These can focus on one of two aspects. The first aspect is where you ask them how they are finding the tutoring sessions with you and if you are engaging them enough and relaying your knowledge well enough that they are able to comprehend everything. This can be done after your session or you can get them to fill out a questionnaire you’ve prepared via email correspondence. This will let you know where you stand as a tutor and whether the way in which you approach the sessions is working.

The second aspect is where you give them feedback on their progress and the areas you feel they should work on outside of the tutoring sessions. How you approach this feedback session is very important and this is where understanding your scholar also plays in. Some scholars are sensitive to constructive criticism, which can be due to a lack of confidence. So it is important that you give them feedback in the friendliest way possible. It’s also important to reward and praise any progress made. If they feel that you as a tutor don’t see or acknowledge the strides that they are making, it can cause a nonchalant approach towards future sessions and work assigned to them.

Switch Gears
During your time as their tutor, it would be good to implement different approaches to each session in order to keep boredom and disinterest at bay. Incorporating fun but effective elements to the sessions such as interactive games or quizzes can create new ways of learning topics. As long as they do not distract from the learning, these activities foster a positive environment for your scholar to flourish and learn.

When it comes to the structure of the sessions, it is good to be consistent but it’s also important to make sure it’s interactive and inviting. If they enjoy the session, it makes the task at hand easier to approach and the learning more effective. Other elements that you can look into are visual elements such as pictures, GIFs and memes that are related to the topic. You can also use short videos and other activities that stimulate the brain. This will ensure that your scholar leaves your tutoring sessions feeling enlightened and energised.

The Scholar becomes the Master
“But I’m the tutor!” Yes, you most certainly are. This role reversal simply means that you designate the last few minutes to let your scholar teach you what you have taught them in that session. This helps the scholar revise what they have learnt and it also helps you to determine how they are grasping and handling the content you are teaching them. It doesn’t have to be the entire session’s work, but key components of the session that you want to make sure they have understood.

This can also be a spur-of-the-moment test to help them develop their ability to think on their feet and build their confidence in the subject. It also pushes them to revise their work more so that they are not caught off guard in future sessions. This exercise is also beneficial to you as the tutor as you get to observe how effective your tutoring has been and how to improve on it. It fosters growth for both you and your scholar.

Have Patience
Having patience when tutoring a scholar is one of the most important necessities. Some scholars require more time to grasp concepts than others, so you need to be patient with them. Having patience also allows you to take a step back and be more understanding and accommodating of your scholar and it sets the tone between the two of you. It will show them that you are happy to help them and it will encourage them when they are struggling. Patience also goes a long way for many scholars and it is a contributing factor to how your scholar participates and adjusts to your tutoring over the course of the programme.

Tutoring is a rewarding experience that positively impacts you and your scholar in more ways than one. If you feel like you would like to help in making a difference in the lives of young people, then you definitely should volunteer to be a GT Scholars tutor.

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.

Volunteers and Friend of GT Scholars – Volunteer this summer!

Volunteers and Friend of GT Scholars – Volunteer this summer!

Volunteers

Top of the morning to you on this awesome Friday! Hope you are looking forward to the official start of summer this weekend! This week’s newsletter includes some great volunteer opportunities you can get involved in this summer. Curious to find out more? Read on for more details!

Invite us to Speak!
As you know, we are all about creating more opportunities for young people, especially those from low-income backgrounds, to succeed in school and beyond. We would love to share more about what we do with people so that we can increase our reach and help even more young people in need! If you know of any forums or speaking engagements you think we could be a part of to make this happen, then please get in touch with me to chat further.

Did you know!
Foster Care Fortnight, the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to bring awareness to the way foster care transforms lives, took place last week. One of the things highlighted is the large number of young people living in care who struggle with educational attainment and reaching their aspirations. One of the ways you can help to spread awareness about young people living in care is to write a blog post for our website. A blog post is a great way for you to share your thoughts with our scholars and parents, not only about young people living in care, but also on education, social mobility, and careers. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, you can get in touch with me or find out more here.

Follow us on social media!
We would love for you to follow us on any of our social media platforms so that you can like, share and comment on our posts and also share other posts you think would make for an interesting blog post! Join the conversation on our Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram pages.

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.