In a perfect world, all children would have equal opportunity to succeed in education. Unfortunately, the educational achievement gap between disadvantaged and privileged students is only getting bigger, but there are things we can do to help close the gap.

The problem of educational disadvantage

In 2019, Ofqual found that 69.9% of students achieved a GCSE pass mark of Grade 4 or above, compared to 2018's figure of 69.2%. This is an improvement, but more can be done to give every child a fair chance at success.

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Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli / Unsplash

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that children from disadvantaged backgrounds start their education months behind their more privileged peers, and this gap widens as they progress. Children can be disadvantaged because of poverty, problems at home, or lack of access to good quality early years education.

In fact, children that are persistently disadvantaged in comparison to their peers are sometimes nearly two years behind when they come to take their GCSEs!

What we're doing about it

Our Schools+ tutorship programme aims to tackle educational disadvantage head-on by sending university students into schools and extracurricular clubs in and around Winchester, Eastleigh and Basingstoke. In schools, our student volunteers will often be giving one-on-one or small group tutoring in a teacher-led environment, whereas the extracurriculars we're involved in are largely student-led.

It’s great to represent our university in schools and inspire the next generation of doctors, police officers and accountants to work hard and achieve. By joining Winchester Hub, you can help make a difference and help tackle educational disadvantage. - Kieran, Schools+ Coordinator

Our volunteers are available to help with any school subject, and run a variety of after-school activities to enrich the learning experience of today's young minds. Although we do expect our volunteers to be somewhat flexible, volunteers can specify preferences in location and availability, and even if they have a particular flair for a specialist subject.

Our Schools+ volunteers have a key role in closing the educational achievement gap by providing additional tutoring. 

Schools+ has been running since 2014, and since then, the programme has kept on growing. At present, we have partnerships with several schools and extracurricular venues in Winchester, Basingstoke and Eastleigh, including Harestock Primary, Winchester Discovery Centre, Fair Oak Juniors and Basingstoke and Eastleigh public libraries.

The benefits of volunteering with Schools+

1) Get experience and transferable skills for your CV. Communication, teamwork, leadership, adaptability, time management, safeguarding, school liaison, behaviour management, tutoring, academic support, pastoral support and working with external staff are all skills you will gain by taking part in Schools+. By volunteering with us, you'll also gain experience working in schools and with young people, which is perfect if you're considering a career in education or youth work.

2) Make a social impact and change lives. It goes without saying that by becoming a volunteer tutor, you'll be increasing the quality of local children's education, and helping them achieve better grades for a more secure future.

3) Increase your confidence and people skills. Volunteering is wonderful way to increase your confidence, and what better to step out of your comfort zone than to start helping others?

4) Meet new friends and build your professional network. Volunteers will not only work closely with the children, but they will also have the opportunity to socialise with each other and make connections with our local community partners (i.e. the schools and extracurricular providers) and of course, the Hub student coordinators and staff. One of the perks of volunteering with us is that you'll meet people who might be able to give you a professional reference in the future, or might even help you find the perfect job someday.

Upcoming projects

Last semester, Schools+ saw the establishment of Harestock Primary's football club, where several of our volunteers now help to run.

Schools+ are currently looking for new volunteers for Semester 2! If you've got just an hour free each week and would like to get involved, sign up here or visit our website to find out more. Applications close on Friday 24th January.

In Semester 2, our student coordinators are planning to work with Hampshire Police in recruiting volunteers for their Cyber Ambassador Scheme. This is an opportunity for students to visit local schools across Hampshire and run workshop sessions for young people about online safety. Schools+ are also looking to set up a new partnership with Stanmore Primary School!

If this sounds like something you'd like to get involved in, sign up here or visit our website to find out more. Be sure to apply before the deadline, as applications close on Friday 24th January.