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Countering deprivation and promoting success

Mosaic’s mentoring scheme reaches over 250 UK schools Jonathan Freeman September 29, 2015: The new school year in the UK is underway and with it comes the annual renewal of hopes and ambitions of pupils, parents and schools for academic success. However, recent research from educational charity The Sutton Trust suggests that the odds for this success are very much still stacked against students from...

Mosaic’s mentoring scheme reaches over 250 UK schools

Jonathan Freeman

September 29, 2015: The new school year in the UK is underway and with it comes the annual renewal of hopes and ambitions of pupils, parents and schools for academic success. However, recent research from educational charity The Sutton Trust suggests that the odds for this success are very much still stacked against students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Sutton Trust’s report makes it clear that disadvantage in its many forms remains the biggest barrier to academic achievement. Put frankly, where you grow up, how much your parents earn and how you spend your time when not at school all still have a huge impact on your potential for reaching higher education and your chances of achieving a subsequent, successful career.

Even those from disadvantaged backgrounds who fall into the ‘high achieving’ category remain almost half as likely as their more advantaged classmates to leave school with three or more good A levels. One doesn’t need to be a sociologist to understand the consequences of this discrepancy in terms of social mobility, employment prospects and potential contribution to the UK economy.

The Sutton Trust does, however, provide some reasons for optimism amongst its parade of sobering statistics. Although many of the factors proven to hinder achievement amongst disadvantaged pupils can only be tackled via institutional and policy change, and all vested parties should note the difference in achievement between ‘Outstanding’ schools and even those rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, there is much that can be done at an individual level.

Jonathan Freeman is Managing Director of Mosaic

And this is where Mosaic is making a difference.

We are a charity that uses mentoring to make significant interventions in the lives of young people. Our mentors are drawn from the business community and we use their experience to inspire and support pupils in over 250 schools and other institutions in the most disadvantaged areas of the country. Last year, our 1,200 volunteer mentors supported over 6,500 young people, 80% of whom were drawn from 20% of the most deprived parts of the UK.

Mosaic helps by targeting the areas that make the greatest difference in terms of raising pupil attainment. Clearly, a mentor can set an example as to what is achievable through hard work and clarity of vision, but how about a simple thing such as time management?

The Sutton Trust report finds that pupils who spend between two and three hours completing homework on a school night are nine times more likely to gain three or more A Levels. Our mentors help with this by getting to know the young people they mentor during the delivery of accredited and structured programmes – and making suggestions as to how they should best make use of their time away from the classroom.

The report also reveals that there a number of “facilitating” subjects that give those pupils that study them a far greater chance of reaching the UK’s top universities. Worryingly, twice as many students from advantaged backgrounds are currently choosing these subjects as those in deprived circumstances. Again, Mosaic helps with this by exposing these students to volunteer mentors who often have gone onto university and are well-informed about the subjects required to gain access to the very best universities in the country.

Our mentors also value and promote crucial personal skills such as resilience, confidence and self-efficacy amongst their mentees; the Sutton Trust makes it clear that it’s exactly these skills that are lacking in the majority of pupils from deprived backgrounds.

It gives me little pleasure to conclude that we are still living in a divided society, where there remains an irrefutable link between deprivation and under-achievement. However, good work is being done and this link is beginning to weaken; through the efforts of schemes such as Mosaic’s mentorship programme we can get ever-closer to a point where all young people achieve their full potential, regardless of their circumstances and background.

If you would like to help inspire and guide young adults become a Mosaic mentor. For more information, please call 020 7566 8734, visit www.mosaicnetwork.co.uk or email: mosaic@bitc.org.uk 

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