We believe that when young people are equipped and supported, they can shape and lead change within their communities. During #iwill Week, an annual celebration of the work young people do, we want to celebrate one of our flagship programmes: Schools Plus.
What is Schools Plus?
Schools Plus was developed in 2011 and launched in 2012, aiming to tackle educational disadvantages and allow every young person to reach their full potential. We recruit student volunteers who are passionate about their subject, supporting pupils’ growth and become positive role models in schools and colleges. These student volunteers then support local schools and families with a variety of free activities aimed to increase young people’s academic potential. Primary and Secondary schools are selected based on their IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation) scores, the proportion of pupils eligible for pupil premium or the proportion of pupils of which English is their second language.
How does Schools Plus empower young people?
Across the 2020-21 academic year, we managed to reach 1500+ young people directly through 70+ community partners (including families), and the efforts of our 400+ student volunteers across our Bristol, Cambridge, Kingston, Southampton and Winchester Hubs. By providing near-to-peer relationships with students at university, young people at schools become more confident, have increased subject knowledge, interest in their studies and aspirations for future life.
“I enjoy being able to go through work with my tutor and classmates because it helps us get through these difficult times. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities you have provided me to enhance my knowledge in Maths and English” – Schools Plus pupil in Kingston
The power of our student volunteers’ support and dedication has a positive influence on the young people around them, even through the pandemic. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, we adapted our Schools Plus provisions to support online learning, including online tutoring and building static resources that could supplement education now and into the future. In Winchester Hub, Schools Plus provided online Q&A sessions for young people to ask questions about transitioning to secondary school, and university. One teacher said
“The children were inspired to be reflective of their own future choices and the choices that some of their own parents have made. Some children said they felt more informed about the pathways to their future ideas of a career and enjoyed the opportunity for some of their questions to be answered”.
In 2020-21, 100% of our Schools Plus partners agreed they have observed a positive improvement in the children’s aspirations for future life, and that there was an increased confidence in their studies.
“Seeing the change in our students, who have become markedly happier, more confident within themselves, and knowing that they have someone they can talk to about their personal growth and development [is a highlight of the programme]” – Schools Plus Partner
How Schools Plus empowers young people at university
At Student Hubs, we believe that when students connect with each other and their community, learn about social issues and do actions to make change, they become empowered to be active citizens for life. All our programmes engage student coordinators that influence the work that we do and how the programme develops. By providing a space for students and young people’s voices to be heard, we can better develop and grow Schools Plus to remain relevant today.
Our Schools Plus programme supports students to build new skills, increase their awareness of social issues, support their employment journey and increase their wellbeing. In 2020-21, 55% of students agreed they are more likely to pursue a career in education as a result of their engagement with Schools Plus, and 72% agreed they learnt about the challenges facing the pupils they volunteered with.
“I have gained a huge amount in the short time I have been volunteering with Student Hubs. The biggest difference is that I feel so much more confident about my skills and what I can offer the world beyond my grades… I think I am a better leader, a better teacher, and just a more positive person in my everyday life. I also feel that I have become a lot better at interacting with people I haven’t met before and forming friendships.” – Southampton Hub Schools Plus Volunteer
Through volunteering at Student Hubs, student volunteers can build confidence and skills that can empower them to tackle change now and in the future. In 2020-21, 93% of student volunteers agreed that participating with the Hub increased their confidence in approaching challenges, and 91% agreed they are more likely to tackle further social challenges as a result of their engagement with us. This demonstrates that the power young people have extends beyond their time at university, and can benefit communities well past their degrees.
Schools Plus Today and in the Future
Despite running for 10 years, Schools Plus is forever adapting and growing. Starting off as only a tutoring programme, the programme now provides a variety of homework and library clubs, after-school activities and now, our online provisions. We have learnt through the pandemic that by providing volunteers with both online and offline volunteering opportunities we can:
- Empower more students to engage with our programmes. This can make us more accessible to international students, commuting students and students with disabilities.
- Empower more young people, particularly those with caring responsibilities, multi-sibling families and working parents through making opportunities more accessible
- Support volunteers to tutor outside of traditional term time and maintain their longer relationships.
We aim to continue working closely with our partners and students to ensure that Schools Plus remains impactful to its community. To support Schools Plus in the future:
- Support our Winter Fundraiser, celebrating Schools Plus as we enter our 10 year anniversary.
- Run a fundraiser of your own for Student Hubs
- Learn more about how you can bring Schools Plus to your university.
Learn more about our impact over 2020-21 in our impact report, launching January 27th. To keep informed, sign up to our partner newsletter.