At L&Q, we believe that all children have the same right to the opportunities afforded by a good education. But sadly, research has shown time and time again that a child’s economic background is one of the most significant predictors of the qualifications they are likely to gain.
The Education Policy Institute’s 2020 annual report found that pupils from a disadvantaged background are, on average, 18 months behind their wealthier peers at the GCSE level.
To try and address this disparity, we run a series of educational programmes that support our young residents through every stage of their learning journey, from primary school to university. The results we have seen are incredible and prove that, given the opportunity, every single child can succeed.
We know that the attainment gap appears early and widens quickly. To tackle this, we have spent ten years supporting Tutors United, which offers private tutoring to children from lower socio-economic backgrounds in years four, five and six.
Tutors United also engages parents and ensures they know what their child is learning. Sometimes English may not be the parent’s first language, so advice and information on how to best support their child help.
We have seen students who have been assessed as four years behind catch up with their peers in a short space of time, thanks to the programme. There has been an improvement for every single child that goes through it.
Our follow-on programme is Learning to Succeed, delivered in 30 schools across London close to L&Q homes. With our partners, Runway Training, we provide extra tuition to GCSE students in STEM subjects, career advice and sessions on money and budgeting.
We engage and work closely with pupils to provide targeted, one-to-one support and individual learning plans. We are helping the students prepare for their exams but also encouraging them to think about what comes afterwards, whether it’s further education, apprenticeships or work.
We’ve noticed that schools in the most deprived boroughs don’t have the resources to do this. This means that, without interventions like ours, these pupils don’t get the same opportunities to do well as their peers in areas where the schools or the parents have the funds to provide a more rounded education.
Our next stage of support is the Turlough O’Brien scholarship. Students receive £6,000 a year towards their fees, which makes the university a possibility for those who might otherwise have thought they could never have afforded it. I have seen so many young people flourish thanks to this programme.
One student from our first cohort in 2017 did a six-year medical degree that she is now close to completing, and she is looking forward to embarking on her career as a doctor. Another scholar has just landed her dream job after completing a degree in games design. Students can study whatever they like, but we’ve seen a lot of degrees in law, medicine, maths and politics.
We see consistently outstanding results from them. The feedback is that they wanted someone to believe in them, and when we did, they wanted to make us proud. Their degrees open doors for sustainable employment and better futures. They work hard because they know many people out there don’t get those opportunities.
These three programmes have shown me over the years that if you give any young person confidence and the right opportunities, they will do well. In an ideal world, this support would be given to all children, regardless of where they live or how wealthy their parents are.
But until that happens, we are here to support our young residents in fulfilling their potential through every step of their education journey.