Schools Plus helps young people to achieve their academic potential by matching them with university student tutors.
Virtual and in local schools across Bristol
1-2 hours a week, during term time throughout the academic year
Schools Plus is a volunteering programme which aims to tackle educational disadvantage through placing university students in schools as tutors to provide extra support to pupils. We work specifically with schools in areas of Bristol with high-levels of socio-economic deprivation, or in schools where pupils are at risk of not reaching their educational potential due to indicators of disadvantage.
We work closely with schools to create projects which meet their needs, and have had projects across a wide range of subjects: English, Maths, Science, Languages, reading support and the creative arts. Tutors volunteer 1-2 hours a week on one of these projects. Tutors support pupils learning by sharing their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and can raise pupils' aspirations by being positive role models. In 2019/20 we had 65 students work with 818 pupils across Bristol as part of Schools+.
Schools Plus aims to tackle educational inequality, and our role is arguably more important now than ever. Young people across Bristol have lost their learning due to the closure of schools in March 2020 and thereafter. This has impacted both their academic attainment and their wellbeing, and is likely to widen the existing inequalities which already exist in the city (YoungMinds, 2020).
In 2021/22 we resumed in-person volunteering in the local community. Our tutees ranged in age and subject needs, but they all asked for support and expertise to help them regain knowledge and confidence in their studies. Our volunteer tutors supported these young people and showed them they have not been left behind.
In 2022/23, we are continuing in-person volunteering. We are working with our partner schools to address specific needs, and we need volunteers from all academic backgrounds to support the programme. We are continuing with a blended approach of virtual and in-person tutoring, with a focus on 1:1 tutoring, reading support and subject-specific homework clubs.
If you have any questions about opportunities with Schools Plus don't hesitate to reach out to our Schools Plus Coordinator, Alice, at [email protected].
Educational disadvantage most affects children from low socio-economic backgrounds. This has significant implications for their future prospects and serves to reinforce inequality in society. For instance, only 16% of children in receipt of Free School Meals progress to university, compared to 96% of children from independent schools.
The socio-economic challenges of Bristol are reflected in the poor educational achievement of young people from disadvantaged areas. Children in underperforming schools and experiencing social disadvantage typically demonstrate literacy or numeracy rates below the national average, and are less aware of Higher Education and future career opportunities. A report on educational attainment in Bristol Schools, found that students facing disadvantage in Bristol do not perform as well as their peers (Bristol: A Learning City, 2015). In 2015, only 35% of students in Lawrence Hill, an area of with high levels of deprivation, attained 5 GCSEs a grades C or above, compared with over 90% of students in Redland & Clifton East, an area with very low levels of deprivation (State of Bristol: Key Facts 2015).
This evidence shows that there is a need for educational interventions within Bristol that are aimed at tackling low-levels of educational attainment in areas with high levels of deprivation. By raising the educational attainment of young people we can reduce inequality and improve the future lives of young people.
Hear from one of our community partners:
“Volunteer tutors from the university are helping us to provide high quality teaching and reduce student-tutor ratios. The majority of pupils that come to Bristol Best Tuition are from very deprived backgrounds and Black and Ethnic Minority groups. They can’t get private tuition and often don’t have enough space to study at home. Schools Plus is breaking the divide between Clifton, the affluent University of Bristol area, and Easton, the area in which Bristol Best Tuition operates. The university students bring their skills to support the community. They get to know local young people and the challenges they are facing. At the same time, Schools Plus helps pupils to learn and see that university students are also diverse. I strongly believe that we should keep investing in young people’s skills.” - Khalif Noor, Founder and Project Manager at Bristol Best Tuition
Volunteering through Schools Plus is a rewarding and challenging experience. You may be looking to gain experience in teaching or working with young people, or you may just want to find a way to make a difference in the local community.
Once you are trained, you can pick from a variety of placements to suit your interests and schedule. Our tutees range in age and subject requests so their really is something for everyone.
You will benefit from regular check-ins from Bristol Hub to ensure your placement is as expected and to get important information on the young people you are working with.
When you become a volunteer for Schools+ you will be part of a community of volunteers, and will also have the chance to attend events and socials.
Hear what our volunteers say about their experience:
My year 1 class really love having volunteers present to the point that they really want to do well and push themselves! I have year 1 students picking books a level higher than usual just prove to me they can do it. It's such a rewarding experience to see students with no reading from home logged in the planner be excited to read with you. I worked with my year 6 class last year and It's been amazing to see them start to plan there future! In year 5 they didn't understand why I liked learning or why I went to university but now they're excited about starting secondary schools and can tell you all the subjects they are looking forward to most. - Kashnia Kirby
I enjoyed experiencing Bristol outside of the student 'bubble' and getting to know local students at the secondary school. The staff were very welcoming and the students seemed engaged with the language learning. I felt like I was making a difference when it came to their language abilities. - Caitlin Marshall
If you want to hear more about our volunteers experiences, you can read our case studies.
To ensure you are equipped with the right knowledge and confident to start volunteering, you will attend a training session. It covers an introduction to educational disadvantage in Bristol, how the project works and an opportunity to learn some skills that will be valuable to you as a volunteer. Dependent on your placement you may also want to attend training on planning engaging sessions, behaviour management and resource creation. We also occasionally run optional training throughout the year on topics and skills that will support your volunteering and benefit your CV, as well as offering training from partner organisations such as Teach First.
This volunteering opportunity is excellent for anyone who wants experience working in schools and with young people, or is exploring a career in education/youth work. We've found that this project can significantly develop the following skills:
We are happy to provide a reference to anyone who takes part in the project.
Throughout the programme you can contact a staff member at any point if you would like additional support, or have a concern. The staff team will also be in touch with you during your volunteering to get feedback, which is required from all volunteers so we can continue to improve the programme.
What our volunteers have said about training:
Bristol Hub has always made itself present and supported me through their email checking up on my work. This has definitely been the most useful part making me feel supported and encouraged to do better.
Bristol Hub is committed to making our activities inclusive to all students.
At Student Hubs, we believe that a disability is defined as a physical or mental health condition, due to human diversity, that leads to an individual facing barriers and oppression due to the disabling world (The Social Model of Disability). These barriers may be attitudinal, physical or organisational barriers.
We can make reasonable adjustments to application processes, training sessions, volunteering projects and other activities on a case-by-case basis. We also provide ongoing support for the students we work with, so if you have particular accessibility needs, including special educational needs, please email [email protected] and let us know how we can make this activity more accessible. We ensure that all our activites, training and events are safe spaces, you can read more about our Safe Space Policy.
This project won't cost you! We reimburse all travel expenses and DBS checks for volunteers on our projects.
Volunteering for Bristol Hub is social and you’ll have the chance to meet many like-minded people. If you are apprehensive about getting involved, you can always chat to our staff team beforehand.
If you are worried about attending alone, why not ask a friend to sign up with you too? We have had a lot of positive stories of friends volunteering together.
Joe and Brandon, two of our volunteers that joined together, said:
Volunteering with a friend is a lot less daunting. It’s a lot easier to get involved as well if you have someone next to you or sitting with you that you already know. If you get socially anxious as well you aren’t as comfortable in those situations and it helps to have someone next to you that you know. It makes the whole process easier. It was wholesome for us and it inspired our friends to go and do something similar.
Students can get recognition for taking part in extra-curricular events and projects run by Bristol Hub through the Bristol PLUS award, which is run by the Careers Service.
The Award provides a framework for students to reflect on the skills they have gained and learn how to articulate them effectively to future employers. For more details and learn how the PLUS Award could benefit you please see the Careers website.