Project information

Schools Plus

Schools Plus is an innovative, high impact initiative connecting university students to local classrooms in order to help raise grades, confidence and aspirations. The project addresses stark educational inequality existing in many UK university cities, helping to transform the educational landscape

October 2013 - June 2014

Charity information: Student Hubs

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  • Need


    Despite their elite and wealthy image, many university cities experience high levels of educational inequality. For example, Oxford is in the bottom five areas of England for GCSE results (320th out of 324 areas in the UK) and the worst area for Key Stage 1. In London, one in five children leave secondary school without the confidence to read and write. Such educational disadvantage lowers future job prospects, and reduces the number of young people able to consider further and higher education.


    Through Schools Plus, students provide capacity to classrooms by offering one-to-one support to struggling pupils. The project produces significant results. For example, through Oxford's Reading Plus project a literacy inspector reported that the additional support helped the class to increase literacy rates by 10%. In Maths Plus, 12 students on the GCSE C/D grade borderline were supported and at the end of the academic year all achieved a C or above, with two getting Bs and one an A.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    In local primary schools - raise attainment, particularly in the area of literacy and numeracy


    » Connect students to classrooms to provide targeted support in English and Maths, particularly for students speaking English as a second language
    » Provide a full programme of training to student volunteers with partners including Teach First, Accenture, Barclays and the Red Cross
    » Use games and a range of educational resources to improve the teamwork and communication skills of children
    » Monitor and evaluate the impact of the programme in collaboration with classroom teachers and school inspectors

    What success will look like

    Monitoring grade improvements and receiving feedback from school inspectors as to the value added by Schools Plus

    Aim 2

    In local secondary schools - boost GCSE grade achievement in order to enhance future job prospects


    » Ensure that students in early years of secondary education are equipped with core competencies around literacy and numeracy
    » Mobilise students to work with students on key grade borderlines at GCSE level to fill gaps in their knowledge and improve progress
    » Train students as effective mentors - mentoring is proven to be a highly successful way in which to improve the performance of struggling students
    » Present secondary school students with activities that take them outside of the mainstream curriculum to inspire enthusiasm for their subjects

    What success will look like

    Using classroom data to compare and contrast predicted and actual GCSE grades of children who have been mentored to show the difference that has been made by student volunteers

    Aim 3

    Enhance the confidence and aspirations of local children, encouraging education and employment


    » Encourage students to share their experiences of further and higher education with schoolchildren
    » Liaise with local university Access and Widening Participation departments to connect students to higher education opportunities
    » Arrange tours of university colleges and departments to give students an insight into life on campus
    » Arrange 'insight days' at the offices of Student Hubs' corporate partners to provide an insight into working life for school pupils

    What success will look like

    Using self-reporting surveys to monitor improvements in soft skills

    Aim 4

    Promote a culture of volunteerism at the universities in which we will run Schools Plus


    » Encourage close collaboration between Schools Plus volunteers and local Hubs to provide a solid infrastructure for student social action
    » Ensure the visibility of Schools Plus amongst students using well designed and disseminated publicity materials
    » Encourage peer volunteer recruitment to build momentum towards our aim of mobilising 600 students to work with 1,500 local children each week by 2014
    » Provide opportunities for students to engage with the wider social, political and economic issues surrounding educational disadvantage

    What success will look like

    Monitor the increasing numbers of students volunteering with local Hubs which act as the focal point of student charitable activity on campus

    Aim 5

    Improve community cohesion in university cities in which we work


    » Work with grassroots partner organisations and schools to support them with increased capacity from student volunteers
    » Collaborate with key stakeholders in the city including university departments and local councils to co-design the expansion of the programme
    » Use the local media to make parents and public aware of the positive contribution made to the community by university students
    » Monitor perceived improvements in community cohesion through collection of feedback and anecdotal evidence from key partners

    What success will look like

    Conducting interviews with key stakeholders including the city council and university departments to collect anecdotal evidence as to improvements in community cohesion

  • Impact


    Schools Plus will help to boost attainment in local schools, that will show in improvements in examination results and pupils' soft skills. This will improve employability for pupils entering further education and training, demonstrable by obtaining information from partner schools on their future trajectories. Finally, for the student volunteers, Schools Plus will set them on a lifelong journey of civic engagement, evidenced by a longitudinal study of Schools Plus alumni.


    Students may lack the skills to tutor effectively, so we provide a full package of training with partner organisations to build their confidence. Not all volunteers have experience working with children, so we provide Safeguarding Children training and ensure each volunteer is CRB checked. In schools, as there is the chance that children most in need of support will not attend sessions, we market them specifically to these children and ensure parental support for their attendance.


    We fulfil all relevant reporting requirements for our donors to demonstrate how their money has been spent, numbers of beneficiaries and the impact of the scheme. We send our supporters newsletters each term, and we are eager to provide tailored information to each donor on request.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £50,000 Staff and management costs Support for strategy, finances, monitoring, evaluation and liaison with schools and other partners
      £4,000 Capital expenditure Equipment for projects including revision guides, cooking ingredients and stationery
      £6,000 Volunteer training & costs Travel expenses, volunteer appreciation and marketing and publicity to recruit volunteers
  • Background


    Schools Plus will operate this year in three Hub cities. First, in schools across Oxford. Oxford is a divided city, where 26% of the working age population are students, and in a ten minute drive from North Ward to Blackbird Leys, life expectancy drops by ten years. Second, in London, where there are a high proportion of students who have English as a second language. Finally, in Southampton where, although having some high-attaining schools, high child poverty levels exist in other areas.


    The primary beneficiaries of Schools Plus are the children who will benefit from improved grades and confidence to pursue their chosen career paths or further education. As a result, teachers and schools will also benefit as the differences between pupils’ abilities becomes less pronounced. Classrooms will become more of a level playing field meaning teachers can move ahead to explore new areas of the curriculum rather than continually having to fill the gaps in knowledge of struggling students.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Student Hubs is dedicated to enabling university students to engage with social issues. With a mailing list of over 20,000 students and a range of partner schools and voluntary organisations in six UK cities, we are ideally placed to recruit, train and place volunteers. The quality and innovative nature of our work has been recognised by NESTA, the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement, the Oxfordshire Business Education Alliance and Deloitte's Social Innovation Pioneers scheme.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Amy Anderson (Oxford Hub Manager)

    Amy, who will oversee Oxford Schools Plus, is a Cambridge graduate with extensive experience in setting up and running community volunteering projects

    Rhiannon Horsley (Imperial Hub Manager)

    Rhiannon, who will oversee London Schools Plus, has supported 50+ university-community projects through her work on UnLtd's HEFCE programme

    Adam Grodecki (Chair Of Trustees)

    Adam, who will advise on the strategic direction of the scheme, is co-founder of Student Hubs, an Associate at BCG and Fellow of the RSA.

    Tris Lumley (Trustee)

    Tris, leading on monitoring and evaluation, is Head of Strategy at New Philanthropy Capital and board member of Charity Commission’s SORP Committee

It is fantastic that our children get a chance to be listened to when reading daily; it is an opportunity they rarely experience

Mark Chesterton, Headteacher at Larkrise Primary School