Education means many things to many different people. To some, education is a human right. To others, it’s merely a privilege.
But whatever your views are on education, education is vital to function in a society like the UK. For example, to be able to get a job, you would need to get educated (even if it’s not at degree level!).
But the story doesn’t end there. Generally speaking, the better paid a certain job is, the more educated a person has to be to be able stand a chance in being accepted into that job.
Thus, education, more specifically, the level of education a person has, is generally something that roughly determines a person’s socio-economic status.
Therefore, if someone is from a disadvantaged economic background, the chances are, (and again, generally speaking), the level of education that person has would not be the same as those who come from high socio-economic backgrounds.
But the problem is this: there has been various studies over the years which show that children from low socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to study at Higher Education thereby prolonging this never-ending cycle of educational inequality.
There are many reasons for this. One reason is someone’s lack of aspirations. If someone comes from a background that is underrepresented at university, they might not feel like “going to uni is right” for them.
But every problem has a solution. So as current university students, what can we do to address this issue?
This is where Warwick Inspire comes in.
We as a volunteering scheme aim to tackle educational inequality by going into secondary schools where the majority of pupils are from low socio-economic backgrounds. Every year, our main task is to try to inform and inspire these secondary school pupils by conveying this very simple message:
University isn’t just for the tiny minority of privileged students. A university student cannot be stereotyped into a specific “class” or specific “race”. Rather, a university student can be anyone. They can come from any background. This is evident in the fact that there are plenty of help by the government for those students who might not have the money to pay for their education.
Therefore, as a Warwick Inspire volunteer, you will be at the forefront of trying to tackle educational inequality by addressing one of its root causes. This is a unique opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of these secondary school pupils.
Warwick Inspire is the perfect society to join for those wanting to get into teaching. This is because as a volunteer, you would be able to develop the skills required of a teacher, as well as getting the relevant classroom experience that would make you attractive to employers.
Here are 4 useful qualities of a good teacher, and here are 4 reasons how Warwick Inspire can help you develop and demonstrate these skills.
1. A good teacher is able to think creatively especially when developing lesson plans.
As a Warwick Inspire volunteer, you would be required to develop your very own ‘lesson plans’ which you would deliver to the pupils of the schools you’re assigned to. In these groups, you and your team would have the full freedom to be as creative as you wish in the content of these workshops. With this, you would be able to demonstrate how creative you can think with the different activities that you and your team develop.
2. A good teacher has interpersonal skills such as being able to speak and interact well with students. This includes being able to empathise with students, as well as being able to engage with them when delivering a presentation.
As a Warwick Inspire volunteer, you would be able to practice your interpersonal skills as you would have the opportunity to interact with secondary school pupils through the workshops you and your team would deliver. In the past, the various workshops that volunteers had developed included PowerPoint presentations as well as various activities such as a practice law moot!
3. A good teacher is able to work well in groups as well as being able to work well independently.
As a Warwick Inspire volunteer, you would be able to demonstrate that you can work well in a group, as well as being able to demonstrate how well you can work independently. This is because volunteers have the full freedom to create and develop their very own workshops. As a group member, this would entail having to work together collaboratively in order to pool ideas so that the workshop that you and your team develop is as engaging as possible. Yet at the same time, you would be able to demonstrate that you can work independently as oftentimes, you would have to work independently in different parts of your assigned tasks.
4. A good teacher has good time management and is well organised.
Finally, as a Warwick Inspire volunteer, you would have limited time in planning your sessions and would thus have to work by a certain deadline. Thus, you would have to be organised to make sure that you have adequately prepared your activities for the upcoming session. Not only this, but because each school sessions only last for a certain amount of time, you would have to make sure that you’re working with the time limit to be able to complete the session before the time runs out.
Indeed, Warwick Inspire has often been a popular scheme for students interested in teaching. This is evident in the fact that many of our past volunteers have either applied or ended up as part of Teach First’s Leadership Development Programme (LDP).
But don’t forget, Warwick Inspire is not limited to those wanting to become a teacher! The skills that you would develop as an Inspire volunteer is not only invaluable as a teacher, but would be extremely invaluable in various careers as well!
So with that in mind, are you ready to inspire the next generation of University students?
'if any volunteers this year are thinking of running for an exec position I would definitely recommend it...'
Interested in Our scheme? Thinking of running for our exec? learn more through the eyes of our Vp, Final year sociology student, Amy Jenkinson
I began volunteering with Warwick Inspire in my second year at Warwick. I was keen to get involved with the local community, gain some classroom experience and meet new people. There are a variety of volunteering opportunities available at Warwick but Inspire appeared a perfect balance of flexibility and challenge, as it was only a few sessions but the content was planned within volunteer groups.
I was thinking about going into teaching after University and my experience with Warwick Inspire confirmed this. Furthermore, the transferrable skills I gained on the programme, such as session planning, behaviour management and self- reflection, increased my confidence in applying to Teach First in my second year (I received an offer in January 2015 and will begin the Leadership Development Programme this summer). I believe Warwick Inspire was key to my successful application with Teach First and it also developed my knowledge of educational inequality, reconfirming my passion for teaching students from a widening participation background.
Towards the end of second term I decided to run for Vice- President of Warwick Inspire because I believed that I could help to improve the scheme and wanted to be involved in its implementation. I have really enjoyed being involved in the ‘behind the scenes’ side of Inspire and am looking forward to volunteering again this year. If any volunteers reading this year are thinking of running for an exec position I would definitely recommend it, and I’m more than happy to answer any questions regarding what my role involves.
Warwick Inspire is an incredibly rewarding programme in terms of personal development and the interaction with pupils. The programme is not very long, so you may not be able to assess long term changes in the attitudes of pupils towards higher education, however you are able to make a difference by answering any questions they may have, combat myths about University and offer pointers in regards to further support and resources. I left every session feeling like the pupils had learned something positive as a result of our discussions, and therefore I knew I was making a difference.
'the greatest part was working with the students in small groups, It's important to get to know them as individuals'
Why I chose to 'Inspire', and how it led to Teaching in India.
Why did you choose to get involved with Inspire ?
Both my parents never went to University so I wasn't sure what to expect, but taking part in a Sutton Trust summer school in Year 12 was such a valuable experience. I got a chance to speak with people about Higher Education, and most importantly, understand what exactly it meant to get in, how I could get there, and if it was right for me. Which, I think, is central to what Inspire does when we visit schools. I don't see it as, let's get everyone dreaming about University if it's not something they want to do. It's about highlighting the opportunities that are out there at University, and being able to de-bunk myths - especially when it comes to Russell Group Universities. Most of all, it's getting to talk to students who were in a similar position I was in (not so many years ago!)
What was it like when you first volunteered and what did you learn?
I can't forget the first time I visited the school with our team. We were not fully prepared for the amount of students that actually showed up, which was a good thing really, but it's learning from the get-go. I remember it clearly. We stood in front of about 50 or so year 10 students, preparing to deliver an engaging workshop that was for about 20. It was a little daunting, but we did it. You have to think on your feet a lot, because you're not just talking to a group of 50 students, you're talking to 50 individuals - and I think that's great.