Less advantaged students outperform peers thanks to long-term education charity programme.

Published: 2 Feb 2018

Education charity Villiers Park says its model proves that background doesn’t have to dictate the future of young people.

Students on their national Scholars Programme, which provides long-term, tailored support for 14-18 year-olds from less advantaged backgrounds, have vastly outperformed their peers in core GSCE subjects including Maths and English.

Analysis of national GCSE results data released last week (25 January), showed that Villiers Park Scholars achieved seven grades higher* overall in their GCSEs than they would have done had they had no interaction with the charity.

Put into context, this is the equivalent of a student who may have attained 10 Bs, achieving seven As and three Bs.

When comparing Maths and English GCSE results with students who were at the same level at Key Stage 2, Villiers Park found its students achieved significantly better than even their non-disadvantaged peers.

Nationally, only 20% of students with prior Key Stage 2 attainment of 4 or above, achieve level 7 or above at Maths GCSE. This falls to 9% in disadvantaged students. In contrast, 58% of Villiers Park Scholars with the same Key Stage 2 results have achieved a 7 or above†.

In English Literature, just 19% of students who achieved a Level 4 or above at Key Stage 2 achieved a level 7 or above in their English Literature GCSE. Again, this falls to 10% for those with a disadvantage. In comparison, 45% of Villiers Park students achieved the same results†.

These figures were true when comparing results against disadvantaged‡ students nationally, as well as non-disadvantaged, as shown in the graph below:

“This fantastic achievement by our Scholars provides overwhelming evidence that when social mobility is tackled in a sustained and embedded way, the attainment gap not only closes, but is re-opened in favour of the nation’s disadvantaged young people,” said Sarah Chick, Director of Education at Villiers Park.

The four-year Scholars Programme, currently operating in seven regions in the UK including East Lancashire, Hastings and Tyneside, sets out to improve the life-chances of young people from less advantaged backgrounds, often determined by their postcode or family income. Each student has personalised support from a Learning Mentor and takes part in a number of masterclasses, residential courses and workshops to develop their skills, attitudes and passion for learning.

“Our programme is designed so that our Scholars are empowered to make ambitious decisions about their future and that they are fully equipped to do so – thanks to both improved exam results and skills they need to succeed. These outstanding results demonstrate that our comprehensive, long-term approach really works,” said Sarah.

“There is no single reason for the potential of students not to be realised – it may be low self-esteem, lack of role models or under developed learning skills – so the only way to solve the problem of social mobility is to personally address the individual’s needs, which is what the Scholars Programme does.”

Annabel is a student at Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich and a member of the Norfolk Scholars. She achieved three As, four Bs, two 8s, one 7 in her GCSEs, and a distinction for a BTEC.

She told us: “I think that the Villiers Park Scholars Progamme is really good, as you can get to meet people with the same passion and enthusiasm as your own.

“The one-to-one mentoring in particular has helped me a lot, primarily with my self-confidence, and it has given me a lot of knowledge about higher education, which I intend to go to in the coming years.”

*Results calculated using average Progress 8 score for disadvantaged students of -0.4 as stated in the Revised GCSE and equivalent results in England, 2016 to 2017 report from the Department of Education and Villiers Park Progress 8 analysis.

Calculated comparing Key Stage 2-4 transition matrices by disadvantage 2017 (revised) from the Department of Education and Villiers Park student results.

‡Disadvantaged is defined in the Revised GCSE and equivalent results in England, 2016 to 2017 report from the Department of Education, as: Young people known to have been eligible for free school meals in the past six years (from year 6 to year 11), if they are recorded as having been looked after for at least one day or if they are recorded as having been adopted from care.

For more information please visit the Villiers Park Scholars Programme page.