Amy Walker cites the Sutton Trust’s private tuition polling in an article for the Guardian on boosting access to STEM subjects.
“I used to think boys were just better at maths,” said Linah. “But now, it’s like, we go to the same school, we do the same subjects – so if you can do it, I can do it.”
There’s a reason for the renewed confidence in the 15-year-old from Dagenham and it’s sitting next to her in a swanky office in the City of London. Elaine McLoughlin is a business control manager for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is also a volunteer tutor on a programme to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds and get more girls studying sciences at top universities.
Although the divide is steadily shrinking, there is still a gender gap within Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. Women make up 14.4% of people working in Stem professions in the UK, which falls far short of the country’s goal of 30%.
On top of this, Britain’s booming private tuition sector, worth an estimated £2bn, is making the playing field even less level for disadvantaged children. Last July, an annual survey by The Sutton Trust revealed that 27% of secondary students in England and Wales have had home or private tuition. The figure rises to 41% in London.
The Access Project, founded by teacher Alex Kelly in 2008, works to address this inequality in 28 schools. It has more than 1,000 tutors supporting 1,250 students across London and the Midlands.