11 April 2023

Equality of Opportunity: What is it and how does Tutor The Nation contribute to it?

In this blog, Emeli, one of TTN’s Volunteer Ambassadors, explains the concept of equality of opportunity and how she makes a difference by volunteering as a tutor.

What does ‘Equality of opportunity’ mean?

Equality of opportunity embodies the idea that no individual should be systematically disadvantaged as a result of their identity or background. To achieve equality of opportunity, there requires a collective effort to alleviate obstacles that could potentially hinder somebody’s opportunities.

I believe that equality of opportunity in terms of education is of the utmost importance in providing a foundational skillset from which individuals can flourish. If unequal opportunities within the education system continue to persist, then there is an increased risk of select cohorts of students being withheld from achieving their desired outcomes in life. It is important that all students, no matter their individual identity or background, are provided with the equal opportunity to reach for their future goals. 

What can we learn from statistics?

Statistically speaking, there are clear links between unequal educational opportunities and unequal outcomes. Thus, suggesting that innate inequalities do not disappear once people leave school, but rather persevere into adulthood. For example, over 70% of private school students are university graduates by the age of 26, compared with less than 20% of children from the poorest fifth of households (IFS 2022). 

How does Tutor The Nation help to improve equality of opportunity?

Tutor The Nation’s mission perfectly encompasses the concept of equality of opportunity. Its aim to alleviate educational inequalities could not be more aligned with the goal of establishing equality of opportunity within the education system. As a former tutor, and now ambassador for TTN, this is why I am proud to represent the charity.

Coming from a disadvantaged area to a university with a high percentage of private school pupils, my eyes have been opened to the disparities in higher education. However, I was lucky enough to attend a school with a good standard of teaching and was encouraged to get to the point at where I am now. But this is not the case for everyone. If I hadn’t attended the school that I did, I question if I would be at the university I am at. It’s hugely disheartening to consider that this is the reality for many pupils.

Whilst systemic inequalities desperately need addressing, the extent to which this can be done without wider intervention is unfortunately not easy. However, Tutor The Nation’s ability to transform the lives, and ultimately opportunities, of the pupils at its partner schools, is certainly contributing to the alleviation of educational inequality. This is why it is so important that the charity gains the recognition it deserves, in order to increase its numbers of volunteers who are able to help on this mission. As the more volunteers it has, the more pupils it can support in receiving equal educational opportunities.  

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