Examining the Need for Academic Support in Bolton, England

Blog
Mar 10, 2023
Examining the Need for Academic Support in Bolton, England

Education provides individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in life. However, many students face significant barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential, particularly since the impact of Covid-19 has set in.

In Bolton and the surrounding region, there have been significant challenges throughout Covid-19 that have impacted the academic performance and attainment of students. 

These challenges include poor school performance, a high proportion of students receiving free school meals, a diverse demographic makeup, and a lack of affordable tuition for academic support. 

In this article, we will examine each of these challenges in detail and explore ways in which they can be addressed to improve the academic attainment and support for students in Bolton and the surrounding region.

School Performance in Bolton & the Surrounding Region

The academic performance of schools in Bolton and the surrounding region has been a concern for educators and policymakers for several years. According to recent data, many schools in the area are struggling to meet national standards in terms of student achievement and progress. 

New figures from the Department for Education show that 30.3 per cent of disadvantaged children in Bolton achieved grade five or above in GCSE English and maths in 2021-22, compared to 54.5 per cent for all other children.

This means that the attainment gap was 24.2 per centage points last year – up from 21.7 in 2018-19, the last academic year uninterrupted by Covid-19.

"Now, without intervention, the cost-of-living crisis and mooted cuts to already-stretched school budgets risk widening the gap even further." - Bolton Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Anne Galloway.

This is a significant issue as academic success is closely tied to future opportunities for students. Several factors contribute to poor performance in schools, including inadequate funding, a lack of resources, and high teacher turnover rates. 

However, efforts are underway to improve school performance in the region through initiatives that provide additional support and resources to schools and educators.

Academic Attainment & Free School Meals in Bolton

In Bolton it was reported that the number of children eligible to receive free school meals had jumped by more than 100 per month in 2022. This is mainly due to the impact of the cost of living crisis in a post-pandemic society in England. Many households who will not have fallen below the threshold to receive these meals previously, now find themselves eligible. It is clear therefore that there are many disadvantaged students in Bolton who require help with meals. 

Unfortunately, children who receive free school meals have been linked to lower academic success and thus lower life chances beyond education. A GOV UK study from 2018 found that 24% of individuals who were eligible for free school meals in year 11 were on out-of-work benefits at age 27, compared to 8% of their peers who were not eligible for free meals.

students with packed lunches
Students sit with packed lunches at their desks

In 2022 we should take this information with a pinch of salt because there is a significant increase in families eligible for these meals due to the current economic situation. However, it still doesn’t take away from the significance of children that receive school meals achieving less at school. These children are clearly in a disadvantageous position compared to their peers.

In recent years in Bolton, the school exclusions that have occurred have been children who are eligible for free school meals, and thus from a lower socio-economic background. Figures from the Department for Education show schools in Bolton excluded students eligible for free school meals 1,288 times during the 2019-20 academic year. 

When asked about these school exclusions, Louise King from Just for Kids Law, said: “Too often we see children who have been excluded because of circumstances beyond their control – that includes children whose families have struggled to pay for the correct uniform and equipment, who have faced racial discrimination, and who are coping with the impact of going without essentials like food and heating. This can leave children feeling like they’ve been treated unfairly, pushing them further away from school and their learning.”

It is evident that Bolton is seeing the effects in their education system from disadvantaged students not being able to integrate fully and receive the education they need. There is a clear requirement for academic support for young people in this region. 

Student Demographics and Disadvantaged Communities

According to the 2021 Census, the largest ethnic group in Bolton is White British, accounting for around 72% of the population. Other ethnic groups in the area include Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Black African, and Chinese. 

The proportion of ethnic minorities in Bolton has been steadily increasing over the years, with the Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh community being the largest non-white ethnic group in the area, accounting for around 20% of the population.

The diversity of Bolton's population is reflected in the student demographics in local schools, where there is a mix of students from different ethnic backgrounds.

graph showing percentage of residents in Bolton by ethnic group
Graph shows ethnic demographics of Bolton, Greater Manchester [data source]

There is a significant level of deprivation in some communities in Bolton. Research has shown that 26% of the Bolton population live in an area that is among the 10% most deprived nationally, while 56% of the population live in an area that is among the 30% most deprived nationally.

There is a clear need for extra support for families in Bolton and school children evidently require assistance because of this.

The Need for Affordable Tuition for Academic Support

Now that we have examined the demographic makeup of Bolton and the amount of students in a disadvantaged position in comparison to their peers, it is without a doubt crucial that academic support is made available for families across the region. Not only academic support but FREE academic support.

The availability of affordable tuition in Bolton and the surrounding region varies depending on the type of academic support needed. There are some free resources available to students, such as homework clubs and revision classes provided by schools and community organisations. However, these resources are often limited and may not be sufficient for students who require more personalised academic support. 

Private tutoring is another option, but it can be expensive and may not be affordable for all families. Some online tutoring services are available that can provide affordable options for academic support, but access to technology and reliable internet may be a barrier for some students. 

Bringing Affordable Tuition to Bolton

In recent years, there have been calls for the government and local authorities to invest more in affordable tuition and academic support for students from disadvantaged communities in Bolton and the surrounding region. Such investment could help to bridge the academic attainment gap and provide opportunities for students to reach their full potential.

This is where Learning Cubs comes in. We are proud to provide affordable after-school and weekend tuition sessions in Bolton. 

Our mission is to support students from all backgrounds and ensure that they have access to high-quality education through tuition in core subjects such as English, maths, and science, as well as support for exam preparation and revision.

student studying at home on an ipad
Student revising at home on an iPad

The Future of Academic Support in Bolton

Academic support is essential for all students to succeed in their studies and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, in Bolton and the surrounding region, children from disadvantaged backgrounds often face significant barriers to accessing affordable tuition and academic support. This lack of support can have a detrimental effect on their academic attainment and future opportunities. 

The challenges faced by students in Bolton and the surrounding region are complex, and there is no easy solution. 

However, investment in affordable tuition and academic support is a step in the right direction. It is vital that policymakers and education providers work together to address these challenges and ensure that all students have access to the academic support they need to succeed. 

By doing so, we can help to create a more equitable education system that provides every child with the opportunity to achieve their full potential, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Learning Cubs Bolton contact details
Learning Cubs Bolton contact details

In the meantime, Learning Cubs are here to help with our affordable academic support sessions for children in Bolton. 

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