Social Mobility Week
As part of Social Mobility Week we’ve spoken to several Deloitte people who have been willing to share their personal story of social mobility, or their perspectives on the importance of supporting people from low-income backgrounds and creating equality of opportunity.
Louise Brocklebank, Associate Director in Tax, reflects upon her experiences at school and of working with students at City of London Academy Islington (COLAI) as part of the Deloitte Access Programme. She, and the four students from COLAI that completed work experience at Deloitte, are proof that it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going that counts.
What was your experience of school?
I went to a really good Church-aided State school and had some great support from the teachers there. Although a decent proportion of the sixth formers went to university after A Levels, I was only the third student in the school’s history to go to Oxbridge, and the support I got from the teachers was invaluable. They really helped me navigate the complex and, at times scary, process of applying to, and interviewing for, Cambridge. My school was small - around 20 people in my sixth form year - and there was a real sense of community. The teachers and students knew each other and, if you worked hard and were willing, you could get extra help and opportunities. For example, my GCSE German teacher tutored me in her own time for GCSE French, when the normal timetable wouldn’t allow me to do both in school time.
Why did you want to get involved in the Access programme?
I am well aware how fortunate I have been, having a supportive family, and extra help and guidance from some truly inspiring teachers. Not everyone is as lucky; particularly in big City schools where there just is not the time in the day for teachers to give all students the extra support they might need to fulfil their potential. The Access programme lets us give something back. Having been on free school meals myself, I know that for many families, paying for private tutors or even finding the time to help children with homework, is just not possible. I, and the Deloitte volunteers who give up their time to tutor and mentor COLAI students, broadly want two things: to help students make informed long term decisions about their future, and to support them in getting the best grades they are capable of.
What are the students like at COLAI?
As with most schools, there is a real mix of characters, and differing levels of engagement and academic ability. Many of the students come from low income families and many come from families where English is not the first language spoken, making the mentoring and tutoring that Deloitte volunteers provide particularly valuable.
Many of the students are very bright and have life experiences that employers or universities would value, but they sometimes struggle to articulate their achievements and skills and translate these to job application forms, personal statements or job interviews.
What’s your proudest moment in Deloitte’s relationship with the school?
Definitely seeing four COLAI students win a place on the ASPIRE work experience programme. I firmly believe that the help of our volunteers, during the application writing and interview workshops that we led for the students, contributed to their success. Going through this competitive process (and being successful!) will have a positive impact on these young people’s confidence, whatever they go on to do.
What’s your vision for the relationship between Deloitte and COLAI?
We know that many more students from schools like COLAI are good enough to succeed so the question we are asking ourselves is how we can level the playing field and give them confidence to apply to schemes like the ASPIRE programme as well as supporting them through the process. I’m very proud that I’m able to support this aim through Deloitte Access.