Case studies

Deloitte Access: opportunity and ambition for students

Giving young people at Samuel Ryder Academy the ambition and skills they need for future careers

Jessica McGrath talks about her volunteer work with Samuel Ryder Academy.

“I began working with the Samuel Ryder Academy (SRA) in St Albans over 18 months ago as part of our Deloitte Access programme. Deloitte Access is an education programme aimed at improving social mobility by giving young people from under-represented groups the ambition and skills they need to access wider opportunities. At SRA, an all-through school with pupils aged 4 -18, more than a quarter of students have been eligible for free school meals in the past six years.

As relationship manager for the SRA, I’ve been encouraging volunteers from Deloitte, from associate to partner level, to provide employability workshops, CV writing lessons and mock interview sessions for the students. Our team has supported the careers fair and the school’s open evening, and also led talks from inspiring female business leaders.

As a member of the school’s governing body, I’m jointly responsible for making strategic decisions for the SRA, drawing on my professional experience as a chartered accountant and from working in the Governance Advisory team at Deloitte. My involvement with the school is often one of the most rewarding parts of my week.

This year, 98 per cent of SRA sixth formers received all 5 offers from their chosen universities, showing how mentoring can affect the way people evaluate and sell their skills. For one student, it’s also meant a place on Deloitte’s work experience programme, ASPIRE. The SRA has been keen to see how the relationship can translate into work experience opportunities, so it’s great to see this desire come to fruition.

I encourage all of our people to consider how their skills lend themselves to helping society and 67 colleagues from our St Albans office volunteered to help the school in the first year alone - a massive 268 per cent of our Access target. With 187 students engaged, we also broke the student targets by 149 per cent, far exceeding expectations and results elsewhere.”

Jessica is determined to make a difference and has achieved so much to help the school already.

Helen Potter, Head of the SRA’s sixth form.
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