For an hour and a half each week the pupils at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, a girls school in North London, receive help with either their English or maths from a volunteer at Action Tutoring. Friends Hosna and Syama have been working with their tutor, Elizabeth, since October and are confident her patience, understanding and clear methodical approach will help them reach the grades they need.
Elizabeth has tutored in a number of Action Tutoring’s partner schools and her experience can be seen through Hosna and Syama’s growing confidence. One of the reasons they find the sessions so helpful, they say, is that Elizabeth will recap at the beginning of a session before introducing what they will be covering that day. We agree with Hosna and Syama - structured sessions with a warm up or recap activity, main exercise and consolidation task are really important to help pupils track their own progress.
They appreciate their tutor going over and over a question even if they think they’ve got it - just to make sure! This is what makes tutoring sessions different from the classroom, they explain. During their time with Elizabeth they have the time to solve problems they otherwise might not have the chance to in a class of 15-25 pupils.
But whilst the girls have valued their time alone with their tutor, they admit they enjoy the complementary (and sometimes competitive!) element of working in a pair. “If Hosna doesn’t understand a question and I do then I’ll think of a practice question for her and help her through it”, says Syama. This is something we encourage in our tutors, as we know sometimes it can be nerve-wracking tutoring more than one pupil. Using groups to your advantage, through marking each other’s work and collaboratively explaining difficult concepts is a great way of keeping sessions interactive.
The sessions are a chance to learn new methods in a new environment. In one particular session the girls were itching to tell their Programme Coordinator, Esme, about a new method for multiplying out brackets - “Miss, you need to be tutored by our tutor if you don’t know this, it’s so easy and clever!”
The experience they’ve had with their tutor has completely changed the way they think about Action Tutoring. They admit they weren’t looking forward to the first session, but now they don’t want it to end! “It’s the best thing we’ve ever done in our school life”, they exclaim.
Their positive experience is reflected in their grades. Syama hopes to become a neonatal nurse and Hosna a teacher. At the end of Year 10 both were working on an E, but thanks to their dedication and that of their tutor, they are ‘quietly confident’ that they’re on track for that C grade (but hopefully a B!), which will allow them to go on take the next steps on their chosen paths. Next stop - college!