Our story

Action Tutoring is a charity that supports disadvantaged young people to achieve academically, with a view to enabling them to progress in education, employment or training. We do this by partnering high-quality volunteer tutors with pupils to increase their subject knowledge, confidence and study skills.  Read more about our story, vision and values.

Our vision as a charity is a world in which no child’s life chances are limited by their socio-economic background.

Why we exist

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t less able, but they have less access to the tools that support them to progress in school and reach their full academic potential. This is called the attainment gap.

While there are many factors that contribute to these statistics, we exist in order to work towards a solution.


Attainment gap stats

Our mission statement

Action Tutoring unlocks the potential of children and young people who are facing disadvantage. We are tackling the attainment gap head-on by forging partnerships with schools nationwide. Our trained volunteer tutors are empowered to enable pupils to make meaningful academic progress, opening doors to future opportunities.

The meaning behind our infinity symbol

Action Tutoring helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve more through the support of our passionate volunteer tutors. At the heart of our brand identity is an infinity symbol, highlighting the infinite potential of the young people we support, our volunteers, and our partner schools. It shines a light on what young people can do, rather than what they can’t do. It also represents the continuous cycle of giving back: by volunteering with our charity our tutors are helping our pupils to succeed in life. They will then progress and in future give back to society as a result, starting the cycle again.

Action Tutoring’s future strategy

Having a meaningful impact on the lives of disadvantaged pupils requires us to always evaluate our work. Putting our plans into words allows our charity to have a clear and well-focused future strategy so we can reach more disadvantaged pupils.

Below you will find more details on our future strategy for the next five years focusing on four key areas: reach, growth, impact and advocacy.

Reach – We will expand the locations we work in, especially to reach more rural and coastal areas. We have calculated that there are over 5,500 schools we could be working with just two hours from one of our current cities of operation. We have an ambition for 30% of our delivery to be happening in these locations through our online model in three years’ time.

Growth – We know there is so much need for our work, as the attainment gap remains stubbornly large and as pupils continue to be impacted by lost learning from the pandemic. We aim to be supporting at least 10,000 pupils a year in three years’ time, rising to at least 12,000 a year in five years’ time.

Impact – We are proud of the impact we’ve already demonstrated but we want to go further. We want to drive efficiencies in our model while maintaining impact and to understand more about what elements of our model make it especially effective, all building towards a large external evaluation in five years’ time.

Advocacy – Since the pandemic, our role in advocacy work has been growing. We will build on this, using our experience and voice to ensure that there is a long term legacy from the National Tutoring Programme and that tutoring for disadvantaged pupils is permanently embedded in the education system, to narrow the attainment gap.

Why tutoring?

Tutoring is an extremely effective tool to improve pupils’ grades. The Education Endowment Foundation calculated that an intense programme of one-to-one tuition could add up to five months’ progress to a young person’s schooling.

Small-group tuition works because it is tailored to individual needs and can address misconceptions at the source, while providing a safe space for pupils with low confidence to speak up and learn from their mistakes.

With the average cost of a tutor at £26 an hour, private tuition is simply not an option for the pupils that we support. As more and more young people access private tutors, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged young people and their peers will grow.

We use the power of volunteer tutors to bridge the gap and ensure that tutoring support can be accessed by every pupil who needs it, not just those who can afford it.

The economic impact of tutoring

In January 2024 policy consultants Public First published their research on the economic impact of tutoring. It shows that pupils who achieved better grades through tutoring will boost the UK’s economy by £4.34 billion. This economic benefit is captured through pupils improving their grades and, as a result, obtaining higher lifetime earnings.

For every £1 spent on tutoring, there’s a benefit to the economy of £6.58. These findings are incredibly powerful as we continue to advocate for investment in tutoring. You can read more about the research here.

How we started…


Action Tutoring is founded
Action Tutoring was founded in 2011 by our current CEO, Susannah Hardyman. Having seen first-hand the difference tutoring could make, Susannah set about establishing an organisation that could make the benefits of tutoring available to those who couldn’t otherwise afford it.


Pilot programme success
Following the success of an initial pilot programme, the SHINE Trust provided funding for a larger pilot programme and in the academic year 2011-2012, fifteen tutoring programmes were delivered in schools across London, benefitting 250 pupils.


Expanding outside London
Action Tutoring continued to grow rapidly in London and in spring 2013, a pilot programme launched in Manchester. Funding from NESTA and the Cabinet Office then enabled us to expand quickly to different regions across the country, including Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.


Collaboration with Impetus
In May 2014, we were thrilled to start working with Impetus, helping to further refine our tutoring model to ensure the greatest possible impact for the pupils we worked with.


Workbooks created
In 2015, Action Tutoring developed its first workbooks structured to fit with the school curriculum.


Tutoring in primary schools begins
After identifying the attainment gap existing at primary school level and understanding the negative impact this can have on disadvantaged pupils and their future progress, Action Tutoring launched a pilot programme with primary schools to help prepare Year 6 pupils for their SATs exams.


Launched in Nottingham
Now established in seven regions across England (Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sussex), the final addition at this time was Nottingham, where Action Tutoring began delivering tutoring sessions from autumn 2019.


Online tutoring begins
In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to close. In response, Action Tutoring continued to support its teachers and volunteers alongside developing its online tutoring offering.  The online programme was piloted in summer 2020 (as part of a wider research piece) and officially launched in October 2020, with tutors delivering sessions remotely from across England, Scotland and Wales.


Expansion to new cities
In 2021, Action Tutoring expanded its reach to include new cities across the UK, including Chester, Coventry, Derby, Durham and Southport.


Piloted virtual programmes
In 2022, Action Tutoring piloted virtual programmes, enabling us to reach wider geographies. We launched programmes in Rotherham, Chesterfield, Corby, Luton, Reading and Portsmouth.


High standards
We maintain professional standards through all of our interactions with partner schools and volunteer tutors and strive to achieve excellence in all we do.
In addition to our impact analysis, we regularly survey pupils, teachers and tutors to help inform improvements to the programme. We are hugely proud of our impact and the programme we offer but are always looking to make it even better.
Evidence based
We track the progress of our pupils through data collection from schools and our own baseline tests and interim assessments, to ensure our support is having an impact. Where appropriate we work with external evaluators to regularly assess our evidence. 
We develop our training and resources to support our pupils, tutors and staff to be the best they can be.
We share all pupil progress data with partner schools, even if the outcomes aren’t as hoped, and make our evaluation reports widely available.
Partnerships with schools are at the heart of our model. We also regularly engage with our peer charities and organisations such as Teach First, Impetus and the Fair Education Alliance, to maintain a united force on tackling education inequality.