Explaining the attainment gap, and education inequality in the UK

30 September 2022

Education is a fundamental human right which countries have committed to uphold since they signed the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is essential to economic growth, breaking generational cycles of poverty, gender equality and the key to building a fairer and more sustainable future.

However, inequality in education is still a persistent global issue and it is defined as the unequal distribution of academic resources, including but not limited to school funding, qualified and experienced teachers, books, and technologies to socially excluded communities.

Despite being one of the biggest economies in the world, the UK still has social inequalities that impact disadvantaged children and their futures. One of the most significant inequalities they face is unequal access to additional educational support and the opportunities to access it. 

Living in a richer country does not guarantee equal access to high quality education, as was demonstrated in UNICEF’s publication An Unfair Start’. What was interesting to read in this research is that education inequality is far greater within rich countries than between countries, showing that regional differences are a more significant issue than one would imagine. 

Despite the Government’s plans to “level up“, there is enduring regional inequality in the UK education system. Last year in 2021, students in London again achieved the best results in their GCSEs, with more than a third of GCSEs being a grade 7 or higher (considered to be top grades). Meanwhile in  Yorkshire and the Humber fewer than one in four GCSEs were awarded as top grades. 

The UK is by no means the most unequal country in terms of education, and ranks 16; this report focuses on educational inequalities in 41 of the world’s richest countries, all of which are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and/or the European Union (EU).

However, we are still not doing enough to offer further academic support to the young people who need it in order to have the same opportunities as their peers, and the same prospects later in life.

How do we measure inequality in education?

Generally, grades, dropout rates and university entrance data are used to measure educational success. Put simply, academic performance and all the factors that result in pupils doing well in school (additional academic support, more educational resources, parents who help them with homework, etc.) is what impacts how we analyse education inequality. 

In the UK, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to obtain good grades or qualifications and go onto higher education, often resulting in widening social inequalities as they become adults. Children 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. 

If you’re a child from a low-income family, you’re less likely to achieve the GCSE grades needed to progress to further education, employment or training. In 2020-21, nationally 67% of disadvantaged pupils achieved a grade 4 or above in English, compared to 87% of their non-disadvantaged peers. 62% achieved a grade 4 or above in maths, compared to 84% of non-disadvantaged pupils.

While there are many factors that contribute to the attainment gap, Action Tutoring exists in order to work towards a solution. We provide free maths and English tuition to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it through partnerships with non-selective state schools. 

Read more about our impact  and the importance of tutoring in narrowing the attainment gap, or watch our video below!

Education inequality and the pandemic 

One of the immediate effects of the pandemic is increased education inequality in the UK. The huge disruption to schooling has affected all children, but especially those from poorer families, which will have long-term effects on their educational progression. 

Children from low-income families were less likely to have access to the resources they needed to learn effectively from home, such as a quiet room to study in, access to technology, extra education resources and private tutoring. 

Official government data also revealed that disadvantaged pupils who were eligible for free school meals (FSM) had higher rates of Covid-related absence from school during the autumn term than their wealthier peers. There is also evidence that school closures negatively impacted children’s mental wellbeing.

Financial challenges at home were also a burden for disadvantaged pupils. These families have found themselves under much more severe financial conditions, with less time and energy to dedicate to the home schooling of their children during lockdown. 

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the most deprived pupils are not only more likely to be behind in their learning, but their families are also at greater risk of poverty, food insecurity and job losses. This could further entrench the disadvantage these children face. It is therefore crucial that schools in deprived areas receive adequate and well-directed funding so that they can help to close the disadvantage gap and ensure all children can reach their potential.

Josh Hillman, Director of Education at the Nuffield Foundation

The Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that schools with a high number of disadvantaged pupils in England have already seen the largest decrease in spending per pupil over the last decade, making it harder to address the educational challenges and inequalities resulting from COVID-19.

Tackling education inequality in the UK

Tutoring 

Tutoring remains one of the tangible and most effective tools to support learning and accelerate pupil progress in tackling this educational challenge. Research by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) found that small group tuition has an average impact of four months’ additional progress over the course of a year. The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) was introduced in 2020 by the Department of Education as a supportive solution to make tutoring available to pupils whose education has been affected by the pandemic.

Making sure disadvantaged young people are academically supported is the first step towards ending the cycle of poverty. Action Tutoring partners with schools in England and with the help of our motivated volunteer tutors, delivers tailored and personalised support to disadvantaged pupils across the country.

Additional government funding

Sadly, it’s often schools in the most deprived areas where pupils most need additional tutoring support, that find it difficult to find the funds to pay for programmes like ours, even with the NTP grant available. The NTP grant only covers 60% of costs, with schools needing to cover the remainder from their general budgets.

We are proactively working with a number of funders willing to provide specific support to schools in certain areas to help them meet the costs to be able to deliver our programmes and we’re so grateful for their support. 

Additionally, we hope the government will commit to further longer term funding for the NTP and for further support for schools to navigate the energy bills crisis that’s proving a huge drain on many budgets.

Below are all the ways you can help!

Become a volunteer tutor

Volunteering as a tutor with Action Tutoring is an easy and rewarding way to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people living in your community.

By volunteering for just one hour a week, you will directly support disadvantaged pupils to build their confidence and help ensure they leave school with the grades needed to build a bright future, as well as developing your own skills.

Apply by filling the application form here!

Support us by donating

As a charity, donations make a real difference to the work we do and the support that we’re able to provide pupils. Every donation that we receive helps us to reach even more young people and have a positive impact on their education and their futures.

If you haven’t got the time to support as a volunteer, donations are another valuable way to make a difference to the lives of the young people we help.

You can make a one-off donation or set up a regular standing order quickly and easily here.

 

 

Follow us on social media

We love using social media to raise awareness on the importance of reducing the attainment gap, engage with our followers and build a community of people who believe educational support should not be a privilege, but a right to every individual, no matter their socio-economic background.

Small acts of support can lead to a great positive change!

Why I volunteer with Action Tutoring

12 September 2022

I once read a quote from Albert Einstein: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what they learnt in school.”

That quote has stuck with me to this day and for the longest time I wasn’t sure why – until I began volunteering as a tutor for Action Tutoring.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s turn back the clock and talk about why Action Tutoring exists. It may surprise you to learn that there is an educational crisis taking place in the UK.

Similarly to the pandemics, strikes, international conflicts and financial difficulties that have taken centre stage in recent years, this crisis will define our future as a nation. I am of course referring to the disparity in academic attainment that disadvantaged pupils face.

tutoring tips

The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

Did you know that a disadvantaged student is on average 18 months behind their counterparts whilst taking their GCSEs? How about that privately educated students (around 6% of the young population) make up 55% of the students at Russel Group Universities?

Most concerning of all is that in 2018, UNICEF ranked 41 developed countries by educational inequality – the UK came 23rd and 16th for primary and secondary schools respectively. This meant it was beaten in some categories by historically less developed countries – Chile, Bulgaria and Malta for example.

Some of these issues have only been heightened by a lack of teachers and the Covid-19 pandemic, with many disadvantaged school students unable to access their now electronic school work. As a result, thousands of pupils nationwide find themselves deprived of the equal education that they deserve.

This is where Action Tutoring comes in. Once a school is sponsored by Action Tutoring, trained volunteer tutors such as myself get the chance to help level the playing field. This is achieved through giving extra maths and English lessons to primary and secondary school pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, who aren’t achieving their true potential.

Whilst tutoring a group of pupils every week may sound extremely daunting, in actuality it went very smoothly. The training and lesson templates were very easily comprehensible, and the staff at Action Tutoring were very professional and helpful when any issues arose. Over time, the terrifying idea of tutoring pupils every week soon gave way to an immensely rewarding experience of seeing pupils grow in confidence, ability and critical thinking skills.

Furthermore, on top of this vital societal role, the tutors themselves benefit. The experience of tutoring gives you confidence, becoming a more capable public speaker and teacher. This is of course in addition to giving volunteering and tutoring experience, which is especially useful if you’ve considered a career in teaching as I have.

So, at the end of my tutoring experience I can confidently say that both my pupils and I benefitted from it, and are better equipped to face the challenges that the world may throw at us in future. This neatly brings me back to my Albert Einstein quote; because long after the equations and language techniques fade from pupils’ minds, they will still benefit from their education.

Blog written by Henry Roberts

5th September: International Day of Charity Celebration

5 September 2022

What is the International Day of Charity?

5th September marks the International Day of Charity celebration, as a way to raise awareness and mobilise people, NGOs, and governments all around the world to help others through volunteering and philanthropic activities.

The International Day of Charity started in Hungary as a way for the Hungarian Civil Society to enhance visibility, organise charitable events and raise public support for charity.

The date of 5th September was chosen to commemorate the passing of Mother Teresa, who was known for her dedication to charitable work and giving her life to helping others and overcoming poverty, suffering, and distress.

There are not many great things, only small things with great love.

Mother Teresa 

Why is the International Day of Charity important?

The goal today is to spark discussion about how to use our time and resources wisely so that we can be there for disadvantaged people who need our support.

By encouraging social responsibility on 5th September, we aim to raise awareness of the needs of the most vulnerable to help communities who need us the most. 

On this day we also thank our volunteers for all their support and commitment. Last academic year, over 2,000 volunteer tutors provided over 30,000 tutoring sessions in English or maths to disadvantaged children who needed some extra support. 

Volunteering can be a rewarding experience and has the potential to make a real change in the lives of the most vulnerable.

How to get involved

Take some time to reflect about the causes you care about

International Day of Charity helps bring our attention back and raise awareness for all the little ways we can help.

Why not take some time today to think about what causes you care about so you can dedicate your time and energy giving back to the community? Charity organisations rely on people who are interested and committed to helping others.

Visit a volunteer centre

Volunteer centres are in most communities and can be visited in-person, called, or contacted online. There, you can receive specialist advice about which volunteering opportunity might suit your interests and skills.

If you’re a student, your university will have a volunteering department that can provide advice. If you’re employed, there’s a chance your work might have a Corporate Social Responsibility department or policy and can point you in the right direction, too.

Find other ways to support

Found a cause you’re interested in, but don’t quite have enough time to volunteer yet? You can support your chosen charity in other ways. Donations are vital to the running of any charity, and it really is a case of every little helps. 

You can also support charities by spreading the word about their work. Share what you know about them with a friend who might be interested in volunteering, or share their posts on social media. Advocacy can be as small as one click to share, and is key in raising awareness of a charity’s mission. 

Interested in supporting Action Tutoring today?

Education in this country isn’t fair. If you are from a poorer socio-economic background, you are less likely to achieve academically than your peers. 

At Action Tutoring, we believe that all children should have access to equal education opportunities, no matter their socioeconomic status, as this leads to a brighter future. We are proud to have created a strong community of inspiring volunteers, who are crucial in our mission to reach more disadvantaged pupils and offer tailored academic support. 

If education equality is a cause you’re passionate about, apply to volunteer as a tutor with us. You only need to spare an hour each week to help disadvantaged pupils progress in English and maths.

Spread the word 

You can also help by sharing this post on social media to raise awareness and inspire others who might be interested in volunteering as a tutor with us. 

#BackToSchool – How Action Tutoring is preparing for the autumn term

26 August 2022

The new autumn term is fast approaching and we couldn’t be more excited to continue our work and support more disadvantaged pupils to progress academically around the country this year! 

The summer break was an opportunity to reflect on our work and the impact we had, plan our autumn activities and make sure we are fully equipped so we can support our pupils in the best possible way.

mental health award

Our teams in action! How are we preparing for the autumn term?

Action Tutoring is made up of multiple teams: the Programme team, Marketing and Communications, Impact and Quality, HR and Operations and our Senior Management Team. 

The Programme team’s role is crucial in ensuring the smooth delivery of tutoring in our partner schools. They work closely with our tutors and are there to support and make sure the programmes run successfully on the ground. 

Here’s what Hannah, our Programme Coordinator in Newcastle, has to say about the new term approaching:

‘’Like a lot of people who work in education, the summer break for a Programme Coordinator is a mix of wrapping up the loose ends from the previous academic year and mapping out what the next will look like. 

I’m moving into my second year working for Action Tutoring, so I feel much more equipped to plan for my upcoming programmes, pulling together everything I learnt last year and all the brilliant tips from my colleagues. 

I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running with schools who are continuing working with us from last year, which will make a lovely smooth transition, as well as getting to know some new schools, including my first secondary school face-to-face tutoring programme!’’

Our Marketing and Communications team work to raise our profile and recruit  high-quality volunteers through partnerships, social media, our website and localised recruitment. Once a tutor has applied, they ensure through communications that volunteers are able to progress through their tutoring journey as smoothly as possible.. 

Summer for the Marketing and Recruitment team is a chance to reflect on our volunteer recruitment strategies for the first six months of the new school year and start putting them into action. 

We’re working towards attracting as many volunteers as possible to take part in our autumn term programmes, and make the transition into the new year as smooth as possible for all of the pupils who are excited to meet their tutor! 

How do we ensure our programmes have impact? That’s where our Impact and Quality team come in. They ensure that our programmes meet our high standards and are making a measurable impact on the pupils we work with. They create and tailor the maths and English resources volunteers use, lead tutor training sessions, and develop our online programmes.

Our Senior Training and Quality Coordinator, CJ,  says:

‘’Over the school summer holidays, I’ve been leading on a project to refresh our online tutoring resources, giving them a new look for the new academic year. 

As well as adding Action Tutoring’s new branding, we’re implementing good practice we’ve learned about dyslexia and visual accessibility, which we hope will improve the pupil and tutor experience of using our resources. 

I’m really proud of the project team who has made this happen – mostly our brilliant Programme Coordinators, who have picked up the design skills needed for the task really quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing pupils and tutors using the new resources in action!’’

Leo is our Online Programmes Manager and also part of the Impact and Quality team.

When asked how he is preparing for new academic year, he said:

I’m using feedback from our volunteers and staff to make small changes to the online programme and our platform, Vedamo, to try to make our online offering effective as possible for pupils. 

‘’I’m feeling positive about the new academic year and confident that we can use the learnings from last year to have an even more impactful year. I am most looking forward to visiting our online programmes to see how pupils are engaging with the new design of our online resources.’’

Last but definitely not least, our Hr and Operations team ensures that we are fully equipped and supported when it comes to safeguarding policies, finances, organising internal and external events and keeping everything up to date.

Our HR & Operations administrator, Sav says:

‘’In the run up to the new school year, the HR and Operations team are often busy with the onboarding of new Programme Coordinators and ensuring that our operational processes are up to speed. This summer has been particularly hectic in this regard with numerous aspects needing updating to reflect the organisational growth! 

As a result, I would say that the area of my job that I am most looking forward to is all of the calls from prospective tutors looking to get signed up to new programmes. These calls regularly give me an opportunity to slow down and enjoy a conversation with someone that is really passionate about volunteering. This often leads to the sharing of tutoring experiences and classroom stories, which is a welcome change from being faced with logistical challenges and red tape!’’

Our focuses this term

Build solidarity in our communities 

The ultimate goal is to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged young people and their peers. 

Evidence suggests that tutoring is highly effective in a pupil’s learning progress, but only 18% of disadvantaged young people have been able to receive tuition support during the pandemic, compared to the 43% of pupils from more affluent backgrounds.

We want to make sure our work has an impact on the lives of the pupils we work with, and that we can support as many pupils as possible. That’s why this term we want to build solidarity in our communities, inspire more to join our cause and grow our volunteering group so that more disadvantaged young people can receive high-quality additional support.

dyslexia pupil support

Expand our reach by partnering with more schools 

In addition, we are looking forward to expanding our partnership with more schools across the country. Since 2012, when Action Tutoring was registered as a charity, we have provided tutoring for over 6,700 primary school pupils and over 12,500 secondary school pupils.

We understand the demands and pressures that schools are under, especially after the pandemic. Get in touch with us to learn more or apply by completing this form. 

Be there for our pupils 

The new autumn term is another opportunity we have to be there for our pupils. We want to make sure our volunteer tutors have the support and resources they need so that sessions are not only educational, but also welcoming and safe for all pupils. 

Our volunteers are not only educators, but also serve as role models, motivating pupils to overcome learning barriers and achieve their potential in life. As they come from a whole range of backgrounds, including university students, working employees and retired professionals, tutors can empathise and understand the additional struggles of pupils from low-income families.

At Action Tutoring we believe the emotional well-being of pupils is as equally important as their academic progress. 

Get involved 

At Action Tutoring we believe that inclusive and equal education opportunities for all children, no matter their socioeconomic status, leads to a brighter future for everyone. 

We are proud to have created a strong community of inspiring volunteers, who are crucial in our mission to reach more disadvantaged pupils and offer tailored academic support. All our volunteers receive mandatory induction training, complete the necessary safeguarding checks and receive additional resources and ongoing support from the team to help them develop as tutors.

Read our FAQs to learn more about our charity and how we work.

To reach even more pupils, we need more volunteers. 

GCSE results – Celebrating our pupils’ hard work!

25 August 2022

GCSE results day is here! As a charity committed to having a measurable impact on its beneficiaries, these results are crucial evidence of our work.

tutoring tips

Every achievement counts, and we are incredibly proud of our pupils’ hard work, engagement and resilience through another challenging year.

GCSE results day matters so much because it opens doors. For pupils to progress into further education, employment or training, they need at least to meet national standards in English and maths. Pupils who do not achieve GCSEs are more likely to become NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) at 16+.

We’re excited to pause today and celebrate the successes of pupils around the country.

Tutoring remains an impactful intervention for young people to make progress, and as an EEF report indicates, small-group tuition leads to an average impact of four additional months of academic progress over a year. 

Action Tutoring’s mission is to enable pupils facing disadvantage to make meaningful academic progress in school. Our trained volunteer tutors support them to make academic progress and achieve the grades they need in their SATs and GCSEs in order to open doors to future opportunities. 

In 2021, 80% of the disadvantaged pupils supported by Action Tutoring achieved GCSE grade 4+ in English or maths. 

We are pleased pupils have been able to return to some degree of normality in sitting their exams this year after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic. However it has nevertheless been a challenging year for this cohort. Covid and resulting school closures had  a significant impact on their learning, especially those facing disadvantage.

The EPI report shows that the gap in GCSE grade attainment between pupils from low-income families and their peers has not improved in the last decade. Instead, poverty levels have now risen due to the pandemic and more disadvantaged young people are unable to receive the academic support they need in order to catch up.

For this reason, we need even more volunteer tutors to help us reach more pupils and make a real difference in their lives. 

Our decade of experience has enabled us to refine our powerful tutoring provision to help improve the academic outcomes of pupils facing disadvantage. We’re keen to partner with more schools next academic year to reach more pupils who could benefit from our support.

If you’re a school interested in finding out how we might be able to support you, do get in touch or complete our initial enquiry form if you’re interested in partnering with us.

Read more: How Action Tutoring’s partner schools benefit from our volunteers?

Be part of the change 

We couldn’t have made this all happen without the support and commitment of our passionate volunteers, who have given their time so generously and been with our pupils every step of the way in another year.

The autumn term is fast approaching and we are looking forward to working with more pupils and volunteers in the coming months. 

Could you volunteer for an hour each week and join our volunteering community? Your contribution is more important than ever.

Do you know someone who can volunteer with us? Spread the word by sharing our blog on social media!

The impact of our Virtual Programmes – a step closer to reaching more pupils!

22 August 2022

School closures in 2021 had a hugely negative impact on young people across the country. The absence of in-school education and other means of support at home, like private tutoring, has pushed disadvantaged pupils further behind and widened the attainment gap to an even greater extent. 

ONLINE TUTORING

During these school closures, Action Tutoring gained a huge amount of experience in managing sessions remotely when pupils were based at home. This experience has been invaluable in pivoting to pilot a virtual model where pupils are in school but Action Tutoring staff and volunteers are supporting remotely.

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 want to support as many disadvantaged pupils as we can, across as many regions as possible and outside of urban centres. So, in 2022, we launched our virtual tutoring programmes to reach even more pupils!

What are Action Tutoring virtual programmes?

Thanks to the support of our determined volunteer tutors, partner schools and staff team, Action Tutoring has made tutoring more accessible for  children from disadvantaged backgrounds with our new virtual model. In this model, pupils log in to the session from school and Action Tutoring staff and volunteers support them remotely. 

Some of our current virtual volunteering opportunities take place with pupils from the partner schools in Luton, Corby, Portsmouth and Rotherham. 

Here are some of the schools where our virtual volunteering opportunities take place! 

How do virtual programmes work?

With the help of technology and the right resources, our virtual programmes work exactly like our in-person ones. One to three pupils are supported by a volunteer tutor, for an hour per week across the course of 10-20 weeks. Pupils receive English or maths tutoring from the comfort of their classroom (or IT suite!), usually before, during or after the school day.

Our Training and Curriculum team has worked hard to create the learning materials that volunteers need for their tutoring sessions. These are carefully tailored to the national curriculum, and what pupils need to know to pass their SATs and GCSEs.

Our online learning platform, Vedamo, and online tutor workbooks enable our volunteers to spend the maximum amount of time on tutoring during the one-hour session, rather than preparing or addressing tech issues.

Working closely with teachers, our Programme Coordinators are on hand to oversee delivery, manage any issues that may arise during virtual sessions, support tutors, and monitor the quality of the tutoring.

They are all passionate about educational equality and work hard to ensure pupils gain the most from their tutoring sessions with our volunteers.

‘’I have been so impressed with the work of Action Tutoring. Their tutors are so well trained and were able to forge positive working relationships in the first session. Their online platform, which we have moved to recently, is incredibly easy to use and the move from face-to-face tutoring to online has been seamless. If you are lucky enough to partner with Action Tutoring – don’t ever let them go!’’

Deputy Headteacher, London

Be part of our volunteering team!

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

 For this, 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.

As a volunteer, your help could make a difference in allowing pupils to catch up on vital learning and help them improve their academic performance in English and maths.

The benefits of volunteering in retirement with Action Tutoring

18 August 2022

At Action Tutoring age isn’t a barrier when it comes to helping others and making the world a fairer place! Our volunteers range from 18 to 80, and we welcome all individuals from different backgrounds to join our volunteer team as a tutor in English or maths and make a real difference.

Most importantly, our education charity is proud to be an inclusive, equal opportunities organisation for its volunteers. Our tutors come from a whole range of backgrounds, including university students, working employees and retired professionals, inspiring pupils to consider future pathways and exposing them to a range of role models.

Retirement can be one of the most wonderful times of your life! More time to spend with loved ones, start a new hobby, explore new places – and perhaps to find a particular cause you’re passionate about.

Join our volunteering group, and be part of our mission to help more disadvantaged pupils receive the academic support they need to progress in life. 

What will you be doing?

You’ll deliver tutoring sessions to pupils eligible for Pupil Premium and help them progress academically in English or maths, depending on your qualifications and experience. 

The academic support your pupils will receive will make them more engaged in the classroom and you’ll be able to watch their confidence grow with every session!

To join our cause, all you need to commit is one hour a week for 10-20 weeks, either online or in-person. The sessions run at the same time and day each week, so if you enjoy volunteering with us, we’d love it if you continued supporting the same pupils with their progress!

“Before I started tutoring I didn’t feel great about English as I felt like I knew nothing.  Now I feel much better as I can write more.  I know how to answer the exam questions with the right structure.  My tutors were really nice and went the extra mile for me.  In the future I want to be an electrical engineer and I know my tutoring has helped me with my English so that I can get the grades I need to study for this career.” – Secondary school pupil, Birmingham

Click here if you are interested to learn more about the schools we work with and check if their locations are convenient for you! 

What are the requirements to join our volunteer community?

Our amazing volunteers care about the wellbeing of the pupils, and not just their general academic success.  That’s why we look for qualities such as patience, empathy and good communication skills in order to effectively pass on their knowledge to their pupils.

We are proud to work with many retired individuals (they are one of our main groups of volunteers!) since they are dedicated volunteers who want to give back to their community and share their knowledge with the younger generation. 

This can help bridge the gap between the older and the younger people, offering both sides the opportunity to learn and grow from each other. 

A retired IT technician, Phil found himself at a loose end and wanted to give something back to his local community. He believes maths is crucial for all pupils to master and so began volunteering with Action Tutoring.

He says:

‘’As a retired person with a lot of free time, I wanted to do something where I felt I was being active and contributing. I think everybody wants to feel that they are using their time in a positive way, which is more of a challenge when you’re retired. For me, tutoring has made me feel as though I am continuing to contribute.’’

What support will you receive from us?

Our Training and Curriculum team has worked hard to create the learning material volunteer tutors need for their tutoring sessions. They also provide an initial training which will help volunteers understand more about how our charity works, our values and further training opportunities that tutors can use.  

Our goal is to offer our pupils personalised academic support through our workbooks and resources. We provide our volunteers with these, so we just ask for 15-30 preparation time per session, to familiarise yourself with the materials and the topic you’ll be tutoring.

Whether you choose to tutor online or in-person, our Programme Coordinators will be available to support you throughout your tutoring experience and manage any issues that may occur.

Curious to see who we are? Here’s our team! 

What will you get in return?

Our volunteer tutors have not only made a positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged young people, but they have experienced positive benefits for themselves too.

Volunteering is all about feeling fulfilled and making a difference at the same time. Beyond how your physical health improves by voluntary work, your mental wellbeing is improved too. In particular, The National Institute on Aging reported that participating in activities that are meaningful and productive may lower the risk of dementia and other health problems in seniors.

Spending more time at home reduces the chance of meeting new people, something we’ve all learnt in recent years! To avoid feeling lonely, you can be part of our group and put your skills and knowledge to good use.

In addition, volunteering with Action Tutoring can be a brilliant way to interact with people of different ages from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences in new situations. This will be an easy way for all retired professionals to socialise and maybe make new friends while giving back to the community!

More information on volunteer opportunities for retired professionals can be found here. If you can’t find the answer to your question, get in touch with us by sending an email at volunteer@actiontutoring.org.uk.

Do you want to learn more about the impact of our work? Watch the video below!

Volunteering is free, and comes with a complimentary sense of fulfilment. Ready to take the next step? 

My experiences as a student volunteer with Action Tutoring

9 August 2022

In May 2021, Georgia from Durham University started volunteering with Action Tutoring, an education charity which connects volunteer tutors with pupils across England who are facing disadvantage.

pupil premium

Since delivering her first tutoring session over a year ago, she has supported ten pupils across primary and secondary level with the development of their reading comprehension skills, helping them to become more confident in their academic abilities whilst enhancing her own leadership and communication skills along the way.

As her fourth term of tutoring has drawn to a close, she would like to take the opportunity to reflect on her tutoring journey so far and to share some of her experiences as a student volunteer.

Interested in learning more about volunteering while you’re studying? Click the button below to find out more:

How did your first tutoring session go?

Before my first session, it’s fair to say that I was nervous! Whilst I had worked with young people before, I had no previous tutoring experience and therefore did not know what to expect from the session. How would I keep my pupils engaged? What would I do if my session didn’t go to plan?

Read more: Nervous about your first tutoring session? These tips will help!

However, with the support of my Programme Coordinator and the training and resources provided by Action Tutoring, I soon eased into my role as a tutor and left my first session feeling confident that I could make a difference to young people within my community.

The session templates provided by Action Tutoring were particularly helpful to me as a new tutor, as they saved me from having to find my own resources and plan the session from scratch. Instead, I simply had to decide how best to deliver the template provided, meaning that I could dedicate more time to building a rapport with my pupils – a vital part of the initial sessions.

How was your interaction with your pupils – was it challenging or did it come naturally?

At first, my pupils seemed nervous and reluctant to engage with the activities I had planned for the session. However, by spending some time getting to know my pupils and telling them a bit about myself, too, I was able to make them feel more comfortable in my presence and more willing to contribute to our sessions.

We got to know each other through a combination of icebreaker tasks and English-based games, which helped to facilitate discussion. In addition to this, I made sure to ask my pupils a few simple questions about their favourite books, films and sports so that I could learn a bit more about their personalities and interests (and tailor my tutoring sessions accordingly).

Having now worked with four different groups of pupils over four programmes, I find that whilst interaction with certain pupils comes more naturally than with others, all pupils benefit from you taking the time to get to know them so as to establish a comfortable learning environment.

What was your biggest surprise about volunteering with Action Tutoring?

When I first joined Action Tutoring as a volunteer tutor, I assumed it would be difficult to motivate my pupils to want to learn given the challenges they had already faced at school – how wrong I was!

In my experience, most pupils enter their first tutoring session with an open mind and are willing to give you as their tutor the chance to support them in improving their core English/maths skills. During the first couple of weeks, pupils often just want to listen and learn from you whilst they build up the confidence to contribute to sessions.

Once they feel comfortable, they start to engage more proactively in group tasks and discussions, even expressing their own opinions on the topics covered in sessions. This was certainly the case with the group of Year 5 and 6 pupils from a primary school in Birmingham I tutored for two terms last year.

In each session, they participated enthusiastically in the tasks at hand, asking perceptive questions about the texts we read in class and even competing to be the first to give a correct answer or finish a task. They consistently showed enthusiasm, drive and intellectual curiosity, and it was wonderful to see them develop both academically and socially over the course of the programme.

Would you suggest more people volunteer? Why?

Most definitely! Volunteering with Action Tutoring has been an incredibly rewarding experience which has enabled me to make a valuable contribution to the fight against educational inequality.

I have also developed valuable skills in leadership, organisation and communication through my role as a tutor, which will be useful for my future employment.

Whilst I joined Action Tutoring to make a difference in society and to gain experience beyond my university studies, everyone’s circumstances and reasons for volunteering are unique – so whether you are employed and hoping to bring some variety into the working day, or retired and looking for a new challenge, there are so many benefits to becoming a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring.

Guest blog by our student volunteer Georgia Allen

Inclusive communication at Action Tutoring: Why it matters

29 July 2022

Action Tutoring is proud to be an inclusive, equal opportunities organisation for its staff and volunteers. We’re always looking to attract the very best volunteers from the most diverse and widest possible talent pool.

We understand that language can break barriers, but without us realising, it can also create them. That’s why adopting inclusive language and communication is one of our top priorities. 

It is important that everyone feels comfortable and receives the information they need in the most effective way. What we mean by inclusive communication is sharing information in a way that everybody can understand.  

Why is inclusive communication important? 

It is estimated that one in seven people in the world have some form of disability, including vision impairment, being deaf or hard of hearing, physical and learning disabilities.

All these groups of people should be able to enjoy life opportunities and participate in different activities in the same way as anyone else.

Equal access for people with disabilities is both the right thing to do and a legal obligation under the Equalities Act 2010. It is extremely important to apply it in our work so we don’t exclude any potential tutors or job applicants.

Just as important as what we communicate is how we communicate it. We recognise that people understand and express themselves in different ways and in order to meet their needs, it is essential to use inclusive communication in all forms; written, verbally, on our website and social media platforms, presentations (internally or externally), and face to face.

This helps us create an environment of respect in which every individual is welcomed, valued, and empowered to be their authentic selves.

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How do we make communication more accessible?

Our communications team understands the power that language and visuals hold. For this reason, they try different communication approaches so that no one is left behind. They encourage everyone in our organisation to respect and acknowledge that people’s ability to access and process messages is as varied as they are.

We all try to implement the following strategies in order to be as inclusive in our communication as possible.

✔️ We use plain English when communicating with external audiences. This means using simple, everyday words, and explaining acronyms or Action Tutoring terms. For example, instead of saying ‘WAG’ for ‘Working at Grade’, we prefer to simply say ‘the grade at which the pupil is currently working’.

✔️ In our blogs, social media posts and emails to tutors, we avoid using figures of speech and idioms, as these can be challenging for autistic people and speakers of English as an additional language.

✔️ In our additional resources for volunteer tutors, we have included a Diversity and Inclusion tutor code of conduct in order to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and in accordance with Equal Opportunities policies. If you want to learn more about what we expect from our volunteers, you can read our D&I tutor code of conduct here.

We are always mindful of accessibility when it comes to our content on our website. We use text instead of graphics when sharing important information, so that those using a screen reader can access it.

✔️ Inclusive communication is not a one-and-done box ticking activity. It’s an ongoing process and requires constant learning and adjustment. Our team is always looking for new ways to improve how we communicate and include as many people as possible in our cause.

It’s time to make a conscious decision to create a welcoming and  safe environment for everyone. When we strive to be more inclusive, everyone benefits!

Can you support our cause?

If you could spare an hour each week to help disadvantaged young people receive the academic support they need in English and maths, apply today to join our cause.

We’d love to hear from you!

Follow us on our social media pages and stay up to date with the latest Action Tutoring news!

Celebrating World Youth Skills Day – why is it important?

15 July 2022

World Youth Skills Day is a global awareness day that is celebrated every year on 15th July as a way to raise awareness of youth unemployment and promote the importance of providing young people with the right skills, tools and resources so that they can transform their future. 

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It was celebrated for the first time in 2014 and since then, World Youth Skills Day has created an amazing opportunity for dialogue between young people and education and training institutions, organisations, firms and employers.

Why do we celebrate it?

World Youth Skills Day is a chance to shine light on the high levels of youth employment around the world and the significance of giving young people the chance they deserve to succeed in life. 

By addressing the challenges of unemployment, the goal today is to spark discussion about how to provide further opportunities to young people coming from different backgrounds so that they can feel empowered and supported. 

How exactly did it start?

It started in 2014 as a way to reduce unemployment and promote Technical and Vocational Education and Training for youth, also called TVET. 

TVET, as part of lifelong learning that can take place at secondary, post-secondary and tertiary levels and includes work-based learning and continuing training and professional development which may lead to qualifications. 

TVET also includes a wide range of skills development opportunities attuned to national and local contexts. Learning to learn, the development of literacy and numeracy skills, transversal skills and citizenship skills are integral components of TVET. This presents a lot of benefits over traditional training methods and it creates better employment opportunities, higher income levels while also increasing job satisfaction.

As a result, this brings together policymakers, training institutions, and development partners to ensure that young people -especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – are best supported.

Youth unemployment in the UK

Young people have been hit first and hardest in the labour market by COVID-19.  455,000 young people (10.8%) aged 16-24 were unemployed in February-April 2022. 

Read more: What does the EPI report show about the impact of the pandemic on disadvantaged young people?

Looking beyond COVID-19, the recovery of youth employment is more essential than ever. The government has responded to the unemployment crisis among young people by implementing different initiatives that encourage and promote employment prospects, such as the Kickstart Scheme, traineeships and employer apprenticeship incentives.

Do you want to get involved?

At Action Tutoring we have created a safe and inclusive place where our team members, tutors, pupils and teachers can feel supported, heard and empowered. 

If you could spare an hour each week to help disadvantaged young people receive the academic support they need in English and maths, apply today to join our cause.

We’d love to hear from you!

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