After extensive preparation and painstaking organisation, Action Tutoring has taken the leap to begin working in partnerships with primary schools. With six primary programmes in London, one in Birmingham and one in Bristol starting over the last few weeks, staff have been working hard to ensure this new venture has got off to a smooth start. The majority of tutoring programmes run one session per week, before school begins, at around 8:00am. This is ideal for busy tutors who work full time, or for those who just like to start out bright and early! So far, it’s been an extremely promising start. There has been a whirlwind of enthusiasm from tutors and pupils, and the schools seem to be really excited about the potential impact that the sessions from Action Tutoring can have on their pupils.
The success of Action Tutoring in its previous years of secondary programmes begs the question of why the decision was made to work with primary schools as well. While secondary schooling is inevitably essential for entering further education or training, it appears that some children are beginning secondary schools on a much lower than expected level from primary schools. Earlier this year, following the change in the National Curriculum, only 53% of pupils achieved the expected level in reading, writing and maths before entering secondary school. There is also a 33% difference in attainment between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils aged 11 years and the gap continues to widen to 26% at the age of 16 years. This emphasises the importance of providing support to children from an early age, as entering secondary school on a much lower than expected level may have a detrimental impact on their future attainment and qualifications.
Action Tutoring have designed some exciting new resources in conjunction with the primary curriculum. English and maths workbooks for both pupils and tutors have been created with the view to make appealing and interesting resources for primary children. Primary curriculum consultant, Robbie Burns, has worked with Action Tutoring to provide exciting content that coincides with the syllabus. The workbooks have been created with a thematic approach, using themes that will get the imagination of the children racing, such as exploring South Africa, and Spies and Sabotage.
The start to the primary programmes has been nothing less than encouraging so far. Early days, I know, but pupils are enthusiastic and grateful to have “a teacher all to themselves”. The first session at Camelot primary school, Peckham, had a lively atmosphere full of enthusiastic tutors and inquisitive pupils, excited to begin their tutoring journey. At the end of the session, they were even asking if their tutors could come in every day.
Pupils at Ashmole primary school, Lambeth, were encouraged at the end of their first session to reflect on what they learnt and what they enjoyed about the session, in front of their class. The pupils said things like, “I liked being able to choose which topic I worked on myself, and having my tutor to help”. This was a great way to thank the tutors, and to get the pupils to reflect on their learning.
It’s evident that Action Tutoring’s secondary school programmes have made a real positive impact on the lives of many young people. This is something we can only hope to replicate in the running of our primary programmes. We will be evaluating the success of the primary programme at the end of the year, with a view to then expanding further. If you want to get involved as a volunteer tutor, do not hesitate to fill in our online application form. For a little commitment, you will get the opportunity to enhance your skills and meet like-minded people, as well as gaining the reward of making a difference to the life of a young person.