Education News

United Nations’ International Day of Education 2022

24 January 2022

What is the International Day of Education?

Covid-19 has exacerbated ongoing education inequalities in the UK and as a result, the academic progress of many pupils has been disrupted. That’s why 24th January has been assigned by the United Nations General Assembly as the day to raise awareness of the importance of education.

The theme of the International Day of Education 2022 is ‘Changing Course, Transforming Education’, highlighting the urgent need to prioritise the recovery of education after Covid-19. The goal today is to spark discussion about how to provide quality education, ensure learning continuity for all pupils, and to support teachers.

In the UK, evidence shows that pupils from low-income families are less likely to perform well academically in school. This limits their opportunities to access higher education, training or employment.

Studies also show that children from low-income households are more likely to suffer from poor social and emotional skills. This leads to greater social inequalities as they become adults.

Why do we celebrate it?

Education is a powerful tool that not only affects job possibilities in the future, but also influences a variety of other outcomes, such as our general health and happiness.

While education is provided for all pupils in UK schools, those who come from low-income backgrounds may be at greater risk of digital disadvantage, social isolation, and anxiety; all of which can lead to mental health issues. These challenges require our immediate attention and response.

The International Day of Education is an opportunity for us all to raise awareness and remind ourselves and others of the significant role that education has in our lives. We can all play our part to support those less fortunate than us. In order to achieve education equality in the UK, as well as across the world, it is essential to offer a fair start to all pupils.

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.

To reach even more pupils, we need more volunteers.

Books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.

Malala Yousafzai

While teachers work hard to establish a new a new post-pandemic ‘normal’, learning inequalities are likely to deepen if we don’t take the necessary steps. Simply reopening schools after lockdown is not sufficient; pupils need tailored and sustained support to help them adapt after the pandemic.

Much more work needs to be done to ensure disadvantaged children receive additional support that encourages them to re-engage in learning activities. It is time to act to support the future of this generation.

How can you help?

Tutor with us

You can join our mission by becoming a volunteer tutor in English and maths and helping lower the attainment gap.

Read more: John Uren describes his experience with Action Tutoring as a volunteer 

We offer in-person tutoring programmes and for those with busy schedules, our online programmes are available so you can still get involved and be a part of our mission.

Spread the word

You can also help by sharing this post on social media to raise awareness and inspire others who might be interested to volunteer as a tutor with us. Disadvantaged pupils need our help more than ever, so let’s give them the opportunity to have a supportive learning environment.

Volunteering as a tutor is a crucial step to guarantee a fairer world and sustainable future for everyone. After all, education is a human right, a public benefit, and a public responsibility.

Spotlight on Bristol: Action Tutoring’s third biggest region

22 October 2021

Continuing our spotlight series on Action Tutoring cities, we come to the brilliant Bristol. We partnered with our first school in Bristol in 2014 and volunteers from across the city have been joining us ever since to support our mission to help disadvantaged pupils in the city to succeed.


Action Tutoring supports schools right across this hilly city, from Oldland Common to Stoke Gifford. This term we are partnering with nine primary schools and six secondary schools delivering twenty-six tutoring programmes. It will come as no surprise that it is our third largest city in terms of programme delivery.

Fun fact about Bristol: Ribena was invented just outside Bristol. The popular blackcurrant soft drink gained popularity during the Second World War as an alternative source of Vitamin C.

With lots of programmes to deliver, we need plenty of budding volunteers to get involved. We are very fortunate that we partner with several businesses in the city, including DAC Beachcroft and Arup, whose employees volunteer with us. All of our volunteers have a positive impact on the education of disadvantaged pupils across the UK’s first cycling city.

Why volunteer with us?

We’re not standing still. We need more volunteers to ensure we can reach as many pupils as possible this year. There are many benefits to volunteering with Action Tutoring, from gaining professional experience and making your CV stand out to meeting other like-minded volunteers who share the same values as you.

Nimantha is just one of our many volunteers in Bristol who tutored with us last academic year and has joined us again this year. As a university student, he can easily fit his tutoring sessions around his studies. As well as learning new skills, Nimantha is making a real difference to people’s lives:

I would highly recommend tutoring because you’re making a real difference to people’s lives by helping them reach their aspirations. Whatever level you tutor at, the pupils will be extremely grateful to you for devoting some of your time to pass on your knowledge.

Nimantha, Action Tutoring volunteer tutor, Bristol

If you live in this great city and would like to volunteer, our fantastic team in Bristol consists of Gemma, Alice, Lilah, Matt and Chloe. They will support you every step of the way and ensure that you have the best volunteering experience.

Spotlight on Chester: Going from strength to strength in one of Action Tutoring’s newer cities

30 September 2021

We want to reach as many pupils as possible to progress academically and so we were thrilled to expand into Chester earlier this year.

Chester is a vibrant city with important history (the best surviving Roman wall in Northern Europe), entertainment (Chester Zoo is the most visited wildlife attraction in the UK) and the oldest racecourse in the country and Britain’s oldest sporting venue in continual use.

As one of our newer regions, we started supporting young people in the area in early 2021 during the midst of the second Covid lockdown. It wasn’t an easy start as all the programmes had to begin online and with pupils logging in from home, while schools were such. However, delivery has gone from strength to strength since then.

The first schools we supported were in Helsby and Leftwich rather than in Chester city centre and because the programmes were online, it allowed pupils in these slightly more remote locations to experience the benefits of tutoring.

Fun fact: James Bond was born in Chester, well the current one was, Daniel Craig was born on 2nd March 1968.

We are delighted that this academic year we will be working with seven schools in the Chester area. Four of these are primary and three are secondary schools.

As one of our newer regions, we are working hard to grow our volunteer tutor community in the area and are keen to engage more volunteers locally to support on our face-to-face programmes.

We are well represented in the region by our programme coordinators in Chester, the excellent Cathy, who has been with Action Tutoring since August 2020 and the awesome Anna, who also joined us in 2020. Cathy grew up in the North West and is a fully qualified teacher whilst Anna was previously a trainer in safeguarding.

Always welcoming, Cathy and Anna need your support. So, if you live in Chester, are passionate about supporting young people and looking for a new and rewarding volunteering opportunity, sign up to tutor in our schools today.

Spotlight on Nottingham: The birthplace of Torvill and Dean and where Action Tutoring has been supporting disadvantaged pupils since 2019

27 September 2021

Nottingham. Birthplace of Torvill and Dean. Home to Raleigh Bikes. And since autumn 2019, where Action Tutoring has been supporting disadvantaged pupils to reach their potential.

Over the past two years, we have been working with schools in Nottingham to support the city’s disadvantaged pupils. Sadly, Nottingham has high levels of deprivation. It ranks eleventh out of the 317 districts in England – we wanted to help tackle this issue.

Our volunteer tutors have been going into schools and working directly with pupils from a range of backgrounds, who have greatly benefited from small group tuition.

Fun fact about Nottingham: The UK’s first radio phone-in took place on Radio Nottingham in 1968. It’s ‘thought topic’ was on pest control. 

Those who have been joining us for face-to-face tutoring have expressed not only how much they have enjoyed supporting our pupils, but also how much they have also benefited from volunteering with Action Tutoring. Tutors have learned new skills, gained tutoring experience and had the opportunity to give back to their local community.

Our work has even drawn the interest of local Nottingham MPs. Year 6 pupils at a local primary school were awash with excitement when Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, visited their programme last year. Being able to demonstrate the progress they had made in subject knowledge; study skills and confidence was a fantastic opportunity.

(L- R) Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, pictured alongside Jen Fox, Interim CEO of education charity Action Tutoring, during his visit to Heathfield Primary School in Kersall Drive, Nottingham. Photo: Friday 2nd July 2021. (Photo: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

In 2021-22, we will be continuing our work, supporting young people across eight schools over 15 programmes. Coordinating this work are our passionate programme coordinators, the delightful Roxanne and Sam. Roxanne worked as a primary school teacher before joining Action Tutoring in 2020 and Sam recently graduated from University of Nottingham before also joining us last year.

“We can’t wait to get started. As programme coordinators, we love seeing the progression pupils make throughout the year – our end of programme celebrations are always a highlight. We come together – pupils, staff and tutors – to celebrate everything that has been achieved.”
Sam Paterson, Programme Coordinator for Nottingham

And we need your help to make all this possible. The pandemic has had a massive impact on young people’s education and here in Nottingham, we need your support with face-to-face tutoring.

Sign up today to be an in-person tutor and be part of something special or recommend us to a friend.

Action Tutoring confirmed as National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partner for a further three years

21 September 2021

Action Tutoring is thrilled to have been successful in its application to continue as a National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Tuition Partner for the next three years.

The charity has been proud to play its part in the catch up drive, and the support from the National Tutoring Programme in 2020-21 enabled the organisation to double its delivery, benefiting more pupils than ever before.

Following a successful pilot year of the National Tutoring Programme, the Government committed to a further three years of funding and appointed Randstad as its supplier. The process then began to recruit the approved Tuition Partners to deliver over this period.

With the support of the NTP, Action Tutoring hopes to increase its reach by an additional 60% this academic year and provide vital tutoring support for nearly 8,500 pupils. The charity aims to help those pupils who have been the hardest hit by the crisis, building their confidence and academic knowledge to enable them to reach their potential.

Action Tutoring can’t achieve these goals by itself, it needs the support of over 3,500 volunteer tutors to deliver the sessions.

With hundreds of opportunities to get involved across the country and online, it’s never been easier to give back. Just an hour a week of tutoring will help support a pupil to progress academically and make up for the time they have lost through the pandemic.

Apply now to become a volunteer tutor to start tutoring this academic year. Similarly, if you are interested in partnering with us as a school, please complete our initial enquiry form.

DAC Beachcroft strengthens support to Action Tutoring through a grant to fund our expansion across northern regions

6 September 2021

International law firm DAC Beachcroft announced it is providing Action Tutoring with a multi-year grant to fund a national expansion project.

The grant will support a ‘northern-belt’ programme, which will help us expand the offer of tutoring support to more disadvantaged school pupils across the north of England.

DACB first formed a corporate partnership with Action Tutoring two years ago, to provide English and Maths tutoring support to disadvantaged pupils in primary and secondary schools.

When we were named as one of the government’s National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partners to help disadvantaged school children to continue learning during lockdown, DACB expanded its support and today has 100 Action Tutoring volunteers in Bristol, London, Birmingham and Newcastle.

This constitutes five per cent of Action Tutoring’s UK-wide volunteering pool and makes DACB one of our largest corporate volunteering partners. In addition, the firm took proactive steps to donate laptops to schools for children without access to computers for home-learning.

Jen Fox, interim-CEO at Action Tutoring, says: “Throughout the pandemic it has been especially difficult for children who have not had the means to continue learning from home. During this time there has been a clear gap across the ‘northern belt’ of the UK, so we are keen to increase the number of tutoring programmes we’re delivering in this area to support more of the pupils who’ve been impacted. This grant is vital in helping us to realise our strategy of increasing the number of schools we work with by 60%, and will provide funding security as we move closer towards our vision of a world in which no child’s life chances are limited by their socio-economic background.

“DAC Beachcroft already has a large number of colleagues volunteering with us, ranging from recent graduates to members of the firm’s senior management team, who have delivered hours of invaluable support to disadvantaged pupils across our regions, and we would like to thank the firm for its ongoing support. Corporate partnerships are an important part of what allows us at Action Tutoring to make our programmes work effectively.”

Virginia Clegg, Senior Partner at DAC Beachcroft, volunteers as a tutor on one of our English programmes, delivering online sessions to pupils in London. She says: “Our work with Action Tutoring is an important part of our commitment to Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion and is enabling us to directly support our communities by helping disadvantaged children across the UK.

“We are delighted to extend our support for Action Tutoring through long term funding. We are providing the charity with the certainty needed to enable it to continue to grow.”

If you are interested in getting involved as a corporate partner, please contact our Partnerships and Fundraising Manager, Hannah O’Neill hannahoneill@actiontutoring.org.uk

GCSE Results Day: Celebrating the the commitment and resilience of our pupils over a difficult year

12 August 2021

Today is GCSE Results Day, a key date in our calendar where we pause to celebrate the achievements of our incredible pupils.

Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, we are reflecting on the disruption the pandemic has caused to their education at such a crucial time in their lives. Pupils have continued to lose vital months of learning in the classroom and national examinations have been cancelled again.

Despite these uncertainties we want to celebrate the commitment and resilience of this year’s pupil cohort in an incredibly challenging year. They have engaged with our sessions and continued to seek help, while managing the external disruption and pressures surrounding them.

We also want to thank our amazing volunteers who have given so much support, encouragement and positivity to these young people. They have made a significant difference to their lives this year and to their futures. Thank you for remaining committed to our work and the charity as we all navigated the obstacles together.

GCSE grading

The GCSEs pupils are awarded today have been decided by their teachers. We recognise this wasn’t an easy decision for the Government to make or an easy process for the teachers who have already been burdened with so much this year. However, we are concerned the disadvantaged pupils we support won’t have been fairly assessed.

Research shows disadvantaged young people are more likely to be under-predicted by their teachers than their peers and they generally do better when they sit their exams than when they are assessed by teachers.

Disadvantaged pupils have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, due to lack of support and access to tech at home and may have been less likely to return to schools once they reopened. This will have impacted the progress they made and the opportunities to demonstrate their academic abilities to their teachers.

Being undermarked could severely affect the future opportunities available to our pupils and their confidence to progress.
We are proud of our pupils and incredibly grateful to our tutors for what they’ve achieved this year.

What’s next?

Covid has continued to have a significant impact on education, growing the academic attainment gap. We want to stop this growth in its tracks and minimise, as far as possible, the damage the pandemic has caused. We can’t do this on our own.

We need more volunteers than ever before to reach as many disadvantaged pupils as possible and give them the sustained catch-up support they need and deserve. We have hundreds of opportunities to get involved, both through face to face tutoring and online – it’s now easier than ever to help out. If you, or anyone you know, can help this year, apply now!

 Become a volunteer

How to give back to your community as a full-time professional

5 August 2021

Volunteer tutor, John Uren, describes his experience balancing tutoring on an Action Tutoring programme with working for the Civil Service.

For an hour every Thursday afternoon, you’ll find me tutoring English Language online to a pair of students at a comprehensive school in South London.

Am I a professional tutor? No. Do I have years of experience tutoring as a side-hustle? No. Am I equipped with the tools, training and safe-guarding knowledge to tutor? Yes.

I easily balance volunteering with my work commitments, and Action Tutoring even cover the cost of a DBS check!

 

This is arranged through Action Tutoring. A national education charity dedicated to supporting young people facing socio-economic disadvantages to achieve a meaningful level of academic attainment. This enables them to progress in education, employment or training. Action Tutoring do this by pairing high-quality volunteer tutors with primary and secondary school pupils to help build maths or English subject knowledge, confidence and resilience.

Anyone can volunteer and it’s just one hour per week. Programmes last over school terms, and all training, resources and safeguarding information are provided. I easily balance volunteering with my work commitments, and Action Tutoring even cover the cost of a DBS check!

 Become a volunteer

After completing my training with Action Tutoring, I remember being particularly nervous ahead of my first lesson. What if I won’t know what to do? What if the pupils don’t like me? What if they think I’m an idiot? But it was a brilliant experience, and I have thoroughly enjoyed tutoring ever since.

I admit that not all of my lessons run perfectly, yet over time, it has been incredibly rewarding to see my pupils gain confidence in their abilities and grasp a greater understanding of the topic. You don’t need to be an Einstein or Shakespeare to deliver effective lessons!

I’ve gained confidence, and the skills I’ve developed are transferable to many other areas of life.

 

Leading a tutoring session each week also provides plenty of opportunity for personal development! Including understanding how to pace and structure a lesson, how to keep your pupils engaged, and how to communicate difficult concepts simply. I’ve gained confidence, and the skills I’ve developed are transferable to many other areas of life.

Did you know? Before the pandemic, disadvantaged pupils were, on average, already 18 months behind their non-disadvantaged peers by the end of secondary school. Projections suggest that school closures could widen this gap by as much as 75%. Every session Action Tutoring provides is vital in closing this gap.

If you’re interested in signing up to volunteer with Action Tutoring, or just looking for more information, please fill out the following application form. This is a fun, interesting and important way to volunteer – open to all!

 

Action Tutoring’s end of year report: Thanking volunteers and supporters for contributing to a remarkable year for the charity

23 July 2021

As the 2020-21 academic year comes to an end, we reflect on what has been achieved at Action Tutoring over the last year, in the face of huge challenges, and look ahead to being able to deliver tutoring sessions to even more pupils in the future.

2020-21 has been a remarkable year for Action Tutoring. It has seen the charity double in size, reaching more pupils and engaging more volunteers than ever before; it launched and rolled out its online delivery, which became the predominant delivery method, and it managed the significant disruption of Covid-19, including national school closures.

The charity would like to recognise these achievements but, more importantly, take an opportunity to thank all of its volunteers and supporters for remaining resilient and delivering so much in the face of such challenges.

Partner as a school         Become a volunteer

Action Tutoring Interim CEO, Jen Fox, said, ‘We have launched in new cities, reached our ten-year milestone, and continuously developed and expanded our new online provision with the tireless support of tutors. For four weeks in February and March, we even brought Action Tutoring into pupils’ homes.

‘We have forged more new relationships than ever and, as part of the National Tutoring Programme, opened the classroom doors to more than 5,400 pupils in nearly 160 schools up and down England. This year alone, 2,700 tutors have taken part, either stepping back into the classroom or logging into one from afar.’

‘We would like to thank everyone involved for the part you’ve played, and for your unwavering belief in pupils’ potential and the power of tuition to help them get there.’

To hear more from Jen about what has happened at Action Tutoring over this academic year please read our most recent newsletter and subscribe for future newsletters, to keep up to date with what’s happening Action Tutoring.

Academic year 2020-21 review:

When the autumn term began in September 2020, we were able to return to schools and begin delivering tutoring both online and in person to help disadvantaged pupils catch up.
As more Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, with national lockdowns imposed in November 2020 and January 2021, Action Tutoring made the decision to pause all in-person volunteering during this time. We had to adapt our tutoring delivery to ensure that our pupils were still able to receive academic support, despite the restrictions.

Action Tutoring was able to offer online sessions to pupils based at home after a successful pilot programme in the summer and approval from the National Tutoring Programme. With the introduction of online tutoring, 84% of our sessions were delivered online over the course of the year, compared to 0% in the previous academic year.

The ability for our programmes to reach so many pupils was made possible by support from the National Tutoring Programme, which has meant that we have been able to grow more than ever before. Being an NTP Tuition Partner for this academic year has enabled us to support many more disadvantaged pupils; those who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

The last year has been an uncertain one, with school closures and further disruptions to learning having impacted disadvantaged pupils significantly. As a charity, we are proud of what has been achieved in response to the pandemic and are committed to helping pupils make up for the time lost.


Looking ahead

Over the next year, we plan to expand our reach further, meaning that we are able to support even more disadvantaged young people in additional regions across the country.

We look forward to submitting our application to continue as an NTP Tuition Partner over the next three years, which will allow us to offer more schools access to our programmes, while ensuring that this growth is manageable.

This expansion means that we need more tutors than ever before. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor for next academic year, please apply now.

We are also looking for more schools that would like to get involved. If you are interested in partnering with us as a school, please complete our initial enquiry form.

Partner as a school         Become a volunteer

Seven connections to help us create change

22 July 2021

Learn about Action Tutoring’s conversations with local MPs this summer.

We know that what happens on programmes is important. But in an average session, do the pupils and their tutors feel how significant their actions truly are?

Extra marks are gained, concepts are grasped for the first time, new future chances open up slightly more each time a pupil turns up and tries. But beyond individual growth, what happens matters on a greater scale. Everyone involved in our programmes is part of a nationwide movement, where people show up in the belief that a great education can make a more equal society.

Sometimes an opportunity arrives to show pupils and tutors that their efforts are being noticed. At 12pm on Friday 2nd July our Programme Coordinator, Sam, was about to set up for the usual afternoon session at Heathfield Primary School in Nottingham. Things felt a little different, though; two journalists and a camera person were expected at the school reception. The Member of Parliament for Nottingham North, Alex Norris, and our Interim CEO, Jen, would soon be arriving.

Not long after our first programme launched in Nottingham in 2019, Alex agreed to visit an Action Tutoring partner school to see the work being done. When the pandemic closed school doors, the visit couldn’t go ahead. Alex still helped us to get the word out to others at a crucial time via his newsletter.

It was an exciting moment, then, to finally welcome Alex to a session at Heathfield Primary School in July this year. Sam told us about the atmosphere on the day. “The pupils buzzed with a mixture of excitement and nervousness at the opportunity. Their heads were down and focused despite copious distractions. Some were even more studious than usual in a bid to impress their local representative!”

This was a chance for everyone to celebrate the admirable effort pupils had made since November. Sam could see how motivated they were to show off their work and quiz the MP. “The challenging questions they posed to Alex were certainly testament of this, as well as their working-strewn whiteboards which they returned to me at the end of the session.”

Less than a week later, a similar moment was about to happen at Ark Victoria Primary Academy in Birmingham. The committed MP for Yardley, Jess Phillips, had already witnessed local tutors working with pupils at another partner school back in 2017. But this time, circumstances were quite different. At 8am on Thursday 8th July, just before Jess arrived, tutors were logging in from Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Exeter and beyond, ready to lead a productive and joyful final session with the Year 6s at Ark Victoria.

Justina has been tutoring at the school since last November and helped her pupils formulate questions to ask Jess Phillips during the visit. “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to volunteer and support the learning of year six pupils remotely, at a primary school local to me in Birmingham.

“Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic over the last year, my pupils have shown enthusiasm, been willing to learn and have continued to make progress. I’m really looking forward to next year.”

This was the last session for Year 6 at Ark Vitoria after a big year. Another exceptional tutor, Elaine, has been on this journey with the pupils whilst living elsewhere in the country. “As the school year draws to a close, I am really reflecting on how lucky I have been to be able to work with the pupils at Ark Victoria Primary. They have been so cheerful and worked so hard – a great reminder to try our best when sometimes things seem too difficult. I work with Action Tutoring because I want to help young people achieve their best and am always amazed by how receptive the pupils are to the tuition – they always make me want to do more.”

Action Tutoring is hugely grateful to Alex Norris and Jess Phillips for their time and support for these pupils. Their active interest in our work locally has provided a special end to a year of hard work by all involved in our programmes. It has also already helped Action Tutoring forge new connections in the wider community.

Action Tutoring reaches out to local leaders each year, to highlight the benefits of our work and seek support in raising awareness of what we do. This summer, Action Tutoring has met with seven MPs nation-wide to share the progress its pupils are making in their constituency, despite the additional barriers these pupils face. This seven includes two members of the House of Commons Education Select Committee. Programmes succeed because of the hard work of people in the community – whether that’s the young people themselves, volunteer tutors or the essential school team. These conversations have helped us celebrate and showcase these efforts. Going forward, we hope that deepening these connections will help us to sustain and grow the impact of our work for the unique and vibrant children and young people on our programmes.

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