Experiences

Five things I’ve learnt while on placement with Action tutoring

7 February 2022

Student Volunteering Week is an annual event that celebrates the impact of student volunteers. This year the week will be taking place from 7th – 13th February 2022. This is a brilliant opportunity to demonstrate how social action creates positive change.

Our student volunteers inspire us, and so we wanted to share some of their stories this week. Elsie volunteered with Action Tutoring for one term as part of a university placement module.

I am a third year English Language student studying at the University of Liverpool. Whilst on placement with Action Tutoring this year, I have had the privilege of tutoring a handful of pupils aged 9-12 in English, at three schools across the country, both online and face-to-face.

My university placement with Action Tutoring has been highly rewarding, and I would love to encourage more students to be part of this experience. In case you are unsure, here are five of the most invaluable lessons I’ve learned from my time tutoring.

The importance of communication, and how you communicate with the pupils

Using an online platform can sometimes bring technical hurdles, meaning that clear, loud, and upbeat speech is more important than ever ensuring a successful and well-understood lesson. One of my Programme Coordinators explained to me the importance of pitch when speaking to the pupils.

Different pitches can indicate whether they are receiving praise for their hard work, or whether they are being reminded to maintain concentration. Name use is another important communication technique, particularly during online sessions. Using the pupil’s name shows that you are taking an interest in what they have to say, indicating that you value them as an individual.

Time management and planning is essential

I knew that becoming a tutor would mean improving my time management skills to fit around university lectures. Action Tutoring provides great templates for each week, which have everything you need to lead the session. I would advise reading through these templates thoroughly in advance, especially the texts.

It is important to remember time management within the sessions, too. They can progress a lot faster or slower than expected, depending on how well the pupils are understanding the content, so it is important to know when to adapt a lesson to suit this. Always have additional activities prepared for the end of the session in case you finish with spare time!

Brain breaks are your best friend!

A great session should always involve a brain break. That’s what my Programme Coordinator taught us; to combat attention levels dipping half way through the session. A brain break is a short activity which moves the focus away from the lesson content, to a more fun and often fast-paced game or challenge.

My pupils really enjoyed hang-man or memory games, but other ideas could include word-bingo or scrabble. I learnt that using trickier words from the text within the games was a great way to solidify a new word into the pupils’ vocabulary.

The importance of non-verbal communicators

During my placement with Action Tutoring, I learnt how important other factors; such as enthusiasm, body-language and confidence; are to engaging and building rapport with children.

Eye-contact is a really great way to show a pupil you are giving them your full attention, valuing what they have to say, and checking their understanding.

A pupil is more likely to lose attention if you are not giving them regular eye-contact, and this works well alongside using their name too. Pupils may also give off non-verbal cues which indicate if they are understanding the session, so be sure to look out for your pupil’s body language and enthusiasm levels.

The importance of tutoring and the impact it has on the pupils

All of the pupils I tutored improved their English skills as we progressed through the weeks. It was amazing to watch their confidence levels grow as they became more comfortable in challenging themselves and building upon skills gained from previous sessions.

They enjoyed themselves as well. One pupil told his teacher after a session that he thought tutoring was ‘going to be boring…but it was actually really fun!’ This kind of feedback is what makes tutoring so worthwhile.

Blog by Elsie Holmes

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. Join our inspiring volunteering community today!

How Action Tutoring helps volunteers with their careers

17 January 2022

Volunteering with Action Tutoring is an excellent way to contribute in narrowing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. But that’s not all! Joining our community of inspiring and passionate tutors is incredibly beneficial for our volunteers’ professional development, too.

By sharing your time, you are not only making a meaningful impact on disadvantaged pupils’ lives, but you are also gaining valuable experience and exploring more career opportunities.

How exactly does Action Tutoring help volunteers with their careers?

It is a great place to expand your networking 

Being a part of a volunteering community is an excellent opportunity for professional networking. You will encounter like-minded individuals who support your professional interests and who may be able to assist or guide you in your career. 

They could even end up being your future colleagues, or life- long friends; after all, you selected the same cause to volunteer for! Volunteering can also make social interactions much easier for those who may feel uneasy in social situations.

Charlie White, our amazing Communications and Policy Manager, was a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring before she decided to join the team. Because of this, she understood what the charity was about, and was increasingly interested in its work.

Charlie subscribed to receive newsletters and job alerts. Upon seeing the communications role she knew she would apply, since she loves writing, design and problem-solving, and knows that great communication is a powerful change-maker.

Volunteering is a low-risk way to explore professional options and discover a new career path. Beyond its community-enriching benefits, it’s an excellent to gain hands-on experience in a field you are interested in, without the long-term commitment.

That’s what Phyllida Jacobs, our incredible Communications Administrator, did when she started to think about teaching as a career option. Volunteering with Action Tutoring, and seeing her pupils’ increased excitement around English, reaffirmed her enthusiasm for getting young people reading and writing.

It increases self-awareness and builds new skills

Charlie mentions how Action Tutoring’s commitment to its organisational values means that everyone is encouraged to stop and reflect.

Specifically, when asked how Action Tutoring helps volunteers become more self-aware, Charlie said that she’s had opportunities to expand her skillset and stretch herself.

Working with welcoming and open-minded people means you feel safe to make suggestions and take a punt on ideas. Our commitment to our organisational values means we’re all encouraged to stop and reflect. This has helped me learn more about what I enjoy and what I’m really good at.

Charlie

When Phyllida started tutoring, she was struck by how organised and friendly everyone was. She was initially quite nervous, having never worked with young people before, but felt reassured by having a Programme Coordinator and a structured workbook to support her.

Action Tutoring provides a friendly and supportive environment, enabling genuine, engaging conversations with people who share similar interests. This is what our lovely volunteer Emma has to say about her experience:

Our fantastic Programme Coordinator in London, Maisie Alderson, started volunteering one hour of her time per week whilst working.

The initial tutor training provided her with an understanding of the organisation, its mission and how it runs. This sparked Maisie’s interest in working in the charity sector.

An opportunity to work on your resume and interview skills

Lastly, the process of looking for a volunteer position and sending an application is very similar to applying for a paid position.

Our volunteers complete an application form to demonstrate their qualifications and previous experience, and apply for an enhanced background check. In going through this process, Charlie could tell that Action Tutoring took quality and commitment seriously, and remembers wondering if she’d get the role.

Volunteering was incredibly rewarding for Phyllida, since the experience helped to secure her first job after university; at the children’s book publisher Tiny Owl. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and confidence to support students through the tricky transition from university to the working world.

Action Tutoring totally changed Maisie’s mindset, and her career path. As a Programme Coordinator, she feels she is now doing meaningful work that will lead to positive change, and make a real difference in closing the attainment gap.

Identifying our skills, achievements, hobbies, and principles is the foundation of a successful career, as it leads to self-awareness. Tutoring requires volunteers to be patient, empathetic and caring. Do you want to build on these qualities? Volunteering can be a great way to develop and put your skills to the test.

Read more: One of Action Tutoring’s first ever volunteer tutors tells us how this experience helped prompt a career change to becoming a teacher.

Becoming a volunteer tutor: How to utilise your skills, whilst learning new skills, in retirement

22 September 2021

Action Tutoring volunteer, Lisetta Lovett, describes her experience tutoring on programme and the skills it has allowed her to develop during retirement.

When I first heard about Action Tutoring, I was attracted to the idea of helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds catch-up with their peers. This appealed for several reasons, not least as an opportunity in retirement to apply my own skills to help those facing socio-economic disadvantage. Most of us like to feel we are being altruistic; what I had not realised was that tutoring would benefit me too.

Tutoring maths meant developing a new skill set

I have been retired for a few years from a busy medical NHS career. I was looking forward to supporting a young person with their maths at GCSE as my first degree included the subject. I anticipated that the maths would be different, but had not appreciated that I would develop new skills as a result. Namely, although I could, to my delight and relief, answer most of the questions in the workbook that we used, I had to learn how to explain the concepts simply. The process brought me a deeper appreciation of a much-loved subject of my youth.

The Covid pandemic brought its difficulties

The last year has been, for obvious reasons, particularly difficult. Attendance from some of the pupils was patchy. This was often because the ‘bubble’ system meant that they were sent home.

At one point the sessions were allowed to take place from the pupil’s home rather than school. This revealed the challenges these pupils face with respect to inadequate IT facilities. On one occasion a pupil had to use her phone and another was competing for time on their only computer with several other siblings. 

Building up confidence amongst the pupils

Some of the pupils I supported had low self-esteem, and their panic at the sight of algebra was palpable. I heaped them with praise when I could, used humour liberally and, with the help of YouTube, found imaginative ways of explaining how to tackle the maths problems. Seeing them develop their confidence was hugely rewarding.

Learning new IT skills

Another challenge was learning to use the Vedamo platform that Action Tutoring uses as their online classroom. This was new to the pupils as well, so the challenge of a new way of learning was shared. The use of IT for teaching is rather less intuitive to people of my generation, but I learnt and became adequately competent, thereby clocking up another skill and some confidence. Some of the tools on their platform can be a little tricky to use, and drawing them freehand produces figures that one might expect a three-year-old to write. At least the pupils had a good laugh at my attempts.

Continuing on for another year

By the end of the year, I was growing in confidence and I agreed to continue with a further five sessions with Year 10s. This went well as I continued to become more experienced with tutoring. 

It would be a pity to waste what I have learnt, so I have signed up for another year. Tutoring with young people is great as the process is an intergenerational one. It has put me back in touch with young people today and given me some insight into the challenges they face.

How to create a charity video during a pandemic?

29 March 2021

Producing a charity video in a pandemic, who doesn’t love a challenge? This is the story of how we, at Action Tutoring, managed to create our new video.

Click to watch the new Action Tutoring video

Back in September, Action Tutoring started its first online tutoring sessions after trials during the summer months. To encourage more volunteers to apply to tutor online, the marketing team were tasked with producing a video showing the benefits of online tutoring. The team worked with our fantastic videographer, Owen, to create the project.

Top tip 1: Create a detailed brief – formulating a plan for what the video will look like, what it must include and its overall purpose is extremely important. Make this as detailed as possible.

Producing a detailed brief for our videographer was critical, as we really wanted to shine a light on the benefits of our online tutoring. The brief detailed exactly what we were looking for, the main aims of the project and examples of other charity videos we were trying to replicate allowing Owen to have clear direction. Once we had our plan in place, the next step was to find schools that would be a good setting for our video.

Top tip 2: Find a supportive setting in our case a school, that you have great communication with and our supportive of the work you do. We have worked with Prendergast Vale for years and this allowed us to overcome any issues quickly.

In the run up to the day of the shoot at the secondary school, a hiccup arrived. Having returned from a holiday to stay at his parents, our marketing manager’s mum started to feel unwell. A Covid test was needed. Unfortunately, the test came back inconclusive, making it impossible for him to attend the filming as they had to quarantine.

Fortunately, it had already been planned that our marketing assistant, Luc, would join the filming to support. On the day of filming, Luc brilliantly led the way, directing our videographer to ensure we secured the shots that were needed to make the video. Interviews with pupils were completed in a Covid secure way, masks were worn and social distancing was implemented.

Top tip 3: Interview people who are impacted by the work you dointerviewing pupils on camera for the first time allowed us to show the impact of Action Tutoring’s work on those who it supports.

As the plan for the video centred around interviews with our pupils, it was important to get as much content as possible, so that we were able to select the very best soundbites for the final edit. In order to make sure we covered a range of voices, we selected three different interviewees. By liaising with our programme coordinator, Lily, who knows the pupils well, we were able to interview pupils who we felt would be confident in sharing their experience of an Action Tutoring programme.

The results of the filming were great. Engaging interviews with the pupils, a comprehensive interview with the deputy headteacher and some dynamic cutaways to use in our video.

Top tip 4: Get more footage than you think you need – it’s great to have more content to choose from. There will often be issues, whether that is distorted sound or out of focus shots.

Unfortunately, due to lockdown rules, we were unable to get footage of volunteers tutoring from home. So, we made it our aim to secure some footage at a primary school.

Owing to the school closures in January, we had to cancel our planned filming at a primary school. After finding out schools wouldn’t return till March, it was decided to go ahead with producing the video with the footage we had.

Our videographer started to produce the first few drafts of the video. As you may have noticed from the final cut, we used old footage of tutors in the classrooms as we were unable to film in people’s homes – this worked really well.

Top tip 5: Don’t forget the subtitles – your video will be used on social media where people don’t have the sound on. The content should also be made accessible for all.

After much back and forth – we settled on the final version which you can see today. Despite some hiccups along the way, we are proud of the video we have produced and proved creating a charity video in a pandemic can be done.

Student Volunteering Week: My experience as a student volunteer with Action Tutoring

11 February 2021

Eleanor, who is currently studying English Language and Linguistics at the University of West England, has been a volunteer with Action Tutoring since December 2019. Eleanor has shared her story for you to learn more about her experience as a tutor. We hope you enjoy reading about her journey.

I volunteer with Action Tutoring because I want to make a difference to children’s education, particularly now, considering the impact of the pandemic. This year especially, it feels so important to volunteer and help pupils whose education has been most impacted.

In my experience, you notice a difference in your pupils from the second tutoring session. They are usually a lot more comfortable with you and less shy. They may want to learn more about you and what you do for a living, too. During the initial sessions, my pupils would refuse to read the extracts given in the Action Tutoring booklets, and say they were embarrassed by their reading abilities. Now, they try to jump in to read before me, and pick lessons with longer reading chapters in a bid to further their skills. One pupil even experiments with doing different voices for characters now!

Balancing tutoring with my studies is very easy for me. I choose to tutor on days where I am completely free or have the whole morning or afternoon off, as I like to walk in and enjoy the scenic route. Tutoring the morning sessions helps me get out of bed and is a motivating start to the day, and hopefully to my pupils’, too. Action Tutoring provides all of the tutoring resources, so all I have to do is familiarise myself with the lesson and deliver it. This makes it very easy and simple for me to go and teach, so it doesn’t negatively impact my studies in any way. I also try and choose to volunteer at schools nearby to me that are easy to get to (when in-school opportunities are available), in order to avoid missing any sessions or being late.

Become a student volunteer

Action Tutoring has definitely helped me develop in confidence and in learning different styles of talking to people; such as teaching register, talking to my tutoring peers, and talking to school staff and my programme coordinator. This will definitely help prepare me for teaching environments and future employment.

Volunteering during the pandemic has been good for my mental health. When I have been able to tutor in-school, it has given me a sense of normality where my pupils and I can forget about COVID-19 and just learn about English together (while still socially-distanced and wearing masks). I would recommend volunteering to anyone who is furloughed or unemployed, as it is really motivating to have a sense of purpose and to feel needed. I chose to tutor on face-to-face programmes, as I prefer the closer interaction and getting to go somewhere different during my daily week, rather than online tutoring, but when schools are open, Action Tutoring offers both options, so it’s flexible for everyone. 

Finally, I would personally recommend Action Tutoring to anyone who is able to spare an hour a week to go and help children in need. I think it’s important to remember how lucky we were to have a ‘normal’ school experience and any sense of normalcy for these children in school at the moment is so key and showing that despite what is happening around them, people are there to support them and wish them the best chance in their education. This to me is such a key motivator this year. 

Disadvantaged pupils have been hit hardest by the pandemic, and we want to help as many as we can catch up. Apply now to volunteer to tutor maths or English for just one hour per week.

Student Volunteering Week: Five reasons why I volunteer with Action Tutoring

4 February 2021

Megan Healey, who is currently studying English Literature at the University of Liverpool, has been a volunteer with Action Tutoring, making a difference to pupils in Liverpool, since October 2020. Megan has shared five reasons why she volunteers with Action Tutoring. We hope you enjoy reading about her journey.

There are so many reasons to volunteer as a student, but most of the time you find yourself coming up with excuses not to: you can’t find the right opportunity, it doesn’t fit in with your schedule, you aren’t sure if you’ll enjoy it etc. Having volunteered as a student with Action Tutoring last semester as part of a work placement module, I’ve decided to continue to volunteer with the charity. Here are the five reasons why I volunteer as a student.

1 – Giving back to the community

After spending a couple of years getting to know Liverpool, I decided that I wanted to give back to the community that has always been so welcoming to us students! Action Tutoring provided me with a way to support disadvantaged pupils in school, tutoring English study sessions to GCSE students. The extra support Action Tutoring’s pupils provides helps them build on the skills they learn in class. As volunteers, we offer pupils a space to go over any issues that they have with maths or English, helping them overcome any barriers so that they can achieve the grades they deserve. 

2 – Personal development

In addition to giving back to the community, the Action Tutoring volunteering programme allows students to develop crucial skills which employers find attractive. Working with Action Tutoring allows you to work on communication and interpersonal skills as well as your problem-solving skills as you work with the pupil to help them overcome any difficulties. The skills and experience gained through volunteering are completely transferable to any future job role, making it a valued opportunity.

3 – Because it’s rewarding

Personal development brings me to my next reason for volunteering because it’s rewarding. Not only does your development allow for more opportunities in the future, but volunteering makes you feel great. Spending time with the pupils and getting to know them makes seeing them progress extremely rewarding. Each week you notice positive changes in the pupils’ performance, and as they start to see the changes in themselves they gain more confidence. Not only does it boost their confidence but it boosts yours too! Being in a position where you are able to provide encouragement to someone, uplift them and help them develop makes you feel really grateful to be working as a tutor.

4 – Flexibility

Action Tutoring is perfect for students because the volunteering hours are completely flexible, allowing you to volunteer around your university schedule. I decided to volunteer three hours a week on a Monday and Tuesday as it fits in with my timetable. Whilst volunteering with Action Tutoring you’re able to join as many or as few tutoring programmes (weekly tutoring sessions) as you’d like, making it the perfect way to volunteer whilst you study. 

5 – Maintaining mental health during a pandemic

Finally, the last reason why I volunteer with Action Tutoring is that it’s helped me maintain positive mental health throughout the pandemic and all of the lockdowns. The weekly online sessions have helped take my mind off of what’s been going on. Getting to take a productive break from studying has let me feel like I’ve accomplished something, which makes me feel good about myself. The positive energy that the pupils bring to the virtual tutoring sessions rubs off on me, leaving me feeling revitalised. In addition to providing a break from reality, the weekly sessions offer some form of structure, something we all lost when the pandemic started. The structure volunteering provides helps me manage my time, allowing me to feel more organised during a period of constant uncertainty. 

Become a student volunteer

Action Tutoring is an amazing opportunity that benefits the pupils from local areas whilst also develops your own skills. I completely recommend volunteering with Action Tutoring. 

Apply now to volunteer with us as a student, and help young people in your local community improve their English and maths skills, as well as getting great teaching experience and improving your own skills.

The impact of tutoring: Year 7 pupil Medina tells us about her experience on an Action Tutoring programme

24 December 2020

Medina – Year 7 pupil at Lilian Baylis Technology School, Vauxhall, South London

It’s been a strange year for Medina. With the national lockdown coming into force back in March, schools were made to close which meant she missed out on her final few months at primary school, including her SATs exams. That’s a lot to miss, especially for the pupils we work with at Action Tutoring who don’t all have the same access to online and at-home learning as some of their peers.

Now, Medina has just completed her first term of secondary school, as one of the new Year 7s at Lilian Baylis Technology School in Vauxhall, South London. The year groups are in isolated bubbles, which means she hasn’t met any of the older children yet and the full secondary school experience is still to come – plus, there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Along with 19 of her classmates, Medina has been receiving personalised tutoring from one of our volunteers this term. Here, she tells us what it’s been like to get an extra hour’s support in maths from Abigail each week in this time of confusion and transition…

How did it feel coming to secondary school after missing the last six months of Year 6?

I was a little bit nervous because I thought I would forget everything. But I have a good long-term memory and I remembered a lot of the basics from my classes. I forgot a few things, though, and have had to be reminded in my classes now.

We’ve been giving you tutoring in maths. How did you feel about the subject when you got to Lilian Baylis?

My teachers have been good, but now we are learning more things that are harder and some of them do not make sense to me. But I’ve started learning and things are getting easier. Classes have refreshed my memory and I think I am getting better now. I was not as confident but now I feel more certain about my answers.

What’s your favourite subject?

Art is my favourite. It’s a way to express your feelings without talking. You can just put it on the page and tell people how you feel with colours and shapes.

What is your maths tutor Abigail like?

Abigail motivates me and even when I get answers wrong she helps me to get a good understanding about why I got it wrong. She understands where I go wrong and helps me so next time I get it right, and now I see questions that I know I can get right because she has shown me how.

Do you know what Abigail does when she isn’t tutoring?

She said she was a student at university but I can’t remember what she does. I think it’s medicine!

Why do you like her as a tutor?

She is very calm and doesn’t get upset when I get an answer wrong. She keeps working with me until I get it right.

What was she like when you first met her?

She was very nice and she asked me and my classmate what we were struggling with. She then made sure to bring those things up during the lesson. She’s very motivating!

Was there anything in particular you were struggling with that Abigail has helped you understand?

It was really good doing decimals with her. I didn’t know how to say which one is the biggest and the smallest off the top of my head but she’s helped me build my confidence doing that.

How do you feel when your tutoring session ends?

I feel very relaxed because I’ve done all this hard work that I know will pay off at school in my classes and assessments.

Do you know what you want to be or do when you’re older?

I don’t really know, but I really like skateboarding and writing. I’m going to have a workshop soon with a journalist from the Guardian. So I might want to be a journalist, but I’d also maybe like to be a chef. Cooking is like art – you can express yourself through the flavours!


This year, Action Tutoring is expanding to work with more pupils than ever whose education has been affected by the pandemic, including many more Year 7 pupils like Medina. We are proud and inspired by what our volunteers have done this autumn, whether socially distancing in schools or mastering virtual tutoring for the first time. We know so much will now be possible in 2021 but need more tutors to join us if we are to make the necessary impact on our pupils’ lives.

To make a difference to lives of young people like Medina, apply as a volunteer now and start tutoring in January, or become a partner school to see the impact that tutoring can have on pupils.

Partner as a school         Become a volunteer

 

 

PC Spotlight: A day in the life of a Programme Coordinator

20 November 2020

With autumn term programmes well under way, Programme Coordinator for London, Rhys Handley, takes us through a usual day at work for the Action Tutoring staff keeping programmes on track.

Tutoring

I seem to have joined the Action Tutoring team at the most exciting time possible. The charity is currently undergoing unprecedented and rapid growth, thanks to funds from the newly-introduced National Tutoring Programme, meaning we can provide vital extracurricular tutoring to more disadvantaged pupils in more schools in more parts of the country than ever before. That’s where someone like me comes in – a Programme Coordinator; or Action Tutoring’s boots on the ground, so to speak.

Having volunteered as one of more than 1,000 tutors for the charity in the days before national lockdown, I was hired as a PC in August ahead of the new term. I had already met a few of my now-colleagues in my capacity as a volunteer, so I entered the role with the vaguest notion of what it requires – but I realise now that I had barely scratched the surface and was actually only witnessing the (very rewarding) end-result of juggling innumerable plates, assembling many moving parts, or however you’d like to put it.

So, what have I discovered in the months since – easily the busiest Action Tutoring has ever experienced – and what does that look like for me, and the ever-growing team of PCs working with our partner schools and volunteers across England, in the day-to-day?

Now that my programmes are all up-and-running (a full-time London-based PC like me can expect to have seven schools on their plate each term), a typical day starts pretty early. I’ll jump out of bed well before 7am, scoff a banana and throw back a coffee before hopping on my bike to a school for my first programme of the day. Morning programmes usually start around the 8-8.30am mark and PCs need to be there early.

Every school is unique and so each programme comes with its own ‘personality’, each packed with lively, attentive pupils supported by committed, resilient teachers and school staff.

 

For our in-school programmes, many of which are still running this term while following each school’s Covid-19 guidance, this is to make sure all our tutors arrive on time and can be matched up with their pupils promptly before the session starts. For our brand-new online programmes, it’s to make sure all the tech is up-and-running in good time so the pupils are able to interact with their tutors via our newly-minted online tutoring platform. In these sessions, the tutors are coming to the pupils from their homes and workplaces, so there’s a lot of fiddly factors for a PC to balance to make sure things go smoothly – it’s a new system with lots of kinks and quirks to get used to, as surely we’re all finding in this increasingly-online mid-pandemic world of ours.

Once a session is concluded, I’ll be back on my bike to my flat (Action Tutoring staff are working from home for the most part, like so many others) where I’ll settle in at the dining table with a piping hot cafetière of java to crack on with any number of intricate, but essential, administrative tasks. This usually includes answering emails and fielding calls from schools and tutors, helping out with volunteer training seminars on Zoom, plugging in and processing pupil attendance and attainment data to keep up on our rigorous record-keeping, checking tutor documents to clear DBS checks, and if there’s time, taking 15 minutes to catch up with some of my wonderful colleagues on a Google Hangout to check in and make sure everyone is doing ok.

You get to see these children’s ability, confidence, self-esteem and joy for learning grow in real time and, ultimately, that is the real privilege that comes with doing the job of a PC.

 

Two or three hours of this will fly by and then, after lunch, it’s back on my bike to an afternoon programme. Every school is unique and so each programme comes with its own ‘personality’, each packed with lively, attentive pupils supported by committed, resilient teachers and school staff.

All of those tricky admin tasks, which do tend to build up, are undoubtedly worth it because they all so clearly feed directly into that moment when a tutor is working with a pupil and you see them click on to something they’d been struggling to understand in class. You get to see these children’s ability, confidence, self-esteem and joy for learning grow in real time and, ultimately, that is the real privilege that comes with doing the job of a PC.

Same again tomorrow? Absolutely.

If you are interested in having a PC like Rhys coordinating tutoring sessions at your school, please enquire about partnering with us below.

Partner as a school

West Coast Runners raise over £5000 for Action Tutoring in relay race challenge

6 November 2020

Fundraising for Volunteer Tutoring

Across September 5th-6th 2020, a team of avid runners in Merseyside completed a 31 hour relay race, raising vital funds to support Action Tutoring in its mission to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve a meaningful level of academic attainment.

The newly-formed running group, West Coast Runners, participated in The Speed Project DIY, an event adapted from The Speed Project, that usually sees runners in North America run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Speed Project DIY was created, enabling contestants from across the globe to participate in their own country.

West Coast Runners decided to bring this challenge to Liverpool, in direct support of Action Tutoring pupils.

The group, formed by Kelvin, Tom and Michael, raised over £5,000 for Action Tutoring – an incredible amount that was far beyond the team’s original target, and generously exceeded both their own and Action Tutoring’s expectations.

The runners mobilised support from across their networks, conducting interviews on BBC Radio Merseyside and appearing in news articles and snippets across a variety of Merseyside media channels. This inspiring article in Independent Liverpool details the team’s visions and actions for the race.

Fundraising for Volunteer Tutoring

Michael, a former Geography teacher and an extremely committed Action Tutoring maths tutor, who has supported Action Tutoring pupils across a variety of programmes in Liverpool, said:

“Liverpool’s pupils need organisations like Action Tutoring now more than ever. School closures disproportionately affect pupils from low-income households, whose parents [or guardians] lack the resources to deliver an entire curriculum from their living room. The charity relies on schools for 40% of its income, so they’re in real need of extra support right now.”

“They’re honestly one of the most evidence-based charities I have ever worked with. You would be amazed how few charities check whether what they’re doing actually works. Action Tutoring collects data on every pupil they support to evaluate impact and improve their service. Their resources and staff are fantastic. We’re really proud to be supporting them.”

Action Tutoring would like to thank the West Coast Running Team for their incredible and inspiring support and dedication, and the NSG group in Liverpool for their donations during the event. If you would like to contribute to the West Coast Runners fundraiser, please visit their GoFundMe page, or donate directly to Action Tutoring by clicking the link below:

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If you have a great fundraising idea and would like to support Action Tutoring in raising vital funds for their pupils, please get in touch with Hannah O’Neill, our Partnerships and Fundraising Manager, via hannahoneill@actiontutoring.org.uk.

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Tutoring is not just about altruism, but taking small steps to see real results

11 September 2020

Madina has been a volunteer with Action Tutoring making a difference to pupils in Birmingham since November 2019. Madina has shared her story for you to learn more about her experience as a tutor. We hope you enjoy reading about her Action Tutoring journey.

Madina, tell us a bit about what you do alongside volunteering.

I’ve just finished my first year studying for a degree in English, soon to start my second. I’m also currently working in retail part-time alongside my studies, which is definitely handy experience! Aside from that, I’m an avid reader and also enjoy making art. 

 

What first led you to Action Tutoring?

I first came across Action Tutoring at a careers fair at my university during welcome week. The volunteers’ passion was really evident as they explained what the role entailed and the enjoyment they gained from it. I was drawn in by the purpose behind the charity, in aiming to close the gap in educational attainment throughout the country. I was previously unaware of how the education of many can suffer due to not being able to afford private tutoring; providing an available voluntary service struck me as a hugely effective course of action. 

 

Why is volunteering important to you?

For a few years, I volunteered at Childline (NSPCC). I replied to emails and calls from a variety of young people, all with differing backgrounds, upbringings and experiences. The aim of the work was the safeguarding of children and young people, giving them a secure place to air their feelings, to express themselves and make themselves heard. It proved a very rewarding experience, which I feel is a crucial aspect in any voluntary work. Giving a portion of one’s time to help others or a wider community isn’t just about being altruistic. It’s about recognising where support is needed and taking action to contribute towards any improvements that can be made. For me, the knowledge that even a small step taken can lead to brilliant results is really what makes the volunteering experience so rewarding.

 

Describe a successful tutoring session.

In the week beforehand, we’re encouraged to plan whatever key skill we choose to cover – usually, this is up to the pupils and what they feel needs working on. A typical session goes along the lines of a warm-up, the main activity and then a plenary, where we summarise on the skill covered. Many sessions can go completely smoothly and according to plan, but I feel what makes it successful is the pupils’ engagement. It’s very normal for some pupils to be rather shy or nervous at the beginning. However, seeing them come out of their shell and being comfortable to voice any difficulties they may be having is what makes the sessions work so effectively. It really does feel successful when you realise the pupils are as motivated as you are. 

 

Describe a memorable moment from one of your sessions.One of my pupils, who had been struggling in grasping a key skillset, told me that she’d received praise in an English lesson after being able to finally demonstrate the skill. From that point forward, there was an evident improvement in her confidence; not only did she express herself better, but her work improved too. I’ll never forget her enthusiasm when she shared her achievement with me. It felt like I’d really made a difference, driving me to work further towards building the confidence of the pupils I work with. 

 

Tell us something that surprised you about volunteering with Action Tutoring.

I initially had the idea that tutoring was going to be one to one, so I was slightly surprised to find out that the sessions tend to be in groups. The challenge was trying to accommodate each of their needs in the weekly activities, attending to all of them without leaving anyone out. I found that the solution was to find a skillset that everyone could agree to work on, as well as keeping an extra eye on the pupils who needed more support. I also didn’t expect how fun it would be to work in a group dynamic, especially when it came to warm-up activities. Seeing how competitive they could be only five minutes into the session really set the bar for energy levels throughout the rest of the hour. 

 

What’s the hardest thing and the best thing about tutoring?

It’s often difficult to get the pupils to focus, especially if they’re easily distracted. However, it only means that I have to find more creative ways of maintaining their attention – this involves small breaks in between activities, or a break at the end if they just wanted a general chat to unwind. The best thing by far is seeing them enjoy the session. Nothing beats finishing on a positive note, with a solid plan on what they want to cover next week, and knowing that some progress had been achieved. It makes the struggles along the way worth it, seeing that they’ve been given the support they need and most importantly, that they get something valuable out of it. 

 

How has volunteering as a tutor contributed to other areas of your life?

It’s definitely helped me in gaining skills I wouldn’t otherwise have gained, such as improvements in my own style of communication. I’ve also discovered more efficient ways to be organised, which came from planning tutoring sessions. As they only last one hour, I’ve had to learn to adapt to tighter time requirements, which has subsequently led to getting more things done – especially when it comes to studying. It’s also made me realise how much I enjoy working with young people and being able to support them in their education. To anyone who is thinking of volunteering, I feel this is an amazing opportunity to help pupils reach a level of success, as well as tackling a prominent issue of inequality. 

 

Sum up your experience of volunteering with Action Tutoring in one sentence.

It’s been unforgettably rewarding and an experience that I would highly recommend to others! 

 

Start your journey towards an unforgettably rewarding experience as a volunteer tutor and apply now! https://actiontutoring.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-as-a-tutor/

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