Guest Blog

How volunteer tutoring has shaped my outlook on life

7 December 2023

I initially heard of Action Tutoring through one of my lecturers. I am a third year BSc Sociology and Psychology student at the University of Greenwich. For my final year of university, I chose to complete a placement and wanted it to be in the education sector. From my experiences, I have often been on the receiving end of teaching and therefore wanted to expand on my knowledge of the teacher’s end and help inspire other students to learn.

Levelling the playing field in education

After hearing about Action Tutoring, I decided to conduct my research into the charity. Action Tutoring not only aims to help socio-economically deprived students but also creates a safe and equal atmosphere for pupils in primary and secondary to have the same level of access to education and therefore achievement as their non-disadvantaged peers. I believe social factors should never influence the access students have to a good education and opportunities should be equal.

For students who may face these difficulties, it is out of their control and often therefore presents knock-on effects when it comes to further education, for example gaining a degree. By becoming a part of Action Tutoring’s volunteer scheme, I aim to help all students have confidence in themselves and achieve academic success.

Why volunteering matters

Tutoring is giving me an insight into the teaching side of academics, but the main factor that motivates me to volunteer knowing the impact I can have on the students. Being able to provide them with a safe and supportive space that allows them to feel fully confident to push themselves and aim higher is such a big motivator for me. 

This is especially true, as I know a lot of people who would have loved to have this amazing opportunity presented to them. I can give the pupils hope and get them to believe in themselves. Volunteering should be something all individuals should participate in at least once in their lives, as the happiness you feel knowing you have made an impact will forever stick and guide your morals. Volunteering brings people together, contributes to communities, and creates connections It is beneficial for both those who volunteer and those on the receiving end of it.

Laura – student tutor

The power of games and peer instruction

I am a strong believer that education should be made fun, otherwise students will not pay attention., I always ensure that icebreaker games within the lesson – points for completing the work, hangman games, maths bingo – all of these engage the students and make them eager to learn. Personally, I believe that this is vital as otherwise, students aren’t able to engage as much with the information being taught and therefore cannot improve on the skills they are struggling with. 

Another way to have a successful session is to see if the students who understand the information can teach me or teach the students who are struggling with what they have learned. This has a positive correlation with retention when students are struggling, as often as a tutor I may not explain in a way that is easy for certain students to understand. As peers, they are more likely to know each other better than I do and may help explain it in the way they understand from my teaching. Through this, I can then test the students again to see if they are still struggling.

A memorable tutoring moment

Some of my English students had previously done a text that was quite difficult to understand, so I decided to use a difficult word from the session in a game of hangman. They initially struggled to figure out the word, however, when they finally realised what it was, the look on their faces was pure excitement! I was hoping they had remembered why I had chosen the word, which they did and were able to tell me the name of the text without looking back. They could even explain how that word was relevant and summarise the text. I was extremely proud of how far they had come and how much they were able to recall. It gave me a sign that I was doing a good job at tutoring, which further gave me confidence in teaching future sessions.

A pupil receives tutoring online

Seamless tutoring experience

The main thing I love about Action Tutoring resources is their accessibility. All training sessions, extra resources, and programme workbooks are stored via one app called Loop. It is a really effective tool when it comes to accessing training events, as it presents all upcoming training sessions with their timings on the main home screen.

There are opportunities to do smaller Bright Ideas training sessions in your own time, which makes it easier to manage, especially if the online sessions do not suit your availability. Lastly, you can directly download the relevant workbooks for your tutoring subject and year group – it includes answers and solutions to all the questions, making it even simpler when it comes to planning lessons effectively. 

As someone who tutors a minimum of 6 sessions a week, I expected difficulty in contacting Action Tutoring’s programme coordinators, however, each session, apart from 1, had a different coordinator. This not only makes it easier to contact them, but it also makes communication smoother, as there is no risk of getting mixed up with the sessions or the students that are being discussed.

Highs and lows

The hardest thing about tutoring is controlling pupil behavioural issues. Personally, I have only had these issues with virtual learning because online it can be harder for me to control and redirect to positive behaviour when they’re not in the room with me. If these moments occur, I attempt to engage them back into the lesson or provide them with a mind break if I believe this to be the reason they were acting up.

Although sometimes tutoring can be hard, it also has a lot of benefits. Volunteering has positively impacted my overall life, often contributing to other aspects. I can carry myself with confidence, which presents more within my degree and therefore has a positive impact on my learning. Before volunteering, I was more reserved however this has since improved and now I can achieve my goals with more ease. My experience with Action Tutoring has been motivating and thrilling – it has developed my confidence in my teaching skills and allowed me to see the side of the education system that students rarely have access to.

Written by: Laura Shepherd

Going the extra mile: Employees run for a cause

20 July 2023

In a remarkable display of spirit, three extraordinary employees of Action Tutoring stepped up to the challenge to run for fundraising. Going beyond their day-to-day roles at our charity, Rachel, Beth, and Georgia embarked on sponsored runs, pushing their physical limits to raise funds to support tutoring disadvantaged young people. 

Let’s dive into their inspiring stories to find out what fuelled their motivations to conquer the challenge.

Conquering the Great Bristol Run

Rachel Roberts, our Bristol and Sussex Programme Manager, fearlessly tackled the renowned 2023 Great Bristol Run. With perfect weather conditions and an atmosphere charged with excitement, Rachel soared through the course, leaving her challenges in the dust.

“The running conditions were perfect, the weather was warm and windless, and the atmosphere was fantastic.”

Rachel

After the intense physical effort and fundraising effort of £165 which increases to £201 with Gift Aid, Rachel deservedly relaxed under the sun, sharing a well-earned celebratory drink with friends.

Rachel runs in Action Tutoring T-shirt

Reflecting on her experience, Rachel’s key piece of advice for future fundraisers undertaking a similar journey, is to make sure you tell your friends and family your estimated running time.

“Tell your spectators your estimated running time or they may miss you on the route.”

Rachel

Thriving in the heat of the Great Manchester Run

For Beth Carlow, the scorching heat on the day of the Great Manchester Run didn’t deter her from embracing the challenge. Our training and quality coordinator plunged into the race with an unwavering spirit. Live music, enthusiastic crowds, and bustling streets added an extra layer of excitement to the thrilling event.

The heat presented an additional physical hurdle for Beth.

“The toughest part was running in the heat, especially having completed most of the training in the more typical Manchester conditions of grey skies and drizzle.”

Beth

She proudly wore her hard-earned medal throughout the day, showcasing her achievement to the world. For those contemplating a similar challenge, Beth emphasized that participating in a race for charity is not only a fantastic way to raise funds for Action Tutoring but also serves as a powerful motivator during training and on race day. Beth raised £360 plus £56 through Gift Aid.

Trailblazing at the Wimbledon Common Half Marathon

Away from the loud cheers of other races, Georgia Pearson, the London Programme Coordinator embarked on the Wimbledon Common Half Marathon. With each stride,  Georgia relished the breathtaking experience of running amidst picturesque trails rather than the usual humdrum of city roads. 

Georgia said she found solace and strength in the run-through trails, a welcome distraction during challenging moments of the run.

“I really enjoyed the challenge of running a half-marathon and the fact that it was on trails rather than road running because it meant I could focus on the lovely surroundings when it got tough!”

Georgia

Beyond running along the scenic route, another highlight for Georgia was spotting The Wombles!

With the race behind her, Georgia was thrilled to witness the donations pouring in amounting to £625 plus £136 through Gift Aid – knowing that every contribution would support Action Tutoring’s impactful work.

“It was great to see the donations rolling in after I had completed the race and know that the money will support Action Tutoring’s work. It has definitely inspired me to take on bigger and more difficult challenges in the future”

Georgia

For aspiring runners, take note of Georgia’s advice: Just go for it and you won’t regret it.

Get involved to make a difference

Feeling inspired by the extraordinary achievements of Rachel, Beth, and Georgia?

Visit our fundraising page to learn more about how you can lace up your running shoes, take on a sponsored run to harness the power of your strides and become a hero for those in need.

Be a part of our mission to transform lives in many other ways – volunteer for an hour a week to support children, donate to our work or advocate to contribute to a brighter future for disadvantaged young people. 

Together, we can cross the finish line of opportunity and build brighter futures for every child.

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

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.

George Floyd’s death, one year on

25 May 2021

On the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, Action Tutoring HR and Safeguarding Manager, Jasmin Bemmelen, reflects on the steps the organisation has since taken to improve diversity and inclusion across the charity.

Equality, inclusion, diversity – words that have been buzzing across the world since the death of George Floyd, one year ago. As a result of this event, a problem that has existed for years resurfaced in many people’s minds and the public mood reached a breaking point. His death woke many of us up to the fact that inequality and exclusion are still a reality and that now is time to make the change happen. 

These topics are a priority for me as the HR and Safeguarding Manager and the lead for diversity and inclusion at Action Tutoring. Questions such as: ‘How can we change processes and mindsets within a short period of time?’; ‘How can we become a more inclusive employer?’; ‘How can we support our staff on the journey of fixing implicit bias?; ‘How can we break the status quo and dare to have brave conversations about topics that we believe are ‘taboos’ or ‘not appropriate’ to have?, are constantly on my mind. 

Working with a wide range of stakeholders (pupils, teachers, tutors, parents and guardians, funders and staff), we knew we had to start the journey of implementing new diversity and inclusion policies, in order to generate the change we want to see across the charity. As part of this, I created a working group that meets monthly, to propose and work on positive actions for the wider team. Every day, we are discovering more elements of our work that we can improve. We are constantly adjusting to become as inclusive and diverse as we possibly can and I believe that this will continue to improve over time. 

We need to break down the concepts of inclusion and diversity and convert them into tangible actions, turning them from abstract ideas to concrete steps, so that everyone can get on board. 

As a result, we have been implementing ‘everyday actions’ to encourage diversity and inclusion at Action Tutoring, such as: 

  • ‘Broaden your horizon’ Club – providing a safe space for staff to share their thoughts and ideas, whilst learning more about topics they might not have visited or thought about before.Team members come forward with topics they would like to discuss and resources are shared at the club meetings.
  • Adopting the HALO code – we have adopted the very first code that protects Black employees who come to work with natural hair and hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.
  • Lunchtime catch-ups and socials to celebrate and create awareness of important dates – (e.g. International Women’s Day; International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia; Eid and Ramadan).
  • Inclusive email signatures – our signatures now have the option to include gender pronouns, recognising the need for pronouns in today’s culture, so that applicants and employees feel comfortable to do the same so that everyone can be addressed correctly.
  • Long emails and newsletters now recorded for audio format – for those who prefer to digest information in an auditory way.

Through this process, I soon realised that my own expertise is limited and that if we want to challenge the status quo, external support for our recruitment processes would be needed. Receiving a equality, diversity and inclusion grant and with it the consultancy from the TPP, a recruitment expert consultancy, means we come one step closer to a more diverse team and a more inclusive working environment. We can start becoming the change we want to see in our society, which can ultimately increase our positive impact on the pupils, tutors and schools that we work with.

This anniversary has helped me to reflect on the positive actions we have taken so far, as well as how much more we need to be doing. Going forward, increasing diversity and inclusion across Action Tutoring is a journey that we are committed to continuing on.

To keep updated with the policies we continue to implement at Action Tutoring, please  read our blog and subscribe to our newsletter.

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

 

 

Steering the Action Tutoring ship into 2021

18 December 2020

Action Tutoring Interim CEO, Jen Fox, reflects on her time at the charity so far, and looks towards leading the organisation to more exciting growth in the new year.

Growing up in the seaside town of Bray in the Republic of Ireland, you’d be forgiven for assuming I had at least some experience on the water. While I’m not one to shy away from a New Year’s Day swim, my time on board ships has been limited. And yet, I find myself drawn to the analogy: steering the Action Tutoring ship into 2021.

I joined AT back in September 2015, fresh out of teaching science in a secondary school in South London. Initially appointed as London and Curriculum Manager, I soon found myself learning about what it takes to run a successful education charity.

I was fortunate to cover Susannah Hardyman’s first maternity leave in 2017-18. During this year, Action Tutoring grew significantly, mostly due to an expansion of our programmes into primary schools. Perhaps it was this experience that influenced Susannah and the Trustees to welcome me back as Interim CEO for a second time around? I’m delighted, excited and proud to be part of the AT team in a year where our ambition is to double in size.

The destination has been set, the Captain grounded (with a new born!) and the crew more passionate than ever to make a difference. My job is to make sure that the AT ship stays on course.

Setting the destination has taken months of strategic and financial planning, but the confirmation of Action Tutoring as an approved Tuition Partner of the National Tutoring Programme removed any doubt that AT could spread the power of volunteer tutoring to more deserving young people this year.

I didn’t have a tutor growing up, but I was lucky to have several teachers and family members who gave me the time and support structures that I needed in order to learn. I was the first person in my family to attend university, an experience that changed how I viewed the world. My mum (who graduated from the Open University two decades after having her family and while she was working full time) instilled a belief in me that education is transformative. I’m known for often concluding any debate about social, emotional or political problems by stating how they can be solved through education. I truly believe that is the case.

In a year overshadowed by a pandemic alongside continued school disruption, I’m certainly not expecting smooth sailing. However, I feel confident that any storms or course diversions ahead, whether they be treasure chests or mirages, will be weathered with ease.

I can say this because I know the crew we have. From the 64 employees to the 2000+ volunteer tutors and hundreds of supportive Link Teachers, I am confident that they will face whatever lies ahead with integrity and commitment. This will enable us to give as many disadvantaged young people as possible a better chance to succeed in the next stage of their lives.

If you would like to join us as a volunteer, apply now to start tutoring on a January programme.

 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

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