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Movember reflections – what can we do for our boys?

30 November 2021

Here at Action Tutoring, our central mission is to lay groundwork that can have a positive, long-term impact on the life outcomes of our pupils.

Our volunteers work hard to consolidate their in-class learning and build their confidence in order to improve their attainment when it comes to decisive exams. But children are not just results-producing machines, and academic attainment is not the only important factor at play – mental wellbeing is vital to anyone’s chances at happiness and prosperity in life.

What is Movember?

Every November, the Movember Foundation asks us to consider specifically the challenges faced by men and (crucially for Action Tutoring) boys when it comes to mental health. According to the foundation, one man dies due to suicide every day in the UK, and three in every four UK suicides is male.

Socio-economically speaking, children and adults in the lowest 20% income bracket are two to three times more likely to develop mental health problems than those in the highest, and in 2019 more than 4 million working class men suffered symptoms of poor mental health but chose not to seek professional help. Men, especially men of socio-economic disadvantage, are not talking about their mental health. So what can we do for our boys?

This academic year, there are more than 1,900 pupils registered on Action Tutoring programmes who identify as male. It is imperative in reflecting on the numbers above, and the threat they pose to so many young people we work with, that we are mindful of the ways that we can use our tutoring provision to make a positive difference and empower boys and young men to speak out when they are struggling with their mental health.

Why is it important?

Young men grow up in a world that encourages them to present as strong and competitive, and to hide any vulnerability. This pressure, and the internalised impact it can have when a boy feels he is failing to meet this idealised standard, is a double trap – it not only harms young men’s self-esteem but also discourages them from speaking out for fear of seeming weak to their peers.

Our tutors are well-positioned to undo this expectation and help free boys of their internalised, gendered burden by praising vulnerability and encouraging their pupils to embrace mistakes and learn to learn from them rather than hide from them or shy away from challenges to avoid feeling inferior.

movember action tutoring

Positive male role models, whose behaviour challenges masculine norms and demonstrates the positive impact this can have on a person’s life, are commonplace within our tutor pool.

We are proud to work with so many sensitive, empathetic men who serve as shining examples for their pupils (not just boys), and this can be especially impactful for the children we work with whose home situations may leave them without a good model for positive, modern masculinity.

One of the best things we men can do here is model behaviour that will help counteract toxic and negative expectations in young boys, as well as encourage this positive behaviour when we see it in pupils.

One example that springs to mind for me in my work as a Programme Coordinator came this September just gone, when I accidentally gave a Year 5 boy the wrong baseline assessment paper to sit, and didn’t realise until 10 minutes in. When I delivered the bad news to the pupil and explained to him that he would have to start again, he cried. This is a crucial moment, as my response to his reaction could either reinforce or help undo ideas he might carry into manhood. So I admitted that I also felt like crying because I’d made a mistake – but grown-ups get things wrong too, and it’s ok to get upset when things don’t go to plan. By sharing this moment, we were both able to pull ourselves together and my young guy finished his correct paper in good time having taken a run at every single question.

Gendered expectations are ingrained into all of us from an early age, but they can be unlearned – the earlier this happens in a person’s life, the better. Many pupils are already beginning to do this for themselves, as evidenced in the rising numbers of young people identifying outside of the gender binary. But thinking beyond binary gender has advantages even for those of us who still chose to identify by one of the traditional categories.

In this sense, broadening the idea of who can be a role model to who can free all of us from the biases that limit what we can do to encourage openness and sensitivity in young men – many of the most fruitful tutor/pupil matches I have seen are when our female tutors work with young boys. We can also be mindful of the materials we use, making sure that a gender-diverse range of authors are referenced in our English sessions, and that maths-related conversations extend beyond football stats when trying to get bored boys onside.

It is important that we are creative, ambitious and unbiased in how we mix-and-match our pupils with their tutors, as one of the best ways to deconstruct limiting gendered expectations is to erase as many lines that divide us as we can.

We are ambitious for our pupils at Action Tutoring, and this must always extend to their wellbeing as well as their academic success – otherwise our efforts may not have the lifelong impact we strive for.

The holistic benefits of tutoring make our sessions a great space to open up boys to the possibilities that come with talking about their feelings and their struggles. Hopefully, we can help to keep the conversation going for everyone long after our boys become men.

Join our mission by following us on social media. It will help us continue our work and raise awareness – our pupils need us more than ever.

Giving Tuesday 2021: It is time for all of us to bounce back

29 November 2021

The consequences of the pandemic have been hard for individuals, businesses and especially charities. Thousands of fundraising events have been cancelled and charity shops were unable to operate again after the restrictions were lifted due to financial difficulties and lack of volunteers. This Giving Tuesday we can make a difference.

What is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that encourages people to donate, volunteer, and participate in charitable activities.

Giving Tuesday provides the perfect opportunity to pause and remember the causes we believe in and the communities we care about. It began in 2012 as a way to counteract the overspending of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by donating to charities in need. It made its way across more than 70 countries and it is now the biggest global generosity movement.

Charities play an important role in our society – and we all benefit. They unite people who have a shared passion in order to make a positive impact in the world. With restrictions being lifted, we want to sustain the community spirit we saw during the pandemic and help charities to recover, bounce back and continue their fundamental work.

We can now engage with others, get involved with our local community and give ourselves the chance to bounce back from lockdown restrictions. We were all isolated for so long that we lost our sense of community, so returning to some form of ‘normal’ is more important than ever.

Lockdown and the pandemic put enormous stress on charities across the country. At Action Tutoring our attention was focused on the potential impact school closures could have on the pupils we support. We acted fast and raised our voices. We found new ways to fundraise and our amazing team enabled us to transition from ‘in-person’ to online tutoring, so we could continue helping disadvantaged pupils when they needed us the most.

You can read more about our launch of online tutoring sessions here.

This is what Shko, who is in Year 6 at Pathways E-Act Primary Academy in Sheffield had to say about his experience:

Coming back to school after lockdown felt weird. I hadn’t spoken in English for a long time. When I was at home, I spoke Kurdish. When I came back, it felt weird because I hadn’t practised English. With tutoring I get much more maths than I would usually. I get a revision because some of the lessons with Action Tutoring are things we’ve done in class that I’ve nearly forgotten. Tutoring feels peaceful.

This wouldn’t be possible without our incredible volunteers who stayed committed to our mission. The need, however, is still great. Pupils are still recovering and building back their knowledge following the school closures. We’re also looking ahead to how we can not only bounce back, but also become even stronger and more resilient in the future.

Giving Tuesday 2021

So, what can you do this Giving Tuesday to help us?

Volunteer

Studies show that disadvantaged pupils have fallen further behind because of lockdown and  school closures. Volunteering as a tutor with us will not only help close the attainment gap between disadvantaged young people and their peers, but  it will also help you bounce back from lockdown.

We have been in our home bubbles for so long, free of social engagement. This lack of social interaction can cause social anxiety and the feeling of isolation, even with restrictions being lifted. Now it is not the time to be isolated; it is time for all of us to bounce back.

Donate

We need your help. Your donation will help us continue our mission and support the most vulnerable in our communities. Disadvantaged pupils deserve a chance to build a better life for themselves and education will allow them to do so.

Giving Tuesday also marks the launch of The Big Give Christmas Challenge – the U.K’s largest match funding campaign. The challenge works by charities securing a ‘match pot’ of funding from their key supporters (called ‘pledges’) and a Big Give ‘Charity Champion’, which is then used to double donations made during the challenge week, meaning one donation = double the impact!

We have £2,000 to raise in donations across seven days, which will be doubled to £4,000 thanks to our match funding pot! Donations open at 12pm on Tuesday 30th November and close 12pm on Tuesday 7th December.

You can watch The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2021 campaign video to learn more. To ensure donations are matched, donations for our #ChristmasChallenge21 must be made via Action Tutoring’s Big Give campaign page. Donations start from £1.

With your contribution, 2022 can be a brighter year, where pupils have the support they need and bounce back from the impact of the pandemic.

Share our cause with your friends and family

If you are not able to give your time or make a donation, you can still help our cause. Please share this post with your friends and family and remember that raising awareness is crucial to ensuring that we continue to help pupils.

Why not share on your social media platforms or refer us to a friend you think would be interested in volunteering with us?

We hope the generosity inspired by #GivingTuesday lasts well beyond a day to create lasting change. It is time for all of us to bounce back and make sure there are brighter days ahead for everyone.

Our new website is live – Action Tutoring

17 November 2021

Our new website is live!

We are absolutely thrilled to announce the launch of our new website, alongside our refreshed brand. We have made these changes to reflect the charity we are today, and ensure we remain relevant to everyone who interacts with us. We hope it draws in new audiences to our work.

We have put a lot of work into our new site and we are pleased to finally share it with you. You can now easily access updated and insightful information about our mission and how you can get involved.

What’s new?

Our improved site navigation and extra accent colours will help you find exactly what you’re searching for, presented as a clean and a modern design.

tutor volunteers action tutoring

Updating a website is more than just making it appear aesthetically pleasing; it is also about learning what our volunteers and partner schools need and expect. Information should be easily accessible and answer all the questions you may have. It should also provide you with information and details about the charity, our team, our progress and our mission. 

As well as a new website, we have developed a refreshed brand and new logo, featuring the infinity symbol. This represents the infinite potential of the young people we support, our volunteers and our partner schools – emphasising what our pupils can do, rather than what they can’t do. The icon also represents the continuous cycle of giving back: by volunteering with our charity our tutors are helping our pupils to succeed in life. They will then progress and in future give back to society as a result, starting the cycle again.

The new website represents us as an education charity and our core values. We hope you like it as much as we do. The site will support our charity as we continue to work towards our vision of a world in which no child’s life chances are limited by their background.  We want to help more pupils than ever before this year but we can’t do this on our own.  We need more volunteers to help us to deliver the tutoring and more schools to partner with.

Every volunteer, school teacher, fundraiser and partner has helped us get where we are today and we want you to feel part of our journey, so don’t forget to stay up to date with our blog and news updates and subscribe to our newsletter.

Working towards our mission of lowering educational inequality would simply not be possible without the help of our wonderful tutors. We thank all our amazing volunteers and our incredible partner schools who have worked with us to reach the thousands of pupils who are part of our programmes. This is our way of making sure every visitor on our website can see the passion and commitment that goes behind our work.

Have you had a scroll through our new website? We would love to hear your thoughts!

We’ll be gradually rolling out the brand to our other materials and channels. We want to do this in a conscious way, so that we’re not wasting any resources. For these reasons, you might see our old logo in some places for a bit longer.

We’re grateful to The House agency for working with us on this project and understanding our needs and constraints as a charity, ensuring careful and valuable use of our funds.

Calling all teachers: help shape our future strategy

8 November 2021

As part of shaping our future strategy, we are keen to understand more from teachers across the country about your views on tutoring and engagement with the National Tutoring Programme.  You don’t need to have worked with Action Tutoring to complete the survey – we’re keen to hear from as many schools as possible.

We would be very grateful if you could take 5-10 minutes to complete our survey, to help ensure our offer and service stays as relevant and beneficial to you and your pupils as possible.  Please do share with any other teachers you know.

As a thank you for taking part, we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win a hamper of goodies for your staff room! Simply add your email address on the last section of the form to be entered.

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.

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.

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

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