Social Action

Employees tackle south coast fundraising challenges!

2 May 2024

Showing true team spirit, three exceptional Action Tutoring employees have gone the extra mile for fundraising. Stepping outside their everyday role, Alice, Louisa and Stuart all completed sponsored runs to raise vital funds. Testing their physical resilience, their inspiring efforts support our ongoing mission of closing the education attainment gap.

Read on to find out why they laced up their shoes and kept going to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Braving the Brighton Half Marathon

Alice, our former engagement coordinator, daringly achieved her goals at February’s Brighton Half Marathon. She took Brighton’s infamous winds in her stride, sailing through her challenge on the electric seafront.

“My energy matched the event’s atmosphere. Music blasted everywhere and crowds constantly cheered you on!”

Alice

Alice says while initially feeling daunted by the physical challenge, she soon enjoyed her training runs. All her efforts paid off on the day when she had that runners high!

“I really enjoyed pushing beyond my comfort zone. I find running is great at testing both your physical and mental strength. That post-run feeling is always amazing!”

Alice

Alice worked brilliantly on both her training plan and her fundraising too. She raised an incredible amount of £305, with an additional £60 in Gift Aid!

“The most rewarding part for me was fundraising. Seeing every lovely supportive message was such a joy. It made all those practice runs seem worthwhile.”

Alice

Taking on the Brighton 10k

Staying with Brighton, one of our Sussex programme coordinators, Louisa, ran April’s exciting Brighton 10K (BM10K). Brighton’s blustery weather returned, but Louisa battled through to enjoy a great day running for our charity.

“Was a lovely sunny (albeit windy!) day and I was delighted to get my sub hour target! This was my first time completing something like this and I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! “

Louisa

Louisa found having this race as an aspirational goal kept her motivated and active across the colder months.

“It was so helpful having a target during winter. It helped to force me to leave the house and stay active.”

Louisa

Considering a similar challenge for Action Tutoring? Louisa says our staff brilliantly supported her fundraising journey, providing resources and tips to help her reach the target. Louisa raised an incredible £400, rising to £493.75 with Gift Aid!

Southampton 10k success!

Finally, our communications officer, Stuart, boldly took on the Southampton 10K. Race day saw few clouds as crowds offered banners and powerful cheering to energise runners.

“The crowds were incredible and gave lovely support. The kids also had very engaging power up and tap for a boost banners which were fun and motivational.”

Stuart

Stuart soon released early race nerves, finding a calm flow. Enjoying a rewarding experience, Stuart raised an amazing £105.00 plus £26.25 in Gift Aid.

“Fundraising for Action Tutoring and making a difference to the lives and learning of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds is fantastic.”

Stuart

For future budding fundraisers out there, Stuart recommends doing something you naturally enjoy. 

“I’d suggest thinking carefully about which challenge will bring out the best in you. This may empower you to complete it and enjoy it better.

Stuart

Get involved to help us tackle education inequality!

Feeling inspired by Alice, Louisa, and Stuart’s extraordinary achievements?
We have several charity spaces available at summer sporting events. Find a full events list on our fundraising page. Alternatively, email our fundraising coordinator, Molly, via molly.cottrill@actiontutoring.org.uk for more events information. You can also contact Molly if you’re considering taking on your own challenge, sports based or not!

Supporting our work

Join our mission to transform the lives of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. You can contribute to their brighter future, including: 

Together, we can cross the finish line of opportunity and bring lasting difference to every pupil.

Young impact makers attend Platinum Jubilee Award reception

8 December 2023

Newcastle volunteer tutor, Eliza Blowes, and Action Tutoring’s fundraising coordinator, Molly Cottrill were part of a special group of volunteers and charity representatives who attended the prestigious reception for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Award recipients. Her Royal Highness Princess Anne was the special guest of honour.

Eliza and Molly were chosen to represent the education charity at the reception last week Tuesday, which offered places for two change agents under age 25 and two staff from the organisation to attend. Founder and CEO, Susannah Hardyman and deputy CEO, Jen Fox, also attended the event at the Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

Guests at the Jubilee Award reception held at the Fishmongers’ Hall in London

Action Tutoring received The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award, in recognition of the significant impact of its volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young pupils across England. This esteemed award, equivalent to an MBE, now known as the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, represents the highest acknowledgment bestowed on local voluntary groups in the UK. The aim is to celebrate fantastic work by national charities and their volunteers to empower young people and provide them with skills and opportunities.

Positive transformation

Eliza, a master’s student at Northumbria University, Newcastle, was chosen for being actively involved in providing additional academic support to disadvantaged young individuals within her local Newcastle communities. Since August 2022, Eliza has tutored primary and Secondary English, in-person and online, in 51 sessions across eight different programmes in local schools.

Eliza tutors a pupil at a primary school in Newcastle

Expressing her passion for language and its transformative potential in diverse and disadvantaged communities, Eliza, who is studying for a postgraduate in Applied Linguistics for TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), emphasised her interest in contributing to better outcomes for pupils in schools.

“Having personally witnessed the positive transformation we have brought about in pupils within my community, I am elated to see the organisation receiving this well-deserved recognition.”

Eliza

Relatively young charity

HRH Princess Anne spent time handing certificates and speaking to representatives of each awarded charity. HRH Princess Anne was particularly interested in the history and impact of Action Tutoring, as a relatively young charity, being awarded alongside established and centuries-old charities, including the British Red Cross and Scouts. With only 12 years since its founding, Action Tutoring said it was delighted to be among the recipients of the award which included renowned and household-name charities for this award.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and also the Department for Business and Trade plus Minister for Equalities, Stuart Andrew, gave a speech and met with charities to appreciate their work.

CEO of Action Tutoring, Susannah Hardyman (left) and deputy CEO, Jen Fox

Increasing life chances

Susannah Hardyman expressed pride in the volunteers’ selfless commitment to supporting disadvantaged young people, highlighting their positive impact on academic progress and the wellbeing of pupils.

“The recognition serves as a reminder of the invaluable contributions made by our volunteers within their local communities across the country. Like Eliza, they are not only helping disadvantaged pupils in academic progress but also fostering their sense of confidence and increasing their life’s chances.”

Susannah

Action Tutoring is proud of its diverse pool of volunteers from different backgrounds and between the ages of 18 to 82,  including university students, full-time or part-time workers from different sectors of business, and retired professionals. Not only do volunteers help pupils achieve better grades, but they also serve as positive role models by creating a supportive environment for learning and mentoring pupils to thrive in school and later in life.

In the 2022-23 academic year alone, 1,744 volunteers supported 5,743 primary and secondary pupils in 25,600 sessions in 140 schools across the country. Volunteers are at the core of Action Tutoring’s work and remain an invaluable resource in driving our purpose and impact.

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Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.

Mum and daughter conquer Sheffield 10K to tackle educational inequalities

1 December 2023

The streets of Sheffield witnessed a heartwarming display of determination as Action Tutoring’s Sheffield programme coordinator, Rachel, and her mum, Mary, took on the Sheffield 10K run to raise funds to support disadvantaged pupils.

The Sheffield 10K saw thousands of runners enjoying South Yorkshire’s famous Steel City, with the route taking runners out of the city and into the surrounding areas before returning to the city centre for the finish.

Weathering a storm

The wet and windy weather didn’t stop the mother-daughter pair from braving through the storm to cross the finish line. They endured the weather with a shared goal in mind – to make a difference in the lives of children and young people facing disadvantage in schools.

Fundraising run
Rachel and mum, Mary, proudly display their Sheffield 10K medal

Generous donors

The pair were spurred on by their supportive friends and family through the run and fundraising efforts. They raised £394 plus £92.50 in Gift Aid. Rachel shared how they were touched by the generosity of donors and well-wishers, especially tutors who already give their time to volunteer for Action Tutoring.

“The kind words, lovely messages, and donations from tutors who already do so much for Action Tutoring were particularly heartwarming.”

Rachel

The total of £486.50 can translate into providing 14 new pairs of noise-cancelling headphones for pupils receiving tutoring support or equally covering the cost of enhanced DBS checks for 45 tutors.

Go for it! 

Despite the daunting physical and mental hurdles of the run, Rachel and Mary completed it in high spirits, embodying perseverance and commitment to the cause. 

Rachel’s advice for future fundraisers contemplating a similar challenge is simple.

“Go for it! If you are new to running or have never entered a running event before, they’re a brilliant way to motivate yourself.”

Rachel

Rachel also advised that running with a friend or listening to a podcast or music serves as an effective distraction during the tougher moments in training for the race.

Fundraising run - Sheffield 10K
Rachel’s mum, Mary, shows off the mission of Action Tutoring at the back of her T-shirt during the run

“We are so proud of Rachel and Mary for tackling the Sheffield 10K to support disadvantaged children and young people. You’re both amazing advocates for Action Tutoring and have championed our mission in a triumphant way. With your help, we can tackle education inequality head-on. Thank you!

Head of Philanthropy, Hannah O’Neill

Do you want to get involved in a fundraising challenge for us? We’re currently looking for fundraisers to fill our charity spaces on the Hackney Half 2024 and the RideLondon-Essex 60 2024. Please complete the form in link below or contact our Fundraising Coordinator, Molly: molly.cottrill@actiontutoring.org.uk.

Black History Month: Breaking barriers in education for better outcomes

26 October 2023

October is Black History Month in the UK – a time to celebrate the historic achievements and contributions of the Black community. For us, it’s also a prime opportunity to take a closer look at the state of education for young Black people and explore ways to make it more fair and inclusive for the future.

Before the pandemic’s disruption to learning, pupils from Black ethnic backgrounds, on average, scored the lowest GCSE pass rates among all major ethnic groups. However, the most recent GCSE results show remarkable progress, as Black students achieved English and math pass rates similar to their peers from other ethnic backgrounds.

How can we ensure this positive trajectory continues to enable even better outcomes for young Black people in education and as they progress into employment or training?

As part of our Black History Month activities at Action Tutoring, our PR, Media and Policy manager, Henry Derben had a thought-provoking chat with Hannah Wilson, co-founder of Diverse Educators, development consultant, coach, and trainer of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practice. With Hannah’s extensive background in education, including roles such as head of secondary teacher training, executive headteacher, and vice-chair of a trust board, the conversation delved into the critical issue of enhancing educational outcomes for young Black students.

Here are highlights of the dialogue:

Do you think the UK curriculum adequately covers and teaches Black History extensively today?

Many schools are trying to improve, but they are also longstanding gaps. The issue of focusing too much on celebrating Black Americanness during Black History Month often comes up. We tend to emphasize the American civil rights movement and well-known Black figures. But many schools miss the mark by neglecting the rich history of UK Black identities. While it’s encouraging that schools are making more efforts, we should aim for a future where Black culture and identity are integrated throughout the curriculum.

We need to focus on the complexity and intersectionality of Black identities, including Black women, Black queer individuals, and Black disabled people. Our celebration of Black History should be more specific and inclusive.

Referencing a 2020 House of Commons briefing paper, which stated that Black ethnic students had the lowest rate of attaining standard passes in English and math GCSEs among major ethnic groups. What contributed to this performance trajectory?

When we look at the data, it’s clear that there is a performance gap, and it’s not just about grades. It’s also about the career satisfaction and the salary gap that many Black individuals experience. The challenge lies in the lack of representation, diversity, and inclusivity in various sectors, including education and employment. Schools need to be more intentional about who they present as role models to show what is possible. If we want to change these patterns, we need to disrupt the status quo and create a conscious investment in mentoring, coaching, and advocating for individuals to access opportunities that might not have been available to them otherwise.

Representation within the workforce is another key aspect. We need to address the lack of Black representation in leadership positions, not only in schools but also in higher education.

Research has shown that disadvantage starts very early in a child’s life. Children from low-income backgrounds often begin school four and a half months behind their more affluent peers. What can be done in the early years to help break this cycle of disadvantage and ensure that young Black people make progress and catch up?

It’s important to start with the curriculum. The curriculum in the early years should be diverse and inclusive. We need to focus on representation and ensure that Black children see themselves reflected in the materials, stories, and experiences they encounter. However, we need to move beyond simply adding diversity as a “bolt-on.” The representation should be integral to the curriculum, not an afterthought. We also need to consider the intersectionality of identities and recognize the unique experiences of Black children. Ultimately, we must work to dismantle systemic and structural barriers by creating intentional strategies that promote inclusivity.

Black History Month - young pupils

Moving to the primary and secondary levels, are there specific policies that can help address performance inequalities at these stages, beyond tutoring?

It has to start with the curriculum, surely tutoring and mentoring all of those interventions like mediation support mechanisms are so powerful, we know that make up the difference. But what are we actually doing to challenge the root causes? We have to stop softball. We’re often throwing money at the problem, but not actually fixing the problems or doing things differently. We need to revisit and rethink how we structure the school day, who is doing the teaching, what is being taught, and how it’s being taught.

There’s a need for a fundamental disruption in the way we approach education. Schools should think about the intersectionality of identities and be intentional about representation and cultural relevance in their pedagogy. It’s not enough to provide pockets of representation; we must ensure that representation is consistent across the curriculum. We need to address the concrete ceiling that often prevents Black individuals from accessing leadership opportunities. Career guidance, sponsorship, and mentoring should be part of the solution to break these patterns. Collective action is essential to create lasting change.

Shifting our focus to parents and guardians, they play a crucial role in a child’s early years and education. What can parents and guardians do to contribute to positive change within the education system?

Schools need to work more closely with parents and create a partnership based on equity and democracy. Often, schools tell parents what they need to do, and there’s an imbalance in the power dynamic. We need to involve parents in the decision-making process and truly listen to their voices and perspectives. Thinking about how we work with parents and create a true partnership and collaboration. That to me, is what some schools perhaps need to revisit – their kind of plans, commitment, or the ways they work with different stakeholders. Engaging parents more closely is definitely a way of helping them get involved in schools so they’re part of that change cycle.

Finally, in the context of Black History Month and improving outcomes for young Black people, what is your call to action for everyone?

My call to action is for more individuals, particularly those in White-majority spaces, to become allies. Reflect on your own experiences with schooling, curriculum, and identity affirmation. Recognize that representation and diversity matter. Challenge the gaps and biases in the system, and work intentionally to create change. Be aware of the positive impact that representation can have on young people. It’s essential to disrupt stereotypes and ensure representation is consistent across all subjects. We need to take collective action to create a more inclusive and equitable education system.

Targeted support for young Black people

Hannah’s insights underscore the urgency of addressing the disparities in our education system. By offering targeted support, improving the curriculum, breaking systematic barriers and taking collective action, we not only acknowledge the unique challenges young Black people might encounter but also send a powerful message that their experiences, voices, and perspectives matter. Ultimately, nurturing Black pupils’ growth and well-being not only enriches their educational journey but also contributes to a more diverse, empathetic, and socially conscious society as a whole.

As Black History Month is being marked across the UK, let’s heed the call to action and take collective steps toward a more and empowering education system that taps and nurtures the potential of all young Black students.

Tackling the challenges in education beyond GCSE results day

25 August 2023

The GCSE results are in. Over five million young candidates across the country who took their GCSE exams can now find out the outcome and possible options for moving to the next stage of their lives.

Getting to this point has certainly not been easy. In the last few years, young people and their schools have braved the storms of uncertainty and adapted to unprecedented challenges. We should not only acknowledge their academic achievements but also loudly applaud their unwavering determination and spirit through some very difficult years. 

The stark reality

The Covid-19 pandemic was the biggest ever disruption to education in history. Three years on, it still casts an unforeseen shadow over the academic landscape, creating an aura of uncertainty for GCSE candidates.

Facing multiple school closures spanning months, the struggle of catching up with remote learning (and indeed, the inequality of access to remote learning), changing examination formats, and declining mental health, these candidates have demonstrated adaptability and had to forge ahead through extremely choppy waters. 

Whilst we don’t yet fully know how this year’s GCSE results will break down specifically for disadvantaged pupils, we do know that last year the attainment gap was at its widest in over a decade. A few years ago, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) published research highlighting that on the trajectory at the time, it would take 500 years to close the attainment gap. More recently, the EPI has warned that at the current trajectory, it will never close. 

We know that a key contributing factor to the disparity recorded in attainment between the different socioeconomic groups of pupils is the access to learning support and resources. The results these pupils will receive today are not simply a reflection of their ability but also a reflection of the challenging circumstances they are grappling with – less access to the same levels of support and opportunities as their peers.  All of these issues were of course exacerbated during covid, with the government’s flagship plan to address that the launch of the National Tutoring Programme. 

The power of tutoring

Young people in a tutoring session

As the leader of a charity that has provided tutoring support for young people facing disadvantage for over ten years, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m biased towards tutoring. But I have reason to be: tutoring is a tangible and effective intervention, yielding significant academic improvements for pupils beyond regular school lessons.

Small group tutoring has been found to contribute an average of five months of academic progress to a child’s education, according to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – one of the key pieces of evidence that led to the government introducing the National Tutoring Programme to try and mitigate the covid damage.

Despite still being a big believer in the value of tutoring, I would be the first to say that I’ve had many frustrations with the implementation of the National Tutoring Programme over the last three years and still do: not least that it has lost its focus on supporting those facing disadvantage, group sizes have been increased beyond the evidence base, the administration has been complicated and in the context of extremely challenging school budgets it’s been hard to be sure the NTP is really providing additional support. 

But I’m certainly not giving up on the potential that exists for those facing disadvantage to benefit hugely from tutoring. A recent report by Public First, The Future of Tutoring, has shown that tutoring has spill over effects beyond academic performance, including increasing confidence, driving attendance, and improving the mental health of pupils.

For many pupils, it’s bringing the joy back into learning:

“I enjoy that our tutors teach us through games, learning and having fun”

a pupil on an Action Tutoring programme said

Teachers in schools with higher levels of deprivation were more likely to report the impact tutoring could have. Furthermore, the report revealed that parents are in full support of tutoring too. 81 percent of parents polled said tutoring should be available to every child in state school or college and 73% said this should be focused on those from low-income backgrounds.

Levelling the playing field beyond results day

For the NTP to embed longer term, funding is a key issue. Results of the teacher polling in the Public First report highlighted clearly that without continued ring fenced funding for tutoring, uptake would seriously diminish. Yet with the damaging effects of covid far from over, now is not the time to reduce the support available for those that need it.

That’s why the Public First report calls for a ‘Tutoring Guarantee’ – a commitment for all pupils eligible for the pupil premium who are behind in English or maths to be offered a course of high quality tutoring. This would benefit approximately 1.75m disadvantaged pupils per year. With those crucial English and maths qualifications in their pockets, the doors open for these young people will be significantly widened. The benefits of that on their lives as well as wider society cannot be underestimated. 

To the GCSE candidates and teachers: your achievements are a testament to your spirit and perseverance during this unprecedented period. Congratulations on this milestone!

Action Tutoring wins £1,000 Movement for Good Award

9 August 2023

Action Tutoring has been selected to receive a £1,000 donation as part of Benefact Group’s Movement for Good Awards. This gesture was made possible by nominations from the public, showcasing the widespread recognition and support for the education charity’s valuable work.

Now in its fifth year, Benefact Group’s Movement for Good Awards aims to contribute over £1 million to various charities. Action Tutoring’s selection highlights its commitment to empowering young learners and making a positive impact on their education and life chances.

Expressing gratitude for this recognition, Head of Philanthropy at Action Tutoring, Hannah O’Neill said,

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who nominated us for the Movement for Good Award. It is heart-warming to see the public’s belief in our mission and our positive impact. This award is a recognition of the dedication of our team, volunteers, and supporters who work tirelessly to improve outcomes for disadvantaged young people.”

The funds will be directed toward providing additional workbooks and training more volunteer tutors to support young people in maths and English. The donation translates into the equivalence of purchasing 166 workbooks or training over 300 tutors online.

Mark Hews, Group Chief Executive at Benefact Group, said:

“We would like to thank every single person who took the time to nominate a good cause as part of our Movement for Good Awards. We know that £1,000 can make a huge difference to the incredible work that charities do and we’re looking forward to seeing how this financial boost will change lives for the better.”

With the continued funding and support from organisations like the Benefact Group, Action Tutoring can continue making a significant difference in the lives of disadvantaged young people, fostering a brighter future for generations.

Action Tutoring provides tailored maths and English tuition to pupils facing disadvantage in Years 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11 to pass their SATs and GCSEs. Trained volunteers tutor pupils through weekly one-hour sessions, online or face-to-face in partner schools.

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.

Volunteers take on Hackney Half Marathon to raise funds

22 June 2023

The six runners raced for 13 miles at Hackney Half to raise over £2700 to support tutoring


The atmosphere at Hackney Marshes, the start and end point for the Hackney Half Marathon, was electrifying. Throngs of supporters had lined up the streets of the 13.1 mile course.

From shaking tambourines and blowing loud whistles to chanting runners’ names, motivation from the hundreds of thousands of cheering crowds was on full display.

A field of 24,000 runners who signed up for the half marathon were ready to push their minds and bodies to the finish line. Among the runners were six volunteers – Sam, Rhea, Tom, Luke, August, and James – taking on the challenge to raise funds in support of Action Tutoring’s mission.

The run started from the Hackney Marshes, through some of East London’s creative and popular spots including Broadway Market, Hackney Empire, Hackney Wick and Victoria Park.

Ramon, a finance administrator at Action Tutoring, was one of supporters cheering the runners on, alongside their family and friends at the finish line.

It had a festival-like atmosphere with music playing, buzzing energy and a great community spirit to encourage runners to push through to the very end.

Ramon

Physical toll

Running for 13.1 miles, an equivalent of 21 kilometres, is no mean feat and presents a massive challenge to the body. It exerts a physical toll that Tom, one of our brilliant volunteer runners, found out quite early-on in the race.

Tom volunteer runner
Tom – volunteer runner

I had sort of shin splints and knee problems throughout the entire race, but I just had to dig deep. I kept it going, one foot in front of the other.

Tom

For Tom, the core takeaway from this challenge is doing something amazing in the name of charity, regardless of time or speed.

It’s about having a good time, but it’s also about finishing the race and being part of the whole event and not pushing yourself too hard.

Tom

Our volunteer runner, Rhea, also found the race painful but the reward was soothing.

It was so painful for a lot of it. But the whole time, it was amazing mentally yet physically terrifying.

Rhea

Staying motivated

To take on a big challenge like this, you need motivation to keep you going from mile to mile, or even at tougher points, step to step.

Our runners said the big motivators for them included the support from friends and family was a big motivator, people who donated to their fundraising pages and fans who cheered them on as they ran.

I saw people that shouted “Action Tutoring”, and that they have a brother and sister who has been tutored by the charity’s volunteers.

James
James - volunteer runner
James – volunteer runner

Eye on the prize

Another big motivation for the six runners through the thick and thin of the half marathon was the cause. Keeping in mind the altruistic reason they had taken on the huge challenge in the first place as the ultimate prize saw them through the race.

All funds raised will help increase access to tutoring for pupils from low-income families across the country. All our runners have previously or currently volunteered on our programmes. Action Tutoring works with volunteers to provide academic support in maths and English to primary and secondary pupils facing disadvantage.

While running, Rhea remained steadfast by thinking of the work and impact of Action Tutoring. 

I’ve signed up for a half marathon before and not followed through with it and then this opportunity came up with Action Tutoring and I just thought that’s an amazing cause to be running for and that I’d love to push myself to be doing something more for them.

Rhea

She urged people wishing to take on a challenge for a cause such as this to definitely go for it, as the pride in personal achievement and charity is worth it.

Definitely do it! Even though I know I just described it as very painful, that is going to be something I can look back on and be really proud of.

Rhea
Rhea - volunteer runner
Rhea – volunteer runner

Planting important seeds

Tom said he felt inspired by his fulfilling tutoring experience and decided to take his support one step further by taking on this challenge.

I’ve been a tutor for over seven months now and I’ve seen the great work that Action Tutoring does. This was just a different avenue that I could the help the charity reach more disadvantaged children and hopefully spread awareness about their work.

Tom

James also shared that the charity’s cause was close to his heart, elaborating why raising awareness for Action Tutoring was important to him.

I know people who have learning challenges or haven’t had the best upbringing or families that don’t necessarily understand the importance of education. I know the value of tutoring. For people to give up their time to help young people, they’re planting seeds – important seeds.

James

Fundraising success

Luke - volunteer runner
Luke – volunteer runner

Our runners not only worked hard at the race, but with their fundraising efforts. A staggering total of £2705 was raised collectively, smashing the original group target of £1800, or £300 per runner.

The raised amount translates into purchasing over 450 workbooks for face-to-face tutoring or 108 headphones for online delivery.

We are so proud of our runners for taking on this incredible physical feat whilst fundraising for Action Tutoring. Thank you to all the runners and all those who donated and supported each runner’s fundraiser. We can’t do our vital work without your support and advocacy.

Hannah O’Neill, Head of Philanthropy at Action Tutoring

With the raised funds and visibility from the Hackney Half Marathon, Action Tutoring will continue to work tirelessly to inspire disadvantaged young people and help them unlock their academic potential.

Our evidence submission: Tackling persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils

25 May 2023

Since the onset of Covid-19, a significant challenge for schools and other education support organisations has been persistent pupil absence. When students frequently miss school or display a pattern of irregular attendance, it can have far-reaching consequences on their academic progress, personal development, and future prospects.

In March, Action Tutoring submitted written evidence to Parliament’s Education Committee inquiry into persistent absence and support for disadvantaged pupils. The parliamentary inquiry was aimed at examining the issue of severe absences, the factors causing it and to assess the likely effectiveness of the Department of Education’s (DfE) proposed reforms on attendance, particularly for disadvantaged pupils.

As an education charity and accredited tuition provider, our submission focused on pupil engagement in tutoring sessions – pre and post-pandemic, reasons for low school attendance, the impact of tutoring programmes for disadvantaged pupils, and ways to increase attendance and engagement in schools.

Tutoring attendance and engagement

The attendance figures for Action Tutoring programmes are slightly lower than before the outbreak, mirroring national patterns. Our data showed that the Pupil Premium cohort – children receiving Free School Meals who formed 72% of our beneficiaries – had lower attendance figures.

For primary schools in the autumn of 2022, attendance at Action Tutoring sessions was 82% for Pupil Premium pupils and 86% for non-Pupil Premium pupils. 

In secondary schools for the same term, attendance was 66% for Pupil Premium pupils and 72% for non-Pupil Premium pupils. 

Tutoring sessions for both primary and secondary take place outside the regular school hours.

The severity of persistent absence

Persistent pupil absence goes beyond occasional absences due to an illness or family emergency. It involves students who are consistently absent without valid reasons and hence miss a substantial number of school days, often exceeding the accepted threshold.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), a pupil is identified as a persistent absentee if they miss 10% or more of their possible sessions. Nationally, over 1.7 million pupils (24.2% of all pupils) missed 10% or more of their school sessions in Autumn 2022-23, up from 23.5% the previous year. This compares to 922,566 absentee pupils before the pandemic.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) School Absence Tracker has shown that the number of children who are severely absent remains at crisis levels and the situation worsens among pupils eligible for Free School Meals(FSM). In the 2021/22 academic year, the severe absence rate for pupils eligible for FSM was more than triple the rate for children not eligible for FSM.

Causes of persistent pupil absence

In our evidence submission, we mentioned that some of the causes of persistent absence may include:

  • poor mental health
  • illness including long-term illness or fear of infecting vulnerable family members with an illness
  • chaotic home lives or factors such as additional caring responsibilities
  • post-Covid fear of finding learning difficult, being demoralised, or feeling left behind 
  • lacking the confidence to engage in the classroom
Pupils in classroom
Pupils in classroom. Credit: Pexels/Yan Krukau

What needs to change

Tackling persistent pupil absence requires a multi-faceted approach involving collaboration between schools, families, and communities. As a tutoring organisation that provides additional academic help to pupils, below are some strategies we believe can help improve attendance and engagement with the young people we support.

  • Sharing drinks and snacks during tutoring sessions to reduce hunger
  • Letters and text reminders to parents and parent information sessions about the tutoring and its benefits
  • Incentives for pupils such as vouchers or free tickets to the end-of-year prom if they attend the majority of their tutoring sessions
  • Pizza parties at the end of the programme
  • Award ceremony or presentation of certificates in assembly at the end of the programme
  • Reminders earlier in the school about their tutoring session and/or picking them up from their last lesson into tutoring sessions
  • Integrate attendance into the positive behaviour management system such as gaining points for their ‘house’ through attendance

New DfE’s solutions to tackle persistent absence

Last week, the DfE published a notice on new plans to drive up attendance rates and attainment in schools.

  • Expand the Attendance Hubs programme with nine new lead hub schools to support up to 600 primary, secondary, and alternative provision schools
  • Expand the presence of Attendance Mentors in areas of the country with the highest levels of pupil absence from September

The proposed solutions are to build on the existing attendance strategy which includes guidance for schools, attendance data dashboard and the work of the Attendance Action Alliance.

Collaborative approach

Persistent pupil absence poses a significant challenge to schools and the well-being of students. If the issue is not addressed, the nation risks creating a lost generation which may give rise to a surge of problems in the future.

By implementing a collaborative approach that addresses the underlying causes, provides support, and fosters a positive school environment, we can begin to tackle this issue effectively to help every child to reach their full potential.

Tutoring subsidy cut reversed but schools need more funding

24 May 2023

The Department of Education (DfE) yesterday announced a major change to the planned subsidy reduction for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) next academic year.

Originally, the current 60% subsidy support to schools was scheduled to drop to 25% beginning in the autumn term of next year. However, the DfE has reversed that policy decision and agreed to raise the subsidy to 50% for every pupil in receipt of the NTP for the academic year 2023-24.

We’re pleased that our concerns about the steep subsidy drop-off for the NTP next year have been listened to and the subsidy is being increased from 25% to 50% next year. However, we remain concerned that the reality is that schools that struggled to pay 40% of tutoring costs this academic year will still struggle to afford 50% next year.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring

The Government introduced the national tutoring programme in the autumn term of 2020 to help pupils, especially those facing disadvantage, to recover from lost learning experienced during the pandemic school closures. 

In the first year, the DfE funded 75% of the programme per pupil with schools expected to finance the remaining part. The subsidy was tapered to 70% in the second year before being reduced to 60% in the current third year. It was set to drop further to 25% next year until yesterday’s reversal announcement.

Fund allocation remains unchanged

Nonetheless, the DfE is not increasing the funding amount schools will receive next year for the NTP as it forecasts less demand and lower uptake of the scheme.

An amount of £150 million will be available to schools next year, despite calls for an increment in cash to cushion schools as they struggle with their already stretched budgets.

Furthermore, the overall amount of funding schools will receive for tutoring isn’t increasing, and given the current financial pressures on schools, we are concerned that this means that fewer pupils will be reached that could really benefit from the support

Susannah Hardyman
Tutoring session

Limited impact in practice

With schools getting no extra funding, the DfE is banking on hopes that fewer pupils will receive tutoring next year but that more schools will at least make use of the funding available. In practice, the subsidy reversal without an increment in tutoring cash will have a limited impact on the number of pupils who receive tutoring in schools.

For instance, in a school that has 50 pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium:

This year they received £162 per pupil premium pupil (60% of £18 an hour x 15 hours) each. For 50 pupil premium pupils, this would give a school £8,100, which would enable 50 pupils to get 15 hours at a 60% subsidy.

However, next year schools will get £67 each per pupil premium pupil (25% of £18 an hour x 15 hours). Using the same example, a school with 50 pupil premium pupils would receive £3,350, enabling 25 pupils to get 15 hours at the newly announced 50% subsidy.

More needs to be done

The increase in subsidy to 50% next year is very welcome to ensure that schools stand a chance of continuing to access tutoring. However, with the nation recording the largest attainment gap in a decade last year and schools struggling with budget squeezes, more still needs to be done to ensure that pupils in receipt of pupil premium and those below the expected standards reap the full benefits of tutoring.

At Action Tutoring, we’re pleased that our fundraising and philanthropy efforts mean we can support schools further beyond the NTP to ensure tutoring really is reaching those that need it most and minimising the barrier of financial pressures on schools.

We believe additional investment is needed long-term to ensure tutoring is sufficiently embedded in the education system widely and particularly, reaches those that need it most.

Susannah Hardyman

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