Volunteer Stories

Tutor spotlight: Eleanor Grandchamp – future children’s speech & language therapist

2 October 2023

Today we are shining a spotlight on an Action Tutoring volunteeer, Eleanor Grandchamp. Tutoring has been an instrumental part of Eleanor’s journey to becoming a children’s speech and language therapist. It inspired her choice of career, as well as being valuable experience that helped her land a job in a school and a spot on a competitive language therapy master’s course.

Eleanor Grandchamp

Please tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m Eleanor and I have been a tutor and advocate for Action Tutoring since 2020. I currently work in a primary school delivering speech and language therapy and behavioural support to a named child. I am due to start my master’s in Speech and Language Therapy at Reading University in September. I hope to be qualified as a paediatric SLT (speech and language therapist) with my own clinic one day, delivering free sessions in schools in economically deprived areas of the UK.

I learnt about Action Tutoring at my fresher’s fair at the University of West England, where I joined a local tutoring programme in Bristol in my first year (2019). I chose to help different year groups every time: Year 5, Year 6, Year 7, and Year 11.

Because of this, when I graduated, I found a job in a primary school rather than secondary school as I had already found that my teaching style resonated more with primary school children and I wanted to develop that further. Without Action Tutoring, I would not have been sure what year group I enjoyed teaching the most.

How do you feel your tutoring experience has helped you in your current role and how has it helped you secure a place on a speech and language therapy course?

My current job as a SEN LSA (special educational needs learning support assistant) in a primary school is very similar to tutoring but on a one-to-one basis instead. Action Tutoring taught me how to follow a programme and personalise it for each child. My employer was impressed with how prepared I was to teach and this was due to my time tutoring every week with Action Tutoring. Having tutored on and off for 3 years both in person and online, I had a large amount of contact hours with schools and teaching, which is what I needed to qualify for my job role. 

Through working with Action Tutoring, I developed a passion for speech and language therapy. I saw how it impacted a child’s educational and personal development and researched ways to overcome this, such as becoming a paediatric speech and language therapist. 

When applying for my master’s course, the university was impressed with my dedication to tutoring during my own studies. It showed my dedication to improving the education sector in my local Bristol area.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals for the future have been inspired by Action Tutoring. Once I am a fully qualified paediatric speech and language therapist, I would like to offer free speech and language therapy training for the staff working in schools with children affected by these disabilities, or free speech and language therapy sessions for the children and their families. 

Similarly to tutoring, there is a long wait until resources can be accessed by the children and by then it may be too late or not fully provide what is needed to help them. I would like to be part of the movement Action Tutoring has started to create equal opportunities for all children regardless of economic background. to give them a fighting chance to achieve their goals.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 - 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.


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 - 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.


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.


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.

Thank You Day 2023: An Ode to Volunteers

21 June 2023

Thank you to the unsung heroes of charity

When we think of superheroes, our minds often evoke images of capes, masks, and incredible superpowers. The true heroes among us aren’t necessarily blessed with X-ray vision or the ability to fly.

They are extraordinary ordinary people who selflessly give their time and efforts to causes that make a difference. Volunteers are the backbone of charitable organisations. They’re the ones who turn compassion into action, showing up day after day, ready to tackle any challenge. 

From feeding the homeless to cleaning up parks, from tutoring underprivileged children to rescuing adorable furry friends, these wonderful individuals are everywhere, making an impact, one selfless act at a time.

That is why we are joining the rest of the UK to mark the third annual Thank You Day on Sunday 2nd July. 

What is Thank You Day?

Thank You Day began with a handful of organisations looking for a way to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then the campaign has grown and an astounding 15 million people have taken part in Thank You Day celebrations. Last year, 61% said that taking part had made their communities feel more united.

The impact of small actions

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that changing the world requires grand gestures or infinite resources. But small actions can create profound ripples of positive change.  Even the tiniest effort can make someone’s day a little brighter. 

Whether it’s a heartfelt smile, a warm hug, spending an hour to support a young person or a simple “How can I help?”, these unsung heroes understand that the impact of their actions extends far beyond what meets the eye. Their dedication, combined with their unwavering belief in the power of compassion, transforms communities and touches lives in truly immeasurable ways.

The timeless gift of time

Imagine a world where everyone was too busy for kindness. Luckily, volunteers graciously donate their most precious resource – their time – to make a difference. Amidst their responsibilities and commitments, these extraordinary individuals carve out moments to lend a helping hand, becoming the living embodiment of the saying, “time is the most valuable gift.”

From organising food drives to planting trees, from tutoring pupils to comforting the lonely, volunteers invest their time to improve the lives of others. They are like time travellers, moving between the past, present, and future to create a better world for all. Their acts of kindness ripple through time, leaving a lasting impact that resonates with the souls they touch.

The magic of connection

Volunteers possess an uncanny ability to forge connections. They are the bridge builders who effortlessly bring people together, fostering a sense of community and belonging. In a world that sometimes feels disconnected, these unsung heroes have the power to create bonds that transcend barriers and unite us all.

Through their compassion, volunteers ignite a spark of hope in the hearts of those they serve. Whether it’s sharing stories, helping to solve difficult study questions, offering a listening ear, or simply offering a warm smile, they make everyone feel seen, heard, and valued. 

In an era dominated by screens, volunteers remind us of the magic that unfolds when we connect with our fellow human beings on a deeper, more meaningful level.

A heartfelt thank you

So, here’s to the volunteers who keep the gears of kindness turning. Today, we express our sincerest gratitude for your unwavering spirit, your boundless energy, and your refusal to let obstacles dim your commitment to making a difference.

Thank you for donning your superhero capes without expecting recognition or applause. For reminding us that there’s always room for kindness and that we, too, can be part of something greater than ourselves. For being the quiet catalysts of change, selflessly working behind the scenes to create a better world.

To our extraordinary volunteer tutors, thank you for showing up at every session, even when the economic climate is now more challenging than ever. Thank you for spending an hour of kindness each week to support young people facing disadvantage to build a better future and brighten their lives.

As we mark Thank You Day nationally, let’s all reach out to these everyday heroes – volunteers, supportive friends, family, and colleagues to shower them with appreciation, and let them know that their efforts are noticed, valued, and cherished.

Retiree volunteer joins King Charles’ first garden party

4 May 2023

As a recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award in December, Action Tutoring was invited to select two tutor volunteers to join several distinguished guests for King Charles’ first garden party at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, ahead of the Coronation this weekend.

Retiree Frank Plater, our volunteer tutor with the most sessions delivered in the last academic year, together with Peter Baines, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and long-time tutor volunteer, were nominated by founder and CEO, Susannah Hardyman to represent the education charity at the garden party.

I was really quite staggered for being nominated to attend the garden party. Supporting children keeps me young, and keeps my brain ticking over.

Frank said, with a beaming smile as he stood outside the gates to the Palace.

Ever the committed tutor, Frank delivered a Year 10 maths session at St Bede’s Catholic College, Bristol in the morning before catching the train to London for the King’s garden party.

Retiree volunteer, Frank Plater (left) with Chair of Board of Trustees and long-time volunteer, Peter Baines outside the Buckingham Palace ahead of King’s garden party.

Making a difference

Frank Plater drives over forty minutes from Chepstow, Wales to three schools in Bristol each week to give additional academic support to pupils in maths. He tutors at the Badocks Wood E-ACT Academy, St. Bede’s Catholic College, and Greenfield E-ACT Primary Academy.

The retired aircraft industry professional has embarked on this journey over the last five years since he began volunteering with Action Tutoring.

I first heard about Action Tutoring when surfing the internet. I really wanted any tutoring to be voluntary, but too many sites were focused on the financial reward. I wanted to give something back and try to make a difference. Voluntary maths tutoring seemed to be something I could do.

Frank recounted

Since 2018, Frank has delivered over 430 maths support sessions for pupils in Bristol.

Having worked specifically in aerodynamics and flight physics for 30 years, Frank said he gets the most satisfaction from feeling useful.

I’m currently taking action to pass on my knowledge and experience and this has made me think about helping even younger people develop themselves.

Giving heart

Beyond volunteering, Frank has donated to several fundraising campaigns run by Action Tutoring to expand academic support to more disadvantaged pupils in hard-to-reach areas across the country. 

Through his contributions to our Big Give Christmas Challenge, Champions for Children campaign, and 10th-anniversary impact celebrations among others, Frank is making a lasting difference in the lives of young people from low-income families.

Play to learn

The pupils Frank supports every week in face-to-face tutoring sessions have described him as a great and humble tutor who brings in lots of games to play during tutoring sessions. 

His approach to tutoring has garnered a lot of love from pupils in schools in Bristol.

Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award

The King’s Garden Party invitation comes on the heels of Action Tutoring receiving The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award. It recognised the service and impact of its inspiring volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young people across England in empowering young people and providing them with skills and opportunities.

Commenting on how he felt being selected to attend the garden party, Frank said: “It was a bolt out of the blue and I chuckled a bit.

‘Thank You’ notes from pupils that warmed our hearts in spring term

26 April 2023

We can think of thousands of reasons why working with children brings us joy, purpose, and fulfilment. But what’s even more heart warming is when the children you support recognise your impact on their lives and share inspiring thank-you notes of appreciation. Thank you, tutors!

Despite the odd challenge of managing children during sessions, their boundless energy, honesty and humour keep us all going.

Watching pupils grow in subject knowledge and confidence is even more motivating for our volunteers who spend an hour each week to help them improve their English and maths skills.

With summer term just beginning, let’s throwback to some of the remarkable words and notes of gratitude some pupils shared with our volunteers and programme team in schools last term.

1. Being a child’s favourite grey-haired person is indeed a compliment!

2. Sometimes, playing is learning and learning is playing. Finding the best approach for every child is essential.

3. Appreciation in poetry

Aww! Now, who’s cutting onions?

4. Group high-5 for Brenda

5. World’s best!

6. The best tutor award goes to…

7. Is there anything like positive anger?

8. Tutoring goes beyond knowledge. Changes behaviours and attitudes too.

9. Levelling up

10. Certainly a good use of time!

Why we do what we do

These words of appreciation and witnessing a pupil grow from strength to strength are why we do what we do.

Why not join us and shape a child’s future by volunteering an hour a week to help them improve their academic performance in English or maths?

Be bold and cheeky: Five secrets to holding a successful charity fundraiser

13 March 2023

Ever fancied raising money for charity but had no idea where to start? Never fear! Student volunteer tutor, Rebecca, shares her tips and tricks on how she held a successful fundraiser for Action Tutoring amid a cost of living crisis

Rebecca was looking through volunteering opportunities listed on her Student Union’s website when she stumbled across Action Tutoring. Throwing herself into the experience, Rebecca tutored on three online programmes, supporting pupils in Year 11, Year 5 and Year 7.

It was a nice way to break free from lectures. I really bonded with the pupils.

When Rebecca’s ability to commit to a full tutoring programme reduced in her final year studying English Literature at Newcastle University, she remained determined to find a way to continue supporting disadvantaged pupils beyond volunteering.

I was reading about the attainment gap and thought it’d be nice to make a difference in other ways than tutoring

As the newly appointed Fundraising & Charity Officer for the Student Union’s Creative Writing Society, the answer was obvious: hold a charity fundraiser! Here’s what she learned along the way:

  • Make use of charity resources

Rebecca’s primary point of contact from Action Tutoring was a Programme Coordinator in Newcastle, who worked in partnership with the Fundraising and Marketing Teams to supply her with all the necessary materials needed to support her event. These included pre-written copy about Action Tutoring’s work for use in posters and social media posts, as well as leaflets and posters for use on the big night.

Honestly, there’s nothing they could have done more! Action Tutoring was really helpful and supportive, so definitely a good charity to raise money for!

Rebecca said, reflecting on the support she received.
  • Don’t let inexperience put you off

A self-confessed novice, Rebecca laughs as she tells me the only fundraising experience she had prior to this was a teenage bake sale. First piece of advice?

Don’t be afraid to give it a go!

Rebecca said, in an optimistic tone. 

Ideas often come organically once you commit to the project, which was the case for Rebecca. Toying with the idea of a monologue night, before concluding it would be “a little bit too exclusive”, Rebecca and the Creative Writing committee eventually agreed on the theme of their event: ‘An Evening of Creativity.’

The team quickly called on budding performers to submit their entry pieces.  Before long, they had the Gilbert & Sullivan Society and the Theatre Society on board too for an exciting night which would showcase the talent of budding writers, poets, actors and opera singers alike.

  • Be flexible and persistent

Next on the agenda was finding a location willing to host her fundraiser, which was proving slightly arduous. Rebecca recalls emailing, in her words, a lot of bars and other potential venues across Newcastle but received few responses. Unphased, she decided to change tact and target university buildings.

Her persistence finally paid off when one student union venue, (aptly called ‘The Venue’), agreed to host Rebecca’s fundraiser for free. Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to change your approach if plan A isn’t working out.

  • Teamwork makes the dream work

With performers recruited and venue secured, next was perhaps the most important step; promotion. How did Rebecca and her team achieve this? Collaboration.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; if people want to help, just say yes. I’m not good at arts, but somebody from Gilbert and Sullivant had experience of making posters so they did that for us, which was very nice! I printed it out and put it all around the university, especially the student union. We also had digital posters in our uni’, and we managed to get it on that as well. Then, we just did a lot of social media!”

Rebecca recounted

To ensure they reached the biggest audience they could, the savvy fundraiser also reached out to similar student societies such as the Film, Writing and Reading Societies, who agreed to promote the event on their own social media channels too. Collaboration proved mutually beneficial for all participating societies as the event, Rebecca explains, “acted as promotion [for them] too.”

  • “Be bold and cheeky!”

Asking for money can feel altogether rather “un-British”, but let’s not forget that the purpose of this event was, after all, to raise funds! Tickets cost £4 for members and £5 for non-members, but where Rebecca’s team really made a difference was in their brave strategy to request that performers also bought a ticket. 

I felt so bad doing it but we said “let’s be bold and cheeky, if people really don’t like it, we’ll change our minds” and people seemed to be quite up for it; because it was for a good cause.

An Evening of Creativity

The big day rolled around quickly and despite pre-show nerves, an incredible 42 students, including three Action Tutoring Programme Coordinators from Newcastle, turned up, all eager to be entertained.

It was quite a little boost to get that number in the end as we weren’t expecting it, what with the cost of living crisis.

Rebecca said, with a grin

Programme Coordinator, Hannah, took to the stage to kick off with a brief presentation giving some context to Action Tutoring’s work and mission before Gilbert and Sullivan actors opened the show with a dazzling operatic performance. “It was really cool and also unexpected because I’ve never seen it before!” enthuses Rebecca.

With performances underway, she could finally sit back, relax and enjoy the show. “It was really lovely to see it all come together….once it had started, there was nothing else I could do,” recalls Rebecca. Overall, the event raised £176 for Action Tutoring, which is enough to provide 29 pupils with session workbooks or cover the cost of 17 volunteer tutor DBS checks!

The hidden benefit of fundraisers

With an endearing modesty and eagerness to give due credit to those who helped her, it’d be easy to underplay what Rebecca achieved, but we shouldn’t. The gruelling cost of living crisis should not be underestimated. Charities nationwide are struggling to raise the funds they so desperately need to support their beneficiaries, while supporting their own increased running costs.

More than raising vital funds, Rebecca and her team helped raise awareness of the increasing challenges and disproportionate educational hurdles facing children from low-income backgrounds, prompting a much needed dialogue on an issue that is more urgent than ever.

The attainment gap between pupils on free school meals (FSM) and their more affluent peers is now at its highest level in a decade. A staggering 29.1% of all pupils in the North East alone are currently deemed eligible for free school meals, with certain areas in the region, such as North Tyneside, recording some of the highest GCSE attainment gaps in England in 2022; a sobering insight into regional disadvantage.

Not only did Rebecca’s fundraiser inspire students living on stretched budgets to engage with charitable giving, but she also succeeded in bringing people together to connect, to laugh, to marvel, to experience live performances again and to reclaim just a bit of the social interactions they had all been so unfairly robbed of after two years of a global pandemic.

This is the hidden benefit of fundraising – the opportunity it provides to ignite social connections, challenge yourself and bring people together to support a common cause. I finish by asking her if she has any final pieces of advice for future fundraisers.

Just go for it! It’s going to work or it’s not and more often than not, it’ll end up working. What’s the worst that can happen?

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.

Passing on my love for learning through volunteer tutoring

16 February 2023

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a real thirst for learning. I have vivid memories of my dad obliging in taking me, a far-too-keen seven-year-old, to WHSmith on a Saturday morning to get my hands on those KS2 English and Maths work booklets – the type where you could treat yourself to a gold star upon getting an answer right. I loved my time in school and always tried to achieve my best in class, whether it was my favourite or least favourite subject.

For this love of learning, I’m both grateful and aware of my privileged position – as this is not always the case. Not all children are lucky enough to enjoy learning or to revel in the time that they spend in school, and there are many reasons for this. One of the biggest is that not all children begin at the same starting point in life as not all are able to easily access or utilise the tools that can support them through the education system.

Whilst I’ve never aspired to become a teacher or educator due to writing being my passion, in the six years since graduating from university with a Media and Communications degree and working as a copywriter and content specialist with charitable and educational organisations, I’ve seen from a distance the impact that the pandemic and budget cuts have had on pupils’ education.

In fact, the attainment gap between pupils facing disadvantage and their peers is currently at its widest for ten years, with just 43% of disadvantaged pupils meeting expected standards in reading, writing and maths at primary school.

It’s these stark statistics that encouraged me to do what I could to help give back and pass on my love for learning and language. After hearing about a friend’s experience volunteering with Action Tutoring, I applied to be trained as a volunteer tutoring English in late 2021.

By January 2022, I was supporting two Year 6 pupils to prepare for their SATs at a primary school in Newcastle and it quickly became the highlight of my week. Finding ways to engage the two boys in my group and demonstrate how important strong literacy and writing skills are, not just for school and exams, but to also get more enjoyment out of the content that they might play, read or listen to in day-to-day life was challenging at times – but it was a challenge I definitely relished.

Following their exams, I was delighted to learn in the summer that both pupils had gone on to surpass the marks they needed to ‘meet expectations’ – a real reward for both pupils, who I’d known had possessed the determination and ability to succeed. It’s also great that Action Tutoring shares with you this detail of how your pupils do in their SATs, as this gives you a real sense of fulfilment that you’ve helped to perhaps play a small role in this.

I then moved on and began tutoring two Year 5 pupils throughout the summer months, who I continue to tutor today – the girls are now just three months out from taking their Year 6 SATs. Again, it’s brilliant to see the progress that they’ve made in a relatively short space of time.

Perhaps my favourite thing about tutoring is that not only am I helping the pupils to learn, but they’re also helping me to develop professionally and personally.

They’ve helped me to strengthen my essential skills such as listening, facilitating discussion and giving constructive feedback. They’ve also filled me in on all of the curriculum changes since I was at school – what they’re currently learning or reading, and the reasons why they are important.

Last but certainly not least, they’ve also helped me to substantially improve my hangman skills – a game that is an ever-popular hit as a cool-down activity within our school’s sessions!

I’m grateful that Action Tutoring has provided me with this opportunity to pass on my own knowledge and love for learning to the next generation. After all, knowledge is power – but we must ensure that all children across the country are provided with an equal opportunity to succeed and achieve their dreams.

Author: Samantha Lade

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.

Volunteering on a placement: five employability skills our student volunteers have learnt

14 February 2023

Volunteering on a placement with Action Tutoring

Action Tutoring’s placement students actively support 1-3 young people across 10–20 weeks, building their maths or English subject knowledge, confidence and study skills. Volunteering on a placement, you can flex the number of programmes you volunteer on depending on the requirements of the module. And, additional responsibilities can be built in to ensure the full work experience objectives are met!

This Student Volunteering Week, we want to showcase five employability skills our 2022-23 placement students have learned so far…

1. Presenting topics in different ways to suit your audience

The pupils have taught me patience and creativity go hand in hand. If I can make their lessons interesting, with variation and by relating topics to them, then they will engage more with the subject material and benefit much better overall.

Cam, English Literature student at Newcastle University. Cam is volunteering with us as part of his Career Development Module

Action Tutoring provides tutors with workbooks and session plans, but you’ll still need your initiative and creativity! Tutoring hones skills in adapting your presentation style to suit different audiences. 

These skills are transferable to any role in which you would need to present, pitch or explain an idea. 

2. Empathy and understanding people from different backgrounds

Working with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds has greatly improved my empathy. Throughout my time at school, I was fortunate enough to receive the necessary educational tools to allow me to thrive academically. Volunteering with Action Tutoring has opened my eyes to the attainment gap in schools across the country, and I have become increasingly aware of the academic struggles these pupils face.

Felix, Sports and Exercise student at the University of Exeter. Felix is volunteering with us as part of his Employability Module.

Experience working with people from different backgrounds is something many employers look for. They might ask you how you can relate to others, or for examples of how you’ve adapted your communication style in the past.

Working with children (particularly if you are tutoring pupils in a different area of the country!) is a great way of demonstrating this.

3. Patience, perseverance and motivation

Action Tutoring is a good way to improve your perseverance and patience skills, as every pupil is different and will often take a few sessions to feel comfortable around you.

Katie, Sociology student at Liverpool John Moore’s University. Katie is volunteering with us as part of her Sociology degree.

Perseverance is linked with motivation. Sometimes, your tutoring session might not run as smoothly as you’d like it to. A great way to demonstrate your motivated attitude is to explain how you overcame obstacles in your tutoring sessions. 

Did you have to try three different ways of framing your explanation before you got that “lightbulb moment” with your pupil? Did you bring in a game to help them understand better the next time? 

Tutoring experience can demonstrate that you are proactive and don’t allow challenges to keep you, or your pupil, from making progress.

4. Communication and confidence

The main thing that I have drawn from my pupils is communicating effectively. Before tutoring I felt that I had issues with my communication, regularly feeling anxious, however their desire to learn gave me confidence in my communication.

Madeline, English Literature student at the University of Liverpool. Madeline is volunteering with us as part of her Arts placement.

There are four fundamental skills involved in communicating effectively in any job: writing, speaking, listening and presenting. Tutoring can help you develop in all four areas. 

Speaking also includes the use of body language, gestures and facial expressions effectively to aid communication. Tutoring is a great way to consciously practise these, as it can make you appear more approachable and help you connect with your pupils more. Read more tutoring tips!

5. Problem-solving

Developing my problem-solving and communication skills whilst teaching my tutees English has been both beneficial and seriously rewarding. The ability to actively engage tutee’s attention whilst providing a fun learning environment has been a skill and experience I wouldn’t usually use.

Tom, Human Geography student at Newcastle University. Tom is volunteering with us as part of his Career Development Module.

Employers value those who can problem-solve; it improves efficiency and increases the productivity of the organisation. When tutoring, you may need to use initiative and think outside the box. 

How can you help your pupil understand how you got to the answer? How can you engage their attention if they’re distracted? Solving these small problems is key to an effective tutoring session. 

More information on volunteer placements

You as an individual become more employable and in my case, a more fulfilled person too. It’s the best of both worlds!

Tom, Human Geography student at Newcastle University.

For more information on volunteering as a student, visit our student volunteering page

Are you interested in completing your placement with us? Read our Placement Pack, or contact volunteer@actiontutoring.org.uk to be put in touch with our University Partnerships Coordinator. 

Are you ready to hone your employability skills by volunteering for one hour per week? 

How volunteer tutoring is helping me rediscover my purpose

2 December 2022

“When I grow up I wanna be… A builder? A ballerina? A butterfly?!”

I knew I wanted to be the next Darcy Bussell when I was five years old. Pretty sure I was ‘dancing before I could even walk’. Or is that just what my nan used to tell everyone?

I have recently been fortunate to start volunteer tutoring with education charity, Action Tutoring, through a university placement scheme, teaching GCSE English at a school in Liverpool. As a student at the University of Liverpool, I feel this is a perfect set-up for me.

At first, I was a bit sceptical. I thought a group of 15-year-olds would question whether I was on the right side of the classroom and if I should actually be joining them. As at only 20 years old, I might not seem old enough to be the one tutoring the class. That was my first worry, then came what if I am actually just not good at this at all?

Don’t get me wrong, I did the training and the two-hour Zoom call had my undivided attention, but that is no comparison to sitting in a library with three 15-year-old pupils looking to you to offer them help and guidance. Safe to say, volunteering with Action Tutoring is a test for me to see if teaching is a profession I could genuinely see myself doing in the future. I mean, as soon as you say, “I study English at uni”, the question that usually follows is: “Do you want to be a teacher?”, so I thought I should give it a fair trial.

Of course, the tutoring resources provided by Action Tutoring have been helpful and all I have to do is work through them for an hour each week with assigned pupils. However, I feel like I wanted to provide more than that. I really wanted to walk into that school and change lives. Unsurprisingly it was a bit awkward at first but my pupil group is now doing extremely well. We’ve already come such a long way in the last five weeks we have been working together.

I never expected the sense of pride and accomplishment I would be feeling, not just for myself in keeping it together for over a month, but for the pupils experiencing academic progress. This opportunity has allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the education of young people, which has been so rewarding that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.

To other undergrads out there, I can offer only words of wisdom based on my experience over the past several weeks.

I advise that you throw yourself into the whole tutoring experience – put time into preparing for the sessions, believe in your ability to teach other people, and revel in a chance to work on your social skills with the teens of today, which is a plus in itself.

Now I definitely don’t want to be Darcy Bussell, as glamorous as she is. Being a builder is out of reach as I complain about grating cheese, hence manual labour doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me. But you never know; when I graduate in eight months’ time, maybe I’ll go down the route of teaching to help young children achieve academic greatness, with a side of “Miss, when can we go home?” in there.

Author: Eve Wickham

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.

Why I volunteer with Action Tutoring

12 September 2022

I once read a quote from Albert Einstein: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what they learnt in school.”

That quote has stuck with me to this day and for the longest time I wasn’t sure why – until I began volunteering as a tutor for Action Tutoring.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s turn back the clock and talk about why Action Tutoring exists. It may surprise you to learn that there is an educational crisis taking place in the UK.

Similarly to the pandemics, strikes, international conflicts and financial difficulties that have taken centre stage in recent years, this crisis will define our future as a nation. I am of course referring to the disparity in academic attainment that disadvantaged pupils face.

The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

Did you know that a disadvantaged student is on average 18 months behind their counterparts whilst taking their GCSEs? How about that privately educated students (around 6% of the young population) make up 55% of the students at Russel Group Universities?

Most concerning of all is that in 2018, UNICEF ranked 41 developed countries by educational inequality – the UK came 23rd and 16th for primary and secondary schools respectively. This meant it was beaten in some categories by historically less developed countries – Chile, Bulgaria and Malta for example.

Some of these issues have only been heightened by a lack of teachers and the Covid-19 pandemic, with many disadvantaged school students unable to access their now electronic school work. As a result, thousands of pupils nationwide find themselves deprived of the equal education that they deserve.

This is where Action Tutoring comes in. Once a school is sponsored by Action Tutoring, trained volunteer tutors such as myself get the chance to help level the playing field. This is achieved through giving extra maths and English lessons to primary and secondary school pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, who aren’t achieving their true potential.

Whilst tutoring a group of pupils every week may sound extremely daunting, in actuality it went very smoothly. The training and lesson templates were very easily comprehensible, and the staff at Action Tutoring were very professional and helpful when any issues arose. Over time, the terrifying idea of tutoring pupils every week soon gave way to an immensely rewarding experience of seeing pupils grow in confidence, ability and critical thinking skills.

Furthermore, on top of this vital societal role, the tutors themselves benefit. The experience of tutoring gives you confidence, becoming a more capable public speaker and teacher. This is of course in addition to giving volunteering and tutoring experience, which is especially useful if you’ve considered a career in teaching as I have.

So, at the end of my tutoring experience I can confidently say that both my pupils and I benefitted from it, and are better equipped to face the challenges that the world may throw at us in future. This neatly brings me back to my Albert Einstein quote; because long after the equations and language techniques fade from pupils’ minds, they will still benefit from their education.

Blog written by Henry Roberts

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