Student volunteering

Thousands of disadvantaged pupils across England lack the tools to reach their full potential. As a university student volunteer with Action Tutoring, you can help bridge this gap and make a real difference, all whilst building on your own skills.

We’re looking for volunteers who can commit to a 10-20 week programme, working with 1-3 pupils to improve their English or maths skills. We have flexible in-person and online options to fit your schedule.

Read on to find out more about student volunteering with Action Tutoring.

Or, sign up now

Why volunteer with Action Tutoring?

Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have less access than their better-off peers to the tools that support them to progress in school. This means that they aren’t being given a fair chance to reach their full potential.

In 2023, just 44% of primary pupils facing disadvantage met expected standards in their SATs exams, compared to 66% of non-disadvantaged pupils. At secondary school, just 43% of disadvantaged pupils passed both English and maths GCSE, compared to 73% of non-disadvantaged pupils.

This is called the attainment gap, and we’re here to close it!

What do we mean by “disadvantage”?

The UK Government defines disadvantaged pupils as those who are eligible for the Pupil Premium (Free School Meals) or have been in the past six years, or those who meet other exceptions criteria (such as those in care). 

How can I help?

University students make up about 30% of our volunteer community and are fantastic tutors and role models for our pupils. As a volunteer, you’ll:

  • Work with 1-3 pupils to improve their English and maths, either in-person or online (not including school holidays),
  • Commit to a 10-20 week programme, for just one hour a week,
  • Use our tutor workbooks to shape your weekly sessions.

What’s the process for getting involved?

First, you’ll need to complete our application form, which takes around 15 minutes. If you’re short on time, you can just register your interest and we’ll send you the link to fill it out later.

Before starting, you’ll attend a two hour training session, which is held over Zoom. We’ll then process a DBS check for you (a criminal records check is required to work with children in the UK). 

Once you’ve attended training and had your DBS processed, you’ll be emailed a list of available programmes. Programmes run Monday to Friday, both morning and afternoon. You can choose one that fits your schedule. 

If you’re an online tutor, we’ll send you a link to further training which explains how to use our online platform. You’ll also get the chance to practise before you start tutoring. Before you start your programme, we’ll send you a PDF copy of the workbook you’ll be using, too. 

What can I expect from my sessions?

In your first session, you’ll meet your 1-3 pupils, who you’ll work with for the entire programme. Pupils with shared strengths and areas for development will be grouped together to the best of our ability. 

At each session from then, you’ll work through the workbook with your group. Our workbooks are tailored to the National Curriculum and contain all of the answers and current methods learnt in school. So, if you haven’t been in school for a while or were schooled outside of England, try not to worry – we’ve got you covered! 

If you’re tutoring online, your tutor workbook will be adapted to slides. Your pupils will log in from their classroom, with noise-cancelling headphones. We have tech support on hand for anything you need help with.

Here are some frequently asked questions asked by students:

What’s the time commitment for your volunteers?

To volunteer as a tutor, you only need to commit to one hour each week. We have online as well as in-person opportunities, which often works well for those with a busy schedule or less able to reach our school locations. 

What skills and experience do I need?

We look for volunteers who:

  • Are studying for or have achieved a degree
  • Have achieved a B grade (or above) at A Level (or an equivalent qualification) in a subject relating to maths or English
  • Have communication skills
  • Are empathetic towards the young people we support
What support will I receive?

We provide all of our tutors with training and workbooks to use in sessions, and a DBS check.

If you incur expenses whilst travelling to a school, you can expense up to £5 per session (with receipts).

You’ll also have in-session support from a Programme Coordinator. Ongoing, bitesize tutor training is available (online) for those who those who want it.

I’m on a student visa. Does this activity count as volunteering or voluntary work?

In December 2020 our charity sought legal advice to review our volunteering activity and determine how it should be categorised.

Following their research they concluded that our tutoring opportunity is volunteering, not voluntary work, as our tutors do not work under a contract. Tutors can choose from a selection of times to support (they are not bound by a specific time); there is no payment in kind and no penalty if they drop out.

What if I didn’t go to school in England?

That’s fine. Out workbooks are tailored to the English National Curriculum, and the tutor versions clearly explain what answers you’re looking out in each session.

University volunteer placements

Choosing Action Tutoring for your university placement is a rewarding way to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people.

Through a placement with Action Tutoring, you’ll support 1-3 young people across 10–20 weeks (or longer depending on the timeframe of your placement). You’ll help them build their maths or English subject knowledge, confidence and study skills ahead of their SATs or GCSE exams.

Hear from our previous placement students

“The aims of my placement were to gain valuable and transferable skills for both my degree and my future career. My placement with Action Tutoring has more than helped me reach these, specifically in confidence, planning, and time-management. It was amazing and it has truly made me want to pursue more tutoring roles in the future. My decision was not so certain before this placement so thank you so much!”

“There was always support around if needed, both through email and in person at schools. Fellow tutors were also very helpful if there was anything I was unsure about, so I was never left feeling overwhelmed.”

What if my question about student volunteering isn’t answered here?

You can call us on 0300 102 0094 or contact

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