News & Insights 2 December 2022

How volunteer tutoring is helping me rediscover my purpose

“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.

student volunteering

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.