News & Insights 9 August 2022

My experiences as a student volunteer with Action Tutoring

In May 2021, Georgia from Durham University started volunteering with Action Tutoring, an education charity which connects volunteer tutors with pupils across England who are facing disadvantage.

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Since delivering her first tutoring session over a year ago, she has supported ten pupils across primary and secondary level with the development of their reading comprehension skills, helping them to become more confident in their academic abilities whilst enhancing her own leadership and communication skills along the way.

As her fourth term of tutoring has drawn to a close, she would like to take the opportunity to reflect on her tutoring journey so far and to share some of her experiences as a student volunteer.

Interested in learning more about volunteering while you’re studying? Click the button below to find out more:

How did your first tutoring session go?

Before my first session, it’s fair to say that I was nervous! Whilst I had worked with young people before, I had no previous tutoring experience and therefore did not know what to expect from the session. How would I keep my pupils engaged? What would I do if my session didn’t go to plan?

Read more: Nervous about your first tutoring session? These tips will help!

However, with the support of my Programme Coordinator and the training and resources provided by Action Tutoring, I soon eased into my role as a tutor and left my first session feeling confident that I could make a difference to young people within my community.

The session templates provided by Action Tutoring were particularly helpful to me as a new tutor, as they saved me from having to find my own resources and plan the session from scratch. Instead, I simply had to decide how best to deliver the template provided, meaning that I could dedicate more time to building a rapport with my pupils – a vital part of the initial sessions.

How was your interaction with your pupils – was it challenging or did it come naturally?

At first, my pupils seemed nervous and reluctant to engage with the activities I had planned for the session. However, by spending some time getting to know my pupils and telling them a bit about myself, too, I was able to make them feel more comfortable in my presence and more willing to contribute to our sessions.

We got to know each other through a combination of icebreaker tasks and English-based games, which helped to facilitate discussion. In addition to this, I made sure to ask my pupils a few simple questions about their favourite books, films and sports so that I could learn a bit more about their personalities and interests (and tailor my tutoring sessions accordingly).

Having now worked with four different groups of pupils over four programmes, I find that whilst interaction with certain pupils comes more naturally than with others, all pupils benefit from you taking the time to get to know them so as to establish a comfortable learning environment.

What was your biggest surprise about volunteering with Action Tutoring?

When I first joined Action Tutoring as a volunteer tutor, I assumed it would be difficult to motivate my pupils to want to learn given the challenges they had already faced at school – how wrong I was!

In my experience, most pupils enter their first tutoring session with an open mind and are willing to give you as their tutor the chance to support them in improving their core English/maths skills. During the first couple of weeks, pupils often just want to listen and learn from you whilst they build up the confidence to contribute to sessions.

Once they feel comfortable, they start to engage more proactively in group tasks and discussions, even expressing their own opinions on the topics covered in sessions. This was certainly the case with the group of Year 5 and 6 pupils from a primary school in Birmingham I tutored for two terms last year.

In each session, they participated enthusiastically in the tasks at hand, asking perceptive questions about the texts we read in class and even competing to be the first to give a correct answer or finish a task. They consistently showed enthusiasm, drive and intellectual curiosity, and it was wonderful to see them develop both academically and socially over the course of the programme.

Would you suggest more people volunteer? Why?

Most definitely! Volunteering with Action Tutoring has been an incredibly rewarding experience which has enabled me to make a valuable contribution to the fight against educational inequality.

I have also developed valuable skills in leadership, organisation and communication through my role as a tutor, which will be useful for my future employment.

Whilst I joined Action Tutoring to make a difference in society and to gain experience beyond my university studies, everyone’s circumstances and reasons for volunteering are unique – so whether you are employed and hoping to bring some variety into the working day, or retired and looking for a new challenge, there are so many benefits to becoming a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring.

Guest blog by our student volunteer Georgia Allen