With autumn term programmes well under way, Programme Coordinator for London, Rhys Handley, takes us through a usual day at work for the Action Tutoring staff keeping programmes on track.
I seem to have joined the Action Tutoring team at the most exciting time possible. The charity is currently undergoing unprecedented and rapid growth, thanks to funds from the newly-introduced National Tutoring Programme, meaning we can provide vital extracurricular tutoring to more disadvantaged pupils in more schools in more parts of the country than ever before. That’s where someone like me comes in – a Programme Coordinator; or Action Tutoring’s boots on the ground, so to speak.
Having volunteered as one of more than 1,000 tutors for the charity in the days before national lockdown, I was hired as a PC in August ahead of the new term. I had already met a few of my now-colleagues in my capacity as a volunteer, so I entered the role with the vaguest notion of what it requires – but I realise now that I had barely scratched the surface and was actually only witnessing the (very rewarding) end-result of juggling innumerable plates, assembling many moving parts, or however you’d like to put it.
So, what have I discovered in the months since – easily the busiest Action Tutoring has ever experienced – and what does that look like for me, and the ever-growing team of PCs working with our partner schools and volunteers across England, in the day-to-day?
Now that my programmes are all up-and-running (a full-time London-based PC like me can expect to have seven schools on their plate each term), a typical day starts pretty early. I’ll jump out of bed well before 7am, scoff a banana and throw back a coffee before hopping on my bike to a school for my first programme of the day. Morning programmes usually start around the 8-8.30am mark and PCs need to be there early.
Every school is unique and so each programme comes with its own ‘personality’, each packed with lively, attentive pupils supported by committed, resilient teachers and school staff.
For our in-school programmes, many of which are still running this term while following each school’s Covid-19 guidance, this is to make sure all our tutors arrive on time and can be matched up with their pupils promptly before the session starts. For our brand-new online programmes, it’s to make sure all the tech is up-and-running in good time so the pupils are able to interact with their tutors via our newly-minted online tutoring platform. In these sessions, the tutors are coming to the pupils from their homes and workplaces, so there’s a lot of fiddly factors for a PC to balance to make sure things go smoothly – it’s a new system with lots of kinks and quirks to get used to, as surely we’re all finding in this increasingly-online mid-pandemic world of ours.
Once a session is concluded, I’ll be back on my bike to my flat (Action Tutoring staff are working from home for the most part, like so many others) where I’ll settle in at the dining table with a piping hot cafetière of java to crack on with any number of intricate, but essential, administrative tasks. This usually includes answering emails and fielding calls from schools and tutors, helping out with volunteer training seminars on Zoom, plugging in and processing pupil attendance and attainment data to keep up on our rigorous record-keeping, checking tutor documents to clear DBS checks, and if there’s time, taking 15 minutes to catch up with some of my wonderful colleagues on a Google Hangout to check in and make sure everyone is doing ok.
You get to see these children’s ability, confidence, self-esteem and joy for learning grow in real time and, ultimately, that is the real privilege that comes with doing the job of a PC.
Two or three hours of this will fly by and then, after lunch, it’s back on my bike to an afternoon programme. Every school is unique and so each programme comes with its own ‘personality’, each packed with lively, attentive pupils supported by committed, resilient teachers and school staff.
All of those tricky admin tasks, which do tend to build up, are undoubtedly worth it because they all so clearly feed directly into that moment when a tutor is working with a pupil and you see them click on to something they’d been struggling to understand in class. You get to see these children’s ability, confidence, self-esteem and joy for learning grow in real time and, ultimately, that is the real privilege that comes with doing the job of a PC.
Same again tomorrow? Absolutely.
If you are interested in having a PC like Rhys coordinating tutoring sessions at your school, please enquire about partnering with us below.