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News & Insights 22 July 2021

Seven connections to help us create change

Learn about Action Tutoring’s conversations with local MPs this summer.

We know that what happens on programmes is important. But in an average session, do the pupils and their tutors feel how significant their actions truly are?

Extra marks are gained, concepts are grasped for the first time, new future chances open up slightly more each time a pupil turns up and tries. But beyond individual growth, what happens matters on a greater scale. Everyone involved in our programmes is part of a nationwide movement, where people show up in the belief that a great education can make a more equal society.

Sometimes an opportunity arrives to show pupils and tutors that their efforts are being noticed. At 12pm on Friday 2nd July our Programme Coordinator, Sam, was about to set up for the usual afternoon session at Heathfield Primary School in Nottingham. Things felt a little different, though; two journalists and a camera person were expected at the school reception. The Member of Parliament for Nottingham North, Alex Norris, and our Interim CEO, Jen, would soon be arriving.

Not long after our first programme launched in Nottingham in 2019, Alex agreed to visit an Action Tutoring partner school to see the work being done. When the pandemic closed school doors, the visit couldn’t go ahead. Alex still helped us to get the word out to others at a crucial time via his newsletter.

It was an exciting moment, then, to finally welcome Alex to a session at Heathfield Primary School in July this year. Sam told us about the atmosphere on the day. “The pupils buzzed with a mixture of excitement and nervousness at the opportunity. Their heads were down and focused despite copious distractions. Some were even more studious than usual in a bid to impress their local representative!”

This was a chance for everyone to celebrate the admirable effort pupils had made since November. Sam could see how motivated they were to show off their work and quiz the MP. “The challenging questions they posed to Alex were certainly testament of this, as well as their working-strewn whiteboards which they returned to me at the end of the session.”

Less than a week later, a similar moment was about to happen at Ark Victoria Primary Academy in Birmingham. The committed MP for Yardley, Jess Phillips, had already witnessed local tutors working with pupils at another partner school back in 2017. But this time, circumstances were quite different. At 8am on Thursday 8th July, just before Jess arrived, tutors were logging in from Birmingham, Cambridgeshire, Exeter and beyond, ready to lead a productive and joyful final session with the Year 6s at Ark Victoria.

Justina has been tutoring at the school since last November and helped her pupils formulate questions to ask Jess Phillips during the visit. “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to volunteer and support the learning of year six pupils remotely, at a primary school local to me in Birmingham.

“Despite the disruption caused by the pandemic over the last year, my pupils have shown enthusiasm, been willing to learn and have continued to make progress. I’m really looking forward to next year.”

This was the last session for Year 6 at Ark Vitoria after a big year. Another exceptional tutor, Elaine, has been on this journey with the pupils whilst living elsewhere in the country. “As the school year draws to a close, I am really reflecting on how lucky I have been to be able to work with the pupils at Ark Victoria Primary. They have been so cheerful and worked so hard – a great reminder to try our best when sometimes things seem too difficult. I work with Action Tutoring because I want to help young people achieve their best and am always amazed by how receptive the pupils are to the tuition – they always make me want to do more.”

Action Tutoring is hugely grateful to Alex Norris and Jess Phillips for their time and support for these pupils. Their active interest in our work locally has provided a special end to a year of hard work by all involved in our programmes. It has also already helped Action Tutoring forge new connections in the wider community.

Action Tutoring reaches out to local leaders each year, to highlight the benefits of our work and seek support in raising awareness of what we do. This summer, Action Tutoring has met with seven MPs nation-wide to share the progress its pupils are making in their constituency, despite the additional barriers these pupils face. This seven includes two members of the House of Commons Education Select Committee. Programmes succeed because of the hard work of people in the community – whether that’s the young people themselves, volunteer tutors or the essential school team. These conversations have helped us celebrate and showcase these efforts. Going forward, we hope that deepening these connections will help us to sustain and grow the impact of our work for the unique and vibrant children and young people on our programmes.

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