Success Stories

Eilidh, volunteer tutor and student at the University of Aberdeen

We spoke with Eilidh, an English Literature and History at the University of Aberdeen. Already being interested in a career in education, Eilidh started looking for tutoring opportunities during the pandemic.

Here’s what she had to say about her experience volunteering as a tutor:

When I came into Action Tutoring I had no experience in tutoring before. It was probably one of my first big girl steps, I would say, is filling out the application like, “well, I have no experience. But I really like books. So I think I can help, please let me help.” And here we are. It’s just been such a good experience. The whole application process is really simple. There’s so many resources on the Action Tutoring website as well, which have been really helpful to me before I even got the call to get in. And then once I was in, the amount of communication was amazing.

Not to do the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree speech, but my mum is a teacher and so were my grandparents, and my granddad used to be a huge advocate for literature. After seeing my mum, and what she’s done for pupils and myself realising that that’s what I wanted to do, it was important for me to start getting that experience. I’m still really grateful for myself – believing in myself and having the confidence to do this, because it’s not only helped me, it’s been able to help multiple pupils along the way.

I think the online training that they do for tutors is great, because if in my case, you’ve never done anything with children before, I think safeguarding is a massively important skill set to be teaching us. And I’m really glad that Action Tutoring had so many resources on that. And the option to look into more resources outside of the training, so you’re constantly able to learn more. So that was really helpful.

And then in terms of resources for classes, I had never written a class resource, I had no idea where to start. So having the workbooks that we’re all working with, and having them all every week with the templates was great, because it meant I was able to participate [alongside my studies] In terms of time consumption, it would just take me half an hour to read over answers and read over the lesson plan before going into the session, as opposed to having to stress and creating PowerPoints and creating resources for them.

I honestly can’t remember what I was expecting when I started. I think what surprised me is just how comfortable I felt straight away by doing it. And another thing that really surprised me is, no matter how frustrating the sessions were, no matter how drained I felt at the end of them, it was always so rewarding to know I was doing it. I could have had a session where we managed to do not even half the text, there were constant distractions. But there’d be one moment. Yeah, one moment where we get one question, right. And I was like, You know what? That’s a win. That’s good. And I think that’s what made me realise the real importance of teaching is that it’s not everything and it’s not about getting everything perfect. It’s about those small moments that are even like a tiny step forwards that really keep you motivated and keep you going.

I would say [volunteering] has contributed a lot to where I am now. Being able to include Action Tutoring in my personal statement this year, and just as an experience, in general has been a massive help. I don’t think that I would have been as confident as I am now if I hadn’t started tutoring, because it is really what has helped me start that journey into the education system. Working with Action Tutoring has really allowed me to come out of my shell in a way that has been really fun. I feel like I’ve learned a lot now, which means it will make me a better tutor or student teacher in future because I’ve dealt with those situations before.

I would describe tutoring as a sunny day with a few clouds here and there. But because it is, you know, some of the pupils come in and they’re distracted and they’re unhappy. But the light’s right there, all you’re trying to do as a tutor is push away the clouds and be like, “look, you can do this, find this light“. I will just say rewarding full stop for everyone involved.