Action Tutoring

Meet Stephen: His tutoring and teaching story

14 June 2024

Stephen has been inspired by the pupils he has taught and tutored. He wanted to make a difference, learn new skills before embracing teaching, and see a pupil say ‘I get it’. Through Now Teach and Action Tutoring, he’s done just that. Read on to find out more about how his tutoring experience has developed his confidence and passion for teaching.

My reasons for teaching

Like many, I was inspired by tutors and teachers during lockdown. My children’s teachers ran some amazing online sessions. They were so patient and enthusiastic. During a very difficult time for the kids, once teachers appeared, my children’s faces lit up.

In my school days, I had a very inspiring physics teacher. He encouraged me and introduced me to material well above the standard curriculum, which helped me in my career.

I’m always inspired by enthusiastic and energetic people I work with, including my PGCE leader. His lessons and, in particular, his classroom management are incredible. Throughout the last 2 years, I’ve aimed to recreate his lessons and develop the same enthusiasm and dynamism.

Pupil appreciation

It was also new and interesting to be called Sir.

Before teaching, I had minimal classroom experience. During COVID, classroom access was very limited. Now Teach then introduced me to Action Tutoring to get some experience and it’s nice to feel helpful. It’s even greater to tutor children who wanted and needed the help and today I still remember the pupils’ appreciation. While they didn’t find the subject easy, it was nice working with them. It was also new and interesting to be called Sir.

Lots of learning

Overall, I’ve learnt a lot. Through tutoring, it has been really great practice at listening, understanding pupils’ knowledge, and highlighting where we needed to focus. That was amazing and I now use many of the things I’ve learnt during tutoring.

Most vitally, it gave me something invaluable to share in my Initial Teacher Training (ITT) interview.

On the right path

Action Tutoring gave lots of amazing advice on lesson structure. We were well-connected with pupils and their teachers. This includes the school I tutored at having teachers that enabled the pupils to tutor. 

The kids behaved brilliantly too so I could focus on delivering maths sessions. Action Tutoring also provided many great resources including question sheets and question booklets.

Tutoring has helped me believe teaching is right for me. I really needed the experience and I’m grateful it has been really positive.

Now Teach’s support: Connection and much, much more

Be a magpie, collect things.

Now Teach has been hugely helpful. From updating me on the application process and presenting the different options, they showed me what would be tough and how to brace myself.

They introduced me to fellow trainees and it was great to be in WhatsApp groups with others making the career switch. The best part was connecting with other parents. About 10 of us had near identical experiences before teaching. We could share challenges and solve problems, which I would have been unable to do with anyone else. That network was amazing. Now Teach connected me to people who have written the book on being a teacher and a parent.

There was a person who gave me advice on collecting evidence throughout the postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). It made it much easier. Be a magpie, collect things. It saved me so much stress compared to people who hadn’t had Now Teach’s advice.

There have also been fantastic lunch meet-ups where we compare notes. Through these, I sometimes feel like I’m constantly getting better. We meet older and newer cohorts and it is amazing to share words of encouragement to those joining the club.

Advice to those considering teaching or tutoring

Get as much experience as you can. Teaching is a completely different job from what you may have done. I love it though it isn’t for everyone. Try before you buy. Initial teacher training is a long time so make sure it is right for you. Teacher training is the hardest bit and knowing whether you like being with the pupils is important. If you can teach pupils something it gives you a great sense of satisfaction. The pupils really open your imagination. Do try teaching or tutoring, as it can be great.

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Setback, not stopgap: Funding cuts won’t end the fight for equitable access to tutoring

6 March 2024

In disheartening news, the Government has decided not to renew funding for the National Tutoring Programme and the 16-19 Tuition Fund, as confirmed in today’s spring budget. While acknowledging the difficulties this presents for schools facing very significant budget constraints, we at Action Tutoring remain resolutely steadfast in our commitment to support pupils facing disadvantage. We predate the National Tutoring Programme and have a long history of providing vital tutoring support.

We believe every child deserves the opportunity to thrive, and that’s why we have been actively exploring alternative funding options. To this end, we will subsidise 60% of programme costs through philanthropic activities next year, significantly reducing the burden on schools and ensure continued access to this crucial support for disadvantaged pupils. We will soon release further details about our customised programme offerings for 2024-25. In the meantime, please share this information with any colleagues facing concerns about affording vital tutoring support. We stand ready to help more schools in the face of this funding gap.

The founders and CEOs of Action Tutoring, Tutor Trust and Get Further have worked in collaboration throughout this time, campaigning for tutoring to be accessible to pupils from all backgrounds. They have come together again to produce the following statement in response to the spring budget:

Today is a truly disappointing day for education in England. In the face of the evidence, the Government has chosen not to renew funding for the National Tutoring Programme and 16- 19 Tuition Fund.

Both were launched in 2020 with much fanfare, to address lost learning due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Tutoring was chosen, because, as ministers have repeatedly pointed out, we know it works. An evaluation of tutoring by the Educational Endowment Foundation has proved it. The aims of the programme were to build back from COVID-19, to embed tutoring in the education system, and to help tackle the attainment gap. We know tutoring has had an impact, but COVID-19 still casts a shadow over our education system, more time is needed to embed tutoring into the system, and the attainment gap is yet to be tackled. Indeed, former Education ministers Lord Blunkett and Robin Walker, and experts on social mobility such as Professor Lee Elliott Major and Alun Francis, the chair of the Social Mobility Commission, all believe tutoring for the poorest young people should have its own dedicated funding stream.

What is more, research has shown that 85% of parents believe tutoring had positively impacted their child’s mental health and self-confidence. In the face of a crisis in school attendance, there, too, tutoring has an impact: 68% of parents said it had improved attendance. Economic modelling has suggested a £4.3 billion benefit to the economy from the NTP between 2021-2023. For every £1 spent on tutoring, there was a benefit to the economy of £6.58.

In short, tutoring closes the attainment gap, makes society more equal and, properly invested, helps solve the crisis in productivity. Implementation has not always been straightforward, but 5 million courses later, we’re confident that the NTP and 16-19 Tuition Fund has made a real difference.

Between our three organisations, we have worked with over 50,000 pupils, from primary schools to colleges. We are acutely aware of the pressure schools face, and how stretched the Pupil Premium has become. In the absence of dedicated funding from the NTP and 16- 19 Tuition Fund, the Pupil Premium will be squeezed further, and there is no Pupil Premium post-16. Colleges, sixth-forms, and schools will be forced to significantly scale back or cease tutoring altogether, and four years’ worth of tutoring infrastructure is now set to crumble.

The NTP and 16-19 Tuition Fund had taken huge steps towards making tutoring accessible to all who need it, not just the wealthy. In its absence, an all too familiar story will continue: young people from low-income backgrounds will miss out.

We call for an immediate reversal of the government’s decision.

Susannah Hardyman (Action Tutoring)
Abigail Shapiro (Tutor Trust)
Sarah Waite (Get Further)

From tutor to teacher: The role of tutoring in education careers

14 February 2024

Is tutoring being overlooked as a pathway to great teachers? Here at Action Tutoring, we see first-hand the positive impact tutoring has on teacher recruitment. A remarkable number of our tutors transition from passionate volunteers to dedicated teachers. In fact, 38% of tutors who are currently supporting us, expressed an interest in teaching when they applied. Surprisingly, even with our diverse range of volunteer backgrounds, including retirees and corporate partners, this academic year alone saw an incredible 1,004 volunteer applicants indicating their interest in pursuing a teaching career. This accounts for 57% of all the applications we’ve received.

These statistics tell a powerful story. They showcase not only the passion and potential within our tutoring community but also the valuable experience Action Tutoring provides as a stepping stone to a teaching career.

Quote from Action Tutoring tutor to teacher Luke: "[Tutoring] was a fantastic gateway into teaching. I learnt I enjoyed the teaching element and wanted to take it to the next level with formal training to take a career change. I have no regrets. I am now a teacher and this journey all started with supporting Action Tutoring."
Luke was on a career break after 10 years working in the energy industry when he started volunteering with Action Tutoring. After a year volunteering with us it confirmed for him that teaching secondary school pupils was the career path that was right for him.

Why is tutoring such a powerful springboard for teachers?

Real-world experience: Tutors gain first-hand experience interacting with pupils from diverse backgrounds, with a range of learning styles. New teachers also expressed to us that they value the experience of refamiliarising themselves with the curriculum. This hands-on exposure allows them to hone their teaching skills and develop classroom management strategies. Most importantly though, it allows them to discover the joy of hearing, “I get it!”

Flexible stepping stone: Tutoring offers the perfect balance of gaining valuable experience whilst working around existing commitments. This flexibility is ideal for those exploring teaching or seeking a gradual transition.

Support and guidance: With training and guidance throughout their experience, tutors are offered invaluable insights and feedback. This supportive network also enables them to navigate through any potential difficulties with the experienced Action Tutoring team on hand every step of the way.

Shared passion: Action Tutoring works closely with schools and communities to ensure our tutors deliver high-quality, impactful learning experiences. This provides a fulfilling and purpose-driven foundation for aspiring teachers.

Quote from Action Tutoring tutor to teacher Katherine: "Life changing in all the best ways! The positive experiences I had with Action Tutoring confirmed that teaching was the career I wanted to pursue, particularly in the primary setting. My programme co-ordinator and other volunteers on the programme shared their own experiences of teaching with me and, as a result, I chose to apply to the PGCE course I am currently on."
Katherine was studying sociology at the University of Durham when she started volunteering with Action Tutoring. Tutoring helped Katherine affirm her beliefs that she would like to become a tutor. She is now studying for a PGCE at Cambridge University.

Discovering new passions

Our volunteer tutors sometimes start without an interest in teaching before discovering a new passion. One such story is Gemma, a journalist for ten years, who began tutoring with us in East London. After a few months, she found it so enjoyable that she decided to give up her journalism career and re-train. Or Patrick, a lawyer for eight years, who realised working with young people was much more meaningful. He re-trained as an English teacher with Teach First and is now an Assistant Head in Kent, following years in an inner-city London school.

What could this mean for the future?

A national initiative could seamlessly connect aspiring teachers with the diverse and enriching experiences they need to take the next steps. A well established collaboration, weaving together the expertise of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers and tutoring organisations could unlock unimaginable potential. ITT providers could encourage prospective applicants or those waiting to begin their training towards high quality tutoring organisations to increase their experience and in turn, these organisations can point those who’ve declared an interest in teaching in the direction of different teaching routes, alongside supporting them with feedback, training and ongoing development. 

One of our partnerships that is already bringing this to life is with Now Teach. Now Teach promote our volunteer opportunities as a way to experience the classroom environment before embarking on their teacher training. Every two months, we collaboratively host an information session for those interested in committing to a teacher training course. The result is a wealth of passionate, dedicated tutors volunteering on our programmes, as well as tangible classroom experience for career changers who might never have had the opportunity to work with children before. We also promote Now Teach as a route into teaching to our volunteers who have indicated an interest in this career route, in bi-yearly emails.

At Action Tutoring, we’re already seeing the huge potential of the tutors to teachers trajectory. Investment into structures that establish these pathways between ITT providers and tutoring organisations, could go a very long way to potentially thousands more passionate and talented individuals entering into the teaching profession each year, equipped with the practical skills, mentorship, and real-world understanding gained through tutoring.

Join the journey

A powerful voice delivered: Petition for tutoring funding reaches Downing Street

9 February 2024

On 8th February, 2024, a resounding message was delivered to Downing Street. A message driven by data, backed by educators, and amplified by the potential of countless pupils. Action Tutoring CEO and founder, Susannah Hardyman and fellow representatives of the Fair Education Alliance presented a petition demanding the continuation of vital tutoring funding for schools and colleges.

Sarah Waite (Get Further), Abigail Shapiro (Tutor Trust) and Susannah Hardyman (Action Tutoring) deliver the signed letter to 10 Downing Street
Sarah Waite (Get Further), Abigail Shapiro (Tutor Trust) and Susannah Hardyman (Action Tutoring) deliver the signed letter to 10 Downing Street

524 teachers and senior leaders from 423 schools and colleges have signed the petition. All are united in their support for essential funding to ensure their pupils receive the academic support they need for success. After four years, the government is set to end funding for its flagship National Tutoring Programme (NTP) this summer. Boris Johnson launched the £1.5 billion programme in 2021 in order to address the national educational gaps exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

graph to show signatories by job title

The economic and social case for tutoring

This move comes at a critical juncture. The pandemic’s shadow lingers, widening the attainment gap and placing immense pressure on school budgets. However, research paints a clear picture of the transformative power of tutoring, proving it to be a powerful response to this challenge:

  • Public First highlighted a £4.3 billion net benefit to the economy from the NTP between 2021-2023. This substantial impact is driven by individuals who, through tutoring, enhance their grades and subsequently secure higher lifetime earnings.. This translates to 430,000 grade improvements, opening doors to further education, higher earnings, and a brighter future. For every £1 spent on tutoring, there’s a benefit to the economy of £6.58. 
  • Action Tutoring’s impact report brings the numbers to life: a 14-percentage point jump in maths standards for disadvantaged primary pupils, a 13-percentage point rise in GCSE pass rates for secondary pupils. All whilst simultaneously empowering confidence and engagement across the board for those who received tutoring support.

These figures aren’t just statistics; they represent lives changed, potential unlocked, and a more equitable society built.

One pupil’s plea for continued tutoring

In the midst of discussions about the potential end of vital tutoring funding, a poignant moment unfolded at a recent school visit by Labour MP Catherine West. When informed by his headteacher that the Government may not fund tutoring next year a, normally shy, 10 year year-old wanted to ensure he had a chance to speak to the “lady from parliament” with a message that resonated deeply:

Pupil speaks to MP Catherine West about the importance of tutoring

“I just wanted to tell you how good English tutoring has been for me. Sometimes I struggle with and feel quite anxious about my English, such as my vocabulary, and my tutor has really helped me. I speak a few languages at home and it really helps me be better at English.”

This wasn’t just a casual comment; it was a testament to the transformative power of tutoring. His message serves as a powerful reminder to policymakers: don’t let this story end prematurely. Don’t deny countless other children the chance to experience the transformative power of individualised support.

What can you do?

  • Share this message, raise your voice, and contact your representatives! For a template letter to contact your MP about funding extension, email us at hello@actiontutoring.org.uk.
  • Stand with the Fair Education Alliance and organisations like Action Tutoring in demanding a brighter future for all.
  • Donate or volunteer your time to tutoring programmes in your community.

Fuelling futures, month by month: how Payroll Giving powers Action Tutoring

5 February 2024

Payroll Giving Month February 2024 #PayrollGivingMonth

Every February, charities, Payroll Giving agencies, professional funding organisations, and companies come together to raise awareness of Payroll Giving.

Payroll Giving (sometimes known as Give as You Earn) is an easy and tax-efficient way of making regular donations to your favourite charities straight from your gross pay. There are many benefits to this form of giving, and at Action Tutoring, we advocate it as an efficient and effortless way to support our mission and help us tackle the attainment gap head-on. Read on to learn about Payroll Giving and how you can set it up in three simple steps!

Impactful giving

Supporting Action Tutoring through payroll giving allows us to continue our vital work across the country, supporting over 5,700 pupils to achieve their dreams. We believe that disadvantaged pupils do not lack the drive or ambition, but the resources to help them succeed academically. A steady donation stream coming in monthly allows us to plan ahead with this vital work, and a seemingly small monthly contribution can add up to make a real difference in a child’s life.  

£5 a month could provide online tutor training for a volunteer tutor

and £10 a month could provide a high quality workbook for a face-to-face pupil.

Image of a tutor and pupil at an Action Tutoring

Convenience and ease

Donating to Action Tutoring by a Payroll Giving Scheme is super easy and convenient! Donations are taken straight from your gross salary (before your tax is deducted) which provides you with immediate tax relief on your donations. 

Depending on your individual tax situation, you could receive tax relief on each one of your donations. Take the example of a high tax rate such as 40% to begin: on a £20 pledge you could reclaim £8 from your tax bill, effectively reducing your net contribution to £12. With Payroll Giving, regardless of whether your tax situation is higher (45% allows £9 tax relief from £20) or lower (20% allows £4 tax relief from £20), your donation will go further at less of a cost to you.

Image of a smiling tutor and pupil in an Action Tutoring session

Set up Payroll Giving today!

You can set up payroll giving by following these three easy steps.

  1. Check your employer is signed up to a Payroll Giving Agency, like the Charities Aid Foundation.
  2. Ask your payroll team to set you up on payroll giving. It’s as simple as ticking a box on your payroll system!
  3. Choose Action Tutoring as your charity of choice and set the amount you want to give each payday. No matter how big or small, your donation will make a difference.

Please share this with others too, by resharing the blog on social media and engaging with our content about Payroll Giving this month on Action Tutoring’s social media platforms, using the hashtag #PayrollGivingMonth.

Image showing how much a contribution can do for Action Tutoring. Pupil workbook = £5.99, Headphones for online learning = £25, Online training for 20 volunteer tutors = £62, 1 year of face to face tutoring for a pupil = £391
What difference can your donation make?

“Payroll Giving is a great way to support Action Tutoring. These donations enable us to plan ahead with our vital work. It’s a really effortless way for employees to donate to us and helps us reach more disadvantaged pupils that need our support to achieve their dreams”

Hannah O’Neill, Head of Philanthropy