Education

A turning point for tutoring? The debate that brought our mission to the House of Commons

21 March 2024

This week, the House of Commons held a Westminster Hall Debate on tutoring provision in England. The debate itself is unquestionably a positive step. Politicians from across party lines acknowledged the transformative impact of tutoring. They highlighted its ability to close the attainment gap and boost pupil confidence. Action Tutoring was highlighted specifically for its work by MP Paul Howell.

Quote from Paul Howell (Conservative MP for Sedgefield): "Action Tutoring’s analysis shows that 65% of disadvantaged pupils pass their maths GCSE after attending at least 10 tutoring sessions with the charity. Action Tutoring pupils were nearly 13 percentage points more likely to pass maths GCSE than other disadvantaged pupils nationally. Those are significant interventions. I could continue, but what I want to say is that Action Tutoring’s work is indicative of so much of the valuable tutoring provided by volunteers and others. We must celebrate that work."

MP and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, Munira Wilson, proposed the debate. She proceedings arguing for the continuation of government-funded tutoring programmes for disadvantaged children. Quoting research from The Sutton Trust, Public First, and the Education Endowment Foundation, Ms Wilson urged the minister for education to “do battle with his Treasury colleagues” and find funding for tutoring.

Quote from Munira Wilson (MP for Twickenham, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education): "Under-18s in England must retake GCSE English and maths if they do not achieve a grade 4 pass. In 2023, that resulted in a staggering 167,000 students having to retake maths and 172,000 resitting English. When combined, that is the highest number of retakes in a decade. We are setting those children up for repeated failure unless different help and support is provided."

Much of our advocacy work, alongside that of our colleagues from Get Further and The Tutor Trust was mentioned. Multiple case studies and the letter to parliament signed by over 500 schools all reinforcing the point that stakeholders including pupils, parents, and teachers all support continued investment in tutoring programmes.

Quote from Jonathan Gullis (Conservatve MP for Stoke-on-Trent North): "Education is the absolute bedrock to levelling up. It is the bedrock to making sure that life chances can be achieved. I have no fiscal rules when it comes to education, because I believe that if we shove all the money there, we will have better outcomes on health and work, fewer people needing to use the welfare state, better home ownership, better wages, and less poverty in our country. Education is at the epicentre of achieving that, and we should therefore be pouring money into the sector."

Shadow Minister for Education, Catherine McKinnell, criticised the government for neglecting the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) despite its potential benefits. She highlighted the significant learning gaps caused by the pandemic, especially for disadvantaged pupils. Despite improvements to an initially flawed NTP, schools likely can’t afford to keep it going due to a lack of continued funding.

Quote from Catherine McKinnell (Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, Shadow Minister for Education and Schools): "The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that schools funding in England is already not increasing as fast as the cost pressures schools are facing. That means that the poorest schools are likely to struggle the most to find the cash for tutoring, and that our most disadvantaged pupils will miss out."

In his response, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds, Minister of State for Education, defended the decision to end funding for the NTP. Stating that the Government believes tutoring remains important and schools will continue to be able to use pupil premium funding to support it. This is a sentiment that was not supported by many members present.

Quote from Damian Hinds (Conservative MP for East Hampshire, Minister of State for Education): "Although the national tutoring programme was always a time-limited programme post-covid, tutoring will continue to play an important role and we know that the evidence shows that tutoring is an effective, targeted approach to increase pupils’ attainment."

What now?

Action Tutoring remains firmly committed to providing access to quality tutoring for all pupils who need it. We are actively exploring alternative funding options, including increased philanthropic support, to keep costs low for schools and continue offering our services.  However, this cannot replace the long-term, sustainable funding that is needed to truly embed tutoring within the education system.

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

Teaching Assistants Day: Recognising the vital role TAs play

29 September 2023

Teaching assistants, often referred to as TAs in the education system, support teachers with their work and help pupils with reading, writing, and learning activities in schools. TAs make up over a quarter of the workforce in schools, with a population of 281,100 full-time teaching assistants across the UK, as at last academic year.

From preschools to universities, TAs contribute significantly to the outcomes of young people and the overall quality of education. Their duties vary according to the education level they work in but generally include helping pupils with topics they’re struggling with, assisting SEND pupils who need extra support to complete tasks, helping teachers to plan learning activities, conducting assessments as well as supporting teachers in managing class behaviour.

National TA Day

Teacher recruitment agency, Teaching Personnel, introduced National Teaching Assistants’ Day in 2012 to celebrate and highlight the vital work teaching assistants do in our classrooms daily. Since then, the UK has marked National Teaching Assistants’ Day on 29 September with schools across the country celebrating their own TAs and nominating their favourites for the Teaching Assistant of the Year award.

The TA Experience

Action Tutoring’s marketing manager, Kellie Coyle recounts her experience as a TA in a primary school in Luton, north of London after completing university in Birmingham.

“I became a TA to help me decide whether or not I wanted to go into the teaching profession and commit to teacher training. I decided I didn’t, but loved the experience nonetheless.”

Kellie’s best part about being a TA was working in small intervention groups outside of the classroom.

“It was great to observe my groups enjoying the subject a bit more as a result of being able to go at their own pace and to see their confidence increase.”

However, the support needed in the primary school was more than Kellie had imagined.

“My least favourite part was seeing that many pupils in the classroom needed this kind of support, and not being able to give them all that extra attention.”

Supporting pupils

The Challenges

Despite their impact, teaching assistants in the UK face a unique set of challenges. There is a crisis for teaching assistant recruitment and retention as a survey found that three-quarters had thought about leaving in the past year.

With the cost of living crisis, many TAs are struggling financially and being compelled to change jobs or take second jobs to supplement their income. This finding is captured in a new report by National Foundation for Educational Research. Teachers and school leaders in the report highlighted how the crisis is leading TAs to quit in favour of better-paid jobs in other sectors such as hospitality and retail as they offer either increased pay or more working hours. Since the pandemic, while most roles offer hybrid, remote, and other flexible working conditions, TAs don’t have the option of working from home.

Additionally, limited opportunities for professional development often leave them feeling undervalued and overlooked. Furthermore, the emotional toll of working with young people facing a myriad of challenges, from poverty to mental health issues, can be overwhelming. Many teaching assistants form deep bonds with their students and carry the weight of their struggles long after the school day ends.

Effective deployment of TAs

An Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) guidance report released in 2021, Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants, found that the typical methods of deploying TA did not yield positive results in terms of pupil attainment.

The report recommended more investment in the professional development of TAs to deliver more structured interventions to complement high-quality teaching and tutoring support in schools.

While it’s abundantly clear that TAs make meaningful contributions to their schools, it’s imperative to recognise that the key to enhancing pupil outcomes hinges on how they are deployed and upskilled to deliver interventions.

A nation’s gratitude

TA Day is a chance to shine a well-deserved spotlight on them and for schools, parents, and pupils to show their gratitude for the dedication and hard work of TAs.

As you reflect on the education journey of your own child or your own learning experience, remember the teaching assistants who played pivotal roles in shaping your path. Take a moment to appreciate their support, guidance, and the positive impact they’ve made on countless lives.

“My message to TAs as we celebrate this day is thank you for being that positive, friendly, crucial pillar of support for so many pupils – they will always remember you.”

Kellie

In Support of the Liberal Democrats’ Plan for Extensive and Targeted Tutoring

25 September 2023

Over the weekend, the Liberal Democrats unveiled a plan to provide free small-group tutoring for 1.75 million pupils struggling with their studies. The initiative, they believe, will help address a concerning statistic: more than one in seven teenagers in the UK falls behind in English or Maths during their secondary school years. 

The party’s education spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, revealed that at the heart of this plan is a commitment to fill the void left by the National Tutoring Programme, which is set to end next year. 

Tutoring as a permanent fixture

As an education charity that has provided tutoring support to pupils facing disadvantage over the last twelve years, we are delighted that the Liberal Democrats have announced plans to make school-based tutoring a permanent fixture in England, especially targeting those that need it the most.

Their announcement draws heavily on the recommendations laid out in the Future of Tutoring report published this summer, led by Public First and sponsored by Action Tutoring, Get Further, and The Tutor Trust. In particular, it focuses on:

  • Removing the need for schools to match fund (a barrier to current take-up)
  • Long-term funding to enable schools and providers to plan
  • Allowing for a mixture of school-led tutoring and external partner provision
  • Supporting all pupil premium pupils who are behind academically

Levelling the playing field

Responding to the announcement, Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring,  said:

 “Tutoring is one of the best-evidenced ways of supporting disadvantaged young people to achieve academically, levelling the playing field between those that can afford private tutoring and those that can’t. The benefits of tutoring extend beyond just academic attainment, with evidence highlighting that it also increases wider confidence, motivation, and engagement in education.”

The Liberal Democrat’s proposal includes making tutoring a permanent fixture in England’s schools, sixth forms, and further education colleges. These institutions would receive a substantial annual budget of £390 million, earmarked for intensive small-group tutoring sessions designed to assist struggling pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The subjects covered include English, Maths, Science, and other academic areas.

Munira Wilson MP
Munira Wilson MP

Targeted approach

One of the applaudable principles of this initiative is its targeted approach. Pupils who would benefit from tutoring will be selected with a focus on children from low-income backgrounds, those with low prior attainment, and those with additional educational needs. Wilson explained that flexibility will be paramount, allowing schools and colleges to choose between using their own teaching staff, recruiting tutors independently, or selecting from quality-assured external providers.

Wilson criticised the government’s investment in education, particularly during the pandemic, stating that only a fraction of the announced £15 billion investment in education to bridge the learning gap caused by the pandemic was allocated. She passionately emphasised the need for this initiative, stating:

“Tutoring will no longer be something that only an elite few can afford.”

Unlocking potential

In a world where education holds the key to a brighter future, the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to accessible and effective tutoring represents a pivotal step towards realising the full potential of the country’s young minds. With inclusivity, collaboration, and evidence-based strategies at its core, this initiative has the potential to reshape the educational landscape for the better, providing every child with the opportunity to thrive.

“Tutoring unlocks the potential of children and young people, which ultimately benefits not only their future but wider society too,”

GCSE Results Day: Celebrating the successes of the Class of 2023

24 August 2023

Results day is one of the most critical days on the education calendar. Across the country today, candidates are receiving the outcome of the GCSE exams and considering the next stage of their lives – further education, training, or employment.

As an education charity that supports thousands of pupils in secondary schools each year, we appreciate firsthand the efforts and resilience of the cohort getting their results today. The pandemic dealt them a harsh hand, having to experience learning loss and disruption like never before in the last three years.

This cohort spent their years 8 and 9 learning through the Covid-19 lockdowns, with many reportedly struggling with post-pandemic school attendance and mental health challenges.

After years of hard work and determination in getting their learning right, the outcome is finally here. This morning, we visited schools in Merseyside, Newcastle, Bristol, and Sheffield to share in the excitement of results day and applaud the efforts of all the pupils we’ve supported through tutoring in the past year.

Let’s celebrate the successes and resilience of the Class of 2023!

The power of lived experiences

Rhiannan and Programme Coordinator Sophie Cowling
Rhiannan and Action Tutoring’s Programme Coordinator Sophie Cowling

At the Prescot School in Liverpool, Rhiannan and her family were excited about the outcome of her maths GCSE. Achieving a 4 in maths despite her learning difficulty with comprehending the subject is a win for Rhiannan, expressing her excitement about going on to study French, graphics, and 3D design in college.

“I can do what I want in college now that I have my maths GCSE. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Action Tutoring.”

Rhiannan

Rhiannan received maths tutoring throughout the 2022-23 academic year, attending 13 sessions with her tutor, Rajinder – who also struggled with maths comprehension in the past.

Rhiannan’s mother, Lorraine, said she owes her daughter’s success to the tutoring support from Rajinder in the past year.

‘They were bouncing off each other. Thank you all for your help with everything. I hope you carry on your work with this school because it does work – it’s been a godsend.

Lorraine

Tutoring made a difference

At the Longbenton School in Newcastle upon Tyne, Kwadwo is happy with his results. He secured a 4 in maths and shared his gratitude to Action Tutoring for the tailored maths support he received in the last year.

Kwadwo had a strong attendance record for tutoring sessions – turning up for 26 tutoring sessions in total last year and this year. He is excited about going on to sixth form to study product design.

“Thank you for helping me pass my maths GCSE.”

Kwadwo
Kwadwo

Good to have support

Hafsa and Frankie are beaming with smiles and ‘feeling great’ about their GCSE results at the Fairfield High School in Bristol. They are both proceeding to sixth form.

Hafsa is going on to read human biology, psychology, and criminology while Frankie pursues psychology, sociology, and photography.

“It’s good to have one-on-one support and more in-depth help. You don’t have to be ashamed for not knowing something, you can just say it to the tutor and they’ll help you.”

Frankie

Definitely worth it

Casper

At King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, Casper is pleased with his results. Having received English tutoring in 13 sessions last year, he scored a 4 in English language, a 5 in literature, and a 4 in maths.

“I’d say a big thank you. Going to those sessions really helped me and was definitely worth it. For an hour after school, it would be really easy to choose to skip it, but it could be the difference between a 3 and a 4.”

Casper
Chris

Looking upbeat after seeing his results, Chris at King Ecgbert was full of gratitude to his maths tutor.

“I’d say thank you to my tutor if they were here.”

Chris

Chris scored a 4 in his maths GCSE plus a 5 in English language and 6 in literature.

Be proud of yourself

The results and emotions in the schools we visited and across the country show that an incredible amount of hard work was invested by candidates into the GCSE qualification. All young people receiving their results today deserve immense credit for what they have achieved.

To the GCSE candidates and teachers: your achievements today are a testament to your spirit and perseverance during this unprecedented time in the history of education. Be proud of yourself and your hard work and remember you are worth more than your grades. 

Congratulations on this momentous day!

QBE Foundation partners with Action Tutoring to expand support

19 July 2023

In a bid to scale up access and impact of tutoring to over 12,000 pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, QBE Foundation is investing more than £1.5 million in its partnership with Action Tutoring within the next three years.

QBE’s funding will significantly increase the number of disadvantaged pupils who receive tutoring support and enable the charity to reach more remote and hard-to-reach locations. The partnership aims to help narrow the attainment gap, which is at its widest in ten years at both primary and secondary levels.

With the government set to end the funding for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) in 2024 and schools struggling with budget squeezes, the future of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is at serious risk without funding support to keep catch-up interventions afloat.

Supporting young talents

“We want to create resilient and inclusive communities. We’re excited to partner with Action Tutoring because they do this through developing skills and supporting talent. It is wonderful to help children reach their full potential. Investing in them at an early age also offers fantastic returns.”

Grant Clemence, Chairman of QBE Foundation, said

Children from low-income backgrounds are on average 18 months behind their wealthier peers by the end of GCSEs. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing education inequalities, hitting historically disadvantaged students the hardest.

Expand our support

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, believes the partnership will accelerate the work of the charity in education recovery and fight inequalities.

“Achieving good GCSEs in both English and maths is critical to young people being able to progress to further education, employment or training. This not only benefits their individual lives but creates a healthy workforce and ultimately benefits the wider economy. Skills shortage is a chronic problem for businesses. This funding aims over a five-year period to help us tutor twice as many pupils as we do today, and also expand our reach from urban to rural areas.”

Susannah Hardyman
A tutor teaches a pupil

Through the funding, Action Tutoring will partner with more state schools to provide maths and English tutoring to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The support will help more young people to make meaningful academic progress and open doors to higher education and employment opportunities.

The QBE Foundation has committed to a minimum of three years of funding with an annual contribution of at least £500K, with the ambition that the partnership and funding will extend to five years and beyond. QBE employees across the country will be able to volunteer to provide regular tutoring in local schools, using Action Tutoring’s structured programmes and resources.

Worthwhile partnership

Since the summer term, some QBE employees have already been volunteering as tutors on programmes in schools. Sophie Miller-Molloy, an employment lawyer at QBE who started tutoring pupils in Newcastle’s Tyneview Primary School remotely, said the ability to boost the studies and confidence of young people are her driving motivations.

“Taking some time out each week to volunteer and do something which is going to help someone else out in a meaningful way also gives me the boost to volunteer.  It’s part of my week that I look forward to the most. It’s such a great contrast from my day-to-day legal work,” Sophie said. “I’m really grateful that QBE partners with Action Tutoring and it’s great that QBE empowers its employees to participate in such a fantastic and worthwhile scheme.”

Sophie Miller-Molloy

Profound impact

This partnership will be a significant boost for Action Tutoring’s work, propelling the charity to expand its impact to rural areas and bolster the advocacy efforts to ensure tutoring is embedded in the education system permanently.

By harnessing the expertise of trained volunteers to provide high-quality small group tutoring, Action Tutoring will profoundly impact more children from disadvantaged backgrounds with this investment.

Volunteers take on Hackney Half Marathon to raise funds

22 June 2023

The six runners raced for 13 miles at Hackney Half to raise over £2700 to support tutoring


The atmosphere at Hackney Marshes, the start and end point for the Hackney Half Marathon, was electrifying. Throngs of supporters had lined up the streets of the 13.1 mile course.

From shaking tambourines and blowing loud whistles to chanting runners’ names, motivation from the hundreds of thousands of cheering crowds was on full display.

A field of 24,000 runners who signed up for the half marathon were ready to push their minds and bodies to the finish line. Among the runners were six volunteers – Sam, Rhea, Tom, Luke, August, and James – taking on the challenge to raise funds in support of Action Tutoring’s mission.

The run started from the Hackney Marshes, through some of East London’s creative and popular spots including Broadway Market, Hackney Empire, Hackney Wick and Victoria Park.

Ramon, a finance administrator at Action Tutoring, was one of supporters cheering the runners on, alongside their family and friends at the finish line.

It had a festival-like atmosphere with music playing, buzzing energy and a great community spirit to encourage runners to push through to the very end.

Ramon

Physical toll

Running for 13.1 miles, an equivalent of 21 kilometres, is no mean feat and presents a massive challenge to the body. It exerts a physical toll that Tom, one of our brilliant volunteer runners, found out quite early-on in the race.

Tom volunteer runner
Tom – volunteer runner

I had sort of shin splints and knee problems throughout the entire race, but I just had to dig deep. I kept it going, one foot in front of the other.

Tom

For Tom, the core takeaway from this challenge is doing something amazing in the name of charity, regardless of time or speed.

It’s about having a good time, but it’s also about finishing the race and being part of the whole event and not pushing yourself too hard.

Tom

Our volunteer runner, Rhea, also found the race painful but the reward was soothing.

It was so painful for a lot of it. But the whole time, it was amazing mentally yet physically terrifying.

Rhea

Staying motivated

To take on a big challenge like this, you need motivation to keep you going from mile to mile, or even at tougher points, step to step.

Our runners said the big motivators for them included the support from friends and family was a big motivator, people who donated to their fundraising pages and fans who cheered them on as they ran.

I saw people that shouted “Action Tutoring”, and that they have a brother and sister who has been tutored by the charity’s volunteers.

James
James - volunteer runner
James – volunteer runner

Eye on the prize

Another big motivation for the six runners through the thick and thin of the half marathon was the cause. Keeping in mind the altruistic reason they had taken on the huge challenge in the first place as the ultimate prize saw them through the race.

All funds raised will help increase access to tutoring for pupils from low-income families across the country. All our runners have previously or currently volunteered on our programmes. Action Tutoring works with volunteers to provide academic support in maths and English to primary and secondary pupils facing disadvantage.

While running, Rhea remained steadfast by thinking of the work and impact of Action Tutoring. 

I’ve signed up for a half marathon before and not followed through with it and then this opportunity came up with Action Tutoring and I just thought that’s an amazing cause to be running for and that I’d love to push myself to be doing something more for them.

Rhea

She urged people wishing to take on a challenge for a cause such as this to definitely go for it, as the pride in personal achievement and charity is worth it.

Definitely do it! Even though I know I just described it as very painful, that is going to be something I can look back on and be really proud of.

Rhea
Rhea - volunteer runner
Rhea – volunteer runner

Planting important seeds

Tom said he felt inspired by his fulfilling tutoring experience and decided to take his support one step further by taking on this challenge.

I’ve been a tutor for over seven months now and I’ve seen the great work that Action Tutoring does. This was just a different avenue that I could the help the charity reach more disadvantaged children and hopefully spread awareness about their work.

Tom

James also shared that the charity’s cause was close to his heart, elaborating why raising awareness for Action Tutoring was important to him.

I know people who have learning challenges or haven’t had the best upbringing or families that don’t necessarily understand the importance of education. I know the value of tutoring. For people to give up their time to help young people, they’re planting seeds – important seeds.

James

Fundraising success

Luke - volunteer runner
Luke – volunteer runner

Our runners not only worked hard at the race, but with their fundraising efforts. A staggering total of £2705 was raised collectively, smashing the original group target of £1800, or £300 per runner.

The raised amount translates into purchasing over 450 workbooks for face-to-face tutoring or 108 headphones for online delivery.

We are so proud of our runners for taking on this incredible physical feat whilst fundraising for Action Tutoring. Thank you to all the runners and all those who donated and supported each runner’s fundraiser. We can’t do our vital work without your support and advocacy.

Hannah O’Neill, Head of Philanthropy at Action Tutoring

With the raised funds and visibility from the Hackney Half Marathon, Action Tutoring will continue to work tirelessly to inspire disadvantaged young people and help them unlock their academic potential.

Thank You Day 2023: An Ode to Volunteers

21 June 2023

Thank you to the unsung heroes of charity


When we think of superheroes, our minds often evoke images of capes, masks, and incredible superpowers. The true heroes among us aren’t necessarily blessed with X-ray vision or the ability to fly.

They are extraordinary ordinary people who selflessly give their time and efforts to causes that make a difference. Volunteers are the backbone of charitable organisations. They’re the ones who turn compassion into action, showing up day after day, ready to tackle any challenge. 

From feeding the homeless to cleaning up parks, from tutoring underprivileged children to rescuing adorable furry friends, these wonderful individuals are everywhere, making an impact, one selfless act at a time.

That is why we are joining the rest of the UK to mark the third annual Thank You Day on Sunday 2nd July. 

What is Thank You Day?

Thank You Day began with a handful of organisations looking for a way to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who helped the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then the campaign has grown and an astounding 15 million people have taken part in Thank You Day celebrations. Last year, 61% said that taking part had made their communities feel more united.

The impact of small actions

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that changing the world requires grand gestures or infinite resources. But small actions can create profound ripples of positive change.  Even the tiniest effort can make someone’s day a little brighter. 

Whether it’s a heartfelt smile, a warm hug, spending an hour to support a young person or a simple “How can I help?”, these unsung heroes understand that the impact of their actions extends far beyond what meets the eye. Their dedication, combined with their unwavering belief in the power of compassion, transforms communities and touches lives in truly immeasurable ways.

Volunteer tutors

The timeless gift of time

Imagine a world where everyone was too busy for kindness. Luckily, volunteers graciously donate their most precious resource – their time – to make a difference. Amidst their responsibilities and commitments, these extraordinary individuals carve out moments to lend a helping hand, becoming the living embodiment of the saying, “time is the most valuable gift.”

From organising food drives to planting trees, from tutoring pupils to comforting the lonely, volunteers invest their time to improve the lives of others. They are like time travellers, moving between the past, present, and future to create a better world for all. Their acts of kindness ripple through time, leaving a lasting impact that resonates with the souls they touch.

The magic of connection

Volunteers possess an uncanny ability to forge connections. They are the bridge builders who effortlessly bring people together, fostering a sense of community and belonging. In a world that sometimes feels disconnected, these unsung heroes have the power to create bonds that transcend barriers and unite us all.

Through their compassion, volunteers ignite a spark of hope in the hearts of those they serve. Whether it’s sharing stories, helping to solve difficult study questions, offering a listening ear, or simply offering a warm smile, they make everyone feel seen, heard, and valued. 

In an era dominated by screens, volunteers remind us of the magic that unfolds when we connect with our fellow human beings on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Tutoring session

A heartfelt thank you

So, here’s to the volunteers who keep the gears of kindness turning. Today, we express our sincerest gratitude for your unwavering spirit, your boundless energy, and your refusal to let obstacles dim your commitment to making a difference.

Thank you for donning your superhero capes without expecting recognition or applause. For reminding us that there’s always room for kindness and that we, too, can be part of something greater than ourselves. For being the quiet catalysts of change, selflessly working behind the scenes to create a better world.

To our extraordinary volunteer tutors, thank you for showing up at every session, even when the economic climate is now more challenging than ever. Thank you for spending an hour of kindness each week to support young people facing disadvantage to build a better future and brighten their lives.

As we mark Thank You Day nationally, let’s all reach out to these everyday heroes – volunteers, supportive friends, family, and colleagues to shower them with appreciation, and let them know that their efforts are noticed, valued, and cherished.

Highlights: Committee inquiry report on education recovery

7 June 2023

Today, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has published its inquiry report on Education Recovery in Schools in England. The report assessed the value and effectiveness of education recovery programmes in schools based on written and oral evidence.

Following the disruption to education by the Covid-19 pandemic with multiple school closures, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced a number of recovery initiatives to help pupils and schools to catch up, most notably, the National Tutoring Programme (NTP).

The Committee’s inquiry assessed the DfE’s management of the recovery programme, the effectiveness of the NTP in meeting its objective, and if the scheme was achieving value for money.

The report found that the DfE did not fully appreciate the ‘pressures schools are under as they seek to help pupils catch up’ with evidence of persistent issues of funding constraints, growing mental health needs among pupils and challenges with teacher recruitment and retention.

As one of the education charities that submitted written evidence to this inquiry, we believe in the potential of the flagship recovery scheme, the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), to help reverse the Covid-19 pandemic disruption in education. 

However, we believe that this progress can only be achieved if the NTP is mainly targeted at disadvantaged pupils, tuition delivery is of high quality, funding is increased and outcomes are properly monitored.

Swift action to close the attainment gap

The report revealed that the Department for Education believes it will take a decade to return the attainment gap – which is at its widest in ten years at primary and secondary levels – to pre-pandemic levels. 

“The 10-year timeline to witness pre-pandemic attainment gap level is too long and stands to ruin the life chances of millions of pupils across the country”

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring

It recommended that the DfE publish a plan setting out how it will reduce the disadvantage gap as quickly as possible and the expected trajectory, building on good practice.

Without swift action to consolidate and implement multiple recommendations from this report and many others to improve the NTP, there will be far-reaching consequences of learning loss to this generation in schools.

It recommended that the DfE publish a plan setting out how it will reduce the disadvantage gap as quickly as possible and the expected trajectory, building on good practice. Without swift action to consolidate and implement multiple recommendations from this report and many others to improve the NTP, there will be far-reaching consequences of learning loss to this generation in schools.

High absence rate among the disadvantaged

In the autumn and spring terms of 2021-22, the average absence rate for all pupils was 7.4%, compared with 4.5% for the same terms before the pandemic in 2018-19. For disadvantaged pupils, the rate was 10.4% in 2021-22, compared with 7.2% in 2018-19.

It is alarming that persistent pupil absence continues to pose a significant challenge to schools and the well-being of pupils, especially the disadvantaged. Without pupils attending school, their outcomes are unlikely to improve.

Our evidence to the Education Select Committee on persistent pupil absence contained helpful recommendations to tackle the issue including:

  • Sharing drinks and snacks during tutoring sessions to reduce hunger
  • Letters and text reminders to parents about upcoming sessions in the day
  • Parent information sessions about tutoring and its benefits
  • Incentives such as vouchers if pupils attend the majority of tutoring sessions
  • Certificate presentation and awards in assembly at the end of programme
  • Integrate attendance into the positive behaviour management system such as gaining points for their ‘house’ through attendance

The report charged the DfE to develop a better understanding of why disadvantaged pupils have higher rates of absence than others and take targeted action to reduce absence rates among them.

“Continuing to invest in ensuring the most vulnerable pupils show up in the classroom is critical to breaking the cycle of low attendance rates currently. Persistent pupil absence will give rise to a surge of problems in the future for young people if the root causes are not addressed.

Susannah Hardyman

Funding constraints for schools

Although the steep subsidy cut for the NTP has been reversed, schools are still grappling with funding constraints and budget squeezes. Schools that are struggling to pay 40% of tutoring costs this academic year will still struggle to make up for the 50% next year.

Additional funding commitment is needed long-term to ensure tutoring is sufficiently embedded in the education system widely and particularly for pupils facing disadvantage.

Increasing take-up of NTP

It is discouraging that 13% of schools did not take up the NTP and missed out on the benefits of subsided tutoring. The DfE must ramp up its efforts through a campaign to win the hearts and minds of parents and ​conscientise schools on the value and moral imperative of channelling the NTP funding towards those eligible for Free School Meals.

The report urged the DfE to do more to understand why some schools are not taking part in the National Tutoring Programme and take more effective action to increase participation.

We believe the Department should work with tuition providers with demonstrated impact to expand into cold spots and areas with low uptake to ensure that every disadvantaged child in the country, regardless of where they live, can access high-quality tutoring.

Applying recommendations

The recommendations set out in the Committee’s report also include progress reports on measures for 2030 attainment targets and funding intervention when schools struggle to bolster NTP uptake.

If the proposed solutions are applied, they will have a meaningful impact on closing the attainment gap and reversing the damage done by the pandemic’s disruption to education. The NTP can elevate its reach and impact to ensure it delivers on the intended objectives of the scheme, all in the best interest of disadvantaged young people.

Championing for the future of children today

6 June 2023

Exactly 11 years ago, Action Tutoring piloted its first tutoring programme supporting 20 pupils in two secondary schools in Peckham, London. The goal was to provide tutoring to disadvantaged children who couldn’t afford the cost of private provision. 

The positive feedback from pupils and volunteer tutors on the preliminary programme spurred the charity to scale up the tutoring model in state schools across the country. Fast forward to this academic year, we’ve supported over 26,000 pupils with the help of over 9,000 committed, high-quality volunteer tutors from a fascinating range of backgrounds.

As well as  replicating our tutoring model in several regions across England, we’ve continued to increase our reach within London.

Today, we are launching our Champions for Children campaign, a match-funding initiative designed to support children and young people in London.

What is the Champions for Children campaign?

It’s a fundraising initiative launched in 2020 in response to the devastating effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on vulnerable children. Since then, the Champions for Children has continued to raise funds to support children across four key priority areas: Physical Health, Mental Wellbeing, Home & Community Environment and, Learning & Work Readiness 

We’ve ran match-funding campaigns before, but this is our first year taking part in this fantastic campaign run by The Childhood Trust, in collaboration with The Big Give

The Childhood Trust’s research shows that as much as 35% of London’s children live in poverty. With your support, we can help tackle this problem and reduce the effects of poverty on vulnerable young people. 

Starting from 6th June, until 20th  of June, we are aiming to raise £4,000 in donations  to fight education inequalities in London. To further the impact, this £4,000 will be match-funded, raising our total target to £8,000. That means one donation = double the impact!

All funds raised will support our brilliant pupils t in London, as we want to celebrate where Action Tutoring started whilst combating education inequalities in the capital.

What is a match-funded campaign?

Match funding does what it says on the tin! Donations from you are matched from the pot to double the fundraised income. So, for every £1 you donate, £1 is added  from our match fund. This pot has been kindly built up by generous pledgers and The Childhood Trust.

Pupil taking online tutoring

What will my donation be going towards?

Your donation will contribute towards workbooks for face-to-face sessions and headphones for online sessions so pupils can benefit from high-quality tutoring.

Some of the funds will also  provide DBS checks for tutors volunteering with us in London, which is vital for safeguarding.

The minimum donation amount is £1 and the maximum is £25,000, so you are free to give an amount that suits you best.

How can I get involved?

We encourage you to get involved with the campaign in as many ways as possible! You can:

With your help and donations, we will be better placed to provide support for pupils facing disadvantage in London and take several steps closer to levelling the playing field in education.

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