Impact

Passing on my love for learning through volunteer tutoring

16 February 2023

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a real thirst for learning. I have vivid memories of my dad obliging in taking me, a far-too-keen seven-year-old, to WHSmith on a Saturday morning to get my hands on those KS2 English and Maths work booklets – the type where you could treat yourself to a gold star upon getting an answer right. I loved my time in school and always tried to achieve my best in class, whether it was my favourite or least favourite subject.

For this love of learning, I’m both grateful and aware of my privileged position – as this is not always the case. Not all children are lucky enough to enjoy learning or to revel in the time that they spend in school, and there are many reasons for this. One of the biggest is that not all children begin at the same starting point in life as not all are able to easily access or utilise the tools that can support them through the education system.

Whilst I’ve never aspired to become a teacher or educator due to writing being my passion, in the six years since graduating from university with a Media and Communications degree and working as a copywriter and content specialist with charitable and educational organisations, I’ve seen from a distance the impact that the pandemic and budget cuts have had on pupils’ education.

In fact, the attainment gap between pupils facing disadvantage and their peers is currently at its widest for ten years, with just 43% of disadvantaged pupils meeting expected standards in reading, writing and maths at primary school.

It’s these stark statistics that encouraged me to do what I could to help give back and pass on my love for learning and language. After hearing about a friend’s experience volunteering with Action Tutoring, I applied to be trained as a volunteer tutoring English in late 2021.

By January 2022, I was supporting two Year 6 pupils to prepare for their SATs at a primary school in Newcastle and it quickly became the highlight of my week. Finding ways to engage the two boys in my group and demonstrate how important strong literacy and writing skills are, not just for school and exams, but to also get more enjoyment out of the content that they might play, read or listen to in day-to-day life was challenging at times – but it was a challenge I definitely relished.

Following their exams, I was delighted to learn in the summer that both pupils had gone on to surpass the marks they needed to ‘meet expectations’ – a real reward for both pupils, who I’d known had possessed the determination and ability to succeed. It’s also great that Action Tutoring shares with you this detail of how your pupils do in their SATs, as this gives you a real sense of fulfilment that you’ve helped to perhaps play a small role in this.

I then moved on and began tutoring two Year 5 pupils throughout the summer months, who I continue to tutor today – the girls are now just three months out from taking their Year 6 SATs. Again, it’s brilliant to see the progress that they’ve made in a relatively short space of time.

Perhaps my favourite thing about tutoring is that not only am I helping the pupils to learn, but they’re also helping me to develop professionally and personally.

They’ve helped me to strengthen my essential skills such as listening, facilitating discussion and giving constructive feedback. They’ve also filled me in on all of the curriculum changes since I was at school – what they’re currently learning or reading, and the reasons why they are important.

Last but certainly not least, they’ve also helped me to substantially improve my hangman skills – a game that is an ever-popular hit as a cool-down activity within our school’s sessions!

I’m grateful that Action Tutoring has provided me with this opportunity to pass on my own knowledge and love for learning to the next generation. After all, knowledge is power – but we must ensure that all children across the country are provided with an equal opportunity to succeed and achieve their dreams.

Author: Samantha Lade


Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.

Our 2021-22 Impact Report demonstrates the effectiveness of tutoring in improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils

1 February 2023

We have released our 2021-22 Impact Report, with the aim of highlighting the scale, and impact of our tutoring programmes in our mission to unlock the potential of disadvantaged young people and help tackle the attainment gap. The report details the growing expansion in our tutoring delivery to hard-to-reach areas, the relative improvement in the outcomes of disadvantaged pupils receiving our tutoring support, and the challenges of Covid-19 on education.

In the 2021-22 academic year, we supported the highest number of pupils in the charity’s history, with 6,159 pupils receiving 67,800 hours of tutoring, delivered by our volunteer tutors. A total of 586 pupils received tutoring support in both maths and English.

Through our inspirational volunteers, we are devoted to positively transforming the future prospects of pupils facing disadvantage who need our support the most, in a challenging climate of stretched school budgets, high pupil absences, the widest attainment gap in a decade, and the rising cost of living, among others. We’ve expanded geographically via our virtual programmes to new areas including Portsmouth, Corby, Chester, Middlesex, and Rotherham.

Susannah Hardyman, founder, and CEO of Action Tutoring

Key highlights of the Impact report include:

  • 2,345 volunteer tutors delivered tutoring in partnership with 147 schools
  • Compared to the 53% of disadvantaged pupils who passed GCSE maths nationally, the report shows that 72% of disadvantaged pupils tutored by the charity passed their GCSE maths – despite these pupils having been through two challenging years of pandemic disruption and being at risk of not achieving a passing grade.
  • Our analysis shows that primary pupils supported by the charity were more likely to achieve the expected standards than other disadvantaged pupils across the country — by 8 percentage points in maths and reading.
  • Pupils who took Action Tutoring sessions in Year 10 were more likely to pass in that subject at GCSE, compared to other Action Tutoring pupils who did not — 11% more likely in English and 27% more likely in maths.
  • 69% of pupils Action Tutoring supported were eligible for Pupil Premium funding – a government grant given to reduce the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils

According to the Department for Education, the attainment gap is at its widest in a decade at both primary and secondary levels. Tutoring remains one of the tangible solutions to help narrow that gap, as our Impact Report effectively shows.

Volunteer tutoring is at the heart of the substantial impact of Action Tutoring in the last year, as it seeks to bolster access to equitable and inclusive education. Since officially registered as a charity in 2012, about 11,500 dedicated volunteer tutors have supported over 26,000 primary and secondary school pupils.  The impact report is released on the heels of our receipt of The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award in December, which recognised the service and impact of its inspiring volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young people across England.

Against the backdrop of the long-term challenges from the pandemic, the report also draws attention to the significant impact of Covid-19 on education and how it has hit disadvantaged young people the hardest. We are dedicated to reaching more disadvantaged pupils by partnering with schools and ensuring tutoring is embedded into the education system to give all pupils facing disadvantage, the opportunity to succeed academically.

Because of You campaign celebrates the impact of volunteer tutors on pupils

13 January 2023

Lyron’s dream of becoming a successful singer and actor in the future fuels his passion for singing in the church choir and exploring theatre. The primary six pupil at Comber Grove School in London previously struggled with understanding mathematical concepts. After receiving tutoring support from Action Tutoring and constant motivation from his mother to keep practising maths, Lyron is experiencing a positive turnaround.

I feel more confident in maths now, which means I can ace my SATs. My tutor is very good at helping me to improve in the subject

Lyron

Tutors have helped improve the academic outcomes and confidence of many young people. The impact tutors have on pupils goes beyond grades, with many mentoring and sharing advice with young people to build their resilience and confidence and to encourage them to think about their future career paths. Every child deserves the best possible start in life and a learning environment that enables them to fulfil their potential. Tutors support the work of teachers to give children a stronger educational foundation to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow.

Through the Because of You campaign, Action Tutoring celebrates the marked difference volunteer tutors make to pupils through their selfless and dedicated commitment. Volunteers are the bedrock of Action Tutoring’s work and play a valuable role in driving the education charity’s purpose and impact. With the bigger goal of helping to narrow the stark academic attainment gap, Action Tutoring optimises the power of its passionate volunteers to support disadvantaged young people across the country.

Pupils share testimonies of how tutors have impacted their lives in Because of You campaign video

The Because of You campaign comes hot on the heels of Action Tutoring receiving The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award last month, which recognised the service and impact of its inspiring volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young people across England. The award celebrates the fantastic work of Action Tutoring’s volunteers to empower young people and provide them with skills and opportunities.

Action Tutoring delivers tutoring through the support of its diverse pool of volunteers who come from a variety of different backgrounds, including university students, full-time or part-time employees from different sectors of business, and retired professionals. Not only do volunteers help pupils achieve better grades, but they also serve as positive role models by creating a supportive environment for learning and mentoring pupils to thrive in school and beyond. Last year alone, our volunteer tutors delivered a staggering 30,855 tutoring sessions, in-person and online, to support 6,159 primary and secondary pupils facing disadvantage.

Over the last decade, Action Tutoring has been delivering academic support to disadvantaged young people through the dedication of our volunteer tutors and in partnership with schools. With the support of over 11,500 dedicated volunteer tutors, the charity has supported over 26,000 primary and secondary school pupils since 2012.

Action Tutoring has been working to help narrow the academic attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers at both primary and secondary levels – which is at its widest for ten years.

In the current challenging environment of the rising cost of living, volunteers continue to support pupils with their knowledge and skills to get a better start in life. Lyon is grateful to his tutor and all others for dedicating their time and efforts to create a better future for disadvantaged young people.

Thank you very much for helping me all through these months. You’ve been helping me to try and improve my maths. I hope because of you, I will ace my SATS and do very well. Thank you.

Lyron

Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the tutoring resources you need.

Action Tutoring honoured with Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award

21 December 2022

Action Tutoring has been honoured with The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award, recognising the service and impact of our inspiring volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young people across England. This one-off service award was created to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and 20 years of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). The aim is to celebrate fantastic work by national charities and their volunteers to empower young people and provide them with skills and opportunities.

Over the last decade,  Action Tutoring has been delivering academic support to disadvantaged young people through the dedication of our volunteer tutors and in partnership with schools. Since 2012, we’ve supported over 26,000 primary and secondary school pupils, with the support of over 11,500 dedicated volunteer tutors.

We are thrilled to have our work recognised by this award, particularly for the incredible service of our volunteers and the impact they have on the young people we support. We simply could not do what we do without them.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring

The Jubilee Award recognises 20 national charities whose work empowers young people aged 16-25, with volunteers playing a pivotal role in delivering this. The award submissions were judged over the summer by an expert panel chaired by Sir Martyn Lewis CBE (Chair of QAVS). It included members from each UK nation as well as two youth representatives. His Majesty The King personally approved the 20 awardees, following the panel’s selection.

These awards highlight the indispensable role that the voluntary sector plays in targeting help, advice, and guidance where it is needed most. These awards should also be seen as a tribute to the millions of volunteers and donors who, in difficult times, provide the resources of time and money which contribute so powerfully to the social fabric of our country.

Sir Martyn Lewis CBE, the QAVS Chair

Volunteers are at the core of Action Tutoring’s work and remain an invaluable resource in driving our purpose and impact. We are tackling the stark academic attainment gap by optimising the power of our passionate volunteer tutors to specifically support disadvantaged young people across the country.

Action Tutoring is proud of its diverse pool of volunteers from different backgrounds and between the ages of 18 to 82,  including university students, full-time or part-time workers from different sectors of business, and retired professionals. The varied range of volunteer tutors, motivated by their selfless devotion to our mission, bring unique perspectives and experiences to improve the subject knowledge, confidence, and tolerance of the disadvantaged young people they support.

I never expected the sense of pride and accomplishment I would be feeling, not just for myself, but for the pupils experiencing academic progress. This volunteering opportunity has allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the education of young people, which has been so rewarding that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.

Eve, a university student and Action Tutoring volunteer in Liverpool, said in a recent blog, sharing her tutoring experience.

In spite of the challenging backdrop of Covid-19, Year 6 children eligible for the Pupil Premium supported by Action Tutoring were more likely to achieve the expected standards in their SATs than other disadvantaged pupils across the country — by eight percentage points in both maths and reading — despite being considered at risk of not reaching these standards. This year’s GCSE results showed that 61% of disadvantaged pupils passed their English and 72% of disadvantaged pupils passed maths, after attending at least 10 tutoring sessions with Action Tutoring – notwithstanding being considered at risk of not achieving a passing grade and two challenging years of pandemic disruption.

From Action Tutoring to StreetGames, these 20 charities deliver outstanding work to help give young people the skills they need to grow and succeed.  Ensuring young people get the best possible start in life is a priority for me and the Government, and there is no more fitting way to celebrate these brilliant charities than a unique edition of the highest award for voluntary service.

Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan

Action Tutoring has been working to help narrow the academic attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers at both primary and secondary levels – which is at its widest for ten years. Tutoring is an intervention with proven impact to help narrow the gap and give disadvantaged young people a stronger head-start in life.

This award and recognition will help us to reach new audiences and encourage more people to come forward and volunteer their time to help change the future prospects of thousands of young people across the country.”

Susannah Hardyman

Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.

How volunteer tutoring is helping me rediscover my purpose

2 December 2022

“When I grow up I wanna be… A builder? A ballerina? A butterfly?!”

I knew I wanted to be the next Darcy Bussell when I was five years old. Pretty sure I was ‘dancing before I could even walk’. Or is that just what my nan used to tell everyone?

I have recently been fortunate to start volunteer tutoring with education charity, Action Tutoring, through a university placement scheme, teaching GCSE English at a school in Liverpool. As a student at the University of Liverpool, I feel this is a perfect set-up for me.

At first, I was a bit sceptical. I thought a group of 15-year-olds would question whether I was on the right side of the classroom and if I should actually be joining them. As at only 20 years old, I might not seem old enough to be the one tutoring the class. That was my first worry, then came what if I am actually just not good at this at all?

Don’t get me wrong, I did the training and the two-hour Zoom call had my undivided attention, but that is no comparison to sitting in a library with three 15-year-old pupils looking to you to offer them help and guidance. Safe to say, volunteering with Action Tutoring is a test for me to see if teaching is a profession I could genuinely see myself doing in the future. I mean, as soon as you say, “I study English at uni”, the question that usually follows is: “Do you want to be a teacher?”, so I thought I should give it a fair trial.

Of course, the tutoring resources provided by Action Tutoring have been helpful and all I have to do is work through them for an hour each week with assigned pupils. However, I feel like I wanted to provide more than that. I really wanted to walk into that school and change lives. Unsurprisingly it was a bit awkward at first but my pupil group is now doing extremely well. We’ve already come such a long way in the last five weeks we have been working together.

I never expected the sense of pride and accomplishment I would be feeling, not just for myself in keeping it together for over a month, but for the pupils experiencing academic progress. This opportunity has allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the education of young people, which has been so rewarding that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.

student volunteering

To other undergrads out there, I can offer only words of wisdom based on my experience over the past several weeks.

I advise that you throw yourself into the whole tutoring experience – put time into preparing for the sessions, believe in your ability to teach other people, and revel in a chance to work on your social skills with the teens of today, which is a plus in itself.

Now I definitely don’t want to be Darcy Bussell, as glamorous as she is. Being a builder is out of reach as I complain about grating cheese, hence manual labour doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me. But you never know; when I graduate in eight months’ time, maybe I’ll go down the route of teaching to help young children achieve academic greatness, with a side of “Miss, when can we go home?” in there.

Author: Eve Wickham


Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.

« Previous Page