Tutoring

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.

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.

Party conferences 2023: Key takeaways on tutoring and education

16 October 2023

Over the past two weeks, the country has witnessed a flurry of political activity as the Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Labour parties held their annual party conferences in Bournemouth, Manchester and Liverpool respectively.

Party conferences are platforms for parties to unveil their policy proposals, debate critical issues, and set the tone for their future agenda. Party members, think tanks, trade unions, charities, and businesses converge to take part in debates and panel discussions.

Our CEO, Susannah Hardyman, joined education panels organised by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) at both party conferences, alongside our charity friends, Get Further and the Tutor Trust. The panel discussions revolved around building entrenched support for tutoring, keeping the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) focused on disadvantaged pupils and making it a permanent fixture in our education system.

As a charity that fights for better outcomes for disadvantaged children, attending party conferences helps us to advocate for broad systemic changes and drum home the long-term benefits of tutoring. With the future of the NTP and extra funding for schools hanging in the balance, party conferences are critical opportunities to engage all parties on these issues, especially ahead of the autumn statement in November.

Long-term tutoring

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to provide free, targeted, small-group tutoring for 1.75 million pupils struggling with their studies. The party’s education spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said the commitment is aimed at filling the void left by the National Tutoring Programme, which is set to end next year. Read more in our blog.

Our CEO, Susannah Hardyman on a panel at the Labour Party conference

Joining our CEO for the panel discussion on fixing educational disparities across the UK at the Labour Party conference were Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel DeSouza, Tutor Trust CEO Edward Marsh, Get Further CEO Sarah Waite and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, Kate Green.

The panel’s general consensus was that tutoring should be targeted at more disadvantaged young people who need it. Agreeing with Susannah that the NTP needs to be “unashamedly focused on disadvantaged children,” Dame Rachel charged the Labour Party to support tutoring but focus it on those kids who most need it in the most disadvantaged areas.

“We need to intensively support kids in schools. Tutoring is a key part of that support but needs to be targeted and delivered through high-quality tutors to support disadvantaged children across the country.”

Dame Rachel

Referencing some key findings from the Future of Tutoring report by Public First, Susannah said “Tutoring doesn’t just tackle academic disparities but also has wider, spill over benefits. Teachers reported an increase in pupil confidence, attendance, and relationships with others.”

Review the NTP

In a Q&A session, shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson voiced Labour’s intention to review and rectify the challenges of the National Tutoring Programme, introduced by the current government, as part of a broader effort to address the enduring impact of Covid-19 on education. She expressed eagerness to explore how to provide more tailored support for children to help them recover lost learning, both in the short term and long term.

“We know that the pandemic has had an impact and will cast a long shadow over the next decade and more because the government failed to deliver a proper plan”

Phillipson said, expressing interest in looking at effective interventions

Recommendations for the NTP

Panel at the Conservative Party conference

On the panel discussing tutoring for the future at the Conservative Party conference, Susannah called for the reinstatement of the pupil premium targets, small group tutoring and extra funding for schools to achieve the goal of the NTP of education recovery and closing the attainment gap.

“NTP hasn’t stayed true to its vision of being focused on the disadvantaged with the removal of pupil premium targets and change of group sizes. The recommendations for the NTP to succeed are: focus resources on the most disadvantaged children, stay true to the evidence base, retain the 1 to 3 group size and increase funding for take up.”

Susannah

Susannah reiterated these NTP recommendations in a recent op-ed in TES to increase uptake and impact of the initiative and narrow the attainment gap.

As the NTP approaches its final year in 2024, there is a legitimate concern that the progress made in integrating tutoring into schools, particularly its role in supporting post-COVID recovery, may be lost if the plugs are pulled. With the attainment gaps at primary and secondary levels widening, it is important, now more than ever, to make high-quality tutoring widely accessible, especially for pupils from low-income families and disadvantaged communities.

“This is not the time to withdraw this critical support. To enable schools to effectively plan for the long-term integration of tutoring, they require early clarity on the continuation of funding. Government should be fully committed to making tutoring a mainstay in our education system.

Susannah

Tutor Trust CEO, Edward Marsh, in his reflections on party conference season published on LinkedIn said “While it’s reassuring that all three parties have recognised that tutoring is a vital tool in providing greater equity and a fairer education system for all, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

From left: Dr. Sally Burtonshaw of Public First, Susannah Hardyman of Action Tutoring, Sarah Waite of Get Further and Ed Marsh of The Tutor Trust at the Conservative Party conference

Key education-related announcements at the party conferences

The Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in his speech that bolstering education was “the closest thing we have to a silver bullet” describing it as “the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy“. Although this is an encouraging rhetoric, more is needed in terms of actions and policy to demonstrate this commitment practically.

Combining post-16 qualifications

One striking announcement was the merging of A-levels and T-levels into a novel qualification known as the Advanced British Standard. The change would see all 16-to 19-year-olds in England typically study five subjects, including some English and maths till age 18.

Sunak said this merger would establish parity between technical and academic education, guaranteeing that all young individuals graduate with a strong foundation in mathematics and English. This policy pivot marked a departure from the implementation of T-level qualification, which was introduced by the government previously.

Tax breaks for teachers

Sunak also announced a commitment to provide up to £30,000 financial incentive for key subject teachers as a reward for doing one of the most valuable jobs in our society. “In order to attract and retain more teachers, those who teach key subjects in schools – and, for the first time, in our further-education colleges too – will receive special bonuses of up to £30,000, tax-free, over the first five years of their career,” Sunak said.

Funding for maths education

In a follow-up to his earlier announcement for maths to be made compulsory for some pupils till 18 to tackle the ‘anti-maths mindset,’ the prime mister pledged an additional £600 million, to be disbursed over a span of two years, aimed at bolstering the training of mathematics teachers and supporting students in their compulsory GCSE resits for mathematics and English in colleges. These proposed plans are all slated for consultation, with potential implementation from the 2033-34 academic year in England only.

Real-world maths

The shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, said a Labour government will address the persistent chronic cultural problem with mathematics through early intervention and the teaching of “real-world” mathematics in primary schools. This will include integrating practical numeracy skills such as budgeting and savings, which are crucial for professional and everyday life right from the start. “It’s why I’m proud to tell you today, that we’ll tackle our chronic cultural problem with maths, by making sure it’s better taught at six, never mind sixteen.”

Ofsted reforms

Children’s commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, shared her perspective on the role of Ofsted during the Labour party conference, suggesting that the inspectorate should undertake broader national work on youth policy and involve more students in discussions about the curriculum. She also supported the idea of Ofsted conducting a thematic review on school attendance and conveyed concerns that the current direction of Ofsted’s approach might be constraining rather than liberating.

Early years provision

Labour said it would spearhead efforts to review and craft an early years provision that “the next generation deserves.” This will include universal breakfast clubs to encourage attendance and engagement. Philipson said the initiatives form part of the party’s goal to “deliver on our ambition of a modernised childcare system supporting families from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school.

Mental health support

The Labour Party reiterated their commitment to integrating mental health support in every school and hub. “Labour will put specialist mental health professionals in schools, so every young person has access to early support, resolving problems before they escalate.”

Children's commissioner and our CEO at the Labour party conference
Children’s commissioner Dame Rachel DeSouza and our CEO, Susannah Hardyman at the Labour Party conference

Keep fighting beyond party conferences

The challenges confronting children and young people, along with the ongoing struggles with school funding and staffing, are huge. It’s clear we’re a long way from Covid recovery – rather, the post effects from the pandemic disruption will linger on in the education system for years to come. 

As an education charity, we remain committed to advocating for better outcomes for disadvantaged children and young people by working across party lines, prioritising solutions to their needs and influencing policies in their best interest.

Sharing your volunteering experience with your LinkedIn network

27 September 2023

Catch the attention of potential employers and impress your network by highlighting your tutoring experience.

Our Marketing and Communications team recently attended a workshop all about maximising our personal LinkedIn profiles. We want to share some of our learnings with our volunteer network to help you get the most out of using the platform.

LinkedIn is a career-focused social network that has evolved into a great platform for amplifying achievements, sharing experiences, and becoming a recognised voice in a particular industry or network.

As a volunteer tutor, you already have good knowledge of education, working with young people, and an interest in tackling education inequality. You are well placed to start your journey to becoming a thought leader in these fields.

Maximise your profile

First impressions are crucial, so you want your LinkedIn profile to have a professional profile and cover photo, a relevant and insightful “About” section, and your passions, work and education history. 

There is a volunteer section for you to list your tutoring experience and link Action Tutoring. You can also write a short description. Try to include your motivations for volunteering, skills you have learned, and how you think it will help you in the future.

LinkedIn header

Here is an example which you can edit to match your own experience:

I am a volunteer tutor for Action Tutoring because I believe that all children and young people should be able to get the most out of their education regardless of social and economic disadvantage. There is an attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. By volunteering an hour/ X hours a week for X months/years, I have helped pupils make meaningful academic progress, opening up doors for future opportunities.

Thanks to this experience, I have grown my skills in teaching, managing pupil behaviour, explaining tricky topics and time management. 

It is my goal to work in the X industry. By volunteering, I am developing crucial skills to help me in this field.

Posting content

By posting regular content, more people are likely to find your profile and connect. It also gives you the opportunity to become a thought leader in your chosen field. 

If you are unsure of what to post, your volunteer tutoring experience is a great place to start. You could share your thoughts from a recent session, a photo of a thank you card a pupil gave you, or give your opinion on why tutoring is important. Make sure to tag Action Tutoring so we have a chance to see and interact with your post. 

Not all of your content has to be original and led by you. It is equally important to engage with other people and organisations’ posts by liking, commenting and reposting. 

Take time to follow accounts that spark your interest. For us at Action Tutoring, that could be other charities, our colleagues, and education and policy thought leaders. Each time you engage in a discussion through commenting and reposting, your account will reach new people and allow you to make new connections. 

Here are two examples of making the most of other people’s content, either by sharing a relevant article or reposting from another LinkedIn page. 

In today’s interconnected professional world, LinkedIn serves as a powerful platform for networking, personal branding, and professional development. By showcasing your volunteer record on LinkedIn, you not only highlight your dedication to social causes but also enhance your overall professional image, making you a more attractive and well-rounded professional in the eyes of your peers, colleagues, and potential employers.

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,”

‘Thank You’ notes that melted our hearts last term

15 September 2023

One of the reasons why working with children is fulfilling is that you get to see them grow, learn and develop every single time. The endless energy, creativity and playfulness they exude always brings joy and excitement.

However, working with children isn’t all rosy. Sometimes we have to manage their energy, brutal honesty, and humour. But these challenges are outweighed by the rewards of watching pupils grow in subject knowledge and confidence.

At the end of each term or school programme, a heart-warming moment for many of our volunteers and staff is when pupils share inspiring and engaging thank-you notes of appreciation.

Here are ten of the remarkable notes of gratitude from pupils who were supported by our volunteers and programme team last term:

1. What a blast!

Thank you note from pupil

2. Experience the magic 24/7

Thank you note from pupil

3. Who wouldn’t like a PS5 as a reward?

Thank you note from pupil

4. Missing Kitty

Thank you note from pupil

A tell-all with express permission

Thank you note from pupil

6. Cheers to behavioural change!

Thank you note from pupil

7. They who laughs last, laughs best?

Thank you note from pupil

8. Choosing to learn over biscuits

Thank you note from pupil

9. The heart emoji keeps filling up

Thank you note from pupil

10. Football rivalry knows no boundaries!

Thank you note from pupil

Another amazing year together ahead

These words of appreciation and witnessing a pupil progress from strength to strength are why we do what we do. To all of our volunteer tutors, we want to say thank you for your selflessness and dedication. You make a real difference in the lives of children, and we are so grateful for your service.

With the 2023-24 new academic year starting in earnest, we look forward to another great year of supporting pupils together and some fun thank you notes.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, find out more in the link below.

New report underscores tutoring’s impact on attainment, attendance and mental health

12 July 2023

Tutoring has a wide-reaching, positive impact on the academic performance, attendance and mental health of young people, according to new polling of parents, teachers and pupils in a new tuition advocacy report published today.

The report, The Future of Tutoring, is produced by Public First and commissioned by the Tuition Advocacy Group of the Fair Education Alliance to highlight the impact, progress, and challenges of tutoring from the perspectives of parents, teachers, and pupils, plus recommendations for effective tutoring for the future and a commitment to embedding it in the education system beyond the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), set to end in 2024.

“This report, like many others, has again attested to tutoring as a central plank in education recovery efforts, with parents as well as teachers confirming the significant progress in the performance and confidence of their children receiving tutoring support. More than ever, long-term funding for the National Tutoring Programme is needed to make tutoring a permanent fixture in the education system in order to tackle the widening attainment gap and persistent absence, and to help chart a better future for all young people across the country.”

Susannah Hardyman, FEA Tuition Advocacy Group Chair and founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, a key sponsor of the report, said

Launch event

Robert Halfon (Minister of State for Skills, Apprentices and Higher Education and former Chair of the ESC), Susannah Hardyman (CEO of Action Tutoring and Chair of the Tutor Advocacy Group), Robin Walker (Chair of the ESC), Sarah Waite (Founder and Executive Director of Get Further), Abigail Shapiro (Co-founder and Executive Director of The Tutor Trust) 

The coalition led by Action Tutoring, Impetus, The Tutor Trust, and Get Further launched the report in Parliament Wednesday, with Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education and Former Chair of Education Select Committee as guest speaker.

The event hosted by the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robin Walker, convened over 120 policymakers, politicians, school leaders, and sector representatives, coinciding with the third-year anniversary of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP).

Before the event, Susannah Hardyman and Abigail Shapiro of The Tutor Trust shared the report directly with the education lead in the No.10 delivery unit.

Use momentum to transform tutoring

Speaking in the stead of the SoS of Education, Robert Halfon, former chair of the Education Select Committee and current Minister of State for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education said he personally benefitted from tutoring as a child and understands the transformation it can have first-hand.

“Tutoring doesn’t only help students academically but also increases their confidence, improve attendance, and impacts their relationships with other children. It’s not only about the subject knowledge but supporting every aspect of their lives. Let’s use the momentum built in the last 3 years to transform tutoring. We welcome recommendations in the Future of Tutoring report and will consider them carefully.”

Robert Halfon, who was a key champion of the NTP back in spring 2020

“Targeted assistance helped to bridge the gaps in my understanding to pass my maths GCSE successfully. Consistency in tutoring helped me establish my learning approach and get fresh perspectives from tutor. It instilled my confidence. I look forward to higher education in September and a future of endless possibilities.”

Naomi Spence, a graduate pupil

Bridging the haves and haves not

Naomi’s mother, Lorraine, also highlighted why tutoring should be accessed by every child.

“Should tutoring be the preserve of a select few? No. Tutoring is a bridge between the haves and haves not. Let’s support the call to action to keep tutoring in place permanently and to benefit all children.”

Lisa Walker-Collins, headteacher of Stroud Green Primary School

 “Yesterday, when the Year 6 results were released, Pupil Premium children representing 50% of the school population, outperformed the non-PP pupils and exceeded the national average for all pupils. Thanks to the support they received from tutoring. However, we cannot continue with tutoring for pupils who need it without proper funding. It is difficult on a tight budget like this.”

Lisa Walker-Collins, headteacher of Stroud Green Primary School

Ambitious manifesto

The report lays out a bold tuition manifesto proposal to the next parliament to commit to a funded Tutoring Guarantee that all young people in receipt of Pupil Premium or fallen behind in education, be offered a high-quality tutoring provision to help close the attainment gap and impact an estimated 1.75m disadvantaged young people.

The tuition advocacy coalition went the extra mile to garner cross-party endorsement with senior figures including Chair of the Education Select Committee Robin Walker MP, former Education Secretary the Rt Hon. Lord Blunkett, and Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP jointly calling for its adoption.

“It is vitally important that children and young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, get the help they need to be able to succeed in life and play their part in improving the world around them. Tutoring is an intervention that is proven to help children catch up on lost learning and also supports their wider needs, like improving attendance and protecting mental health. Tutoring can play a central role in unlocking the ambition of England’s children if we deliver a Fair Tutoring Future.”

Dame Rachel De Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, who wrote the report’s foreword said

“Tutoring is a vital and proven intervention for providing effective catch up support at school and, used effectively, it can make a huge difference for children’s life chances. I have seen some excellent examples of tutoring and hope that the lessons learned from the National Tutoring Programme can ensure that it is used even more effectively in the future. Embedding tutoring into the education landscape as we move forward will be vital if we are to close the gap in attainment for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Robin Walker MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee and former Schools Minister said

Key highlights from the tutoring report

Key tutoring findings - parent polling
Key findings - parents
Key findings - teachers
Key findings - pupils
Recommendations from tutoring report

Tutoring manifesto

The manifesto is proposing an increase in state funding from £150m to £290m a year, the removal of the requirement on schools to match-fund to access any funding, creating flexibility for schools to target tuition at pupils who need will benefit, and clear accountability for the delivery and reporting status of pupils.

“A reshaped and properly invested tutoring programme is not only essential for re-engaging young people post Covid but also to provide direct equality of access to essential out-of-classroom support.”

Former Education Secretary, The Rt Hon. Lord Blunkett, said

“Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have fallen further behind their peers during the pandemic, and are at risk of staying there unless the government reverses its decision to remove its funding for schools and colleges to use tutoring. We stand by this call for tutoring to be fully funded so that schools can support the children who have suffered most during the pandemic to reach their full potential.”

Munira Wilson MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for education said

Continuing our advocacy work

Action Tutoring is proud to be at the forefront of this collective advocacy report and to be working together with other education charities to secure the joint cross-party endorsement of the tuition manifesto from members of the main political parties.

We look forward to building on this achievement by speaking on education panels at the Conservative and Labour party conferences later this year in partnership with the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

We believe that it’s vital we engage policy leaders and continuously advocate for cross-party support for embedding tutoring permanently in our education system to positively impact the future of young people.

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.

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