Volunteering

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.

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.

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