News & Insights 12 September 2022

Why I volunteer with Action Tutoring

I once read a quote from Albert Einstein: “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what they learnt in school.”

That quote has stuck with me to this day and for the longest time I wasn’t sure why – until I began volunteering as a tutor for Action Tutoring.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s turn back the clock and talk about why Action Tutoring exists. It may surprise you to learn that there is an educational crisis taking place in the UK.

Similarly to the pandemics, strikes, international conflicts and financial difficulties that have taken centre stage in recent years, this crisis will define our future as a nation. I am of course referring to the disparity in academic attainment that disadvantaged pupils face.

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The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

Did you know that a disadvantaged student is on average 18 months behind their counterparts whilst taking their GCSEs? How about that privately educated students (around 6% of the young population) make up 55% of the students at Russel Group Universities?

Most concerning of all is that in 2018, UNICEF ranked 41 developed countries by educational inequality – the UK came 23rd and 16th for primary and secondary schools respectively. This meant it was beaten in some categories by historically less developed countries – Chile, Bulgaria and Malta for example.

Some of these issues have only been heightened by a lack of teachers and the Covid-19 pandemic, with many disadvantaged school students unable to access their now electronic school work. As a result, thousands of pupils nationwide find themselves deprived of the equal education that they deserve.

This is where Action Tutoring comes in. Once a school is sponsored by Action Tutoring, trained volunteer tutors such as myself get the chance to help level the playing field. This is achieved through giving extra maths and English lessons to primary and secondary school pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, who aren’t achieving their true potential.

Whilst tutoring a group of pupils every week may sound extremely daunting, in actuality it went very smoothly. The training and lesson templates were very easily comprehensible, and the staff at Action Tutoring were very professional and helpful when any issues arose. Over time, the terrifying idea of tutoring pupils every week soon gave way to an immensely rewarding experience of seeing pupils grow in confidence, ability and critical thinking skills.

Furthermore, on top of this vital societal role, the tutors themselves benefit. The experience of tutoring gives you confidence, becoming a more capable public speaker and teacher. This is of course in addition to giving volunteering and tutoring experience, which is especially useful if you’ve considered a career in teaching as I have.

So, at the end of my tutoring experience I can confidently say that both my pupils and I benefitted from it, and are better equipped to face the challenges that the world may throw at us in future. This neatly brings me back to my Albert Einstein quote; because long after the equations and language techniques fade from pupils’ minds, they will still benefit from their education.

Blog written by Henry Roberts