A gold bicentenary banner on a purple image of University of Manchester

Celebrating an inspirational partner

As the University of Manchester celebrates its bicentennial, we reflect on our enduring partnership 


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When we set up Tutor Trust in 2011, amongst the first partners who offered their support and belief in our vision was one of the best-known and well-respected educational institutes in the North of England, the University of Manchester. Having such a prestigious organisation advocating for us right from the start made a huge difference in establishing our credentials and enabling us to forge other important relationships.

Fast forward 13 years, and the University team consistently champions our cause, encouraging their students to join us as tutors – more than 1,000 in our first 10 years – continuing to recognise our work and hosting our annual Summer Reception in one of their inspiring venues.

So, in this, the University’s bicentenary year, we want to say a whole-hearted thank you for all they have done for education, for their support, and for allowing us to play a part in their story as they have in ours.

This is a time to celebrate and acknowledge all that has been achieved by a real Northern, and national, icon, says Abigail Shapiro, Co-Founder and Executive Director (part of the initial meetings to establish the collaboration with the university).

We are delighted to have been a part of the University of Manchester’s inspirational journey, if only for a brief but impactful part of their 200 years. Our collaborative work is one built on mutual respect, and the knowledge that we both have similar ambitions around improving people’s lives through education.

They are an inspirational organisation for anyone involved in the sector, and they have fired our own ambition in terms of what we might achieve. The University has always supported us, and their encouragement of their students to join our tutor community has enabled us to grow and make a life-changing difference to thousands of young people in Manchester and across the North of England.

Celebrating 200 years is something truly special. We know there will be many organisations, like us, delighted that such an influential university shares in their vision and generously offers invaluable support to enable them to realise it. We are looking forward to being able to continue to celebrate together in the autumn, when we will be launching our annual Impact Report and recognising the University’s contribution to our success story.”
Abigail Shapiro, Co-Founder and Executive Director

Working together to champion social responsibility

The University is a champion of social responsibility, and earlier this year recognised our outstanding contribution to that goal by awarding the prestigious Medal of Honour, the highest non-degree award the University can bestow, to Abigail. This recognition highlights the impact of our partnership in supporting young people in lower-income areas across Greater Manchester and the North of England and the invaluable teaching experience we offer to our university partners’ students.

And, at our 10th anniversary celebrations, held in the University’s stunning Whitworth Art Gallery in June 2022, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, presented an award to our Co-Founders Nick Bent and Abigail Shapiro, ‘In recognition of valued partnership in teacher education’. The Award celebrated our long-term involvement with the University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), both in our tutor training and in providing tutoring opportunities for student teachers on the course.

In her speech, Dame Nancy spoke warmly of the connection between our two organisations, saying:

Tutor Trust is a pioneer. A Manchester, if not a national, first. It was Tutor Trust that brought tuition – then only the preserve of those families that could afford it – into schools to support those who most needed it, democratising education one pupil at a time.”
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester

Providing life-changing opportunities

Alicia is one of the thousand-plus University of Manchester students who has joined us as a tutor whilst studying. For Alicia, who went on to join our Outreach Team to recruit more tutors, the enjoyment she found as a tutor was life-changing: "Tutoring...made me realise the number of students who are underprivileged in education... [It] was the best decision I made."

Remarkably, 39% of our tutors, including Alicia, are inspired by their experience to consider or pursue careers in education. This not only benefits the teaching profession by attracting passionate individuals. 

Tutor-turned-teacher Danielle was inspired to do her PGCE after tutoring with us and is just about to start her Early Career Teacher (ECT) years as a Secondary English teacher. For her, tutoring was all about the connection she made with her pupils: “It’s hard to describe what a wonderful feeling it is to know you’ve made a difference to someone’s life.  My tutees made me realise I want to work in education.”

Collaborating on ground-breaking research

Our relationship with the University has also opened other doors for us, and in 2022, we embarked on a groundbreaking research collaboration with the University’s ‘Local Matters’ project. Led by Dr. Carl Emery and Dr. Louisa Dawes, this 18-month initiative explored the links between power, poverty, and place. This piece of work has led to concrete improvements across our organisation, from the language we use, to ensuring our pupils’ have a voice in influencing our tuition programmes, to a staff reading group within the Trust exploring social issues.

Our partnership with the university has been hugely beneficial to us and exemplifies their drive to foster social responsibility in young people. The collaboration allows students to gain practical experience, career inspiration, and a deeper understanding of social issues, all while contributing to the positive development of young people across the North of England.

From all of us at Tutor Trust, thank you so much for your support and belief in us from the very beginning. Happy birthday, and here’s to the next 200 years!