As GCSE students await their all-important results tomorrow, before deciding their next steps, we have been reflecting on our Year 11s’ feedback and hearing from some of our secondary school tutors.

In the last academic year, we tutored some 1,958 Year 10 and Year 11 pupils in schools across the North of England, supporting them in Maths, English and Science, helping them refine their skills and build self-confidence as they prepared for their exams.

One of these tutors is Qualified Teacher Fran Riley (pictured left). Fran gained a wealth of experience in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), specialising in autism support at secondary level, before joining the Tutor Trust team earlier this year as a Full-Time Tutor. She has been tutoring English and Science in Oasis Academy Oldham and Reddish Value High School, both Greater Manchester, whilst she completes her postgrad studies to become an Educational Psychologist.

Fran finds tutoring blends the best elements of teaching, enabling her to create an impactful learning environment, especially for those about to sit exams.  

I love being able to show pupils what they’re capable of given the right tools. Building their confidence as learners is really important to me and it’s lovely when you can see this progress over the course of a tuition programme. It’s also great when they’ve done a test for the subject you’ve been tutoring them on, and they come back and tell you they feel really positive about it!"

Seeing pupils’ confidence grow is always rewarding: “I have had pupils who have told me that they "can't do" a particular topic go on to ace a quiz or write a fantastic paragraph and it's lovely to see them challenge their own expectations for themselves.”

Fran’s enthusiasm in seeing her pupils progress is reflected in the feedback we receive in the Pupil Voice survey. In it, tutees talk about how tuition enables them to develop their skills and how they are inspired by their tutors.

One Year 11 Maths tutee from Manchester talked about their favourite moment being the boost to confidence their tutor had given them: “It was when Miss Foxcroft said I am capable enough to get a grade 5 in Maths.”

For another Year 11 Maths student from Manchester, their favourite moment was: “Learning a new skill that I haven't gone through in class.”

Fran likens tutoring for a 15-week assignment to being a class teacher over a term.  In both circumstances, you get to know your pupils really well, she says, adding: “It’s quite intense, but very rewarding.”

Being trusted by the pupils helps create success and also gives them opportunity to share their hopes and ambitions, especially for their lives post-exams.

Fran has found that pupils also appreciate being able to talk to an adult who isn’t a parent or teacher, and hearing about their own experiences too. “I find with year 10 and 11 we often end up talking about exam anxiety or post-16 plans and careers, and I think that, more than anything, it’s reassuring for them to hear that they don’t need to have it all figured out now, and that loads of people are in the same boat.”

Our tutors enjoy hearing from tutees about the impact they’ve had on their learning, especially in the run up to milestone exams.  Samuel Foster, a Business Economics graduate from the University of Liverpool, taught Year 11 pupils this year.  He recalls several coming to him after sitting their GCSE Maths Paper 1 exam. “They were really positive about how it all went. A couple of them said how the tips I had given them to keeping calm and not letting one question knock their confidence really helped.”

Tutor Lucy Moreau (pictured below) described a similar situation: “After the GCSE English Language paper, one of my tutees was waiting for me at Reception as I arrived at school to tell me that they felt their exam had gone really well and to thank me for the help. And this was a pupil who, in their first lesson, struggled to engage and told me that they didn’t need help. Fantastic!”

Maths tutor Fiona Baxter, studying an MArts in Music and Music Psychology at the University of Leeds, perfectly sums up the #MagicofTuition and the impact it has in enabling pupils to develop their academic skills. She describes her own best tutoring moment as: “Having students be able to complete past GCSE questions independently and confidently on topics they once didn’t understand.”

We wish all our wonderful, hard-working GCSE tutees a huge GOOD LUCK for tomorrow! We look forward to sharing the stories of your successes over the next few weeks.