As the education sector takes a well-earned break after the massive challenges of the last academic year, we are also taking stock at Tutor Trust at the end of what has been our busiest year ever.  During the 2020/21 school year, we tutored more than 5,700 pupils (double the number of any other year), accepted 660 new tutors at interview to meet the growing demand from schools and continued to adapt and flex our delivery during lockdowns and when classrooms reopened.

It has been a difficult year for everyone, especially for those disadvantaged young people whose academic attainment does not match that of their peers.  Educational inequality in the UK is amongst the worst in wealthy nations and the pandemic has exacerbated the issue, and the learning gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has grown.  According to the Education Endowment Foundation’s Best evidence on impact of Covid-19 on pupil attainment, published in June 2021: “There is a growing evidence around the impact of school closures on the learning outcomes of pupils. Research shows a consistent pattern:

  • Pupils have made less academic progress compared with previous year groups
  • There is a large attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, which seems to have grown

“Studies from NFER [National Foundation for Education Research], Department for Education and GL Assessment show a consistent impact of the first national lockdown with pupils making around 2 months less progress than similar pupils in previous years. The studies from NFER and RS assessment both show large gaps for disadvantaged pupils, which seem to have grown since the start of the pandemic.” 

Staying focused on our mission – ‘to transform lives through tutoring’ – has ensured that at every stage of the last year we have put the delivery of high-quality tuition at the heart of everything we have done.

Whilst the year has brought exceptional challenges for everyone, our staff team and our tutors have showed enormous resilience and flexibility, moving between online and face-to-face tutoring so that we have continued to support our tutees when and where they have most needed us and ensured that we have been able to meet the growing demand from schools.

Nick Bent, Co-founder and Chief Executive of Tutor Trust, and Abigail Shapiro, Co-founder and Executive Director of Tutor Trust, said the year had been challenging for everyone: "We are full of admiration for how everyone in Education has responded to the brutal challenges of COVID this past year, especially in the great Northern cities we serve, which have borne the brunt of the disruption.  Our growing team of staff and tutors have been magnificent, and we want to thank and congratulate them and all the teachers and leaders in our partner schools as well.  

"We could not be prouder that Tutor Trust has doubled the number of pupils it has served in 2020/21 to a record 5,700 tutees across Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Leeds-Bradford.  A massive 'thank you' also goes to our funding partners, whose generosity allowed us to invest heavily in our people and our technology. 

"Looking ahead, we are confident that we will remain a key delivery partner for the Government's flagship National Tutoring Programme in 2021/22 and we look forward to working with Randstad.  We are excited that the Prime Minister has also announced a new school-led tutoring scheme with a focus on disadvantaged pupils.  With high-quality tutoring a key element of 'education recovery', we are determined to play our full part and to serve 30% more pupils in the coming school year.

"We also aim to build on the life-changing work of The Right Angle in Greater Manchester and to pilot new ways of supporting the 'whole child' across all our tutoring services in all three city-regions we serve.  

"Finally, the coming academic year will see Tutor Trust celebrate its 10th anniversary and also mark the final year of the ambitious Three Year Plan we developed in 2019 with Impetus and the Education Endowment Foundation.  But we will not rest on our laurels and our whole Board and staff team cannot wait to collaborate with these vital partners to imagine and strategize the next phase of our journey.  We want to take the quality and impact of our work to the next level and to further expand our scope so that we can transform even more lives through tutoring."   

A year of unprecedented growth to meet need

At the start of the academic year we set clear targets for the number of pupils we aimed to support in Primary and Secondary schools across Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Leeds and Bradford – and we have surpassed our goals. It has been a year of unprecedented growth at Tutor Trust:

  • Since July last year, tutors have delivered 30,300 hours of tutoring.
  • We have worked with 209 schools across Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Leeds Bradford – 115 were Primary Schools and 94 were Secondary schools.
  • We’ve supported 5,778 pupils in Maths, English, Reading and Science – double the number of any previous year – and are supporting more pupils in a series of summer schools.
  • Of those pupils we have already supported, 3,549 (61%) have been on Pupil Premium.
  • We’ve supported 1,003 pupils with Special Educational Needs.
  • Our Alternative Provision and Looked After Children Team have worked with 126 pupils – 26 of primary school age and 100 of secondary school age. Sixty-seven pupils were attending mainstream schools (primary and secondary) and 59 pupils were in Alternative Provision settings.
  • Since March 2020 we have almost doubled the size of our staff team from 25 to 45 colleagues, including 12 Qualified Teachers, to ensure that we continue to deliver high-quality tutoring.
  • Since July last year we have held 10 tutor recruitment rounds and have spent 5 hours (that’s the equivalent of a mammoth 33 days working round the clock!) on Zoom interviews with would-be tutors.
  • Accepted 660 would-be tutors at interview – more than in any other year.
  • 71% of our tutors are students and 28% are graduates.

We are a learning organisation and support our tutors with ongoing training:

  • We have a specialised tutor training platform, Thinqi, which has a wealth of materials that tutors have access to whenever they need them.
  • Since October last year we’ve held nine live Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions.
  • We have 42 tutorials online to support our tutors.
  • We offer support through lesson plan screenings and feedback from lesson observations.

Since July this year:

  • We have been tutoring new Year 11 and incoming Year 7 pupils at 10 summer schools in Greater Manchester and Merseyside
  • We already have more than 1,000 children booked in for tuition from September.

The Right Angle Project – working with the most vulnerable in Greater Manchester

Throughout the lockdowns, our Alternative Provision and Looked After Children Team has continued to support some of the most vulnerable children in the North.

Our project The Right Angle (TRA), which we deliver with the Manchester-based award-winning relationships charity TLC: Talk, Listen, Change, continued to support this cohort of young people with a blend of tuition and counselling. This unique approach fosters accelerated academic progress and results in better GCSE outcomes than this cohort currently achieves nationally. 

With funding from Porticus, we aimed to reach 100 young people with TRA in 2020-21.  However, despite the challenges posed by COVID and lockdowns, we managed to reach 91 young people which was a huge achievement. This number is similar to those of previous years, which is really positive considering the disruption we have all faced this year.

TRA was funded for two years (to July 2020) by the Department for Education Alternative Provision Innovation Fund (APIF). One of the key findings of the end of APIF project report into The Right Angle, published in December 2020, was that pupils who accessing both counselling and tuition were twice as likely as those just accessing one service to improve their GCSE grade. 

Our tutors continue to tutor young people in Alternative Provision even as they return to mainstream school, continuing to support them through their transition and beyond. Much of the work in this area has been 1:1 tuition, however, we adapt to suit each setting and have also used a 1:3 model in three of the Alternative Provision settings. 

We continue to work with the Fair Education Alliance following the organisation awarding The Right Angle a prestigious Scaling Award in July 2020. The award provides us with leadership support, planning for scaling, pro-bono support for strategic development and problem solving. It supports team building and upskilling team members. It also gives members of the team opportunity to work nationally with other charities in a similar position.

What the last year has shown is that adaptability is key.  We have continued to adapt as lockdown eased, with the majority of our tutoring now delivered face-to-face.

Our school partners recognise the impact our tutoring has

Feedback from our recent School Partner Survey stressed the importance of the support and consistency our tutors have offered to pupils over the last year as well as the impact they have made.

Chris Dyson, Headteacher at Parklands Primary School in Leeds, said: “Poppy [the tutor] was so good I would have loved to have employed her myself. An outstanding tutor who brought the best out of the pupils. All 12 had accelerated learning, improved wellbeing and became more resilient.” Poppy, who tutored with Tutor Trust for four years, has recently joined Teach First to train as a teacher.

Tutor Sian Blount with tutees at Marlborough Road Primary School

Judith Richens, headteacher at Marlborough Road Primary School, Salford: “The tutors were well trained, professional and built very positive relationships with our pupils.  The children really enjoyed working with them and they really benefited from working in a small group.” 

Despite the challenges of the last 12 months, we have continued to ensure we work closely with a school’s teaching team to understand each tutee’s individual needs and tailor the sessions appropriately.

Mary Henshaw of St Damian’s RC Science College in Droylsden said: “The school has developed strong relationships with the tutors and the Tutor Trust itself. The Tutor Trust has high expectations of the tutors. It shows an eagerness to meet the specific needs of the school and has been extremely supportive throughout the tuition period. The Tutor Trust has its own independent QA process and has given immediate feedback. Overall a very positive experience.

Karen Yates of Manchester Enterprise Academy said: “I don't always get chance to go and see the pupils when they are receiving their tuition, but every time I have been, there is a real buzz in the atmosphere – a very purposeful learning atmosphere. Many pupils were reluctant to attend at first but have said they have found the experience really helpful and enjoyable.”

And the relationships our tutors build with pupils is just as important.  Phil Boulton, Partnership Lead at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic High School in Widnes said: “The feedback from our students when asked to give three words to describe their tutors included words such as: Helpful, kind, understanding, respectful, polite and patient.”

Carol Newton of Whingate Primary School in Leeds said: “It’s great that the children have someone else, who isn’t a teacher, as a learning role model on a less formal basis.”

And Rebecca Greenwood of Dixons Allerton Academy echoed the sentiment: “It has been great having young, university student role models for our children.”  Phil Boulton of Saints Peter and Paul said: “The fact that the tutors were young made them more accessible to our students.”

Now, as we approach our 10th anniversary and look to the next academic year and beyond, we have set further ambitious targets – we aim to support 6,500 pupils this academic year and are aiming to recruit a further 750 impressive and talented individuals as tutors, who will not only support our tutees academically, but who will also act as role models, enabling our tutees to flourish as individuals.

The support we give to our tutors enables them to positively impact tutees’ learning

For our tutors too, the role has great benefits in terms of developing highly transferable skills that they can employ in their studies and in their career – whether it’s in teaching or another field.  As a learning organisation, we offer ongoing support with tutorials, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and lesson observations throughout their time as a tutor with us.

Tutor Jessica Foster joined us in October last year.  She said: “Being a tutor has definitely ensured that I am organised at all times, for lesson planning, travel to schools, providing feedback and balancing my role with my final year university studies. It has helped me become so much more productive.”

And Jessica’s tuition highlight of the last year echoes our mission to transform lives through tutoring.  She added: “The best moment was on the final session of my face-to-face tutoring, when one of my previously Grade 4 students told me that he was only a matter of marks away from a Grade 7. It was so rewarding.”

If you’d like to become part of the Tutor Trust story and give your career a great start, go to our recruitment pages

If you’re from a school looking for a great tutor, please email [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] to find out how we can support your pupils.