'Transforming lives through online tuition'

Ever since the COVID-19 crisis meant schools would be closed to the majority of pupils, Tutor Trust has been working hard to find a way to offer an alternative to our face-to-face tutoring service. We are delighted to announce that we have now launched a pilot of online tuition in Maths and English, so that we can carry on ‘transforming lives through tuition’.

This is the first time Tutor Trust has ever carried out online tuition and is a big moment for our charity. We are excited to see our online tuition project materialise at a time when so much evidence is emerging about the impact of lockdown on disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils in particular.

Our pilot will take place with six of our partner schools and sessions will start next week (w/c 11th May). In total, around 85 pupils will take part and nearly all pupils will receive tuition in both English and Maths. All the tuition will be 1:1 and we expect the pilot to run for 12 weeks.

We have arranged for online tuition to take place with a primary and a secondary school in all three of our city-regions: Merseyside, Leeds and Greater Manchester. These schools had planned for tuition to take place face-to-face this term and we are pleased we can provide them some continuation of our tuition.

The excellent current tutors we’ve selected to take part in the pilot have received specialised training for giving online tuition, including on Safeguarding. Alongside the hours of experience they have gained through face-to-face tuition with Tutor Trust already, tutors will be as prepared as possible for teaching in this new format.

At Tutor Trust, we are committed to continuing our work to reduce education inequality in the North of England. We hope to help disadvantaged children and young people get the support they need in even more challenging circumstances. Our online tuition pilot enables us to keep giving pupils access to a good tutor, contributing to the effort to make sure they are not irreversibly left behind during this period.

Our pilot will be done with full monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that the online tuition is delivered to Tutor Trust's high professional standards, as always. Our expert Quality and Impact team have drawn up a bespoke framework for getting feedback on, and doing analysis of, all the online sessions. Some sessions will be observed in real time by the former school leaders on the staff team.  

Very soon, we hope to develop this pilot into a full programme of online tuition across all three cities. We want to thank the partner schools and trusts that are taking part in the pilot and wish good luck to the tutors and pupils having their first sessions in the coming weeks!

National collaboration on best practice and policy

Tutor Trust is grateful to the other charities and research organisations from whom we have received invaluable advice about effective online tuition. This collaborative network includes fellow Impetus charities (especially The Access Project), Education Endowment Foundation, NESTA, The Sutton Trust, SHINE, Teach First, Fair Education Alliance, Centre for Social Justice and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.    

In turn, Tutor Trust has been sharing its own research and resources with our partners and we are committed to sharing our experience of delivering online tuition, warts and all. Tutor Trust is playing a leading role in an informal national coalition of 15 charities that do tutoring/mentoring as we explore online work. Even when schools re-open, some pupils may still be learning from home and schools may not permit external visitors such as tutors. So online tuition may be vital to Tutor Trust’s mission throughout 2020/21 and beyond.

In addition, Tutor Trust has been actively contributing to the national policy conversation about how Government should respond to the impact of this crisis on Education, including the idea of a National Tutoring Service and a Catch-up Premium for schools.

School closures have had an unfortunate and immense impact on every child and young person in education in this country. Disadvantaged pupils, however, will be feeling the negative effects even more.

Evidence is already showing that school closures and exam cancellations are affecting the academic outcomes, subject confidence and mental health of disadvantaged pupils. A report from the Sutton Trust outlines how someone’s economic background has determined their experience in these circumstances, whilst a recent report from the Children’s Commissioner showed that pupils in the North are at even greater disadvantage than their peers nationally.

We have contributed to the work of Professor Lee Elliot Major and others on the idea of a National Tutoring Service. We fully support the call by Robert Halfon MP (Chair of the Education Select Committee), Lord Jim O’Neill, the Centre for Social Justice and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership for a ‘catch-up premium’ of at least £700 per pupil for schools, to help them give high-quality support to disadvantaged pupils.

Tutor Trust has been mentioned positively in the national press three times in recent weeks (twice in the Sunday Times and once in the Daily Telegraph), plus the Tes.

The six schools in our pilot

This is the full list of schools we will be working with:

We are grateful to one of the member companies of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership for donating £10K to buy touchscreen laptops for some of our pupils who urgently need computer kit for online learning.  

We are delighted to be working with a selection of our partner schools on this project. Our Leeds secondary school partner is Dixons Trinity Chapeltown School, where our tutors will be providing Maths and English support. The Dixons Multi-Academy Trust is a fellow Impetus charity and Natalie Brookshaw, Secondary Principal at Dixons Trinity Chapeltown, said:

“The Tutor Trust’s mission of ‘transforming lives through tuition’ is one of the reasons we were excited to partner with this organisation." 

"Over the last year, we have seen real impact from the support provided and our students have built strong relationships with their tutors – so much so, that we were really keen to explore online tuition once schools closed so that our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children continue to get the very best support.”

Our partnership with the Co-operative Academies Trust has enabled us to provide online tuition to two schools; Co-op Academy Swinton in Salford, Greater Manchester and Co-op Academy Parkland in Bradford. Chris Tomlinson, the trust CEO, said:

“Co-op Academies Trust are happy to support Tutor Trust in its pilot for online Tuition at two of our academies.  In these unprecedented times the education our students get at home is so important and this key intervention will really help to ensure they make good strong educational progress at home.”

In Merseyside, we will be providing online tutors to pupils in Saint Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School, Prescot, Knowsley. Headteacher Helen Pinnington said:

“The tutors who have worked in our school have done a great job at engaging and motivating our pupils. With so many pupils learning in new environments, it is now more important than ever that they stay engaged and motivated with their subjects.

"This online tuition pilot will no doubt give pupils useful, additional support to keep progressing in their subjects.”

Our partner primary school in Liverpool will be Norman Pannell Primary School. Rob Simpson, the school’s headteacher, said:

"Children have enjoyed and hugely benefited from the Tutor Trust's support this year and the lockdown came at a time that disrupted their momentum, threatening the Year 6's all important transition into secondary education.  Having the opportunity to participate in the online pilot gives our children the best possible opportunity to move on into the 'new normal' full of confidence and a thirst for learning.  The children and parents are excited and can't wait to get started!"

Antony Hughes, CEO of The Harmony Trust in Oldham, our final partner said:

“We are excited to work with Tutor Trust on this online tuition pilot.  Disadvantaged children in Oldham and the North have been greatly affected by current circumstances and we want to give Harmony Trust children all the help we can. Based on our prior years of experience of Tutor Trust, we believe our children will benefit from the online lessons the charity can offer; we hope they will continue improving their confidence and understanding through these online sessions with tutors.”