The Tutor Trust is thrilled to have won a major national award – last night, Tutor Trust won ‘Best New Charity’ at the 2016 Charity Times Awards.  The prestigious awards ceremony was at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London, and was attended by co-founders Abigail Shapiro and Nick Bent.

Today also marks exactly five years since Tutor Trust was formally registered with the Charity Commission and became a charity, on 29th September 2011 – so this is a double celebration for the charity.

Abigail and Nick were joined at the awards ceremony in London by Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility at the University of Manchester (from where Tutor Trust recruits most of its tutors) and also by Jonathan Nuttall, a partner at PwC in Manchester, who produced the initial business plan for Tutor Trust in 2010 on a pro bono basis.

We are delighted that the quality and creativity of our education work has been recognised in this way – this is a success shared by our whole team.  The judges were impressed with our charitable mission:  Tutor Trust exists to democratise tuition and to even up opportunity within Britain’s grossly unequal education system, through a radical new way of matching great tutors to pupils who need extra academic support.

The launch grant to pilot the Tutor Trust concept was secured on 7th September 2011 – the initial funding came from the Education Endowment Foundation.  That was the day that we began work tackling the serious education inequality in Britain, and we delivered our very first tuition session in February 2012, at Whalley Range High School for Girls in Manchester.

Since then, Tutor Trust has:

  • Recruited and trained over 1,000 tutors, mostly talented university students
  • Provided over 50,000 hours of academic tuition to schools
  • Supported over 10,000 pupils (mostly on free school meals or looked after children)
  • Partnered with over 250 primary and secondary schools
  • Opened an office in Leeds (2015) and worked with over 20 schools already
  • Grown to a staff team of 11
  • Secured further funding from EEF for an independent evaluation of our tuition during 2016/17, involving 100 primary schools
  • Seen our first ever tutee become a tutor – the first of many!

Five years on, Tutor Trust remains unique in Britain as a professional tuition service provider working exclusively with state schools and run on a strictly not-for-profit basis.  Our tutors are not volunteers – they are paid for their work and are trained by very experienced qualified teachers.  

Tackling education inequality in the North of England

Across big cities like Greater Manchester and Leeds, educational disadvantage is acute, and the percentages of looked after children and pupils on free school meals who secure the basic qualifications necessary to give them decent choices in life are shockingly low.

Tutor Trust redresses this injustice by making sure every child who needs some additional academic support can get a great tutor.  There is masses of evidence that good tutors can significantly boost pupil attainment, confidence and aspirations.  It should not just be middle class children who get the benefits of one-to-one tuition. 

Schools that want to bring in tutors to supplement the work of busy teachers should not have to resort to faceless, profit-making tuition companies.  We are a radical new delivery model, with the potential to help tens of thousands of young people across Britain.

By way of illustration, this year saw our first ever tutee become a tutor. MJ, from a Somali refugee family in Manchester, got a C in English GCSE after six months of help from Tutor Trust.  So he was then able to do A-Levels and is now an undergraduate at the University of Manchester - he's also one of our Maths tutors, working with pupils at his former high school.

Once a small Manchester-based charity, we have now worked in all ten local authorities across Greater Manchester and expanded into Leeds as well, where we have been delivering tuition for over a year.  On top of the EEF launch grant, additional start-up funding was provided by the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the Manchester Evening News and Manchester Airport Group, plus pro bono support from firms such as PwC, MACE and Pannone Corporate.

The launch of Tutor Trust Leeds has been generously supported by the Rayne Foundation, SHINE and the Ziff Charitable Foundation, with strong support also from the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council.  


Tutors and the Grammar Schools controversy

The Green Paper from the new government of Theresa May proposing that new grammar schools should be created has focused attention on the intake of current grammars, including in Trafford.  This intake is heavily biased towards wealthier pupils, many of whose parents spend large amounts of money on private tutors and/or private schools to help them pass the entrance exams. 

Tutor Trust exists to democratise tuition and to even up opportunities within the education system, so that every child has a fair chance to fulfil their potential.   As a charity, we have already held informal discussions with Trafford Council and Trafford primary school heads about the role Tutor Trust could play in making the grammar school recruitment process more meritocratic.  We are open to running a pilot project of our tutors supporting bright pupils from less well-off families who have the potential to secure a place at grammar school. 

Tackling the teacher recruitment crisis

One of our key partnerships since the start has been Teach First, and Tutor Trust is now an important source of fantastic new recruits for the teaching profession, as so many tutors get the teaching ‘bug’.  In 2016, one quarter of all the new teachers recruited by Teach First in Manchester were Tutor Trust tutors. 

EEF now also funding a Randomised Control Trial of Tutor Trust

Autumn 2016 also sees the start of a major independent evaluation of our work, namely a randomised control trial that will involve 100 primary schools across Greater Manchester and Leeds and which will be carried out by academics at York Trials Unit and Durham University.  The project will test the impact of our Maths tutors on Year 6 SATs results.

This is another reason for Tutor Trust to be thankful to the Education Endowment Foundation, who are funding this independent research – we are looking forward to seeing more and more evidence of our impact on education. 

Co-Founders Nick Bent and Abigail Shapiro commented:

“We are beyond chuffed.  It’s a rare privilege to be able to turn an idea into reality, especially when the motivation is not profit but the desire to give Britain a fairer future.  We are full of gratitude to all those who have believed in and backed Tutor Trust, and especially our tutors who do brilliant work in schools every day.  This is a success shared by the whole team.”

“Our idea has huge national potential and in the next 5 years we want to take Tutor Trust into 5 new cities and also support our tutors into digital skills tuition, modern foreign languages and transition work, as well as boosting our work with looked after children.”