Sammy C

Gym? Netflix? Pub? How Tutoring Changed Sam's Midweek Existence

After three years of living and working in London I had well and truly succumbed to an all too familiar, trimodal, after work mid-week life existence of gym; Netflix; pub? Not necessarily in that order of importance either. I was drawn to The Access Project (TAP) because I wanted something to do that was both intellectually stimulating and rewarding. I heard about TAP via a friend and remember the simple stats on the website making a strong impression: “15% of secondary school pupils in the UK are eligible for Free School Meals, but these students make up only 2% of the intake at England's 25 most selective universities”.

I was matched with Year 10 student Silviu and soon realised that tutoring is hard work, probably more so than I initially expected. I found myself talking way too much in early sessions, filling important silences of consideration and learning with unnecessary patter. The sessions have forced me to learn the importance of structuring time (an hour can be both longer and shorter than you think!) and the different ways in which people learn and retain information. My ability to digest and explain complex ideas in simple terms has improved dramatically. There are definitely times when I think I’ve learnt just as much, if not more, than Silviu!

Having the opportunity to work with such a dedicated, inquisitive and bright tutee as Silviu has been the best part of the experience for me. Identifying and tracking improvement and learning week to week has been immensely rewarding. The feeling that you are playing a small part in the attainment of someone else’s goals is a great one, and certainly beats that of any satisfaction gained from the treadmill vs Netflix conundrum aforementioned.

The success of TAP is down to the support network in place for both tutors and tutees. I remember the initial training being informative and focused, whilst the online resource library available to all tutors is useful for session content and structure. There is no doubt, however, that the most important aspect of this support network is Jenny, the University Access Officer working in Silviu’s school. She regularly checks in with me, providing feedback from Silviu’s teachers and advising on specific techniques to use in sessions. She does the same with Silviu: making sure there is a tailored plan in place to support his goal of attending university. Any successful outcome from TAP is down to a collaborative effort from student, tutor and TAP employee. Recently, I have had the good fortune to more widely support this effort: working with TAP to raise awareness of what they do in my own workplace so that 9 of my colleagues are now tutors. 

I am very thankful of the opportunity to tutor with TAP, and am looking forward to getting stuck into another year of learning!

Samuel Chamberlain, IHS Markit

Change your mid-week norm for the better, too! Sign up to tutor with The Access Project HERE