As an ambitious and dedicated charity, The Access Project is always adapting to the needs of the students we serve. We have recently undertaken the development of our next five year strategy, which will be launched in the coming months. During this process we have reviewed whether we can optimise our current delivery and impact, as well as considered routes to scaling up our support to more young people in new regions and schools.
Our programme has shown consistently good impact at GCSE, with students making 0.85 of a grade more progress compared to their peers*. At A level our impact continues to vary across subjects, so we have been looking at ways we can improve this.
At the same time, we have been considering how to find enough volunteer tutors to work with our students as we grow. Our community of dedicated volunteers provide thousands of hours of support for our students every year and are an integral part of our organisation. As we grow – and particularly once we have doubled our current size – we will no longer be able to source enough volunteers for each of our students to be tutored one-to-one.
Exploring new ways of working
We have therefore been exploring whether we could find a way to address both of these challenges with one method: by providing even more intensive tuition at A level for small groups of students in years 12 and 13.
Due to its nature, this approach to tuition will require a higher level of preparation and planning, reporting, subject knowledge and teaching experience than we currently require. We believe that this is an unreasonable ask of our volunteers who already give so much to support their students.
We are testing our hypothesis by recruiting paid, professional tutors and teachers to deliver this work via a small scale pilot. We believe that this model of tuition could:
- Ensure that we can continue to grow and have impact
- Match each of our GCSE students with one-on-one volunteer tutors in choice subjects
- Further drive attainment outcomes through the results of our A level students.
Our first pilot
The first iteration of the pilot has been running from March until July 2021. Around 80 students from nine of our partner schools have been participating in weekly group tuition sessions, alongside their one-to-one tuition with volunteer tutors. Tuition has focused on English, Maths and Biology.
To test the feasibility and gauge student experience, students and group tutors have been participating in a robust calendar of qualitative feedback sessions (namely surveys and focus groups) for us to understand how group tuition can be utilised for impact.
We will continue the pilot into the next academic year, from September 2021. We will be doubling the scale of the pilot, meaning around 160 students will access group tuition alongside one-on-one sessions with a volunteer tutor, but in a different subject.
This scale-up will constitute the second phase of an extensive, three year research project into ways we can continue to drive up academic outcomes for our students. We will begin to complement the qualitative data collection with quantitative research to fully understand the academic impact of group tuition on A level achievement.
Recruiting group tutors
Because we are increasing the scale of the pilot, we will soon be recruiting group tutors to work with us into the next phase. The advertisement and job description will be posted on our social media, CharityJob.co.uk and Guardian Jobs. We strongly encourage applications from our existing pool of volunteer tutors, so please do feel free to share with your networks and indeed apply yourself if you are an experienced group tutor.
Applications will be open from July 8th to July 22nd, with interviews being conducted during the week beginning July 26th.
If you have any questions, please contact Matthew (Senior Attainment Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org
As ever, thank you for the remarkable contribution you continue to make to the academic success of your students.
* The Access Project’s FFT Education Datalab analysis from April 2020 showed that the performance of our students improves the longer they are on the programme. GCSE students studying with The Access Project for two years make 0.85 of a grade more progress – that’s six months worth.