As a University Access Officer my job is to lead our university readiness programme in school and collaborate with teachers to support tutors in their work with our students.

Most of us have important memories from our teenage years, some of which we’d rather forget! But we also have recollections of that mentor with whom we really connected and who ignited a lifelong passion in us. When my English teacher quoted Shelley’s claim that poets are ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world,’ I got it; I was hooked on literature and I still am. I think that finding out what we love is usually the making of us.

Following our young people on their journey is inspiring!

With that in mind, it is a privilege to work with our young people as they decide who they are, what inspires them and what they want to achieve. And this is something I recognise in our TAP volunteers too. I am always struck by the respect tutors command in their students and it’s very motivating to hear enthusiasm for tutorials in school.

The tutors that help them break down barriers in education

Lots of our young people face significant barriers to reaching their academic potential and teachers don’t have as much time as they would like to challenge every learner. The person who can go over that equation in more depth or question the interpretation of a key concept, drives higher level understanding and improves engagement. It is not surprising that this equates to better exam results and access to opportunities that students would not otherwise have.

I asked my students to sum up their tutor experience in a word or phrase and here is what they said: ‘enlightening’, ‘a holistic view of life’, ‘a space to think’ and ‘someone who cares.’ Our tutors are often the key people who make the difference in our students’ lives.