Andrea has been tutoring with The Access Project since the first COVID-19 lockdown last year. She found out about us through her work. “I work at Imperial College London,” she explains. “Our outreach team sent around an email encouraging us to volunteer.” 

Imperial College is one of our university partners. We established this partnership in April 2021 to support students from Ormiston Forge Academy in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands. It’s thanks to this collaboration that we have met enthusiastic volunteer tutors like Andrea.

“My underlying drive for volunteering is because I know education plays such a big role in enabling young people to do what they want to do with their lives,” Andrea tells us when we asked what made her decide to sign up. “I was lucky to have tutors and a support network at school. I wanted to pay this forward, supporting young people to get the grades that they are capable of.”

Andrea tutors Mohammed in Maths

Andrea has been tutoring Mohammed in Maths throughout his A levels. “He has such a drive to achieve. He’s a pleasure to tutor,” she enthuses. “It’s incredibly motivating to see how he is growing in confidence as a result of our time working through Maths problems together”. 

Andrea signed up to tutor with The Access Project in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. “It gave me something to look forward to; it was something to do,” she said laughing. “It wasn’t sad like the pandemic. You’re doing something positive.”

Andrea believes the pandemic was very disruptive for both her and Mohammed – but tutorials were a constant that helped them. “I was glad that we had an hour every week where we both knew it was in the diary and we’d get to work together.”

The impact tutoring has had on Andrea

Andrea found tutorials “gave me something to look forward to” during the numerous lockdowns of the pandemic – but has found that it gives her a sense of fulfilment even now, after tutoring for almost two years. “I started last year and I couldn’t imagine stopping. It’s such a lovely part of my week – to feel like I am supporting a student.”

Asked what she would say to someone who was considering signing up, Andrea said: “You’re going to spend an hour a week with a young person who will benefit from you sharing your passion with them. If you’re on the fence you should definitely sign up!”

The Access Project’s support

“I’m not just doing this in my bedroom by myself, pretending to be a tutor,” Andrea explains. “I’m supported to be a good tutor.” 

She lists our training that she “really appreciated”, the resources and activities that we host on our Google Drive, and also the support of her University Access Officer, Penny, as all providing “an incredible confidence boost” for her.

“Penny shadowed my tutorials and gave me constructive feedback,” Andrea says. “She gave me actionable things that I could take into my next tutorial. I am so grateful to have that support.”