I started volunteering for The Access Project in September of last year, so have been delivering tutorials online for nearly a year. Learning how to use the new video tuition platform with my students was a learning curve but working it out together made it fun!
For most of us, nothing can replace working with young people face to face, however, online video platforms have opened up new possibilities. For example, you don’t have to live near or even in the same city as your tutee’s school and delivering tutorials online cuts out travel time, making it easier to fit volunteering around the working day.
From my previous job as a Learning Support Advisor at a college, I had seen first-hand how the pandemic was affecting students’ studies and wellbeing. Studying is already an overwhelming experience for some students, and the pandemic has meant that they are having to manage an ever-changing situation on top of their studies.
The COVID 19 pandemic will have affected everyone differently, but early on it became clear that some students would be disproportionately affected compared to their peers. School closures may have widened inequalities, leading to wider educational attainment gaps. This can impact young people’s opportunities, such as access to university. This is why TAP’s aim to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds really appealed to me. This support is essential in ensuring that students don’t lose out on the opportunity to access the UK’s top universities.
Now, I’m not claiming to be a biology GCSE genius, but I remember how it feels to have exam after exam after exam. I enjoy motivating young people to reach their potential, cheering them on in their learning. What I’ve learnt from tutoring is that it’s not just about what you’ve committed to memory, what’s also important is building confidence. I’m always telling my tutee ‘you have a scientific mind’, which they do, but it can take some time to feel confident in a subject – that’s what I’m there for.
I remember my GCSE biology teacher saying the same thing to me, that I had a scientific mind, but I thought that I was rubbish at sciences and told him I wasn’t going to do Biology after I’d completed my GCSEs. Four years later I was studying for a BSc in Medical science at the University of Exeter! It demonstrates the huge impact of having someone believe in you. It definitely wasn’t plain sailing but having supportive teachers really made a difference.
I’ve really enjoyed the last seven months as a TAP volunteer tutor, I think it’s been a great learning experience for both myself and the tutee. I think my tutee would say that I haven’t quite mastered my drawing skills on the interactive whiteboard, but we always have a good laugh!