As young people across the country return to school we spoke to TAP student Madison about her experiences & how her volunteer tutor has supported her throughout lockdown. This is her story…

Returning to school after such a long break was strange. Keeping two metres apart from our teachers, being wary around our peers, wiping down tables and sanitising hands as if it were normal. What I hadn’t quite realised yet, was how quickly this would feel like the norm.

Lessons take place with strict seating plans, rules and restrictions, in case the inevitable strikes and students have to isolate. Something again we didn’t fully acknowledge: the reality and severity of COVID-19. We had all been distracted by the happiness of being back. Of course it has been daunting, not only due to the circumstances, but the long period of time without education impacted my memory. I was afraid of being behind before we even started. 

During lockdown my tutor continued to schedule sessions with me until the end of July. This was perfect and allowed me to get down to work before school even started. Hence the transition was much smoother and less stressful than it might have been. It helped me to feel at ease, knowing that I’d actually be ahead with studies thanks to the support of my tutor. 

Currently, I’m assisting with TAP welcome back presentations with our mentor. Something, that without being on the Access Project, I wouldn’t have been able to do, for two reasons: firstly by attending tutorials (and previously travelling) I’ve gained a lot of confidence in speaking and secondly my tutor has been working with me on verbally explaining what I have learnt. This has improved my ability to articulate my thoughts. The best thing about being on the Access Project are the experiences I’ve had. From visiting Oxford University, to commuting to Birmingham weekly for tutorials, before lockdown; I’ve put myself out into the world in a way I never would have dreamt of. 

As school is uncertain, I look forward to starting my tutorials soon. I need the routine and reliability of this extra learning. With teachers having to obey guidelines, there’s less personal support available. Therefore it’s easy to feel behind or lost within topics. Having a tutor allows you to ask further questions and fully understand what you’re learning at your own pace. 

The Access Project encourages me to be proactive. There’s always something I can be doing. During Lockdown this proved essential because it was quite easy to fall into a slump. Instead, TAP motivated me to continue my learning and not let the pandemic damage my work ethic. Now being back at school, it’s improving my organisational skills, confidence and communication skills. 

The norm isn’t set. Our reality is constantly changing. I’m grateful that The Access Project has remained consistent throughout and will continue to provide vital resources for students, during such a confusing time. 

Click here to support a young person like Madison