Promoting resilience at The Urswick School

Case study from Naomi Dews, Assistant Head Teacher, The Urswick School

This year, MyTutor has worked with 20 Year 11 students from The Urswick School in Hackney, London, to provide extra one-to-one support for pupils in Maths. The after-school lessons, which took place in school, once a week, have helped to boost pupil confidence, encourage resilience and improve attainment.

What challenges are you trying to overcome in your school?


“Our main challenge is deprivation. Roughly 80% of our pupils receive free school meals, and many students don’t have a private, personal space to work at home. For most of our children, having tutoring funded by their parents isn’t an option. In working with MyTutor, we found that, for our children, having someone that was invested in them – and who could spend dedicated time with them, focusing on their Maths – made a huge difference.”

Which students were selected for the programme?


“We focused on those that had lots of potential, but for various reasons weren’t quite getting there. The group included children with a range of target grades, but largely those who we thought should be getting at least a Grade 4, but were currently on 2s and 3s.”

What are the biggest benefits of MyTutor for your students?


“For our students, it’s the fact that the lessons are structured for them. They don’t necessarily have a quiet space & equipment required for the programme to work at home, so we were able to provide them that environment – and then the tutor was able to provide them tailored support.”

“The one-to-one aspect of the tutoring is a big benefit. There’s much less of an embarrassment factor telling someone one-to-one that you haven’t understood something, rather than trying to say it in front of a class of 30. There’s also no pressure on the tutor – in the way that there might be for a classroom teacher – to move on from a topic because the rest of the class has got it.”

“For some of our students, having someone to spend as much time as they need on a topic, filling in those gaps and then building their confidence, was really helpful. And once they believed they could do it, that was half the battle won.”

Logistically, how did you find setting up the programme? 


“We’ve found it really straightforward. We basically told our on-site IT team what we wanted in terms of equipment, and then the weekly sessions have been supervised either by myself or by the Head of School. Although we’re physically in the room, we haven’t needed to do very much to facilitate the lessons – we can spend that time getting on with other tasks.”

“It was also really useful that the tutoring was available at times that suited us. As well as our main programme with 20 pupils, we also offered it to some of our GCSE resit students, who were on different timetables. The fact that we could have two different programmes running at different times to suit different student groups, was really helpful.”

What impact have you seen in terms of academic progress?


“The vast majority of our students have made real progress – every student has improved either within a grade or improved by a grade. And I’m confident that MyTutor has helped to contribute to that result, whether by improving their confidence, encouraging them to do more work outside of class, due to the content of the lessons, or just because they care that we’re invested in them.”

What has the feedback from students been like?


“It was really clear, for some students, that the tutoring has made a genuine difference. Probably our biggest success story would be a male student, who we knew had lots of potential, but was sitting on a Grade 2 in his mocks in December. He then got a Grade 6 in his GCSE in June – and building his confidence played a big part in that.”

“Once you can make a student see that they can do it in one subject, that they can turn it around once, it’s easier for them to build on that resilience and carry that positive attitude into other parts of their lives.”

“We all come across times in life when everything’s not quite going how we might want it to, and I think this experience has really helped our students see that if they persevere at things, and if they don’t quit, it can make a difference.”

Would you recommend MyTutor to other schools?


“Yes, because we’ve seen it make an impact. There are some interventions that we’ve run that have been quite time-intensive from an administrative point of view, or have been quite hard to get pupil buy-in. But one of the things that’s made this a success is that the pupils bought into it.”

“It gave the students a chance to practice with someone who could give them immediate feedback – not just on whether an answer was right or wrong (as you might find with other online programmes) but also why it was wrong.”

“The other thing that was really beneficial – certainly for our more vulnerable students – was that the lessons are all recorded. So some of the students would go back to the recordings once they’d gone through a topic with a tutor, and rewatch them, pause them, try the questions again – in a really safe, non-judgemental environment.”

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