Providing a lockdown lifeline at Ormiston Sudbury Academy

This year, we worked with 26 GCSE and A-Level students at Ormiston Sudbury Academy to provide extra academic support in Maths and Biology, before and during lockdown. Vice Principal Dominic Howkins shares his experience.

The challenge

“We started off the year by using MyTutor for a 10-week programme with GCSE pupil premium students that had been identified as working two grades beneath their target grade, predominantly in Maths. We wanted to increase their grade outcomes and their confidence. All the students were from disadvantaged backgrounds, but with a range of abilities – some high prior attainers, some lower ability.”

“Alongside this, we also ran an A-Level programme up until March that supplemented our need in Business and Biology, just trying to give them more tuition time in addition to the face-to-face time they were already having within school.”

The programme

“Prior to lockdown, we’ve run all of our programmes within the school day so that we can monitor attendance and help with any technical issues that we might have from our end. We’ve also found it’s beneficial to run the sessions in school from an access perspective – because many of our disadvantaged students may not have access to a laptop at home; at least not exclusively for that period of time.”

“We’ve always found the engagement among students to be really high. Our Year 11 Maths programme was excellent from a subject knowledge, engagement tutor-student relationship point of view.

” In terms of quality assurance, we can hand on heart say that what’s been delivered to our students is exactly what was needed.”

“For example, I’ve got one young lady on the programme who, throughout the last two months in lockdown, has had 10 MyTutor sessions in GCSE Maths – and given how well she’s worked and the level of engagement she’s put in, we’re confident that when she comes back in September, she won’t have regressed in her learning as far as some of the others.”

The impact

“From an outcomes point of view, based on our internal assessments, all of the students on the programme between September and February, made progress and engaged with it.”

“We had one particular student, Dawn, who absolutely excelled at working with her tutor, Emily, and the lessons gave her so much more confidence when she was in school. Just before lockdown we had a set of mocks for Year 11, and we saw a 2-grade increase in Dawn’s grade, up from the previous set of mocks – which we largely put down to the extra input she’d had from MyTutor and Emily in particular.”

“For us, the benefit of MyTutor has been about more than just students’ academic outcomes, but also about their confidence and understanding.”

“When the lockdown started in March, we switched our attention from our Year 11s and Year 13s over to our Year 12s and our Year 10s. To have that extra support from MyTutor has been an absolute lifeline for our A-Level kids in particular.”

The experience

“Ultimately, it’s an easy programme to set up and run. Obviously there’s some initial work to be done to identify the students for the programme, but once you’ve submitted their names, it’s really straightforward. I didn’t find it to be onerous or difficult at all. We also gave our A-Level students autonomy over their lessons, so they could switch their days when needed due to changes in commitments – and take the lead on that themselves.”

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