This year, we worked with Lodge Park Academy, near Corby in the East Midlands, to support their students year-round with several tuition programmes, including during the Easter break. Using a combination of 1:1 and small group (3:1) tuition, the Easter programme was aimed at providing intensive, personalised support for Y11 pupil premium students ahead of exams. We caught up with Ben Newmark, Trust-Wide Vice Principal for David Ross Education Trust (DRET), to hear how the programme made an impact.
“Corby, and the surrounding area that we serve, is an area of disadvantage, where there are a number of families struggling with complex social and financial issues. At Lodge Park Academy, we’ve been through a difficult journey over the past few years, but we’re now in a phase of rapid improvement and have dramatically turned things around.
The challenges we face mirror those that are also being felt nationwide – including falling attendance and absenteeism, which tend to most acutely affect disadvantaged students, partly due to the disruption of the pandemic and COVID restrictions. We’ve also seen a worrying increase in anxiety and other mental health concerns, and there’s a lack of external provision to help and support those students.”
“We initially started our MyTutor programme for Y11 students after the Christmas break, focusing on English, Maths and Science. This included a mixture of 1:1 lessons which ran during the school day, as well as small group (3:1) sessions which were after-school. As we were using the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) subsidy, we offered tuition to our pupil premium students first and foremost.
We then decided to run an additional Easter programme for Y11s to help them prepare for the race to exams. For the Easter programme, we opened it up to a lot more of our students (pupil premium and non-pupil premium), working with the wider team to pinpoint those who we thought would benefit most.
In contrast to a typical Easter revision programme – where you’d usually only get students for half a day at most – with MyTutor we felt we had a greater chance of success due to the intensive and personalised nature of the tutoring.
By Easter, children have largely finished their courses, and their learning gaps and the areas they need to work on are quite disparate and individual. With this tuition programme, we were asking for 1 hour per day for 10 days from the students, which is a considerable commitment – raising the stakes in terms of importance. It also gave them the space to just focus on the topics they were personally finding difficult.”
“When you talk to the students, they certainly feel like the tuition has had an impact; the majority agreed that it’s been very useful for them. Lots of them say they feel more confident and that they’ve made more progress in their subjects as a result. Some of the feedback has been lovely – a number of students said they ‘miss their tutors already’, and others proactively asked for the same tutor to teach them again.
Although it’s too difficult at this stage to get a concrete view on academic progress, we’re looking forward to reviewing the exam result data. From my point of view, having worked with MyTutor previously, I was pleased to be able to expand our programme for this academic year, as I’ve seen that the tuition is effective, that it helps students and that – on the whole – they enjoy it.
Because the tutors are university students, they’re closer in age to the pupils than most of their teachers, and this helps them to cultivate almost a sibling relationship. They speak the same language – including emojis – and they’re able to make our pupils feel more relaxed in the tutoring environment. It’s really tapping into something that we otherwise couldn’t offer at school.”
“From my point of view, once we’d got past the initial investment of time in setting up the programme, the day-to-day running was easy. MyTutor were an absolute joy to work with, and offered a great amount of flexibility.
If there were ever any problems, I just had to ring up the MyTutor support line and someone would fix the problem on the spot – that level of responsiveness and human touch shows a real understanding of schools.
My advice to any other schools considering using MyTutor would be to lean into it. If you take steps to really embed the programme – we did an assembly on it, we called and wrote letters home to parents, the Headteacher sent texts to students to remind them of lessons – then you’ll see the true impact.”
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