Covid-19, school closures, and what we’re doing about it: your questions answered

Posted 3rd April 2020

Wow. To say it’s been a crazy time over the past month would be a bit of an understatement. With the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world hasn’t seen a crisis of this magnitude since WW2.

It’s also been a time of big change at MyTutor, as we figure out the ‘new normal’ and how we can best support you, our students, and parents, in the midst of all this.

We know that the situation is causing you lots of anxiety, between university closures, exam cancellations and money pressures. That’s why we wanted to give you an update on what’s going on at MyTutor, what we’re doing to protect your work, and what’s next.

  1. Why did you launch the Online School?
  2. How did you select the tutors to be involved? And how can I register my interest?
  3. Will the online school continue after schools open again?
  4. Work with school pupils
  5. My lessons with a pupil have been rescheduled to a totally different time and day from before. What if I can’t make it now?
  6. Will I be able to pick up any new school work now?
  7. Work with private students
  8. Are you still recruiting new tutors?
  9. What are you doing to help get me work?
  10. Keeping updated

1. Why did you launch the Online School?

You might have seen that we’ve recently launched our Online School, a platform that offers daily free live group tutorials in GCSE subjects. We set this up for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, as a way to give some much-needed extra learning support to students while schools are closed – and to the thousands of parents who are now staying at home and having to be much more hands-on with their children’s education. (While also going quietly mad…)

Secondly, as a marketing tool to boost awareness of what we do. In the past, we’ve found that some parents have been reluctant to try online tuition, preferring the traditional ‘face to face’ route. We think that the Online School is a brilliant way to introduce skeptical parents to MyTutor and how online tuition actually works.

We genuinely believe that personalised, one-to-one lessons offer the best possible impact, value and experience. Our aim is that, through the school, they’ll fall in love with the online concept and go on to switch to one-to-one tuition when they’re ready. In fact, we’ve already seen some parents who have used the School coming to us to book one-to-one lessons. Ultimately, our goal is to bring more parents on board – driving more tutorial purchases and more work for you.

At the same time, we feel it’s right that we offer the Online School for free right now, when the country is going through unprecedented challenges – and when so many people could use a helping hand.

2. How did you select the tutors to be involved? And how can I register my interest?

We set up the Online School within a week of hearing the news that schools would be closed. We wanted to launch ASAP with a very basic pilot, and unfortunately that meant that we didn’t have time to run a full recruitment and selection process with all of you.

For the sake of speed, we chose a few tutors to take part, taking into account factors like number of lessons delivered, customer reviews and profile videos. So far, the School has been very much in trial mode, while we tested out the format and gauged demand.

Over the next few weeks and months, as we add more subjects and levels to the timetable, we’ll likely need more of you to help us out by delivering tutorials. If you’re keen to be involved, you can register your interest here by completing this form.

3. Will the Online School continue after schools open again?

At this stage, we’re not 100% sure. There may not be so much need once schools are open again. Or, we may find that it’s still really valuable. We may decide to keep running group tutorials, but limit what’s available free of charge. We’re going to play it by ear, and we’ll let you know.

4. Work with school pupils

Schools have had a huge number of challenges over the past couple of weeks, including setting up online timetables, putting safeguarding in place for vulnerable children, providing meals, and figuring out how to assign exam grades. And all while dealing with staff shortages.

Unfortunately, this state of flux has had a knock-on effect on our tuition programmes and schools’ lessons. We’ve spent the past two weeks speaking with teachers from over 250 schools to figure out the best way to get them back on track and make sure their programmes and learning continue.

We gave the schools a bit of a breather during that time, allowing them to cancel some lessons while they adjusted. Because of the pressure they’re under, and the need for quick decision-making, sometimes this has meant we weren’t able to give a lot of notice before cancelling lessons. And we totally appreciate that this has been inconvenient and worrying for you.

On a positive note, the vast majority of our schools are now starting their programmes again after Easter, so we should be able to restore 70% of lessons to normal running over the next few weeks. In some cases, these programmes may be switching to different pupil year groups. Some schools have also chosen to defer their programmes until September.

5. My lessons with a pupil have been rescheduled to a totally different time and day from before. What if I can’t make it now?

With pupils now mostly staying at home, timetables have shifted around a bit, so unfortunately some pupil slots will have moved.

We know that a lot of you have had lessons cancelled because of this, and we keep a record every time this happens. Once schools have restarted their programmes after the Easter break, where we can, we’ll match you up with a new pupil in the same time slot. Unfortunately we can’t guarantee that we’ll find replacements for every slot, but we will prioritise anyone that’s had a lesson cancelled.

6. Will I be able to pick up any new school work now?

We’re trying our best to keep schools on track with their programmes. But because some schools have deferred until later in the year, there may be less work to go around than usual for this time of year. We’ll let you know if this changes.

7. Work with private students

With schools closing and exams being cancelled, the picture for online learning (and us as a business) has changed massively in the past couple of weeks. In one week, we saw that Google searches for ‘online tuition’ were up by 700%, and this level has remained stable – though overall searches for tutoring have dropped. The market is quite unpredictable at the moment.

As parents are still finding their feet and figuring out what academic support they want for their children, we’re also still building the picture of what demand looks like. For instance, we’ve seen a big jump in parents looking for support for KS2 and KS3, while demand for GCSE has remained strong, and A-Level has dropped off slightly.

Overall, the biggest change is that parents are now actively looking for online tutoring, rather than face-to-face, which we believe will have a really positive impact on adoption of our solution in the short and long term.

8. Are you still recruiting new tutors?

No, we’ve now closed applications, because we want to make sure that you’re getting as much work as possible. We won’t open this up again until there’s more work available.

9. What are you doing to help me get work?

We’re completely focused on getting you as much work as we possibly can. Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Hitting the phones hard, with our Sales team working 250+ hours per week to bring in new customers
  • Making improvements to the platform to make it easier for parents to book (and keep booking) lessons
  • Boosting our marketing presence on Google and social media with ads
  • Working with influencers and building partnerships with the likes of Mumsnet and Nextdoor
  • Opening up new categories for tuition, including KS2 – and getting resources up and running to help you teach confidently at that level
  • Getting PR coverage in national and local press so that parents know about us – including on BBC London and the Daily Express

10. Keeping updated

We understand that it might have felt like we’ve gone a bit AWOL over the past couple of weeks, and haven’t been sharing our plans with you in advance. And we’re sorry for any worries that’s caused.

The simple truth is that the coronavirus situation has thrown us for a loop just as much as it has the rest of the country. Our whole team is now working from home; we’ve had to figure out new ways of working, update all of our messaging to reflect parents’ new needs, and quickly put plans in place to support 250+ schools, and our students and parents too.

This has been a huge undertaking, so we haven’t always had the time to respond to queries and keep you updated. Hopefully we’re over the worst of the upheaval now and can look forward to getting back to normal.

We want you to know that we’re trying our hardest to protect your work and keep you tutoring. Here’s a reminder of ways to get in touch with us:

Email: support@mytutor.co.uk
Phone: 0203 773 6024

We’ll answer your questions as soon as we can – but just ask that you bear with us through this difficult patch, as we might be slower than usual with replies.

Stay safe and well, and we’ll get through this!

Note: This post was updated on Tuesday 7th April at 11:08am, to reflect the latest news and changes from MyTutor HQ.

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