Since 2013, Nesta and the Office for Civil Society have been working in partnership to increase the availability of volunteer-led tutoring within schools, in order to improve the education attainment of disadvantaged pupils. This included backing several innovations through the Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund, and working with partners to develop a schools-led model of volunteer tutoring.
We knew that there was a small but growing number of organisations that provided volunteer-led tutoring to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, in order to increase education attainment. The evidence showed that the approach worked.
At the same time, there is an ever-expanding field of commercial companies using technology to match paid-for tutors with students remotely. It’s a solution that can be cheaper than face-to-face tutoring, have a greater course completion rate and connect highly skilled tutors to students in geographical areas where there is a limited pool of appropriately qualified tutors. But it is less likely to be used by students from a disadvantaged background.
We supported three organisations with a track record of using volunteers to tutor pupils, to develop or expand scalable models of online volunteer-led tutoring.
Across the programme, £376,100 of funding was allocated to three organisations who reached a total of 1,024 students through the testing of their online models supported by 226 volunteer tutors. 47 schools were involved as partners across the fund.
A selection of impacts for each organisation were as follows:
The insights generated through this piloting informed a number of recommendations for policymakers, tuition providers and schools:
- Policymakers should provide further investment and support to help schools make the most of an under-utilised resource: skilled, remote volunteer tutors. This includes support for schools and tuition providers, in particular with accessing and using quality tuition software
- Volunteer tuition providers should explore how online models can be utilised to reach more students but this must be done carefully. The technology must be fit for purpose, strong school partnerships still need to be built and structured user support and training provided, which often requires an in-person element. An important next step is to further understand the differences in impact on outcomes between in-person and online models.
- Schools can help ensure better standards of implementation by allocating specific time to teachers to support such work, and by ensuring the appropriate technology is in place to enable trouble-free tutorials.The Click, Connect...Learn? report describes the work that each grantee undertook, explores their models and how successful they were, and highlights the learning and insights generated.
The Click, Connect...Learn? report describes the work that each grantee undertook, explores their models and how successful they were, and highlights the learning and insights generated.