Be Inspired

TutorMate launched in 22 schools across in London and Bradford last autumn and currently boasts 400 volunteers supporting over 400 children, with plans to expand further across the country in the coming months.

 

Reaching out for reading results

BlB4ScJf_400x400Bradford schools are playing a leading role in an innovative virtual reading initiative designed to help struggling Year 1 students improve their literacy levels.

Seven schools across the city are currently taking part in the national roll-out of TutorMate, an online platform that pairs school pupils with a network of working professionals who have all volunteered their own time to provide reading support.

The brainchild of UK charity Innovations for Learning (IFL), TutorMate sees each professional commit half an hour each week to help pupils practice their reading using a bespoke online platform containing specially selected stories and fun word activities. All the necessary equipment to run the scheme, including laptops, headphones and expert training is provided free to schools in their first year, and at minimal cost thereafter.

TutorMate is the very best kind of ‘edtech’,” explains Emma Bell, Executive Director, International, at IFL.

“It’s fun, engaging and it’s an enabler for meaningful, human interaction. From a schools perspective, it can provide direct literacy support for up to 10 pupils in each Year 1 class, which is ideal for communities where it might be challenging to find enough parents or other volunteers who can commit to physically visiting schools to boost reading.

“The volunteer tutors also find it hugely rewarding and the number of partner organisations looking to add it to their employee engagement portfolios is growing by the day.”

Niela Ahmed, a Year 1 teacher at Horton Grange Primary School, has been using the system since January and is already seeing the benefits in terms of pupil engagement.

“It’s fantastic to see how positive and enthusiastic the children are when the phone calls come in,” she explains. “From the minute the allocated greeter answers, you can feel the excitement in the room as we all wait to find out whose tutor is on the other end of the line.”

And, according to Niela’s fellow Year 1 teacher Amy Rose, the initiative is already showing signs of improving reading attainment levels.

“We obviously have to set the system up in the morning but from that point on, the whole process is pupil-led, which is really empowering for the children,” she says.

“They are definitely working harder in lessons because they want to impress their reading tutor and, as an added bonus, I get a lot of really useful feedback from the tutors about how they feel their pupil is developing. It’s like having 10 new friends helping me in the classroom, which is fantastic.”

TutorMate launched in 22 schools across in London and Bradford last autumn and currently boasts 400 volunteers supporting over 400 children, with plans to expand further across the country in the coming months.

Current UK partner organisations, who contribute volunteers and funding to support the programme, include businesses such as John Lewis, KPMG, Visa, Google, Naylor Wintersgill and Skipton Building Society.

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TutorMate launched in 22 schools across in London and Bradford last autumn and currently boasts 400 volunteers supporting over 400 children, with plans to expand further across the country in the coming months.

 

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