“As a teacher you know something is working well when pupils are chasing the teachers to want to do it and that’s how it’s been here.”
We were recently funded by The Mercers Company to develop Peer Tutoring programmes with 4 schools in the West Midlands.
Though not involved in the day-to-day running of the programme, I spent a lovely couple of days in August trawling through our evaluation data from this work. Some people don’t like to spend their time looking at data, but reading the feedback from staff and students and the numbers we crunched from the evaluations was a joy.
The evidence we see of the impact of Peer Tutoring – on both Tutor and Tutee is almost always overwhelmingly positive, so for me it isn’t surprising that the ranking of Peer Tutoring on the EEF Toolkit is consistently very high. It currently ranks no. 5 for low cost, high impact, well-evidenced interventions.
We ran the first UFA Peer Tutor training in 1997 – almost 20 years ago! We have honed our programme over the years and it is still the programme most schools ask us about.
In the training itself we explore practical strategies for Peer Tutors which range from putting Dweck’s Growth Mindset into practice in tutoring sessions to exploring motivation and the many and varied reasons why some young people get ‘stuck’ with their learning. Staff are also trained to deliver the programme and to give the vital ongoing support to Peer Tutors as they go about their job.
What struck me from looking at the data from students and staff from this most recent programme was not only the impact on individual students – Tutors gaining in confidence and Tutees improving their reading age – but the impact that the programmes were having beyond the individual, on the quality of relationships and also the impact on the school as a whole. The levels of engagement – of all involved, Peer Tutors, Tutees and Staff – leapt off the page.
There is so much I could share, so here are just some of the highights:
Impact on Peer Tutors
“I have become more tolerant, responsible and patient.”
“My whole family is proud of me that I have earnt the achievement of being a Maths Medic/Peer Tutor.”
“I am better at communicating and being independent.”
“My tutee; at first he was really shy and there was a language barrier – he really left a large impression on me.”
“I’ve learnt how to deal with and overcome problems, reflection for myself, responsibility for others.”
Q: ‘How have you changed’
A: 68% of the students (across primary and secondary) highlighted their growth in confidence.
Q: ‘What 3 things have you learnt?’
A: Resilience is the aspect most frequently cited in responses when considering the data from across the four schools.
Students fed back that the UFA Leadership Characteristics that the course had helped them develop were as follows (ranked in order of importance to the Peer Tutors)
I am Confident
I am Respectful
I am Responsible
I am Curious
I am Ethical
Staff commented on the progression of the Tutors: “…in their academic subjects and having a greater knowledge of how they learn and develop within the classroom.” Another also commented on the impact beyond the tutoring session itself, “The students have developed their confidence not only in the Peer Tutor sessions but with other lessons across the Academy.”
“Pupils are more empathetic towards each other.”
Impact on Tutees:
“The Tutees now feel part of and well integrated into the school, they have someone who they can discuss their issues with and they can tell someone their concerns without fear of consequence or ridicule.”
All staff surveyed rated the impact on student progress as high or very high.
“They (the Peer Tutors) really have developed character, boosted confidence and enabled the Tutees to find themselves in an ever-changing and to some extent new and scary environment.”
“The Tutees have grown and developed academically, some improving their reading age by 3 or more years and are no longer recognised as needing LSA assistance.”
“The Tutees have grown immensely and speak about their tutors like older brothers and sisters.”
“My tutee has learnt to be curious and ask questions.” (PT)
“My tutee has become more confident and can now workout an answer on their own.” (PT)
Impact on staff:
100% of staff ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the training will:
- develop their professional skills & knowledge
- help them build better learning relationships with young people
- help them make an impact on the achievements of young people
- support their career development
All staff commented on the power of letting young people take the lead.
“I have learnt that young people no matter what age are more capable and able than I thought.”
“Taking that step back and putting the responsibility on young people to teach and learn from each other is something I will take forward in all aspects of my working life. Support and guidance is important but allowing young people to take risks and learn from risks is vital.”
Impact on the School(s):
“The culture of leadership has spread across the school.”
“We have now started to look at sharing this practice within the five other schools within the Trust as well as within other subjects.”
“There has been a buzz about the programme. Students want to know how they can get onto the programme or become a Peer Tutor themselves. Parents wanted to know what was happening as well as staff.”
UFA worked with Victoria Park Academy, Reedswood Academy, Willenhall Academy and West Walsall Academy. 60% of Peer Tutors were students who qualified against the ‘ever6’ pupil premium measure. All schools are serving communities with high levels of deprivation.
We’ll be celebrating this work on 16th September at Walsall at the Mayor’s Parlour, 12.30-2.30. If you’d like to come along get in touch with the team on 0121 766 8077.
If you’d like to work with us on developing Peer Tutoring in your school/organisation then do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and we may even have some funding to help reduce your costs.
“confidence is a word that has been used a lot but is probably the biggest personal characteristic that is noticeable in all that have contributed and taken part in the programme. This is something that cannot be achieved by passing an exam it has to grow, develop and be nurtured.”