What we've learnt about delivering tuition online

What we've learnt about delivering tuition online

We’ve just finished our first ever month of online delivery, and it has been a really interesting process of development and problem-solving.

Posted by Freya Rowland on 3 June 2020

We have been working in partnership with West London Zone who have facilitated the programmes, engaging with schools and pupils through their Link Worker members of staff who have strong relationships in each school with the pupils and SLT staff.

We’re incredibly pleased with how things are going so far, and we’d like to share a few things that have worked well.

  • Low tutor:pupil ratio: We’ve found that online tuition brings some new challenges compared to face-to-face delivery when it comes to the maximum number of pupils possible in each group, for reasons including bandwidth and limitations around what functions pupils can use on online platforms simultaneously. In response to such challenges, we’ve reduced our average tutor:pupil ratio from 1:3 to 1:2. We’re able to deliver a tutor-to-pupil ratio that is lower than our norm because we’re working with a relatively low number of pupils at the moment and there is a relatively high level of tutor availability (our experienced volunteers are keen to help now more than ever, and mass working-from-home plus the non-existent travel times required for online tutoring mean our tutors are more available to help). In preparation for Autumn, we are expecting to run many more online programmes and so will be pushing to recruit lots of new tutors to maintain this low tutor-to-pupil ratio for online programmes. You can find the link to our tutor recruitment application form here.

  • High pupil engagement: It’s been wonderful to see just how well pupils have engaged with their online tuition: across our traditional face-to-face programmes, average effort has been rated 4.5 out of 6 by tutors; during last month’s online tuition, average pupil engagement was rated 5.8 out of 6, a near perfect rating! We are surveying our pupils to find out more about why this is, but we think that it is a combination of several factors, including: 

    • The support of West London Zone Link Workers in encouraging pupils and parents to maintain commitment to the programme. This is something that we recognise is invaluable and on our normal programmes with schools we ask a member of staff to take on the role of School Coordinator to provide this kind of support.

    • The high level of attention that pupils receive in their small tutoring groups

    • The level of experience, commitment and creativity that our volunteer tutors are bringing to their teaching

    • The fun activities our tutors are building into their sessions, for example including mini-games in between learning activities; 

    • And finally, the ways in which these online tuition sessions are plugging some of gaps in the pupils’ lives at the moment, providing live teaching, support and help, an opportunity to meet new people, and peer-to-peer interaction

  • Technology: We’ve been delivering the majority of our online tuition sessions through the Bramble platform, chosen following extensive consideration of safeguarding requirements for working with pupils online, and we have also delivered a small number of sessions using Microsoft Teams. We made and shared a “Parents’ guide to Bramble”, taking parents through the sign-up and log-in process step-by-step. Once they had successfully logged on for the first time, even our youngest pupils have been able to use Bramble with ease. The snapshot function is particularly useful: pupils have been able to take photos of their writing or their workings out and upload it to the online whiteboard, over which tutors can write annotations and feedback. We’ve also been really pleased to be able to upload our existing lesson resources to Bramble easily, so that we can continue to support pupils with our tried and tested curriculum resources that we have developed. Some challenges remain, for example where pupils have weaker internet connections, and West London Zone have been working to support pupils with things like new wifi boxes. We are also planning how to ensure technology runs smoothly when delivering remotely with pupils in school, considering processes like gaining platform consent and carrying out firewall checks.

It has been a great first month, and we would like to thank West London Zone for all their support in facilitating our delivery. We look forward to developing our online and remote programme offers further, and hope to support many more schools and pupils in the near future.