I take the lead on online learning at our school, and as part of this I’m overseeing the Third Space Learning sessions through the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). With schools partially closed, the majority of their Third Space Learning sessions are taking place from pupils’ homes.
Our school is in a more economically deprived area of the country. We have a high number of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium and Free School Meals.
With the effects of lockdown and the move to remote learning due to the pandemic we have seen a huge lack of access to technology and to Wi-Fi. We have some families that have three students at the school and only one laptop between them. Even if the students have a laptop, they still might be in a relatively distracting environment or not able to work to the best of their ability.
We have used tutoring before Covid-19 hit and the NTP was available. Last term we had some funding to deliver catch up tutoring after school; mostly maths and a bit of reading. We’ve been doing a lot of work with the funding we are receiving to help accelerate our pupils’ learning.
When we heard about the subsidised tutoring from the NTP, we decided to go with Third Space Learning because we’d actually used them in the past. It was something we knew, we were comfortable with running and we knew had impact. We expected another lockdown after Christmas, and we wanted to invest in a platform that could be delivered from home as well as in school.
We had highlighted a group of students that were behind where they should be in maths. They weren’t necessarily all lower ability, we have some that were top of the class. We have a whole mix of abilities that are using tutoring from Third Space Learning.
For us it’s about whether they were behind where we believe they should be in terms of their personal maths attainment. The fact we can support a range of abilities is great, and this has been made more accessible by the NTP.
Experience with Third Space Learning during lockdown
Initially, when Third Space Learning was organised back in November, the plan was for the pupils to be in school using the school laptops. We have two sessions a week; 12 kids on one day and 14 on the other.
When lockdown was announced in December, I phoned parents about doing the sessions from home. It was helpful because I could explain to them what Third Space Learning is, how they work and what their child will need for each session. Third Space Learning also sent out an instructional video which I shared with parents which was helpful.
Luckily, we’ve only had to send out one or two additional laptops. Third Space Learning also sent us some more headsets when we requested them. Now, about a quarter of those kids are actually in school using a school laptop and the rest are doing their sessions from home.
Accessing tuition from home has worked really well. I have to admit, better than I expected! There was obviously some work to do with the parents to get them to log in at the right time and remember their password but now that it is set up, there is very little work to do. I sometimes sit there for an hour and observe their sessions. It’s been helpful, and it’s definitely enjoyed by the kids.
So far, we’ve had two weeks of tutoring and four sessions in total. Attendance has been great. This week, for the Tuesday session we had all but one of the children join and for the second group every child attended!
The children really enjoy it. The year fours really, really love it. Some kids who we wouldn’t expect to excel in tutoring with Third Space Learning are doing really well and are really enjoying it. It’s a new way of learning that gels with them.
Kids are constantly asking when their tutoring sessions are happening. They seem to really enjoy it, and the one-to-one element is really nice. If you were to say ‘we’re about to do maths’ a lot of them would groan, but this is maths disguised as something else and the content is really engaging.
I would absolutely recommend Third Space Learning to other schools and I’m confident it will have a positive impact on our pupils.
Advice for other schools
I would advise other schools to take advantage of the NTP. You can get a lot more bang for your buck by utilising it. We know additional learning is needed due to Covid-19 and students not being in a school environment, so the NTP seems like an obvious choice.
Will Marsburg is the Head of Online Learning at Morland Primary School, Ipswich, Suffolk. Morland Primary School is using NTP Tuition Partner Third Space Learning.