University of Birmingham School is a school situated on the outskirts of Birmingham. Our “multi-nodal” admissions policy means that our pupil cohort comes from a wide range of areas across the city. We are proud of our diverse intake of pupils, with 36 different ethnic groups represented across the school. 35% of our pupils attract funding for free school meals with 39% eligible for the pupil premium, so our demographic of disadvantaged pupils is above the national average. We are a popular offer for families of children with SEND. 5.3% of our pupils have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP); amongst the highest in the local area and indeed nationally for a mainstream school. Attendance is in line with national, at an average of 96%.
In spite of relatively good engagement with our remote provision, virtual teaching is not the same as face to face. The level of personalisation is far weaker and the ability to rigorously assess what pupils know and understand is more challenging. This has resulted in pupils missing out on sections of the curriculum and misconceptions creeping in. Whilst we are working hard to assess pupils’ needs now they are back in school, time constraints mean it is impossible to recover all of the lost learning.
On the whole, we have been impressed by the resilience and flexibility of our pupils. However, it is noticeable that for some, they have lost their confidence in their academic abilities. The small group nature of the NTP does allow for highly personalised support and an opportunity for tutors to rebuild some of this confidence in those pupils where this has been impacted upon.
Some of us were a little nervous at bringing in external tutors because we were keen to ensure those working with our pupils knew their needs and could meet these best. We’re delighted that this has been our experience!
We have not utilised the use of a tutoring partner previously, primarily because we have conducted tutoring in-house. We employ a Literacy and Numeracy coach, who coordinates and leads the academic interventions we run.
We heard about the NTP through the national media and were keen to explore further the opportunities the NTP may offer.
Since we returned to school in September, it was clear to us that a significant number of our pupils would need additional support. There is a limit to the level of personalisation that remote learning can provide. Hence we knew that we needed to expand the capacity we had in school towards tutoring. The NTP was the natural place to go! Some of us were a little nervous at bringing in external tutors because we were keen to ensure those working with our pupils knew their needs and could meet these best. We were keen to ensure that we had consistent tutors who would really get to know our pupils. We’re delighted that this has been our experience!
The process of searching for and finding tutors was extremely easy and efficient. As soon as the request was submitted to Connex Education Partnership, an online meeting was arranged to discuss our needs. Tutors were organised to attend school within a few weeks of our request.
Connex Education Partnership
We chose Connex as our NTP Tuition Partner because we were keen to ensure our tutors were qualified teachers.
They began working with us in December 2020 in school. We did conduct some remote tutoring in the second home-schooling period, but we have preferred the face to face tutoring because the level of support which can be given is much more effective, personalised and nurturing.
To date, 82 pupils have engaged with our tutors in English and Maths from Years 7 – 10. We are about to engage a Science tutor also. We have had hugely positive feedback from parents and pupils alike. Many have asked to extend their intervention hours. Comments tend to focus on the highly personalised academic support offered as well as the increased confidence the pupils have gained.
“The tutoring was good. It helped me develop mathematics skills that I had forgotten and helped me to understand what I needed to catch up on.”
— Dylan, Year 10