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Love Tutoring Festival Late Night Live Podcast Transcript – Being an NTP Tutor, with Ludo, Linda Larbi, Hazel Barnett and Jolyon White

[Ludo] – Ludo Millar

[Linda] – Linda Larbi

[Hazel] – Hazel Barnett

[Jolyon] – Jolyon White

***

[Ludo]

Hello and welcome to our final Late Night Live Podcast of the Love Tutoring Festival 2021. I can’t really believe that we have got to Thursday evening already. What a journey we’ve been on as a team and as a cohort of attendees over the past four days. We have learnt a great deal from the SEND and mental health specialists on the Monday, from the business, small business experts on the Tuesday, from the teaching and learning powerhouses and masterminds of education on the Wednesday, to the NTP leaders and those that have made it happen today, on Thursday the 1st of July. We have learnt a huge amount. I am your host tonight, Ludo Millar, and this evening I will be joined by Linda Larbi, Hazel Barnett and Jolyon White. 

Now as a brief introduction to the three of our guests this evening, Linda is a university researcher at the Institute of Education at UCL, has recently completed an MSc in Child Development and is a tutor with Manning’s Tutors, coordinating their efforts with partner schools as part of the NTP. Linda is also, excitingly, leading our very first gratitude circle tomorrow morning on Friday the 2nd of July from 9 til 10 am BST. So watch out for that.

Hazel has been in the tutoring game for longer than most tutors that we’ve come across. Hazel is an active and engaged community member and draws on her MEd in Maths Education and Dyslexia to find solutions to every issue, concern and query for both students and fellow tutors. So thank you for joining us here, Hazel.

Our final guest for this evening is Jolyon White. Jolyon is a tutor, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a former Honorary Research Associate at UCL and a science whizz who ably connects the real world with learning for his students. I, myself, am lucky enough to have worked alongside Jolyon in the last few months and we are all lucky that he is here tonight to contribute his experiences and knowledge of the NTP. Both from a tutor’s perspective and as someone with their head above the parapet, shall we say. 

So, all are excellent tutors, NTP or otherwise, in their own right and that’s why they are here this evening. So, welcome the three of you to this evening. I’m gonna kick off this evening with one of our favourite questions, and Hazel, I’m gonna start with you here. That question is, drum roll, what is your ‘why’ as a tutor, Hazel?

[Hazel]

Number one is to try to dismantle the barriers to learning, that goes back to my work as a SENCo, Special Educational Needs Coordinator, and you know, helping to make their learning accessible to the students. To make a difference after lockdown, complement what schools are doing and to build confidence by teaching in the way children learn and encourage them to be reflective learners.

[Ludo]

Very good.

[Hazel]

That’s my ‘why’.

[Ludo]

Three why’s! Jolyon?

[Jolyon]

Well I’m the fame, in the words of Douglas Adams, I’m a great fan of science. And, as such, I’m a missionary. I want to convey that love of science to young people so that they can see how it affects them, how it fits into their lives. I mean, my introduction covered that perfectly. I try all the time when I’m tutoring, to bring my science into the real world and that way, I hope that students will realise it’s not frightening. It’s not mysterious. Well, it is mysterious but it’s accessible. They can get to it, they can do it like any other subject. So that would be my why and I guess, like a lot of teachers, I’m fairly extrovert and it satisfies that extroversion in me to have that communication and that contact time with students. It’s a lot of fun.

[Ludo]

And being on podcasts, yes?

[Jolyon]

And being on podcasts, yeah. That works perfectly, even better. You’ll have to press the mute button every now and again, Ludo, to shut me up, okay?

[Ludo]

[LAUGHS] Linda, can I turn to you? Can you try and follow that answer from Jolyon?

[Linda]

I’ll try! My why is certainly just helping the next generation. This generation of children growing up now, as with every generation, they’re facing different issues and some of the same issues that children have faced as they’re growing up. And, I was lucky enough, and I will talk more about this in the gratitude circle tomorrow, but I was lucky enough to have amazing tutors and teachers in my life and I think they really instilled in me the sort of, qualities that a good tutor would have. So, I’m sort of, passing that on to those generations. And I’ve really enjoyed being involved with education, I used to be a teaching assistant for around four years. And that, that inspired me to do my Masters in Child Development. Then, I think, naturally I came into tutoring just wanting to get even more involved with this generation, and supporting them in the way they need.

[Ludo]

Very good, wonderful. Well there’s a great spread of why’s there, and it’s always, I feel, a great start to conversation to kind of, to lay down the perspectives of our speakers ahead of us. So thank you for those answers from the three of you. Now, this conversation, the title of this podcast is Being an NTP Tutor. And, today, we’ve heard a great deal of conversation about the NTP, about what’s gone right and what’s, perhaps, not gone quite so well. And the impact it may have, the findings from the first year and a little bit about legacy that the NTP could have going into future years. But what I want to start with, the three of you tonight, being tutors on the frontline, as it were, of the NTP. Is what in your view, what has gone well in, with regards to the NTP? What has the NTP done well? Jolyon, can I start with you?

[Jolyon]

Yes, it’s done a lot of things well. It’s brought tutoring to the forefront, it’s given it a place in the public’s eye that it never had before. It has gone to some extent to breaking down the concept that it’s a middle-class stroke high-net-worth activity, it’s gone to some extent to break that down. And I don’t want to move onto the negatives because your question is what it’s done well. And I think the other thing, that we haven’t really appreciated yet is the fact that it has addressed the structural problems of when you start to try and tutor tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of children, students. That have never been tutored before. It’s revealed those structural problems, and the agencies in all their different ways, have attempted to address this. So there is, if we can ever bring that together, there is a wealth of understanding between those agencies of how to get tutors in front of students. How to work with schools and tutors together. So in those things, it’s opened that whole can of worms. I don’t think it’s solved it yet, I think there’s a long way to go before it’s solved it and I think there’ll be structural changes within schools if tutoring is to continue. There’ll have to be for it to integrate properly. But just at the moment it’s opening that up as a possibility.

[Ludo]

Hazel, do you, are you inclined to agree with what Jolyon has put forth there?

[Hazel]

Absolutely. Yes, the things that I wrote down are it’s raising the profile of tutoring as a profession. But I think linking tutors with school in a more intentional way is, is wonderful. I agree that it’s got a long way to go cause, you know, the amount of administration and connection that is needed, you know, it’s huge. And we’re just at the beginning of the process. But if tutoring could be integrated in our education system in a whole new way through the National Tutoring Programme, I think that would be a wonderfully positive step forward for education.

[Ludo]

Yeah, I think it’s that language of next steps forward is I think, pretty central here. Because I don’t think that anyone predicted that the first year of the NTP was going to be a rip roaring success and kind of, in the language of the NTP itself I don’t think anyone believed that it was going to catch up all the students in year 1. I think just as Jolyon and you have been saying, Hazel, it’s about starting that process of deploying tutors. Or starting that process of making use of tutors because we know that tutoring is effective and that’s really the bottom line. Tutoring is an effective way to educate children. So, Linda, I hope I haven’t put words into your mouth. What were your thoughts on this? What were your thoughts on what the NTP has done well this year?

[Linda]

I would definitely echo Jolyon and Hazel in that there are teething issues with it, but I, in the most positive ways I think the NTP has helped these children where there’s been massive disruption to their education and even with these teething issues there’s been a lot of connectivity. I’ve had students that have never talked to each other in school before, actually, you know, starting to interact,  not just in my lessons but outside of my lesson. And I think that has been, you know, not exactly a goal of the NTP but definitely been a positive. And I just think, the support that is being offered by these tutors is better than having nothing at all. So, I think there has been an effort to catch up and to help these students to, you know, reach certain goals and to bridge this gap. That the pandemic has caused. But I do feel that it’s definitely been a step in the right direction. There’s a lot of different things that are yet to come and we need to work on these things. But, in terms of just being a support and being there, I think it’s probably the most positive thing to come out of the NTP.

[Ludo]

Yeah, and I’m gonna go back to you for this point, Linda, as well. Did you feel that when you began as an NTP tutor you felt that your role was going to be more academic focussed or more kind of, pastoral support focussed? Was there any inclination that you were going to be doing more of one than the other?

[Linda]

So, I think going in, like many tutors, I had in my head that this was purely academic. There’s a gap, and you know, there’s been a whole pandemic, these children are behind. Some children didn’t engage much with their online teaching in schools already. So, I understood it as you know, helping to bridge the gap that has been created by the pandemic. But, the more I got into it, and the conversations that I had with my tutees, sort of, in my lessons, even though it was solely a lesson on say science, or English, there has been a lot pastoral things crop up. So, you know, I try not to make my lessons solely another classroom lesson, and I’ve talked to you Ludo about this before you know. Asking how they are and really meaning it, because without that and without them being ready to learn, not a lot is gonna go in and you’re not gonna have, you know, a lot of you know, knowledge to build off of if they’re not ready to learn in the first place. So the first ten minutes ish, whilst everyone’s filtering into the lesson is very much how are you, the icebreakers that I normally have in my lessons and just gently getting into the flow of learning. So I think now, you know, it is a mixture of both.

[Ludo]

Jolyon, would you say that your expectations of what your role was going to be at the start, do you think those were borne out?

[Jolyon]

Yes, they were. I mean, I’ve taught in classroom, I’ve taught science in secondary schools and I think the problems go back way before the pandemic. The pandemic has simply high-lit different difficulties and issues. I think we’re running schools with classes that are very large, and we’re running classes of thirty five, even in some cases forty children in a class with a single teacher. And with the best will in the world, you’re gonna be doing a lot of crowd control in there. Now, there are outstanding teachers and they do survive and they do teach and some students come out of that well. But, you know, if a student misses something in a class that size the chances of catching up without some small group teaching in there to support is very unlikely they’re gonna catch up. I had three students this morning that I was tutoring and their initial activity, I said, do you like science? [IN] I’ve never taught them before. No, we don’t like science. Okay, why don’t you like science? What is it about it that you don’t like? The teacher goes too fast. Well, the teacher’s got no choice, they’ve got a curriculum to do, they’ve got a timetable to hit, they’ve got a, they’ve gotta hit particular deadlines because that’s what the national curriculum says that they must hit. These students are expected to get something between four and six at GCSE, and yet, talking to them for ten minutes or so, you know damn well they’re capable of getting six, seven eight even, with a little bit of proper teaching. You know they are, they’re not stupid. Nothing about them is stupid. But I think those, those problems were there intrinsically in the system before. The pandemic has stimulated the government to try and do something dramatic, and they’ve picked on tutoring to do that and I think that’s wonderful. I think absolutely the right thing. I don’t even call it tutoring, I call it small group teaching, ‘cause that’s what it is. I’m not teaching single students one to one. I’m teaching groups of three normally. And that’s perfect. I like that. But I think, I think that’s that’s where we’re coming from. What we’re doing I think is we’re making a step actually in the right direction for education. Yes, we need them in big groups for somethings and we need good teachers who can do that. But we also need to get them down into small groups and deal with their individual, personal needs. Rather than thinking of them as just, you know, just meat going through a sausage machine. That that that that’s where I’m coming from and that’s why I don’t teach big groups any more in a classroom, I teach small groups ‘cause I can do a hell of a lot more. I can teach a group of three, I can’t teach a group of forty, I’m not good enough.

[Ludo]

Well, you have a different skill set, exactly.

[Jolyon]

I have a different personality.

[Ludo]

Yeah, Hazel, what what what kind of group sizes were you tutoring? Were you tending to be one on one or were you tending to be small group/ [IN]

[Hazel]

In the past, you know, going back years and years from when I started in 1991 and when we changed tutoring, it was always one to one, so this small group tutoring is a whole new dynamic for me and to be quite honest, the first time when I had three students I had never met before I felt absolutely terrified. And, you know, so they were confident with the technology and they didn’t have their cameras on and so I had to rely on voices and they were from a school in Sheffield. One of them had moved from London, she was easily discernible but the other two, I just had two Sheffield accents from girls and I didn’t know which one was which, you know. I found it really hard and there were technical problems to do with the company. They’d got the wrong link, they’d been sent the wrong link so they were coming in under the name of the company owner and nobody could sort this link problem. So, you know, there were all sorts of technical things going on and we tried to manage Bramble and one of this, so you know, the first few sessions I was just, you know, really anxious beforehand I must say. I’ve got some groups of three, some year eights in one of the schools I’m working in at the moment and they’re just absolutely lovely. They work well together and in the past I’ve done class teaching in school so I’ve used that as well and the middle-sized group for literacy support. So, I suppose I’ve done all different sizes but I’m getting used to the triple, yeah. I think with the one to one, I do like the one to one so I’ve kind of feel I’ve got a more of a sense of it, so I like to you know, get to know them one on one but if the, if the person is very shy and awkward and I feel awkward that can feel very tense. So sometimes having the slightly larger numbers slightly diffuses it a bit. Unless they’re a bit tricky, like one of them says the other one wants to smash me in the face and you’ve got no camera so you can’t see if anyone has smashed anyone in the face because they’re being, just being you know a bit cheeky and they’re in the school setting in that case so I say, have you got a teacher there watching you? Anyway, so yeah it’s been a huge steep learning curve but I’m glad I’ve persevered with it actually. It’s a whole new type of career for me, teaching online.

[Ludo]

Yeah, I mean, I would challenge anyone, yeah exactly as Hazel says, to have learnt as much and as quickly about online tutoring as Hazel has. Especially given that Hazel’s been in the education sphere for so long.

[Hazel]

Three different platforms I’ve had to teach on.

[Ludo]

I mean, yeah, learning one is enough. So, kind of, on that theme, Linda, I’m gonna turn to you here. The theme of what you have learnt off the back of the NTP. Whether that was because of the NTP or because online tutoring was coming, was forced upon us anyway. What skills have you learnt as a tutor through your work during the NTP, Linda?

[Linda]

I would definitely say, you know, I don’t know if this would quite be a skill, but finding out what these children actually need help with. So, sort of investigative skills, I guess. Because even if the school has provided certain guidance, the children are very honest with what they are struggling with and what they’d like to do in the next lesson. So you know, I’ve sort of had to breakdown certain lessons and rearrange certain things and get reorganised, in order to teach these children the specific things that they’d like to actually get help with. Because a lot of the time, I guess, schools give out this guidance and sometimes they don’t give any out at all but the children are very honest with, you know, things that they’d like to work on. So, it’s a lot of chopping and changing sometimes, a lot of finding extra things or thinking on the spot. You know. Different ways that you can explain something, different forms of media that you could use and, you know, just working on the spot and being able to chop or change as, as is required really.

[Ludo]

Yeah, yeah exactly, so on that same theme. Jolyon, working on the spot, having to be responsive in the moment in these sessions because they’re probably unlike any other sessions that tutors have had before. And you’ve just mentioned there one tip that you’ve had about students with their camera off. How have you found that kind of completely different atmosphere and vibe to these sessions than there has been probably before in your tutoring or teaching career?

[Jolyon]

The first session, the first session I had with no camera. I was working with Bramble. Bramble does have a video facility but it only works on certain devices and the students on the whole have equipment that it too cheap for it to work. So they don’t have video, so normally, with Bramble, you’re working without. First time I had it, bit disconcerting, and disconcerting, partly because you know, as you say, you don’t have to be afraid to ask who’s speaking but you know, you don’t even know from their names nowadays, or I don’t because I’m not that multicultural enough, I don’t know from their names whether they’re girls or boys.

[Hazel]

I’ve had that.

[Jolyon]

When they’re year 9, you know, the or even year 10 sometimes, it’s quite tricky to tell. When they get to year 11 it’s easier but year 9 and 10 it’s a bit tricky. So, again, you’ve gotta get over this, you’ve just gotta get over it and say who answered that question? Who’s speaking and you know, if you say right okay, you were out playing football today, okay, and one of them says, well I’m a girl, I don’t play football. My answer to that is, well why not? Everybody should be playing football nowadays in my opinion. But you know what I mean, you may ask a gender-based question and the answer comes back a bit odd. But again you’ve got to get over it, you’ve just got to not be afraid to ask are you a boy or are you a girl? You know, who am I talking to? And and you just get over it. If you need to. Otherwise just treat them the same, so yes it is a bit odd and you don’t get the emotional feedback, sorry you don’t get the visual emotional feedback and that, and that again, there is a whole bit of signalling. But you know, but if you were a blind teacher and there are plenty of those around, you’d have to cope without visual signals. So you just learn to do it. And you do have to ask a lot of questions, you know. There was a thump this morning during my, during my tutorial session that I was doing and I said, what’s happened? Oh, somebody’s come over and kicked him. Well okay, alright, fair enough, has the teaching assistant just left the room by any chance? Yes. Oh right, okay. Is he alright? Yeah he’s okay. Is he gonna come back online. Yes he is. He’s gone over to kick him and take his microphone. Right then, okay fair enough, now come back. Okay, he’s back now, he’s plugged in he can hear you he can speak to you now. Previously his microphone was messing around so he was sharing a microphone with the guy next to him. God knows about social distancing, I have no idea what was going on with that but you know what I mean. This is the kind of thing, you just have to relax and get into it and get into the swing. And then you start bringing your stuff in, your your, you know, your wow factor stuff in your science and try and get them to interact. You do, I think, without visual have to get a lot more back from them. They’ve got to participate because otherwise you’ve got no idea what they’re doing, you know, and if you’re not getting regular feedback you don’t get it, so you can’t go into lecture mode. And that is something I have learnt really, learnt to do, you know, in a tutorial situation where there’s no camera. Other than that you just get on with it, just do it.

[Ludo]

Yeah, I guess it’s difficult to be responsive to a student, isn’t it? When you can’t see them because we get so much from the visual cues of a learner. Hazel?

[Hazel]

And you don’t know, well I’ve learnt you can do clever things with google but you don’t if you’re setting them a task, and they’re doing a little bit of independent work. You don’t know if it’s their work, you don’t know which one has actually produced the work, you can’t see whether they’re looking at each other’s. Not that that really matters in these early days, with this school from Sheffield, you just have to think on the spot. What on earth am I going to do? I didn’t completely master the voices but I, on Bramble I just assigned a different pen colour to them all. So we just started to do some tasks. So I said, so and so, it’s your turn you write something on this graph or this shape, now it’s your turn with this colour. So I had to kind of, do it that way, to distinguish by the colours then that they are working on the Bramble notebook. You just have to think on your feet and come up with good ideas on the spur of moment but yeah. Yes, it’s all good fun.

[Ludo]

Linda, any good ideas that have come to you on the spur of the moment that you, that come to you?

[Linda]

In terms of technology?

[Ludo]

Yeah, just in terms of ways you’ve just reacted in the moment on the NTP programme.

[Linda]

I guess, you know in terms of Bramble, you’re it’s sort of like a big whiteboard so, a lot of the time, if there is a misunderstanding on a topic, especially in biology, I end up drawing. Drawing it out. And relating it to something that the kids sort of, are familiar with. So, I guess there was a time, I think it was a biology lesson, we were talking about covalent bonds and I was trying to get across that it’s a bond formed with where there’s a sharing of electrons. And there was, there was just no, nothing going in to this child. So, I used the example and I literally drew out some stick children and I was saying, you know, if this was your friend you share your sweets with them and then it might strengthen your friendship, it might strengthen your bond. That was very in the moment, very out there, I was even thinking in my head, is he even gonna relate this to chemistry but he did get it in the end.

[Ludo]

I hope we will never see this whiteboard as well.

[Linda]

I hope no-one ever will because I was really bad at drawing those sweets and children! 

[Ludo]

Okay, so there’s a skill you learnt. How to react with stick children and sweets in the moment. Jolyon, I’m sure you’ve found yourself relating covalent bonds to funny kind of real world problems in the past.

[Jolyon]

Yeah, I mean I’ve probably covered it slightly, I mean, I think Linda was saying she was trying to fit this into a biology lesson? I didn’t quite hear. Or was it chemistry? 

[Linda]

I think I might have said biology but I meant chemistry … !

[Jolyon]

You meant chemistry, right I was gonna say, suddenly trying to bring covalent bonding ‘cause you’ve got a gap in biology is a fairly familiar one because you’re busy doing one subject you find they haven’t picked up something from the other so you have to jump sciences. Yes. You do and you’ve got this lovely powerpoint on the side that you’re busy hooking images over into Bramble as you go along and then suddenly you realise it’s not going in anymore. So what I do is, I do a lot of assessment, formative assessment, during the, during the lesson. I think this is really important when you haven’t got a visual cue. And you’ve got to try and involve all three of them in the formative assessment and then you’ve got to be prepared to say oh stuff the rest of the powerpoint, we’re going over to drawing. The one tip I’d have, and this isn’t just with Bramble, this is with any of the platforms is, don’t have one device. You know. Have your laptop, like we have now, but on the side, also log in your your tablet. And don’t log it in with sound, log it in with no sound and then and then and then and then use that as your drawing platform. So you put the whiteboard up on that and you start drawing. And that makes a big difference. Now we’re taught that when we’re using Bramble, but a lot of people set up on Team and Zooms are sitting there trying to draw with the touchpad on the computer or with the mouse and it’s very difficult to do.

[Ludo]

I’d say actually, over the 18 months I’ve been tutoring online, I have actually got quite good at drawing with the trackpad but it’s never better than using one of the graphic tablets. Hazel, thank you for showing us, proudly showing us yours there. I think it’s very important to know that that most of the NTP tuition this year was online and that tutors who began thinking that they would be going into schools and working in little kind of break out rooms, but physical breakout rooms in schools, then realised that they were going to be moving online. That was always, that was part of, you know, some of the NTP tuition partners knew that they were going to be doing it online all the way through and some believed that they would be going into schools and then were forced to move online. So there’s certainly been a lot that NTP tutors have had to learn very quickly, and coupled with the fact that, as we’ve talked about you know, these are children who would never have normally received tuition. And who’s parents would never have understood really or never have accessed tuition before, it’s not something that has been in the family, there’s not great understanding about it. And all of these factors mean that when these students, and the schools, and these tutors were thrown together to kind of come up with a solid learning plan on the spur of the moment, it was incredibly hard. And I don’t think we can underestimate just how hard you know, at its foundations, that was.

So, certainly, you know, if we start kind of creeping into this territory of oh, you know this happened, this happened, this happened. That’s simply because that was the base nature of this but, I would like to look ahead to the next, to the future years of the NTP. Because we know now that this is not gonna be a one year programme, and that this programme will move into it’s second and it’s third and it’s fourth years and eventually its likely to be phased out such that the schools who wish to keep those partnerships in place do so. But Hazel, looking to the future of of the NTP, do you think that that the model should be altered or do you think that the model works as it is, it just needs a couple of year of practice?

[Hazel]

I think the model needs to be altered, I think that particularly, there has been low attendance in in in in lots of classes I’ve had from lots of tutors. And I was in the group session earlier with Sharon Cawley. And StJohn something, some very important people, talking about timing of so much going on in Secondary after school. Really, I do one and a half hours from 3.15-4.45pm. And that’s a big ask of students if they’re tired from school and then they’ve got homework and they vote with their feet unfortunately. And apparently this is quite a common phenomenon and then person who was talking, I think it was Sharon, I know it was one of the guys as well, saying it needs to be integrated into the whole schools system. It would be much better to take, it’s hard to take people out of lessons but one of the guys said he takes them out of half of PE you get this [IN] But I think yeah, the nature of what we said was fine for the day and that kind of thing needs looking at but yeah. I think the basic model’s okay but I think the communication between schools, agencies and tutors would be, could be improved. But I know it’s been man power and getting the right people but one of the good things that came out of this session earlier, very this lady Sharon, very enthusiastically said, if you want a liaison person between tutor and school, don’t go for the headteacher or the SENCo or people that are over busy. Get a TA or a Class Teacher who really has got a vision for it and the time and the motivation to chase the children up and and inspire and encourage them to go the sessions. And I thought that was a really good point, someone who’s got the time and the enthusiasm to inspire the children, yeah this is a really important part of your education, I think all the different bits are a bit precarious and they’ve all got to work right at the same time. And it has got potential but I think the timings in the day do need looking at.

[Ludo]

Yeah, absolutely, Jolyon?

[Jolyon]

I see it in two ways. I see an evolution, which is at the micro-scale where we need to improve the system, the way it’s working. So compliance, attendance is a really big issue. Tutoring does not work if you never get in front of the students, that has to be dealt with. And there are two sides to that. One is getting the link to the school improved and that’s absolutely right, I totally think that is at the moment, not good, the interface between the agencies and the schools is not sufficiently good. A very simple way of getting tutoring to to to work, to get the compliance sorted, is to make tutoring homework and whatever disciplinary process you’ve got for homework you apply to tutoring. You don’t turn up, you didn’t attend, bang, C2 or whatever it is you give. I mean in my school, in my child’s school that’s absolutely automatic. He doesn’t do his homework he gets a C2, bang, straight away. No messing. And it’s gotta be done on time and handed in and if he doesn’t do it again he’ll get another C2, and if he doesn’t do it again he’ll be getting a C3 and he’ll be having an evening detention. So, if you built it into that system then it’s fine. I’m not convinced about the kids being too tired at the end of the day, some of them yes, obviously, but they didn’t go to bed early enough the night before and that is a problem with this particular constituency of students, they are tired when they arrive and basically they’re running in the morning on caffeine and by the afternoon they’re probably getting very very tired indeed. But we need, that’s another problem that we need to solve. It’s another thing to address and the tutoring has to address that. So there’s the micro-scale and that’s evolutionary and the NTP can play a very important role in that. But I also happen to believe that there is something that is revolutionary and that is bringing small group teaching into the children’s lives. And I don’t think it has to happen in school and I think it can happen earlier. I mean, German kids don’t go to school at nine o’clock or whatever, they go to school at seven. So, we can do a little bit in the morning and I’m getting work coming through asking for morning tutoring. And they can work later in the evening a little bit you know, they can go into seven o’clock, I mean, come off the Xbox, you know. You don’t need to go straight on the TV when you walk home, you’re on a computer, right well have half an hour, an hour of tuition. Maybe an hour’s the wrong interval? Maybe we should be doing a few 45 minute sessions and maybe when they are in year 11 we should be doing some hour and a half sessions, I don’t know. But we need to bring that in and then we need to be doing, in the classrooms or in the school setting the things that can only be done there.

So yeah, we can’t do physical education online, no we can’t do it, we can’t do practicals online very well, they have to be done in a laboratory. We can’t do field trips or maybe we should be putting tutors on field trips to help, I don’t know. But we don’t generally do field trips. So again, those things have to be done through the school. But, you know, once the basic outline of the curriculum has been presented to the student, can the school not then interface with students and say look, please, will you make sure these students have reached this point? By whatever road you need to take them through to get them there but we want them at this point. And then as tutors we can have the flexibility to use our skill and our creativity. To take those students, those three students, from where they are and their understanding at that point to where the teacher wants them for the next session. And I think that’s the way it has to be going forward. So it’s much more like a university model going forwards of lecture, seminar and tutorial. And I think we need to have the hierarchy but when you start doing that you’re starting to talk about having to redesign the physical structure of schools you know. They don’t need, the classrooms have to be different they have to be more like lecture theatres. And how you staff them becomes different, you probably need more TAs, I don’t know. Quite how it’s all going to work out I don’t know, I don’t have the answers to everything but I do think the education system we had. We have. Is already creaking. It is not broken yet. It’s creaking. And I think we need to rethink it. Especially as we go forward, having to educate children for a world that we don’t even know what it’s gonna look like. So these children have got to be, as we were learning a couple of days ago from Ian’s talk. We’ve got to make them creative thinkers, they’ve got to be able to think their way out of problems and we’ve got to help them do that. But I don’t think chalk and talk and, you know, sausage machine education is the way to go anymore. I don’t think it ever was really, to be honest. 

[Ludo]

Yeah. Linda, how do you see the NTP? The attitude of the NTP, kind of, moving forward?

[Linda]

I think, like, to echo Hazel and Jolyon, there is a lot of teething issues with the NTP. Moving forward there has to be some sort of plan in place for things like attendance. A lot like Hazel and probably Jolyon, I’ve found myself on a lot of occasions, and I have to say most of my students do come, have a good session and we can move on the next week. But I have also been sat in a classroom by myself waiting for students to come, contacting the school liaison officer that is the contact in the school but also my agency and that isn’t NTP. That’s me sitting in a room. So I think it has to be, the, it has to be fine tuned and I think what the NTP could possibly benefit from is listening to the tutors. Maybe having, you know, quarterly or termly meetings with some of the NTP tutors to actually find out what’s been going on. Evaluating what has been, you know, put through so far and it’s sort of just getting feedback as they go along and trying to fix these issues as we go along as well. I definitely think small groups is gonna be the way forward because I have seen some of my children literally grow so much in confidence, having the first lesson where everyone is almost silent and I just feel like I’m talking the whole lesson to the end of the session, they’re asking questions, building up on each other’s answers and I’m not sure that is going to happen in a classroom of thirty plus students. So, I definitely think small group teaching is something that should be here to stay and the NTP can help with. But like I said, there’s a lot of ironing out to do. But, parents, schools and tutors should be involved in this process. And evaluating as things go along.

[Ludo]

Yeah, reflecting on progress and advantages and disadvantages as we go along. I think that was something that was never built into this year’s model was the ability to reflect and feedback as we were going along because there was just too much prep work to go into the foundations of it. So, what I’m hearing is a greater lead time, more communication and and I do hope that that will improve as, as those relationships and as those structures between tutor, parent, and school improve. Hazel, please.

[Hazel]

Sorry, I think it’s in all the different jobs I’be done, I think it’s a uniquely lonely kind of situation tutoring on the NTP because you don’t have any feedback from anybody really about anything apart from students might say oh that was good and I understood it. And you can take from that feedback, but if students don’t come, you don’t know if it’s that you’ve been a bad tutor or if there are other reasons but you just, I did have a note from mum that someone was going to the dentist which was fine. So I knew about that one, they were a regular, so that was good, but when I, I’ve got one private student and I know the Mum and the student very well. And I liaise with the Mom and I send information through to help the child prepare for a test and, you know, I get feedback, oh she really likes your teaching etcetera but with the NTP. And I’ve worked in the school situation, but when you’re part of a team, you know you support each other in your teaching and that kind of thing. But just the not knowing and not being able to find out and you know, not knowing, you know, whether what you’re doing is working, serves the school and the teacher, whether you really are filling in the gaps effectively, I do think at the moment it is a very lonely type of teaching. That’s why I’m glad I’ve got Qualified Tutor to be part of. Get some encouragement.

[Ludo]

Yeah absolutely, it would be interesting to bring together NTP tutors from a variety of partners and even by bringing the academic mentors to the conversation. I feel like that’s still probably a couple of years off. Given that independent tutors are just beginning to get to know each other, but certainly that’s a look to the future, Hazel. Now we must draw this conversation to a close. So, I, we must draw it to a close because of our listener’s attention spans and because it’s absolutely pitch black in Jolyon’s room there. I can see that the lights have gone out completely [LAUGHS]. That’s a signal from mother nature that, there we go!

[Hazel]

There we are , a new lease of light this podcast!

[Ludo]

We’ll move on to part two now! No, thank you Hazel, thank you Linda, thank you Jolyon, for contributing your thoughts there. It’s not everyday that you get to hear from three NTP tutors, all in one place feeding off each other. That was a privilege, certainly for me and I hope for our listeners as well. So thank you both, thank you both? Thank you all of you, I think by both I meant both the speakers and both our listeners. So thank you to Richard, thank you to the wonderful Jack who kept the conversation so alive in the chatbox as he always does. Thank you to Sabir, to Annette, to Charlotte and to Elizabeth who was here with us earlier. Tomorrow is World Tutors’ Day, the final day of the Love Tutoring Festival 2021. Will I be seeing you there? Let’s have a thumbs up if I’ll be seeing you there.

Okay, cheerio everyone, Bye!

[Hazel]

Thank you Ludo.

[Jolyon]

Thank you Ludo.

Jack Simmonds
Jack has been in and around education his whole life, as a teenager he was giving music lessons with his local youth music group and hasn’t ever stopped! He has worked in all sorts of different jobs from Hull to Fuerteventura, but most of his work has had some kind of teaching or facilitating element. Jack loves watching people in that moment where they realise they can do something they didn’t think they could manage before. He currently works for Nudge Education most of the time - when he’s not doing that, he can be found outside with his tiny dog.

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