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Ok, so 140 characters is totally inadequate to explain this project to you so I'm providing a little summary here and some of my thoughts on the experience.

The charity is organising the tutoring is called The Access Project. Their basic premise is to enable school children from state schools who are intellectually bright but financially disadvantaged to aim higher and attend a top university. They work with schools to select children who would benefit from personal tutoring. The children who are chosen must first demonstrate their dedication by doing a number of after school academic activities. They are then screened for suitability via interview. The idea being that they will only accept kids who have proven they will put in the effort required.

The children will typically be either trying to meet a very high offer, i.e. tutoring could be the difference between them obtaining and A or a B grade in their most important subject. Or, they may need tutoring in their weakest subject to pull that grade in line with their other marks, i.e. trying to get a B instead of a C. This project is not for children who are not academically capable - it is intended to get bright kids the grades they deserve for the work they put in, and to make them believe that they can and should be aiming higher.

If you're in my generation (I'm 36) you'll recall the whole Tony Blair thing about wanting 50% of school leavers to attend university. Now, certainly LOADS more school leavers do attend university now (as someone who works in HE I do not necessarily agree that this is a good thing, in absolute terms) HOWEVER, the amount of state school leavers attending top universities has not really changed in that time. This is the disparity which The Access project is trying to address.

Currently The Access project is based in London, but in the next academic year they are expanding to Birmingham. By 2019 they aim to have expanded to Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds & Bradford. Right now they have about 600 voluntary tutors. To fulfil their aims they will need more like 6000.

So what are the requirements for being a tutor? You need to have either an A level or a degree in a subject which they are offering tuition in. If you have an A level you can tutor at GCSE level. If you have a degree you can tutor at A level in that subject.

You will need to do a half day training course, which is very straightforward and mostly relates to child safeguarding, i.e. taking care that you know how to behave appropriately with your tutee and that you know how to respond if something is wrong with them etc. There is a bit of time spent on actual tutoring but that session is largely about what it means to be a tutor in terms of your responsibility to the child. There is no assessment for tutors taking the training course (in case that might put anyone off), you just go along and learn what you need to know.

After you have been tutoring for a while someone from the project will come and sit in on a tutorial to check you're doing ok and not doing anything crazy. I will admit that I was incredibly nervous about my assessed tutorial beforehand, but it went like clockwork. Afterwards I felt like I'd sat an exam - very relived and proud of myself.

Voluntary tutoring has been a great experience for me. At times it has been incredibly rewarding in a direct way, e.g. when my tutee tells me that they really impressed one of their teachers with a great answer to a question - entirely because of some work we did in a tutorial. It is also rewarding overall because I completely support the aim of the charity to essentially combat elitism in education in this country.

One thing you need to seriously think about before getting involved is time. You are expected to commit to doing a one hour tutorial each week. With my tutee we ended up doing alternate one hour and two hour sessions as we wanted to cover exam questions as well as syllabus material and we found one hour each week wasn't enough. Obviously it is up to the individual tutor-tutee pairings to work it out between them. But that one hour is just your contact time. You're going to need extra time on top of that to i) cover the material yourself and ensure you're familiar with it, and ii) prepare work for the tutorial. I would say as a rough guide you'll need to have anywhere between 2-6 hours spare each week for that. It will depend on how familiar you are with the subject, obviously. In my case, I work in parasitology which is a very specialised subset of human biology, but to tutor a level biology I had to go back and relearn topics like photosynthesis which I NEVER thought I would have to cover again EVER.

Yes, it does take up some of your time and effort. But anything that is worthwhile in life will do that. It really is worth it in my opinion.

If you follow the link above you should be able to see how to apply, what subjects you can tutor in, etc. Do have a look and see if you think you can help. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions.


Rant: I currently have:
*no internet at home
*internet at work that will not permit any posting to LJ (as of two weeks ago). It makes no difference if I try to use someone else's log-in, it STILL won't let me post or manage my LJ account.
*absolutely freakin' pitiful library internet access for the next forty minutes, where you can't even upload anything from a memory stick even though I asked the librarian if you could do that AND she said yes. This last option comes with asylum seekers shouting into their mobiles at the next table (at no extra cost).
*a headache from getting so angry this afternoon at the shitty so-called service that my train company offers. A half hour journey too approximately an hour and a half AND made me miss a dental appointment. GRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRR RRRR RRRRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR grar /rant

Dear F-List, consider this an open invitation to come and help me drink myself insensible celebrate my birthday on Friday 6th July somewhere in London. No need to sign up for this one, just give me a PM/text/ring/poke nearer the time and I'll attempt to work out where we'll be. I'm not working that day, so I may be starting early. ;)

On Friday I went for a beer with an old mate from college. We went to what used to be The Goose at Russell Square; only it isn’t The Goose anymore it’s now been renamed something silly like The Marquis Cornwallis. Anyway, the important thing is that they have Fruli on tap! Yay! And they have lots of other nice beers on tap too, plus outside seating and very nice food. Might be a good pub to start in on the 6th July, maybe. I’m not especially fussed about particular pubs for that day but I will cast a vote for The Thameside Inn if it’s a sunny day *crosses fingers*.

As for Saturday 6th July I could really do with people letting me know if they can make it asap (or how possibly maybe you are), as I might need to scrounge some extra bedding from somewhere. There shouldn’t be a problem finding room for everyone and I’d love to see you all. Cheers to those of you who have already responded and to the rest of you: hurry up, slackers. ;)

Oh yeah, and I'll get round to posting the thread about the Great British Beer Festival this week too. I can tell you that we've settled on Thursday 9th August though. Looking forward to it! :) NB: Chas and Dave are as yet unconfirmed. :D

My twelve days

Oh, I thought it would be one of those random things that was assembled from your posts but it is CLEARLY just from your LJ interests. Swizz. So lame I think I'll cut it.

Twelve DaysCollapse )

Sneezing: a question.

Are you one of these people who suppresses a sneeze and produces some kind of weird noise instead?

If you are can you explain why you do this/started doing this? Did someone tell you to when you were small? Do you have to start early or can you begin at any age? What is it about sneezing that you are avoiding? Tell me everything, okay.

If you are a proud sneezer and want to bash those squeakers, you can do that here too.

This was never going to work out


Today being my first full day off for study leave I thought I would go downstairs and spread my stuff out on the big island in the kitchen. I mean, I have a big enough desk but since I have FIVE subjects to revise for and they all have a big pile of notes, references and a couple of text books each I'm getting a bit hacked off having to put everything away when I switch subjects.

So I took all my microbiology stuff downstairs and sat down. But the bloody nest of birds that is in the eaves above the kitchen windows is SO noisy. They never shut up! In fact they keep up a regular racket and then it gets EVEN louder at times. It wouldn't be so bad a noise if I were outside because it would be just one of many noises out there, but this is coming through double glazing loud and clear.

I suppose it would be wrong to get a long stick and poke the nest out so that the cats could eat the birds after it fell two storeys to the ground? Only joking.

Thanks also to the car full of teenagers that just spent an hour parked at the back of my house with all the doors open playing crappy R&B with the base and volume turned up to the max. Don't have a head-on collision with a huge tree on the way back to your OWN homes, will you.

Dentist Love and Care-bears

Went to my dentist yesterday. While he was feeling around my jaws from the exterior I was thinking, OMG you're going to tell me that I have some sort of tumour, aren't you, and then I'll fail all my exams through freaking out. But, no that was just my massive paranoia. He said that I had turned a corner as far as my gum problems went. He thought that they were going to get worse after the last time he saw me, but I have done really well! I wanted to ask for a badge or something. It felt the same as when my boss praises me at work. :D Besides, my dentist is SUCH a nice bloke, not just for being ultra friendly and nicey-nice, but because he has always been honest with me. I'm pretty sure he hasn't ripped me off for any unecessary dental work yet either!

On the way home I went via the shops and was just standing in amazement staring at the fresh bread: being shocked that there was any left at 5.30pm (this supermarket seems to think that nobody would want to buy fresh bread after 4pm most days) when I was tapped on the shoulder. For a second I thought, who are these people and why on earth do they think that I would want to speak to them even if I do know them (shopping makes me grumpy). Then I cottoned on that it was the ultra nice man from the coffee shop at the station with his wife. I think they may qualify as THE nicest couple I have ever met. Yes, they're even nicer than my dentist. After managing to score a pleasant person on the checkout too, I was strolling home thinking how great it would be to have coffee-shop man and his wife as neighbours. When I got I observed to Mr Isis that I felt so incredibly happy that I had just spoken to some of the nicest people I have ever known, I felt like a care-bear (for once it wasn't grumpy bear!). Being the pessimist that I am, I have to say why can't everybody be that nice?

In other news, my exams start on Monday. I am terrified.

Well, okay then.

I was praying not to get flippin MOR U2. But this'll do.

Your Theme Song is Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf

"I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under"

A total independent spirit, you can't be held down or fenced in.
You crave the feeling of wind on your face... and totally freedom.

Spot on!

Your Famous Last Words Will Be:

"What we know is not much. What we don't know is enormous."

Surely not?!

You Are Absinthe

You are a sloppy drunk, purposely so
If drinking doesn't make you feel crazy, it's not any fun
Truth be told, you tend to prefer drugs to drinking
But you'd never pass up any absinthe that came your way!

This seems to refer to my younger self way more than it does the mature version.

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June 2014


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