Northwest teens create UK’s first network of peer tutors to support GCSE resits

Yipiyap's Peer Tutors

GCSE students retaking exams this November are being tutored online by Northwest teenagers in a ground-breaking new project.

Altrincham peer tutoring organisation Yipiyap has created a system that connects students with a tutor of their choice, close to them in age, to give them additional support and teaching in a series of remote lessons.

Each tutor has recently completed A Levels and deferred university to do this. Having been recruited through an extensive process by Yipiyap, they have each will created an online portrait and video so that the GCSE students can choose who teaches them based on personality as well as availability, and the sessions will be run in groups of up to three learners at a time between now and the ‘resit’ exams in November.

In its first trial, up to 600 students will benefit from the trial across Activate Learning’s seven colleges. Each tutor provides two days a week. Anne Morris, founder of Yipiyap, says: “Peer teaching has generated proven results as the tutors are so close in age and relatable – they can help bring a bit of fun to the process, which is needed as most of the maths and English GCSE students don’t enjoy the subject in question – but it’s vital they achieve these qualifications to open up the opportunities they want.

“We already work with schools to provide peer tutors for in-class support, but this is the first time we have created a complete network of tutors with the express purpose of helping those who did not pass maths or English to now get the pass they need.”

School-assessed grades in the wake of COVID led to many pupils getting excellent results, with the proportion of the highest GCSE grades awarded in England this year rising by over 25%, according to regulator Ofqual – however many did not receive Grade 4 in maths and English, which, as of 2016, requires a resit.

Anne Haig-Smith, Director of the Applied Learning Foundation at Activate Learning, said: “We are delighted to be working with Yipiyap on this innovative new project that will provide our students with additional support as they attempt to improve on their GCSE maths and English grades from the summer.

“As a digital first organisation, we were drawn to the project as Yipiyap was able to work with our existing online learning platform, ALO, to deliver the tuition to our students, which meant it was a streamlined service that we are able to track and record through our management systems and ensure our learners are always within a safe online environment.

“The other beauty of this project is that it’s young people working with our students and helping them to better understand the material they are studying – something we thought our students would relate to and engage with more than if it were someone older.

“We are really excited to see how the project develops and how our students get on. We have learnt from the recent pandemic that learning is something that we must be able to provide both online and on campus, and this project will add to our already well established online offering for students and provide them with a really engaging way to develop their understanding of the subjects.”

Anne Morris concludes: “2020 has seen a huge rise in blended learning as schools entered lockdown – and being young and very tech-efficient, our tutors have been the driving force of many remote learning programmes. Being agile and providing support in a digital space is something we’ve been doing a lot of over the past few months and we’re excited to build on this as the key is to continue to adapt and provide increased support for learners wherever needed.”

Funding for the paid tutors is provided from Activate Learning and the government’s National Tutoring Programme.