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Tes magazine - The power of volunteers

“One-on-one support is the most important component of transforming students struggling to progress”, says our Curriculum Leader Tania Lunney, in a recent Tes magazine article. She has been helping to organise a project, working to recruit independent volunteers for Community Learning and Skills who could work with such learners and help them achieve their goals.

38-year-old Matthew has been crippled by his lack of confidence when reading and writing and was convinced he was wholly illiterate. However, when assessed, it was found that Matthew was aware of the alphabet and had some basic knowledge of the sounds specific letters made. What Matthew needed was the self-confidence to continue his learning and development which was not easily attained in a large class. Individual tuition is expensive, and resources can be limited in council-run provision. It was realised that a team of volunteers could provide this educational help and guidance, whilst at the same time, the Education and Training Foundation was offering funding for a project of this kind. Thanks to this, a project was indeed organised, and a team of friendly volunteers was recruited to help people like Matthew who would benefit from the extra support.

The effect was almost immediate; within a few weeks of one-on-one guidance, Matthew had transformed from not being able to read and write at all, to working at an entry level 2. He was now leading discussions in his main class and truly advancing in his learning. This was all down to building his confidence through guidance tailored to him. After meeting him, his volunteer tutor quickly noticed that Matthew loved cinema and films. She encouraged him to read DVD cases and he was soon matching letters to sounds and recognising actors’ names.

The impact of this project on learners is clear; students are quick to progress and develop when given adequate support. The assigned volunteer can truly understand the learner and their learning style. Importantly, the project has also emphasised the immense value of volunteers and it has evidently shown the huge impact they can make in learners’ lives.

Visit the Tes website and read the full article here.

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