Volunteer tutor from Birmingham helping to bridge the attainment gap for disadvantaged children

Birmingham resident Justina Rweyemamu is calling on locals to join her as volunteer tutors to help ‘bridge the gap’ for disadvantaged pupils at risk of not achieving national standards in their SATs and GCSEs. Justina, who volunteers with Action Tutoring – a not-for-profit charity that works in partnership with UK primary and secondary state schools – says urgent action is needed to prevent the attainment gap from widening further after this summer’s COVID lockdown.

“28% of the pupils in the UK are disadvantaged and the closure of schools this year has been extremely detrimental to their learning - further widening the attainment gap at the end of the school year between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children from 18 months to 2.5 years. Good standards in English and maths in particular are crucial to progressing well in further education, employment or training”, she said.

Justina, who works as a Consultant Paediatrician at University Hospitals Birmingham, tutors children in maths for Action Tutoring for one hour every Thursday morning before school starts. “I was very fortunate as a child, “, she said. “My mother is a teacher so I benefited from her full support throughout my school years. Like so many other people I struggled with maths but with the help of a tutor was able to secure the grades I required to study medicine.

“A fellow undergraduate at medical school who was mentoring A Level students introduced me to Action Tutoring and I’ve never looked back since. Volunteering offers me the opportunity to engage with my community and make that vital difference to children within it. Since signing up as a volunteer in September 2019, I have tutored two Year 6 primary pupils in maths. Thursday is my favourite day of the week. My pupils arrive on time, bright eyed and bushy tailed, full of enthusiasm and determination. They are like a breath of fresh air. I always go that extra mile to be creative and make lessons fun. There is nothing better than to see a child overcome their challenges and to progress in leaps and bounds.

“On a personal level, volunteering has allowed me to develop new skills, meet people from different professions and backgrounds and interact with children in an educational setting. Volunteering is all about making a positive contribution to community and society, which is incredibly rewarding and is so necessary in the current climate. I work hard to develop strong relationships with the children I tutor and invariably get full buy-in from their parents who, like me, love to see their children grow in confidence and flourish.

“There are thousands of bright young articulate children across the UK in schools in poor socio-economic regions that cannot afford the resources I was so fortunate to benefit from – I urge anyone who has an hour per week available to step forward, tutor these children in English, maths or reading and to reap the rewards of creating a positive future for others.”

To apply to join Action Tutoring as a volunteer or learn more, please visit www.actiontutoring.org.uk or email hello@actiontutoring.org.uk.

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