St John Payne Catholic School
St John Payne Catholic School is a comprehensive secondary school based in Chelmsford, Essex, which caters to pupils from Y7 all the way up to Y13. It has a total of around 1200 pupils and a highly diverse pupil population, including comparatively high numbers of SEND pupils and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We chatted to Rebecca Iciek, Deputy Headteacher at St John Payne, to learn about the challenges they address with online tutoring:
Like most secondary schools across the country, St John Payne was impacted greatly by the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. For pupils who are disengaged with education and generally have lower attendance, the pandemic dealt a blow that schools are still working to recover from. To tackle the knowledge gaps faced by their GCSE pupils, St John Payne turned to online tutoring through MyTutor.
When asked how they selected the pupil profiles for their tutoring programme, Rebecca explained that Y9 and Y11 Pupil Premium pupils were selected initially, and then the selection process was extended to a broader category of disadvantage (i.e. those who might not fit the Free School Meals bracket, but who would still benefit from intervention).
Heads of department made their recommendations for pupils based on their engagement with education, and whether or not they felt tutoring would be beneficial to them. After these spots were filled, places on the programme were offered more widely to pupils who expressed interest.
The focus was on Y11 English and Maths tutoring, on a purely 1:1 basis, to help with GCSE prep and building confidence before exam season. This personalised level of support was invaluable to those pupils struggling with tricky topics, and meant that teachers who were already stretched for time could be reassured that they were getting the extra help they needed.
Rebecca emphasised the importance of pupil, staff and parent buy-in for running a really great MyTutor programme, and mentioned sending letters home to ensure that parents were up-to-speed with their child’s tutoring sessions.
St John Payne have been running MyTutor programmes for three years, and have seen continuous positive impact on grades.
“Our Head of English conducted an analysis of mock and GCSE results and found that students who fully engaged with the MyTutor programme tended to make really good progress” Rebecca explained.
She also emphasised that many pupils develop strong relationships with their tutors: “We ran a programme with Y10s last year, and when they transitioned into Y11, many wanted to keep their tutors.”
“We decided to give MyTutor a go when we received some of their literature,” Rebecca recalled, “and I can’t fault them. We’ve had great feedback from the students.”
When asked about their experience working with the MyTutor team, Rebecca said:
“MyTutor has great support. If there are ever any issues, they’re flexible and quick to respond. I’d describe them as open, helpful, and transparent - you’re never ignored.”
A top tip from St John Payne to you
“Choose your students wisely. Who’s going to engage best with tutoring?”
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