MyTutor has been working with the University of Birmingham since 2017 to support their ambitious outreach activities. These focus primarily on pupils in the West Midlands who have the potential to achieve success at university, but might not have considered higher education a possibility.
The University runs an extensive range of programmes for prospective students, starting from primary school through to 16+ – with MyTutor being one strand of their Year 13 support.
Here, we talk to Laura Taylor, Outreach Officer at the University, about their experience working with us.
Where does MyTutor fit into your outreach activities?
“We have a well-established Year 13 programme called Access to Birmingham (A2B), which has been running for many years and is for pupils who are in the process of submitting an application to the University.”
“To qualify for A2B, students need to meet specific socioeconomic eligibility criteria. Once on the scheme, they receive an alternative offer combined with additional support that helps them to make a successful transition to university-level study. They’re also eligible for additional financial support.”
“We’re continually monitoring pupils’ progress through the programme. A few years ago, we noticed that there were still a number of A2B students who weren’t meeting their offer grades and so weren’t able to join the University.
“To try to address this problem, we’ve piloted a few different academic support programmes, which is where MyTutor fits in – as a way of helping pupils to achieve the grades to progress.”
What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to progressing pupils?
“There are a number of barriers we commonly see: sometimes it’s support from home, because parents or guardians aren’t necessarily aware of what pupils need to do to get the grades needed to access university.
“Sometimes it’s lack of access to information, advice and guidance to support decision-making. We’re also conscious that we’re a selective university with high entry grades.”
How do pupils feel about the MyTutor Support?
“We conducted a survey of pupils enrolled in the MyTutor tuition programme and found that 4 in 5 felt:
- They understood their subject better
- More confident about their A-Levels
- More confident about university
Madiya, who applied to study Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham and received tuition in Chemistry and Biology, spoke to us about her experience:
“Chemistry is the subject I struggle with most. Josh (my Chemistry tutor) studies Natural Sciences at Cambridge, so he really knows what he’s talking about. I’d been avoiding revising Chemistry, but after one session with Josh, my knowledge improved because he broke it down for me and showed me I could do it.”
And I can’t even tell you how amazing Michaela (my Biology tutor) is, she gave me additional notes and tips about university. I really looked forward to having tuition every week – it’s been a really big help and I don’t know what I would have done without it!”
How do you think the MyTutor programme has impacted your prospective students?
“Our early evaluation suggests there’s evidence of improved performance in the tutored subject compared to pupils’ non-tutored subjects. And this is dependent on the number of sessions pupils engage with. We’re continuing to build on early findings with additional cohort data.”
“We’ve adapted our approach over time and, to maximise the number of sessions a pupil can receive before exams, we now allow pupils to begin tutoring when they receive an offer from us and before they’ve accepted that offer.”
“Plus, pupils find the MyTutor platform easy to work with and are able to use it in a self-directed way.”
Would you recommend MyTutor to other universities?
“It’s definitely something that other universities might want to consider as an attainment-raising activity. As a team, our work tends to be focused more on general outreach and aspiration-raising activity, while MyTutor provides additional subject-specific support.”
Have you downloaded our latest Impact Report? Find out how more schools and universities, just like University of Birmingham, are making an impact through online tutoring this year- as well as exclusive insights from our latest teacher and pupil survey, up-to-date funding and programme information.
Get your free copy here.