‘Immensely proud of staff and students’

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Mindfull Tutoring’s Claire Howarth talks about Covid-19 lockdown and the future


What have your main challenges been?

With a predominantly pen and paper based approach to tutoring, one of the biggest challenges in continuing to meet our students’ learning needs during lockdown was the sudden introduction of a lot of technology. We have always placed emphasis on the value of direct and individualised tutor-to-student pedagogy, rather than delivering learning through generic computer programs. Translating this approach into an online space required significant thought and attention to adapt resources and ensure we are still delivering high quality, individualised learning programmes to our students at home.

What have your successes been?

Our biggest success has been the positive response to the shift to an online platform, where we have been able to continue to deliver lessons across all year levels. The uptake has been fantastic, and the smooth transition for our learners from the page to the screen was made possible by an optimistic and persistent team. I have come to realise that this team is not just our 10 amazing teachers, but also a team of 160 outstanding students making it work at their end. Their support and encouragement has been inspiring and I know that both students and teachers have found the lessons a highlight to their weeks. As a business we have decided to remain online for the rest of Term 2 to provide students and their families with certainty in these uncertain times.

What difference has moving to Level 2 made for you?

Essentially, the shift to Level 2 has removed some of the constraints in accessing our physical premises. This means we can access more teaching resources, meet with colleagues/students where necessary, and purchase essentials like textbooks and stationery with relative ease. It has also provided us with the opportunity to prepare our offices for Term 3, when we resume teaching face-to-face. Most importantly, it has given us time to set up systems for cleanliness. Our once administration lady will be spending these last few weeks of Term 2 sterilising the premises to a level that a doctor would be proud of. Level 2 has made a difference as it enables us to put robust systems in place for everyone’s safe return.

What long-term changes do you see yourself making to the way your business operates?

The sudden introduction of a lot of technology to staff with varying levels of experience working in shared online documents or via video conferencing was definitely a learning curve. As a result of this potential barrier, we underwent a period of rapid professional development in order that our staff of lifelong learners can all confidently and effectively deliver quality learning to students of all year levels in their own homes.  Prior to Covid we only had two teachers using these platforms, so this increase in the technological skill base of our staff will give us more freedom as a business. We now have more flexibility in terms of how we deliver lessons and the accessibility of lessons to those in various locations, or restrictive circumstances.

Final word?

I have been so immensely proud of my staff and our students over this challenging time.  They saw the real value in continuing with lessons and because of this feel in a better place returning to school this week.  We will continue to be here to support them especially with the pressures that Covid has placed on students sitting assessments.  I would encourage people who have not considered tutoring to feel welcome to have chat as the benefits of some quality teacher time will prove to be worth its weight in gold.

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