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An organisation that provides Maths and English lessons to primary school pupils has been hailed as a ‘blessing’ by parents during the coronavirus lockdown.

Tutors United matches pupils from low-income backgrounds with university students who have been specially trained and hired to provide weekly lessons.

As schools across the country closed, leaving parents to home-school their children, Tutors United started live online lessons to help the children keep in contact with their tutors and classmates. This was made possible by the fact that the classes are taught to no more than six children at once.

Owen and Elsie Kumah, from Haggerston, London, have seen their children excel at school and win writing prizes since enrolling in the programme. They said that now the children can no longer see their school classmates, the service has become even more invaluable.

Owen said: “It is really helping to keep the children busy, and it means they still get to see their friends. My wife and I are helping them with their schoolwork as much as possible. We have a timetable that we have made with the children for work and for playing, but it’s fantastic to have this extra support.

“Tutors United have been like a family to us. The tutors and the other kids are part of our lives now. We are so grateful, and it’s a blessing having them around to help us. I always tell the kids how lucky they are that people are volunteering to help them with their work. “

The Kumah family found Tutors United through their L&Q, which has given £106,000 to the organisation over two years to provide free lessons for their young residents in Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

Olivia Meade, Programme Officer at Tutors United, said: “I think the sense of continuity that this offers to the kids is really invaluable. They are used to going into school five days a week and seeing their friends, and they aren’t able to do that now.

“Even though our pupils come from different schools, they have forged great friendships in the classes.

“There are no more than six pupils in each class, and we have been able to keep them in the same small group tuition for the online learning so they get to see the same classmates and friends every week. It’s really nice for them to have that sense of stability in all of this.

“They are still able to socialise and learn together from their homes, and I think it’s really helpful for them to be able to talk to each other during this time. It’s given them a sense of normality.”

Research by Tutors United shows that by the end of primary school, pupils from low-income backgrounds are on average 9.4 month behind their peers in English and Maths, which doubles to 18.4 months by the time they take their GSCEs.

Tutors United has supported over 1,000 pupils with affordable Maths and English lessons, and has hired, trained and paid over 300 university students.

This academic year, the Tutors United partnership with L&Q has supported over 120 primary school aged children in London with free weekly lessons.

The Tutoring Young Residents programme with L&Q has shown that the average Maths score of a Tutors United pupil rises by 67.3%. On average, pupils also move up two sub-levels in English, which is the same level of improvement usually seen after a year of full-time school. Additionally, 94% of parents say that they feel more able to support their child’s learning as a result of the programme.

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