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Oxford student sets up volunteer tutoring service

A student at the University of Oxford has founded the “Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative”, a service which pairs university students with school students in need of tutoring due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jacob Kelly, who set up the Initiative earlier this week, told Cherwell: “Having seen the news that schools were closing, what struck me was the effect it would have on the disparity between those students who receive private tutoring and those who do not. Whilst many young people will continue to receive face to face teaching over the next few months, others will come from families who can’t afford this privilege and are therefore at risk of falling behind.

“I know a lot of my friends in college were pretty miserable at the thought of having weeks on end stuck at home with nothing to do. It seemed like a pretty logical step to connect the two groups in a way that benefited both of them.”

Schools in the UK were forced to close on Friday 20th March as part of the Government’s attempts to stem the spread of coronavirus. A number of schools had shut their doors earlier in the week due to staff shortages and fears of the virus spreading around school communities.

According to Kelly, the response from the student body was “overwhelmingly positive”. He says that he expected “friends in college and maybe a few others would get involved but instead word has spread to lots of different universities. We have now got close to 3,000 tutors signed up and there’s more appearing every minute.

“We’re having to work quickly to keep up with the demand so I’ve assembled a small team to help with both the administrative side of things along with ensuring that word of the initiative is going to reach as many of the young people who need it as possible. We’re hoping that we can start rolling out the initiative to students at some point this week, but want to be sure the whole process is running smoothly before that happens.”

Although end-of-year assessments such as GCSEs and A-Levels have been cancelled for this academic year, the service is still hoping to “help young people to engage with their work in a really positive way”.

Students can volunteer with the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative by filling out a form on their website, or emailing any ideas to [email protected].

Image: Ellie Wilkins

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