Undergraduate Ben Hyman Helps Tutor the Nation

  • Benjamin Hyman sitting behind a laptop
22 February, 2021

PPE undergraduate Ben Hyman signed up for the Tutor the Nation initiative last year and is now helping to give an A Level student additional academic support during lockdown.

Tutor the Nation is a new charity connecting university students with pupils in the state sector for free online tutoring. Here, Ben talks about his experience with Tutor the Nation, what made him decide to get involved, and how other students can help provide support to those whose academic progress has suffered due to school closures.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a second year PPE student at Oriel. I spend a lot of my spare time playing football. I’m vice-captain of the college’s football team and also represent the Blues futsal team (5-a-side indoor football). In November last year I signed up to be a tutor at Tutor the Nation.

How/when did you hear about the Tutor the Nation initiative, and what prompted you to get involved?

I knew that due to school closures, students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, had fallen behind on their educations. My brother is a teacher at a primary school and this has made me particularly aware of the difficulties students face with remote learning. I wanted to do some small thing to help a student who was struggling with their work during the pandemic. So, when an email went round college in November advertising for Tutor the Nation I signed up straight away. I actually ended up being one of Tutor the Nation’s very first tutors.

What has your experience been like so far?

Before tutoring there is obviously a little bit of admin work that you have to go through (DBS check etc.). However, Tutor the Nation are very helpful and efficient in getting you signed up. Once I was signed up it was not long before I was allocated a student from Canon Slade School in Bolton. I am helping him with his Maths and Economics A-levels. It’s only one hour a week and timings are very flexible so it's been easy to fit it in with my other work.

What feedback have you received from the student you have been helping? Do you get the sense that the Tutor the Nation initiative is having a positive impact on students who are missing out on in-person teaching?

It’s obviously not possible to cover the entirety of the student’s syllabus or all of the teaching that they’ve missed out on since the start of the pandemic. What’s so useful about one-to-one tutoring though is that you can focus on the specific areas that the student needs to cover most. I’ve found the best approach is to ask my tutee in advance what topics he wants to cover in order to get the most out of the hour. This means you can have a big impact on their learning in just an hour a week.

How do you think you have benefitted from this experience?

It’s been very rewarding to know that I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life. Also, working as a tutor helps you to develop a variety of useful skills. In particular, learning how to explain complex ideas in a clear and simple manner is a crucial skill, whatever you want to do with your life.

Would you encourage others to get involved in the initiative? What would your advice to them be?

I would absolutely encourage people to sign up for Tutor the Nation. It does not take much of your time to make a real difference to someone else’s life. It’s also, for a lot of these students, the first time that someone from outside their family has taken a real personal interest in their life.

My main advice would be not to worry that you might not be good at tutoring if you haven’t done it before. Tutor the Nation provide plenty of advice from expert tutors to help you get started. Also, ultimately, from the student’s perspective they would much rather have an inexperienced tutor helping them than no tutor at all; there is really nothing to lose. So, if you think you have a spare hour each week and want to do something worthwhile with it, then please sign up.

More about Tutor the Nation: https://tutorthenation.org/