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  • Writer's pictureNatasha at Jacari

Peer tutoring update

We’re excited to update you on the development of our new peer tutoring programme, which is going from strength to strength! Our peer tutoring programme involves sixth-form students in secondary schools volunteering to support younger pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Most of these pupils are newly arrived and need extra support with learning English and settling in to their new school.

We piloted peer tutoring at Montpelier High School in Bristol in the 2022/23 academic year. The project proved a real success, with 18 pupils receiving twice weekly support from their peer tutor, helping them learn English and providing them with a mentor and friend.

In September 2024, we expanded the peer tutoring project to three other secondary schools in Bristol. We also appointed a part-time Coordinator to run the project. Aggie Kaziszyn took on this role following two years overseeing our main tutoring programme. Aggie brought lots of experience of working with both volunteers and schools to the project.

We provided comprehensive training sessions to all of our peer tutors to help them prepare. We are also supporting them with lesson plans, games and learning resources to use with their pupils and Aggie regularly attends the sessions at each school to monitor sessions and give tutors tips and advice. The EAL Leads and teachers at each school have been key to the success of this project, helping Aggie set up sessions and match EAL pupils to peer tutors.

In total we are now supporting 81 pupils through our peer tutoring programme across four schools. What’s been particularly interesting is how each of the schools has taken their own approach to peer tutoring. We wanted the project to have the flexibility to meet the needs of different schools and trial different approaches.

Classroom with pupils working with tutors
Peer tutoring session at Montpelier High School

At Montpelier High School, we have a big group of pupils to support, including those we supported last year, along with a cohort of newly arrived pupils. To accommodate this, we have 16 sixth form peer tutors working with groups of 2-3 pupils. It’s always a very fun and loud session!

In contrast, at Bristol Cathedral School we have sixth form peer tutors working in pairs to support each EAL pupil as we have a much bigger number of sixth formers wanting to be involved. This has worked well, as peer tutors can support each other and bring different skills to each session.

At St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School we have a small group of 9 volunteers who support 10 children, most of whom are new to English. They work 1:1 and come together at the end of the session to play games as groups. They particularly enjoy doing vocabulary learning games, using flashcards and Hedbanz (where you have to guess what is on an illustrated card attached to your headband using yes/no questions). We’ve been impressed with their creativity in teaching new vocabulary.

At Bristol Free School, we have 15 sixth form peer tutors working in small groups with 18 pupils. The peer tutors commented that they really enjoy this set up, which helps them work at a different pace with individuals but also play games in groups and allow friendships to form between pupils and tutors.

One interesting project we are involved in at Bristol Free School this term is designing a welcome mural which will be painted on the school premises. The school wants to represent all the languages which are spoken in school and asked Jacari peer tutors and their pupils for help. The project is supported by the art teacher and our EAL contact at the school, who are developing weekly resources for peer tutors and pupils so they can learn English as they create the mural. We can’t wait to see the finished mural!

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