fbpx

Supporting Education

Dundee Rotary funds pupil tutoring project

Dundee Rotary funds pupil tutoring project

A Rotary Club of Dundee project to help pupils achieve their academic goals after the disruption of the pandemic has been declared a remarkable success.

The overwhelming majority – over 90% – of the senior pupils at four of the city’s secondary schools selected for the Leading Learners’ project secured or increased their grades.

The £20,000 pilot project was one of the main beneficiaries from the £100,000 Dundee Rotary Club is spending on education, health and charitable causes in the city to mark its centenary.

The Rotary club is committing a further £20,000 to continue the project into a second academic year so that more pupils in Dundee schools can benefit from academic coaching to achieve their goals.

“Education and young people were central to our plans and we are delighted to be able to support a number of young people across the city with this initiative which we hope will have a profound effect on their lives.”

Discussions are under way with Dundee City Council to finalise the arrangements.

In the first year, the Rotary club’s £20,000 was focused on Braeview, Baldragon and St Paul’s Academies and Craigie High School.

Many young learners were facing significant challenges and increasing barriers to their educational development due to the consequences of Covid.

A total of 134 pupils completing senior external qualifications were identified in need of extra support because their learning had been severely disrupted by the Covid lockdowns.

Leoni Doig, St Paul’s pupil; Teresa Little, head teacher, St Paul’s; Audrey May, Dundee head of education; Debbie Gallacher, education officer, and Tim Beattie, principal teacher of learning and coaching at Harris Academy.

Audrey May, Dundee City Council head of education, explained that in discussion with Dundee Rotary Past President and Centenary committee chair Robert Dunn, a plan was formed to support senior pupils most affected by the pandemic.

The education department was committed to getting the best outcomes for learners and closing gaps, and the Leading Learners project also dovetailed with the authority’s key strategy of Every Dundee Learning Matters.

The need for the project became even greater when the first lockdown was followed by more, and exams were cancelled leading to the introduction across Scotland of the Alternative Certification Model for awarding grades.

Many of these circumstances placed a heavier reliance on pupils to learn on their own and increased the risk of them not achieving their academic potential.

Through the project pupils who may have lacked the equipment, facilities and guidance needed to reach their potential were given resources and help needed to overcome these barriers.

The teachers calmed me down and helped me. I learned different ways of learning and I got through the work when I might have struggled before.”

Teachers were upskilled as coaches and supported pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning, as well as develop research informed study techniques, key skills that would help them achieve their potential through and beyond their school years.

Audrey May summed up: “The success of the scheme has been remarkable. We would really like to continue the partnership and, thanks to the investment that has been made, to scale it up as more schools are knocking on the door.”

Tim Beattie, principal teacher of attainment at Harris Academy, said the project had been a notable success in getting the pupils “back on track.”

He stated: “Of all the pupils in the scheme, over 90% secured or increased their grades because of this great partnership between our schools and the Rotary club, and that is a fantastic outcome.

“The generosity of the Rotary Club of Dundee allowed pupils who faced many barriers to their learning and whose education had been impacted by the lockdowns to gain valuable skills and opportunities to improve their performance through and beyond their school years.

“They were able to move from uncertainty to confidence with the coaching of teachers helping them to initiate self-learning and acquiring self-management skills.

“We weren’t spoon-feeding the pupils but getting pupils to take the lead and, if you like, use their own spoons – and it worked.”

Same as the previous photo left to right but with Andrew Argo and Robert Dunn.

Teresa Little, head teacher at St Paul’s Academy, added: “The extra tutoring and coaching was aimed at making sure the young people had what they needed to learn.

“These pupils had many challenges in balancing school work during lockdowns with their home life. They had to cope with such challenges as looking after younger family members and fitting in jobs.

“For some pupils home life can be chaotic at times so it was important to give the pupils resources and a place to learn.

“Thanks to the scheme we were able to get these pupils back on track to achieve results they were previously destined for but were at risk of not achieving.”

There can surely be no better contribution a Rotary club can make to its community than to help its young people find a route to a better future.”

Leoni Doig, a pupil at St Paul’s. She said: “During lockdown I struggled to concentrate on my school work and I became stressed.

“The teachers calmed me down and helped me. I learned different ways of learning and I got through the work when I might have struggled before.”

Dundee Rotary Past President, Robert Dunn said the club was delighted to receive such a good report on the success of the scheme.

“Key to our centenary celebrations is our commitment to support the local community,” he stated.

“Education and young people were central to our plans and we are delighted to be able to support a number of young people across the city with this initiative which we hope will have a profound effect on their lives.”

Teachers were upskilled as coaches and supported pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning.

Current President Andrew Argo added: “It is fantastic that one of the key projects of our Centenary Year has been such a success.

“There can surely be no better contribution a Rotary club can make to its community than to help its young people find a route to a better future.

“By providing this much-needed support, pupils at risk of falling behind with their studies in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic have been able to get back ‘on track’ to secure and even exceed the academic success previously predicted for them.

“This is bound to open doors even wider to further academic and employment opportunities and hopefully success.”

With the club committing more funding, he looked forward to further discussions with the city council into the scheme being extended.

The club is also pressing for Leading Learners to qualify for a Rotary Global Grant which could produce substantial additional funds to help progress the project.

Andrew Argo added: “Given the successful outcome of the pilot project and that it meets many of the grant criteria – it is sustainable, has measurable goals, improves lives and responds to real community needs – I hope this target can be achieved to help Dundee pupils for years to come.”