Research School Network: Putting evidence to work: implementing a peer tutoring programme Hannah Cox, Co-Deputy Director of our Research school, discusses how she’s used evidence to guide an approach to peer tutoring


Putting evidence to work: implementing a peer tutoring programme

Hannah Cox, Co-Deputy Director of our Research school, discusses how she’s used evidence to guide an approach to peer tutoring

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High impact for very low cost based on extensive evidence” reads the Peer tutoring section on the EEF Teaching and Learning toolkit. What’s not to love! I think we can all agree that using the latest evidence to improve learning outcomes for our students at minimal cost is a good thing, but what does that actually look like?

This blog looks at the first steps in implementing a Peer Tutoring program – from exploring the aims to preparing the program based on research findings.

This is a small-scale program where year 10 students will tutor year 8 students to better engage with their maths home learning (homework) activities. This program was developed using the advice provided by the EEF Teaching and Learning toolkit and the expertise of several fantastic colleagues.

The why’

My role at Kingsbridge Community College is Raising Standard Lead for Year 8. I am responsible for monitoring, supporting and improving academic attainment. A whole-college priority this year is to increase students’ engagement with their home learning. In my eyes it is important that students in KS3 develop good home learning habits to help prepare them for the further demands of GCSE study and beyond. Specifically, we decided to focus on boosting engagement with one of our online learning platforms, Sparx Maths.

The how’

Our Assistant Principal suggested that we look into Peer Tutoring as a way of harnessing older students to support the year 8 students with their home learning. The EEF Teaching and Learning section on Peer Tutoring provided an excellent starting point. The key findings from the toolkit helped us shape the program for our context.

The first finding was that peer tutoring has been shown to have a positive impact on both tutors and tutees. We chose to work with a cohort of 10 year 8 students who are currently struggling to engage with home learning, but who we believe could benefit from the program. They will be tutored by 10 carefully selected year 10 students who show potential to be good role models to the year 8 students, yet who could benefit themselves from supporting others with maths practice.

Another key finding from the EEF review of evidence is that peer tutoring seems most effective when used to review or consolidate learning, rather than introduce new material. Sparx home learning tasks are designed as practicing” activities of skills and concepts learnt in the classroom. Sparx uses spaced repetition and interleaving to support a change in students’ long-term memories.

The EEF recommends that training for staff and tutors is essential for success. Our Raising Standards Lead for Year 9 is handily a maths teacher so will be providing training to our year 10 tutors (and to the staff supervising the tutoring sessions). The year 10 tutors will guide their tutees towards successfully answering questions by modelling, prompting and praising.

In terms of length of sessions and duration of the program, the EEF evidence review found that four-to-ten-week intensive blocks with regular sessions (45 times a week) appear to be most effective. Although ideal, this is not currently feasible in our context. To start with, we plan to run the tutoring sessions twice a week during our 30-minute morning tutor time for 8 weeks; which will equate to 8 hours in total. As when implementing anything, it is important to monitor and review how effective the intervention is at doing what it was designed to do. For the duration of the program, we will closely monitor home learning completion rate, including home learning completed outside of the tutoring sessions.

In part 2, I’ll explore the delivery and impact of this peer tutoring intervention.

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