Do you like English?
No, he replies without hesitation.
What don’t you like about it?
I don’t know.
What do you find hardest?
I don’t kn–
At this point his audio malfunctions and I am deafened by a sound that can only be described as a possessed helicopter. Has a decade of chewing by ten-year-olds finally overwhelmed his school headphones? Is it our internet connection? Is the Chinese government tapping into our Zoom?
Whatever the cause, as his English tutor, I remember thinking: this is going to be a long term.
In fact, our half-hour Monday afternoon tutoring sessions were soon a highlight of my week.
Because although my tutee didn’t like English, he had a keen intellectual curiosity. So over the coming weeks, we debated the ethics of driverless cars, scrutinised Facebook’s decision to ban Donald Trump, and looked at the laws governing outer space. We learned about Norwegian prisons, pontificated the State of Nature, and analysed the British vaccine rollout.
Although the kids Students4Students work with are “disadvantaged”, in my experience they are -without exception - smart, interesting, and full of potential. They are charming and kind and each with their own passions and interests.
They deserve the best.
It’s not their fault that they have just spent half a year at home, exacerbating pre-existing inequalities. And it’s not right that, as The Economist notes, “Next year England plans to spend only a bit more to help pupils catch up than it did in a single month last summer subsidising families to eat out in restaurants.”
But that makes the mission of Students4Students all the more urgent, and volunteering all the more rewarding. I can't recommend volunteering with Students4Students more highly; you can do so on the website. https://www.students4students.org.uk/apply
Volunteer Tutor 2020/21