Informatics Schools Tutoring Scheme

Informatics Schools Tutoring Scheme is a project in which Informatics students and staff support Scottish Computer Science exam-level high school students through individual or small group online tutorial sessions. If you'd like to register interest, please fill in the sign-up form and we will contact you once tutoring posts are available.

What is it?

We’re teaming up students in Informatics with exam-level CS students (Nat 5, Higher and Advanced Higher) in schools in disadvantaged areas across Scotland to give them extra tutoring to support the CS they are doing in schools.

Why?

Many young people, especially in schools in disadvantaged areas, don’t have the support they need to do their best, and Covid has only made this worse.  Weekly sessions with Informatics students will help them to master the subject better and hence have a better chance to achieve their potential. It will also allow them to get to know you - someone studying Informatics at Edinburgh - which could have a significant impact on their aspirations for their own futures.

What would I have to do?

We are asking volunteers to commit to at least two hours a week from February to May.  This will include one hour online tutoring and one hour preparation.  You can sign up to do more hours if you want.  We will ask the school students to come along to sessions with material they have been working on in class, which you can help them with - so you don’t have to develop your own materials.

We’ll be co-producing a theory of change, where we will consider what positive changes we would like the programme to achieve, both for the volunteers and for the school pupils, and we’ll ask you to attend a series of short workshops (likely to be 3 X 2hrs but tbc) for this development.  After the volunteering has finished, we can use this theory of change to assess whether we have achieved our aims for the project and evaluate the project’s wider educational and social contribution.

What do I get out of it?

Primarily, the chance to share your expertise and make a real difference in someone’s life.  You’ll also learn a lot of transferable skills, and we’ll be working with you to reflect on what these are and how they might impact on your future career.  We are setting up an Edinburgh Award for this scheme, and any volunteer can opt to participate in this.  To achieve the award, as well as putting in your volunteer hours, you need to attend a couple of training sessions and spend a bit of time thinking about what skills you want to develop during the programme.  These awards are prestigious and will really enhance your CV.

Would I make a good tutor?

Very likely, yes!  You need a reasonable background in CS, which the vast majority of Informatics students have.  If you are a first-year student without a previous background in CS - or for any reason, feel unsure about whether you know enough - come and talk to us about options.  You need to be able to communicate reasonably well in English, which again most of our students can do.  You need to be able to commit two hours per week on a regular basis (see below for more details). You don’t need any experience or special skills - we will be giving you sufficient training and we will support you throughout the programme.

What training will I need?

All volunteers will need to sign up as STEM Ambassadors.  This involves attending a short training session (held in mid-Jan) on what to expect when working with young people in a school-like setting and how to handle any challenges.  It also involves submitting an application for an Enhanced Disclosure Scotland certificate, which is necessary for working with schools.

You will also receive a two-day training programme through Moray House School of Education, which will give you the basics of tutoring and how to work with young people.  It will also give you a bit of info about the Scottish exam system, for those of you who haven’t been in school in Scotland.  However, you don’t need to know too much about that, as you’ll be working with material already prepared by class teachers.

When do I need to sign up?

We will begin training sessions in mid-January, so we need volunteers signed up by then.  The tutoring sessions will begin in early February, as long as students have had their Enhanced Disclosure approved (if not, you’ll have to wait till this comes through). 

What if I can’t come every week?

We ask you to commit to tutoring on a weekly basis - if you regularly can’t do this, then this programme is not for you.  But we understand that there are occasional weeks that you might not be able to do.  This might be for things you can foresee - e.g., you might not want to tutor during your exams, or you might be on holiday.  In this case, make sure you let us and your students know as soon as possible.  It can also happen unexpectedly - e.g., you’re not well.  In this case, let your students know as soon as possible.  It might be possible to reschedule a missed session.

 

 If you have any queries, please contact Fiona McNeill or Kasia Kokowska

f.j.mcneill@ed.ac.uk

kasia.kokowska@ed.ac.uk