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#WeAreTogether: University student tutors young pupils during lockdown – University of Reading

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#WeAreTogether: University student tutors young pupils during lockdown

Release Date 21 May 2020

Domenica Taverna


A student at the University of Reading has been putting her skills to good use during lockdown by tutoring younger students.

Domenica Taverna, a first year Classics student who has remained in her halls of residence during lockdown, came across the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative (CTI) on social media and decided to offer her services.

The scheme, which was set up by three students from the University of Oxford: Sam, Jacob and Niccolo, matches University students with young people who are studying for their SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels but who might be missing out on key learning while their schools are closed.

The free initiative, which launched in March, screens all prospective tutors before remotely pairing them with a student to teach a subject of their choice.

Domenica said:

“The scheme really resonated with me for giving a chance for all students, regardless of factors such as income, to get really specialised one-to-one tutoring, at a casual but in-depth level. The sessions are very relaxed, and I structure mine as more of a guided conversation to keep a chilled atmosphere without adding any extra stress onto the students, while also keeping that academic element present in their life. 

“I am currently tutoring an A-Level student in religious studies and philosophy, but tutors can take on as many students as they can cope with.”

As well as helping her student, Domenica says the programme has given her a purpose during lockdown.

She said:

“I'm currently shielding alone in my halls of residence as I'm an extremely vulnerable person, so it's definitely added structure and purpose to my days.

“Collectively since the start of May, more than 1,000 hours of tutoring have been delivered. The founders have done an amazing job putting it all together, very intricate and well thought-out.”

A spokesperson for the Coronavirus Teaching Initiative said:

"The Coronavirus pandemic is a very difficult and testing time, which is why we have set up CTI to help support students, schools and parents. We strongly believe that no student should be left behind because of circumstances outside of their control and we aim to level out the playing field to the best of our best ability, which is why the initiative is aimed at children of key workers and those who cannot afford a private tutor.

The tutoring is done through which is an online meeting platform, where each student will be given a unique "room". This "room" is a learning space for the tutors and the student where they can work through queries and problems in real time. All of the sessions are recorded on Bramble so the student can go back and re-watch them any time."

Although she is shielding and has had no physical contact with anyone during lockdown, Domenica says she is coping well.

She said:

“I have a really strong support network around me, which I am incredibly grateful for.

“I’d really like to say thank you to my academic tutor, Professor Katherine Harloe for being the kindest and greatest support, even while working from home and on research leave. Also, Professor Carol Fuller from the Institute of Education, and Pablo Ferrer Beltran from Park Post who have consistently and selflessly gone above and beyond to help me out whilst shielding; I am so grateful for them all.”


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