National Tutors' Conference, 25th October, the royal society

The Future of Tutoring: Evolution or Revolution?

The 4th Annual Tutors’ conference took place at the Royal Society last Friday – and what a thought-provoking and inspiring event it was. The theme – which focused on the need for evolution or revolution in the world of education as a whole and tutoring’s place with in it – was addressed in variety of ways throughout the day.

James Turner of the Sutton Trust talked about education’s role in creating social mobility, and the potential for increasing its efficacy through the addition of more 1-to-1 tuition, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. As well as suggesting increased use of the Pupil Premium, he asked us to consider donating a percentage of the hours we tutor to this cause.

Dr. Kathy Weston spoke powerfully and inspirationally about the role tutors have to play in contributing to a child’s wellbeing and resilience rather than just acting as an academic coach and teacher. An integral part of this is spending time with the child’s parents to create a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach that achieves more than the sum of its parts.

The break-out sessions focused largely on providing tutors with practical help and advice – and the comfortable rooms were packed with delegates taking the chance both to listen and to ask questions. Joe Nutt’s session was an interesting counterpoint to the Sutton Trust’s view of mobility; in his view schools can enhance social mobility at an individual level but are unsuited and ineffective at doing so on a large scale. It made me wonder whether an increase in 1-to-1 tutoring as a normal part of every child’s education might enhance the effectiveness of education as an agent of change – something President Tim Morris mentioned in his opening address. 

The final plenary session on AI gave us an insight into what AI can – and can’t – do. Alex Asher’s view is that it can, and increasingly will, take over some of the more mechanical aspects of tutoring but that personal inspiration, and the wider aspects of creating the well-balanced individuals that Kathy Weston talked about, will still require the personal touch of the human tutor.

As well as the speaker sessions, there was an excellent range of exhibitors present, offering tutors practical resources and advice , and the whole ambience of the setting was highly conducive to the networking that was clearly going on all day.

Add to this the quality of the refreshments and the helpfulness of the staff and it all made for a thoroughly enjoyable, as well as thoroughly valuable, day. I am very much looking forward to next year’s event already.

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"It was a great day - kicked off wonderfully by James Turner and Kathy Weston. I hope you are pleased!"

"Congratulations on such a successful conference. I didn't speak to anyone who wasn't thoroughly complimentary"

"Really superb start of the day (Dr Kathy Weston's opening speech). Inspiring and motivating as ever. One of the true hihglights of the private Tutor's calendar"

 "A fabulous day - thank you to all who made it such a worthwhile and motivating event." 

"We enjoyed it. Informative and well organised! Plus great venue."

"Dr Kathy Weston's inspiring presentation made every mile of the long journey down from Scoltand worth it!"