An initiative aimed at lessening the educational impact of the covid-19 pandemic on disadvantaged pupils has reached a major online learning milestone.
Student volunteers on the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative (CTI) have now spent more than 10,000 hours tutoring pupils using Bramble's live online teaching platform.
The platform – created for live online teaching by UK-based start-up Bramble Technologies – was made freely available to CTI on its launch at the beginning of the school lockdown in March.
CTI matches Key Stage 3, GCSE and A-level students with university students in leading institutions, for tuition in up to three different courses. The initiative has been created in collaboration with Project Access International, a charity working to increase access to leading universities for less privileged students, and funded by the charity alongside additional private donations. More than 1,800 students have now been matched with tutors, making it larger even than the pilot of the government-funded National Tutoring Programme (NTP).
Jacob Kelly, who co-founded CTI with fellow Oxford University students Sam Townsend and Niccolo Aylward, said the initiative had already had a major impact on disadvantaged students.
"Missing out on school puts a huge portion of disadvantaged students at risk of not performing as well as they could in their exams," he said. "An even greater concern for us is that these young people are also at risk of losing their confidence in and passion for subjects they enjoyed at school.
"We've received really positive feedback throughout from our students. Tutors as well have emphasised that, aside from academic progress, their students are becoming more confident through the course of their sessions which is amazing to hear. The great thing about university students providing the tutoring is that the tutors also act as role models for the young people, which I think can be a really beneficial.
"Bramble has been absolutely crucial to our success from the very start of CTI. We needed a great tutoring platform to support all of our students but had to be absolutely confident that our safeguarding requirements were addressed too and Bramble ticks both of those boxes with ease."
Bramble was made freely available to tutors and teachers worldwide in early March as the lockdown loomed. Since then it has hosted more than 360,000 hours of live teaching and learning in 132 countries – 26 times greater usage compared to a year ago.
Bramble is designed for teaching. It goes beyond videoconferencing to offer a superior learning experience. Lessons are focused on a highly interactive shared whiteboard and searchable lesson recordings, augmented by artificial intelligence which turns the words spoken by teacher and student into powerful transcripts that can be used for revision and safeguarding.
Will Chambers, co-founder of Bramble, said: "It's an honour to be able to work with CTI to help address the educational inequalities that have been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic.
"Disadvantaged students have been particularly vulnerable to the impact of the schools lockdown but initiatives like this make it possible for students to get the support they need from tutors wherever they may be."
Emil Bender Lassen, co-founder of Project Access International, said: "As a charity working to improve social mobility for less privileged students, we were determined to step up and do our bit when the lockdown hit. Reaching 10,000 hours of free tutoring delivered through the initiative makes us very proud"
London-based Bramble Technologies was founded by Will Chambers and Dan Houldsworth. Bramble's online tutoring and teaching platform is designed for teaching and is currently used by more than 52,000 tutors and students in 155 countries. The experience and knowledge gained from more than 430,000 hours of online tuition has given Bramble a unique insight into how people teach and learn online. https://about.bramble.io
Project Access is a UK charity (1190102) founded in 2016 by Emil Bender Lassen, Rune Kvist and Anna Gross to tackle inequalities in access to top universities. Through their online peer-to-peer mentorship programmes, they have supported more than 3,400 students from less privileged backgrounds across 50+ countries since their launch in 2016. www.projectaccess.org