Re-Act: Working with New Scot’s families
A brilliant project was formed through a partnership between Moray House School of Education and Sport and Re-Act for the children of Syrian refugees in the community. Re-Act were recipients of a grant through the University's Community Grant Scheme.
Written by Deborah Holt, Teacher Educator and MHSES Widening Participation Champion
One of the aims of the charity Re-Act Scotland is to support the integration of refugee families, or new Scots as they are called, within their new homes in Scotland. Working with New Scots’ families in the local community, it was clear that the children’s schooling was an area of concern. So the charity successfully applied for Community Grants project funding for a pilot project tutoring primary school children from the local New Scots community.
Re-Act volunteers worked in partnership with myself, Deborah Holt in the Moray House School of Education and Sport, who recruited teacher education students to be tutors in the Re-Act project. Many existing Re-Act volunteers also took on a tutor role, and through a Whats App group and catch-up sessions, the tutors kept in touch and shared resources.
The education student tutors continued to support and share ideas with the Re-Act volunteers throughout. For the tutors, the partnership worked really well and was a positive experience. Feedback from the children involved and their families was very positive, with families really valuing the support and children enjoying their lessons.
Each tutor was paired with one child, and they carried out a series of 1 hour tutor sessions between March and July 2021. These were all done on a digital platform, because of the pandemic, and part of the funding was used to ensure all families had a device suitable for engaging in online tutoring. Before the first session, there was a meeting between the tutor, the Re-Act team and the family to agree expectations and initial plans. Where possible, tutors were given information from their child’s class teachers on the areas they were covering in school. This was possible because of the partnership with and consent from parents and the existing Re-Act relationships with some, but not all of the schools.
As this quote from a tutor evidences, a priority of the project was to help the children develop confidence in their learning in school:
I worked quite hard to develop a good relationship with my pupil. I went gently with the actual academic learning - starting each session with some getting to know you questions and some general chat about how our weeks had been.
Tutors spent time building a positive productive relationship with their child, gaining their trust and finding out their likes and dislikes as well as learning needs. This knowledge of the child allowed tutors to personalise the learning, as these quotes from both Re-Act volunteers and teaching students illustrate:
“He enjoyed times tables and I found that our most productive lessons were based around these” Re-Act volunteer tutor
I tried to make my own PowerPoints based on the things my pupil told me he was interested in, because I thought my main job was to get him excited about learning.
Evaluation and next steps
Evaluation of the project, gathering the perspectives of tutors, families and the community was that it has been a success and we are now looking for ways to continue it. Quotes from the family are not in English, but I will finish with the words of a tutor:
Their mum told me they were excited for the session each week. I think the project has been a great way to support students in a fun, low pressure environment. Having one-to-one attention every week has been beneficial for the pupil I worked with and is an important part of the project.