A new app has been developed that will revolutionise the way children study at home. The brainchild of tutoring agency Tutorfair and software developers Curvestone, with support from innovation charity Nesta, On Demand is an instant messaging service that provides real-time support from expert tutors for disadvantaged students. After their creation recently featuring on ITV News and in the Evening Standard, the developers are looking for schools to participate in the pilot before implementing a nationwide program.
Since its foundation in 2013, Tutorfair has operated on the principle that for every hour paid for high quality tuition, another child should and will receive an equal amount for free. With a network of 200-plus tutors and experience of helping thousands of students, the agency is well-resourced to continue to provide excellent education support at the point of need through the On Demand platform.
Aimed at secondary-age maths students working outside of the classroom, the app connects the pupil directly to DBS-verified tutors. All they have to do is log on to the online platform and text a request for help with a tricky problem. A maths specialist will then click through and begin assisting them. As the volunteers are connected to the system between 6pm and 9pm on weekdays and 5pm and 8pm at weekends, the tutees will have fast and efficient help available when they need it most. Already spending 94 per cent of their time online on text-based apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp, tech-savvy students will be comfortable switching to updates about their maths homework instead.
With 48% of sixteen year-olds in London having benefited from the services of a professional tutor, this app is arriving at a time when the problem of education inequality has never been more acute. Tutorfair Foundation director Peter Kirby explains that ‘61 per cent of students entitled to free school meals did not pass their Maths GCSE this year while if we compare this to fee-paying schools, the figure drops to less than 1 per cent’. Not only is there a widening gap between those who can afford to pay extra for their children’s education, but for those outside of the capital in rural or coastal areas, the number of professional tutors available ‘drops dramatically’.
For now, On Demand is being trialled in five London schools, which include Capital City Academy in Brent, Deptford Green School in Lewisham, Lambeth Academy in Lambeth, Oaklands School in Tower Hamlets and St Marylebone School in Westminster. The Tutorfair Foundation are actively seeking new participant schools in the pilot so they can ensure optimum capability before a planned rollout nationwide.
App developer Curvestone’s mission is to change the way people work by building software and systems that automate labour-intensive tasks and enable a highly-skilled and motivated workforce to focus on the issues that really matter.
“We support organisations like the Tutorfair Foundation in the discovery, development and delivery of automation that helps individuals and teams to grow above and beyond their normal capabilities”
If you are a teacher or parent and would like your school to take part in this game-changing project, email [email protected] for more information.