How Anne-Cecile Grew Through Volunteering

March 17, 2017 by Rachael C
Image Many experienced tutors volunteer as they are passionate about educational disadvantage. Star tutor and mum of 4 Anne-Cecile O tells us what it's like tackling inequality with the Tutorfair Foundation and what she got from her placement.

Anne-Cecile’s Story
Anne-Cecile has been a private French tutor for over 15 years and will begin training in September as a secondary school teacher. She says her experience extends to, “all levels, from beginners to advanced, children and adults, face-to-face and online! I recently specialised in helping students with their French GCSE and have a good knowledge of the National Curriculum in Modern Foreign Languages.”

Anne-Cecile had established quite a reputation as a tutor before she began volunteering. She tells us “most of my students come from word-of-mouth and personal contacts.” For Anne-Cecile in school placements were a chance to give back.

She says, “I started volunteering with the Tutorfair Foundation because I am sensitive to the issue of educational disadvantage.  As private tutors, we tend to teach children from more well-off backgrounds however, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are the ones who are the most in need of good teachers and tutors to give them the same chances in life. I wanted to do something about that. Also, volunteering with Tutorfair enabled me to get school experience and see what it is like teaching languages in the classroom.”

volunteering programme school

To begin with Anne-Cecile learnt from the class teacher. She tells us, “my first day as a Tutorfair volunteer consisted of classroom observation which was immensely useful to me.” Anne-Cecile quickly picked up on the needs in the room and the teacher soon asked her to work with small groups. This was a daunting task!

Anne-Cecile remembers, “my greatest challenge was asserting myself as ‘the person in charge’. My sessions with the students were meant to be more informal [than normal lessons], but I also had the responsibility of [helping] a small group of students [to pass their exams.] In one of our sessions they were supposed to revise for their speaking exam, but were more interested in chatting with their friends!“

But Anne-Cecile quickly found her feet. By the last session she was tutoring her group, “in the cafe at my students' school! It was very relaxed and they enjoyed being away from the classroom and practising their French. I also acquired experience teaching a small group, rather than one-to-one.”

Many students from privileged backgrounds enjoy the ability of travelling and speaking to natives when they are learning a language. Native speakers also offer tuition to children whose families can pay for private lessons. Sending native speakers into modern foreign language departments at underprivileged state schools allows us to offer the same advantages to students regardless of ability to pay. Anne-Cecile recalls, “my best day was when students felt relaxed talking about themselves and their interests in French. As we played games and activities I saw they were really enjoying the language!”

Transformation through Volunteering
As well as helping to address inequality, our in school placements also give our experienced tutors an opportunity to learn a new way of teaching. For Anne-Cecile, “volunteering in a school environment has given me additional experience before starting my teacher training. It has also confirmed that I want to work with students in secondary schools."

The professional development begins with the training day which Anne-Cecile remembers well. She says it  “provided us with valuable information regarding safeguarding and the curriculum.”

The class teacher was impressed at how much Anne-Cecile improved over her 10 week volunteering placement. He noted, “she worked very well with higher ability students and really pushed them and challenged them to make progress.”

Although training is great, it is nothing compared to experiencing the classroom, Anne-Cecile found her placement incredibly useful. She recalls, “I experienced the positive and the negative of working in a school setting. It gave me a clearer idea if it's the kind of environment I want. And I can now say, YES, I want to be in this kind of environment!”

Do you want to join our volunteer team? Anne-Cecile would encourage you, no matter how little, or how much teaching you have done before. She says, ”the experience you can gain through the Tutorfair volunteering programme is not something you can easily find elsewhere. It's very difficult to approach schools as an individual. I think it is fantastic that Tutorfair has this programme in place.”

You can book Anne-Cecile for private French lessons on
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