Why did we start On-Demand?
We created On-Demand for Nesta, the innovation foundation. They had noticed in 2016 that volunteering projects were making a real difference in education but were not reaching large areas of the country. We took up the challenge because we thought the solution might also fix an issue for the Tutorfair Foundation. We had lots of tutors trying to volunteer who we were unable to place most in our projects with schools. The On-Demand app would let volunteers anywhere in the country answer questions whenever they wanted.
What have we found?
Fast forward to 2019 and we now have a real live service that works. Pupils from schools who sign-up can access a tutor for GCSE maths instantly on their phones. They feel happy with the help they get and their teacher can see what they struggled with. Volunteers can help when and where they are able to, without needing to make complex commitments. The Foundation team can train the volunteers online and monitor for quality and safeguarding.
Now that hundreds of students and volunteers and 30 schools have used it we have loads of great feedback on how to make it all better. What’s most exciting is that we’re starting to find from our small sample of students in the pilot that students who used the app more frequently saw some grade improvement. One of the most important things moving forward to more schools and more students will be proving this result to be statistically significant.
As we wrap up the pilot study we are really excited with the potential for On Demand. We feel confident that it will be shown make a real difference to grades when we can do a full proof of concept. This would mean for our volunteers that they are making a measurable contribution to addressing educational inequality. When we can prove that we make an impact, there is so much potential to extend to new students and subjects and for this to be a whole new way for teachers and tutors to work together.
With thanks to...
Before signing off I must thank Nesta and DCMS for setting a visionary challenge and supporting us on the way. Pete and Tas on the Foundation team have designed and run everything. Curvestone help us with development. 364 tutors volunteered to help. And thanks to everyone else in the Tutorfair extended family who has helped to make this idea into a reality.