Guest interview : Tom West co-director of CornerStone Tuition

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By Aliya Nabil with Tom West

CoachBright values different insights and efforts to help make education fairer. CornerStone Tuition, like CoachBright aims to increase access to education for all. We are happy to have Tom West, the co-director of CornerStone Tuition to share some of his experiences with us. Want to find out more? Read our Q&A session below!

What does CornerStone Tuition do and why was it set up?

We provide free one-to-one tuition to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. We set up in 2015 after my long-time school friend and co-founder Sam spent his year out as a private tutor. He became aware of how expensive it is, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds are unable to access it. These are often the students that need the most help. From Sam’s experience as a tutor, having one-to-one work even in a small amount can have a massive impact on grades. At the end of the day we want everyone to be able to achieve their personal goals in education and life, and we hope that our tutoring programmes can help inspire students to do this.

What makes it unique?

All our work is on a one-to-one basis and at the same time completely free – that’s free for the student and their school. We have a framework for our programmes, but we make sure that they are tailored to each school and what they are aiming to achieve. This allows us to work around and compliment their teaching methods and curriculum to maximise benefits to the students.

What makes a great volunteer tutor for you?

A great volunteer tutor for us is engaging, relaxed, motivated and committed. Being easily approachable, open and easy to engage with makes an effective tutor – as well as some knowledge of the subject!

Have you faced any difficulties setting up CornerStone Tuition? If yes, what were the obstacles and how did you overcome them?

Registering as a charity isn’t easy and takes a lot of time, but after that our main challenge has been getting the word out about what we do. We found ourselves in a bit of a ‘Catch 22’ scenario. To get credibility, we needed people to have faith in us. Getting people to have faith in you, however, is often reliant on the credibility you have. Securing our first programme and getting the GCSE results was key and has proved to us that our formula can help achieve some great progress and results.

Do you have any especially memorable moments while tutoring for Cornerstone that you would like to share?

We had one student who came to the UK two years ago and could not speak a word of English. He went on to achieve some great GCSE results which were a testament to how hard he worked since he came here. We only met him last March, but knowing his story, the results were incredible.

Lastly, if you could temporarily ignore the reality of today’s education landscape, what would your ideal world look like in terms of education?

An ideal world for me would be a world where all young people have the platform and the confidence to succeed and achieve what they are capable of. All young people having equal opportunity to accomplish what they want with their education, career and life is something I strongly believe in.