Getting school experience with Action Tutoring

If you are interested in teaching but not sure if it's right for you, volunteer as a tutor to get some real experience with students.

3 mins

6/5/2024 3:40:29 PM
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While his Year 11s were busy sitting their exams, we spoke with Stephen Kennedy, physics teacher and former investment banker, about how tutoring helped him decide to change career to teaching.

What (or who) inspired you to teach?

Like many people, I was very inspired by tutors and teachers during lockdown. My children’s teachers were amazing at running their online lessons. They were so patient and enthusiastic. During a very difficult time for the kids, as soon as the teachers came up on the screen, my children’s faces lit up.

I had a very good physics teacher at school who pushed the material. He was very inspiring. He pushed me and introduced me well-above the standard curriculum. It helped me in my career.

I’ve also continued to be inspired by the people I have worked with. My PGCE course leader has inspired me. So incredibly enthusiastic and energetic. I’ve experienced some of the best lessons ever, his lessons and in particular his classroom management are incredible. For the last 2 years of teaching I’ve been trying to recreate his lessons trying to get that level of enthusiasm and dynamism he was imparting to us.

Why did you tutor?

Before teaching, I had not had a lot of classroom experience and during COVID access to the classroom was extremely limited. I was introduced to Action Tutoring by Now Teach to get some experience. It was nice to feel you are helping out too.

But even more than that, great to work with children who wanted and needed the help. Even now I remember how appreciative some of the pupils were. They didn’t find it easy, and it was nice working with them. The biggest thing perhaps was just getting used to being called 'Sir'. That was new!

What did you learn from the experience?

The experience let me practice the act of teaching and tutoring, trying to teach young people. Most of this was done online for a small number so it was of course very different from giving an in-person lesson to a full class.

Fundamentally it was really good practice at listening to the students, understanding what they already know, or do know, and figuring out where we needed to focus. That was amazing. Looking back at the tutoring I use lots of the learnings even now. 

And perhaps most critically, it gave me something valuable to talk about in my ITT interview.

How did Action Tutoring support you?

The school I was working with had teachers enabling the students to tutor. Behaviour problems were not there so could focus on delivering the lesson. Action Tutoring gave lots of help with lesson plans, question sheets and booklets.

I was tutoring maths but I wanted to teach physics as there is lots of overlap, so it was great having the resources. Being remote helped a lot early on as I could sneakily Google topics to keep ahead!

We were given lots of amazing advice on lesson structure. We were well-connected with students and their teachers. 

How did it help you on your education career path?

I had more confidence that teaching was right for me. I desperately needed to get the experience and see whether it made sense. If it was painful there was no way I would have taught.

How has Now Teach supported you?

Now Teach has done huge amounts to help me. From warning me about the application process and unveiling the different options.

They showed me which parts would be tough and how to brace myself.

They introduced me to other trainees too and it was great to be in WhatsApp groups with other people making the career switch.

Best of all was the connection with other parents. About 10 of us had very very similar experiences before teaching and we could have collective moans, and problem solving, which I wouldn’t be able to have with anyone else. It was amazing having the network and Now Teach literally connected me to people who have written books on being a teacher and a parent!

I can’t remember who, but they gave me advice on remembering to collect evidence throughout the PGCE. It made it much easier. Be a magpie, collect the things. It saved me so much stress compared to people who hadn’t had Now Teach’s advice.

There have also been fantastic lunch meet-ups where we compare notes and sometimes feel like I’m getting better and better. We meet older and newer cohorts and it is amazing to pass on words of encouragement to those joining the club.

What advice would you give others considering teaching or tutoring?

Get as much experience as you can. Teaching is a completely different job from what you may have done. I love it but it isn’t for everyone. Try before you buy.

Teacher training is the hardest bit and knowing whether you like being with the pupils is important. The pupils can get things wrong in ways you could never have imagined – and if you can teach something it gives you a great sense of satisfaction. They open your imagination.

Do try it, it can be great.


Action Tutoring are a charity working to unlock the potential of children and young people who are facing disadvantage. Get school experience by volunteering with them today.

If you already have school experience and want to find out more about changing career to teaching, register and book a call with one of our career change consultants.

Talk to us about becoming a teacher