By press office 21 January 2021

Young people across East Lothian who struggled with learning during lockdown are to benefit from a pioneering tutoring initiative being launched by Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. The partnership project, designed specifically to help pupils identified by schools as requiring this additional support, has been made possible by an award of £110k from funders including the STV Children’s Appeal.

Across the UK, thousands of school children struggled with learning as families grappled with the challenges of home schooling during last year’s lockdown. Unfortunately, many youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds found it more difficult, which has resulted in them falling behind their peers. The MCR Pathways Lockdown Survey1 of disadvantaged and care-experienced young people found that 68% of those surveyed had done no school work during lockdown.

There are many reasons why a young person may have struggled to keep up with schooling, but mental health problems, poverty and caring responsibilities could be why some families were unable to cope with the demands.

In response to this immediate crisis, Queen Margaret University and East Lothian Council have joined forces with the STV Children’s Appeal and a local family charity to launch the East Lothian Tutoring Initiative. The project will support over 300 pupils in S4 – S6 in all six secondary schools across the county.

Callum Maguire, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach at Queen Margaret University, is passionate about closing the attainment gap and supporting young people to achieve their potential no matter what their background. He explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has not only created a health crisis, it has highlighted growing inequalities within our society. An urgent response is needed to tackle the immediate learning crisis and minimise the risks facing many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Queen Margaret University has a proud history of responding to the most pressing needs of the day, and right now, there is nothing more urgent than dealing with the impact of Covid-19. We are delighted that the STV Children’s Appeal will finance our delivery of online tutoring which will provide one-to-one support for senior years’ school pupils. We have been working closely with East Lothian Council’s Education Services to identify the pupils who will benefit most from this support, and to ensure we provide the right help to allow them to catch up with their learning.”

Job creation is another important outcome of this partnership project. 15 tutors, including recent graduates, have been recruited to fill the tutoring positions.

Thomas Kelly, Head of Development and Alumni Relations at QMU, said: “The East Lothian Tutoring Initiative has been made possible thanks to the support and foresight of the STV Children's Appeal and a local family charity. This project is an area of work which has never been done before on this scale, and is a perfect example of the power of philanthropy and partnership. We are excited to see the immediate impact on individuals, as well as the longer term learning outcomes.”

East Lothian Council’s Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, Councillor Shamin Akhtar, said: “Throughout the pandemic, our schools have worked hard to support families to adapt to a new model of learning.

“The East Lothian Tutoring Initiative will provide welcome additional support to pupils at one of the most critical periods in their education, and help better equip them for success as they approach their National Qualifications.”

Callum Maguire concluded: “We are grateful that the STV Children’s Appeal and the local family charity share the University’s and Council’s vision for this initiative. Without this funding, we would be unable to tackle the inequalities facing some of our younger population, and provide them with the fighting chance that they deserve.”

Tutoring for this project began on 18 January 2021.

Notes to Editor

• Project funding has been provided by STV Children’s Appeal and a local family charity who wish to remain anonymous.

For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: lrussell@qmu.ac.uk M: 07711 011239 or E: pressoffice@qmu.ac.uk

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