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Pupil Premium Strategies #5 – Peer Tutoring

This is the fifth in a series of blogs giving an overview of research-proven strategies that schools can adopt when budgeting their pupil premium – and how we can help. Previously, we discussed Parental Engagement

In this strategy, students themselves work to support each other in learning. A common example is an older pupil supporting a younger one with a particular subject area in which the former excels. Peer tutoring is backed up by extensive research and anecdotal evidence; it involves students themselves taking ownership of their learning experience by supporting their fellow students’ learning outcomes. Across both primary and secondary schools, peer tutoring programmes have been found to be mostly positive, and so far research has found that students from a disadvantaged background are the most likely to benefit from this approach.

One of the most profound outcomes of peer tutoring is that the benefits for both parties are mutual; the tutor can get just as much, often more, out of the process as the designated tutee. There is no shortage of research proving that we retain information better if we know we will have to then teach it to somebody else, as the tutor has to examine their own understanding of the topic in order to effectively explain it. Anecdotally, many teachers also feel that their roles have more meaning when they continue to learn.

According to TES, some of the benefits of peer tutoring programmes include:

  • The tutors improve as much, if not more than, the tutees
  • Both tutor and tutee improve how they feel about the subject area
  • Both tutor and tutee show improved confidence and better behaviour

Other benefits to students include:

  • Increased attainment in mathematics and reading
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Enhanced interpersonal, social and teamwork skills
  • Greater awareness of the needs of others
  • Better developed communication skills
  • An enhanced sense of citizenship
  • Enhanced social cohesiveness and reduced social exclusion for classes as a whole
  • Better social, communication, and teamwork skills

Examples

Paired reading
This is one of the most widely recognised and utilised forms of peer tutoring, typically with an age gap of around two years. The flexibility involved means that students enjoy being able to choose their own material and explore their own interests, and will share them with others. TES has fantastic resources on paired reading here.

Learning together in Mathematics
Allen Thurston [link] put together a manual for peer tutoring in maths. This detailed guide outlines the particular benefits of paired learning in maths, as well as instructions for actioning the tasks he describes. The basic premise is that tutor and tutee use discussion to solve maths problems.

The cost of implementing a peer tutoring programme is comparably low with other teaching strategies, with the main cost being reserved for professional development (and this may not even be needed in the first place). If your school is considering (or already running) a peer tutoring programme, we’d be happy to support this in any way we can by creating content for your school’s planners that makes delivery easier and tracking less time consuming.

One way you could support peer tutoring at secondary level is by including a page in KS4 planners that focuses on the role of tutor, and one in KS3 planners that outlines the process from the perspective of a tutee. It doesn’t cost extra for multiple editions, so there is no added cost for you.

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