Hundreds of schoolchildren will benefit from extra maths tuition as part of a project which is training university students and recent graduates to become tutors.

The maths catch-up tutorials will begin in December and extend into 2021 and see 34 University of Bradford students and recent graduates work as maths coaches to children from 17 Bradford schools.

The scheme is funded jointly by Bradford Opportunity Area and Bradford City Council and coincides with Maths Week England (November 9-14).

Francine Lewis, head of tutoring from Trinity Multi Academy Trust and a member of the West Yorkshire Maths Hub, is training the tutors.

She said: “We are training them to be effective tutors, to get the best out of students. We’re also showing them the best way to relay maths problems to ensure students don’t just learn a formula but can apply their knowledge to any situation an exam might throw at them. Ultimately, this is about giving children more confidence. Maths is an everyday, functional skill, so will help to improve their chances throughout life.”

Mark Duxbury, West Yorkshire Maths Hub Lead, added: “This is the first time we have enrolled undergraduates on this scale. We want to inspire young people – hopefully, some of them will want to become maths teachers.”

Tom Green, 28, who graduated with a computer science degree this year, is one of the tutors. The former games design manager who now works for a high street bank said: “I’ve always had a passion for maths and I also love tutoring. This scheme has a really good reason at its core. If you’re a pupil, it makes a difference being taught by someone passionate. The other thing is to show pupils how maths can have practical applications, to show them this is worth learning.”

University of Bradford Vice-Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon said the scheme reflected the University’s long-standing commitment to social mobility.

Congdon said: “These commitments are anchored in our University Strategy, our Social Mobility Pledge, which we launched this week and objectives set out in our Access & Participation Plan to eliminate participation and attainment gaps. We are determined to enable more people to prosper through university education and securing high quality professional managerial jobs. The maths catch-up clubs are one example of how the University is using its expertise to benefit local schools and the wider community”.

“By giving these children a helping hand and getting them excited about maths, we’re not only improving their chances as individuals but helping raise standards overall and thereby benefiting the local community. This project works on several levels, not least by improving their maths skills but also in terms of boosting their confidence while giving our students valuable work experience”, she said.

She added: “When Opportunity Areas were launched in 2017, they were part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and their core aim was to eliminate so-called attainment gaps, ensuring children from all backgrounds achieve their full potential. This project represents concrete evidence of that ambition and is one of the reasons we’re keen to see Opportunity Areas be extended.”

The maths catch-up tutorials are being run in conjunction with Bradford City Council and the University of Bradford STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) team and are aimed at Year 11 pupils. Their main aim is to improve the proportion of students who attain at Grade 4 or above in Mathematics GCSEs in 2021.

University students trained as tutors will be paid for their work, delivering one-hour sessions to small numbers of students in local libraries, with the first sessions due to start this month. In addition to being paid, they will also receive ongoing training and support from West Yorkshire Maths Hub. They will take the NSPCC’s online safeguarding training course to work with young people out of a school environment as well as University of Bradford safeguarding training.

Schoolchildren will receive weekly sessions right up to their GCSEs in 2021 and will be set extra tasks to do at home. Packed lunches will be provided to all pupils regardless of what time they attend their tutorial.

The scheme also links to the University of Bradford’s strategic vision for 2020-25 of creating a world of inclusion and equality of opportunity where people want to, and can, make a difference.

Additional information

One tutor will have up to four pupils per session and can teach a maximum of three groups a week. Four tutors will be assigned to each library venue and will form a peer-to-peer support group.

Pupils will sit a test with GCSE maths questions at the beginning, halfway through and towards the end as they near exams to measure progress.

The Centre for Applied Research (CAER) based at Bradford’s Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research will carry out evaluation. CAER was created through a local collaboration including the Bradford Opportunity Area and is committed to using research to empower schools to provide the best educational and start in life for pupils.

The project reflects the University’s commitment, outlined in its Access & Participation Plan, to eliminate attainment gaps and enable more people to go to university. It also links to its strategic vision for 2020-25 of creating a world of inclusion and equality of opportunity where people want to, and can, make a difference.

It is hoped having the sessions in a library will introduce parents and young people to other events and opportunities on offer but tutoring can also move online if necessary during the pandemic.