Last Friday saw Shirley and me at The Tutors’ Association’s fourth annual conference.
They had chosen a new venue to hold the event: The Royal Society, just behind The Mall (there is nothing quite like a jaunty stroll across St James’s Park first thing in the morning). It was a serene and beautiful venue where one could easily spend 10 minutes sitting and taking in the architecture. But no such time for reflection – talk-attending and networking needed to be done.
The day started strongly with two keynote speakers, James Turner of The Sutton Trust and Dr Kathy Weston. James spoke engagingly and clearly: his focus was how to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds could benefit from tuition. He suggested measures such as offering parents a means-tested voucher to spend on tutoring or more agencies offering free/reduced price tuition. Dr Weston (who we already knew as Sarah appeared on her radio show a few months ago) talked passionately about our role as tutors in supporting students with their mental health as well as with their academics. She raised the point that we may need to support the parents as much as the student as they try and navigate how best to help their child.
There were then four break-out sessions throughout the day, but Shirley and I attended only two in order to give us more time to network. Of course, the first one we went to was Dan’s. In front of a packed room of around 70 people, Dan talked about some of the most common mental health problems, how to recognise signs and symptoms and what to do if you suspect your young person is struggling. He also managed to squeeze in what are Mindfulness and Positive Psychology and how they can help your students. Last year Dan was on a panel at the conference so it is a real testament to the expertise he’s acquired and shows how vital it is that all tutors are up to speed on mental health issues, that he was given his own session to lead this year.
I left the Tutors’ Association conference with a spring in my step. Everything I had listened to was useful and thought-provoking. It was also extremely pleasant to spend time in such an attractive building with interesting people.
If you are a tutor debating whether to join The Tutors’ Association, I would strongly recommend that you do. We have always strived to promote and nurture a Tutor Community so that everyone working through Osborne Cawkwell Tuition feels supported and part of a family. Joining the TTA would add an extra dimension to your world with a huge range of benefits on offer for the annual fee as well as connections to tutors across the UK and unlimited access to webinars and conferences.