Since 2013, Nesta and the Cabinet Office have been working together to increase the availability of volunteer-led tutoring within schools, in order to improve the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils. In order to explore how digital technology could work to make volunteer tutoring more accessible, Nesta and the Office for Civil Society recently launched the Click Connect Learn fund. This fund supports volunteer-led tutoring organisations to create or scale models in which digital technology is used to deliver tutoring to students. Language Futures was recently announced as one of three organisations who will receive a grant to model, implement and evaluate their work in this area.
Language Futures combines digital resources and language-proficient mentor volunteers with project-based learning, peer collaboration and teachers’ expertise. The programme supports students to choose their own language, so that in one classroom several languages might be being learnt. This means students can learn a language that is relevant or meaningful to them, and EAL students have the opportunity to build confidence by studying their own language. Students speak very highly of the positive impact of mentoring. However, there can be some geography-based barriers to mentoring: finding mentors for all requested languages, consistent mentor attendance, and travel arrangements. Therefore, a key objective of the Click, Connect, Learn funding is to explore recruiting mentors through a mix of face to face and online channels. This will enable schools to offer more students their own choice of language, giving them a better educational experience. The grant funding will also help to bring Language Futures into the digital sphere, training volunteers in online tutoring.
The Language Futures approach is currently being delivered through a partnership of organisations, including the Association for Language Learning and Whole Education, and is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
For more information about the Language Futures Click, Connect, Learn project contact: email@example.com.
For general information on the Language Futures approach and how your school can become involved, please contact the Language Futures Project Manager, Clodagh Cooney, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org