Tutoring project for children from a refugee community: Tutor perspectives

Deborah Holt*, Alice Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: The question of how best to support children who are refugees to resettle and thrive in a new country is important and complex. One of the many challenges experienced by such children is disrupted education. It is widely recognised that a sense of belonging and integration within a new school and community are key to enhancing children’s chances of achieving their potential. Tutoring programmes, where tutors work one-to-one with tutees, can offer a form of support in this regard. Purpose: Set within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this study sought to explore experiences of tutors involved in a pilot project in Scotland for primary schoolchildren from a refugee community. The home-based, online tutoring project focused on building confidence and a sense of belonging in order to support achievement in school. Methods: Participants were 18 tutors who had taken part in the pilot project. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to gather rich data about the tutors’ experiences of working with the children from the refugee community. Data were analysed qualitatively, using a reflexive thematic analytical approach. Findings: Tutors believed that relationships between tutor and child were essential to success. Personalisation appeared key to building confidence and helping children progress. Tutors spent time getting to know their tutee and took care to let their tutee get to know them as a person, as a way of bringing down barriers and helping the child connect. Tutors reported that they needed knowledge of the local curriculum, liaison with class teachers and understanding of the refugee community. They described the peer support network as invaluable for sharing knowledge. Although each worked with a different child, tutors learned from and assisted each other through their support network, sharing resources and ideas. Conclusion: The study highlights the value of a professional learning community, particularly when tutors are working in isolation. It also draws attention to the importance of training for tutors taking on such roles, including support with the pastoral aspects of working with a child, such as the personalisation and relationship-building that was of such significance in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-490
JournalEducational Research
Issue number4
Early online date20 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • children from refugee communities
  • disadvantage
  • integration
  • professional learning community
  • tutoring
  • volunteers


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