Barclay Academy

Scarlett O’Sullivan, Deputy Headteacher

Barclay Academy

“I was hesitant to put our Year 11s on at first but I’m so glad we did!”

I wasn’t particularly keen on doing any tutoring at first as I expected it might increase staff workload and I wasn’t sure if the tutors would know the exam spec inside out, but I sat in on the sessions and it immediately gave me the confidence that the students were working on the right things in the right way.

About Barclay Academy

School Phase
Phase: Secondary
School Location
Location: Stevenage, Hertfordshire
School Size
Size: 718 students

The work that was being done with Year 10 was really excellent. Feedback from the students was very positive. We thought – ‘let’s go for it’. We have 60 Year 11s enrolled now. 

I wasn’t particularly keen on doing any tutoring at first as I expected it might increase staff workload, but the central team had identified a need to spend the ring-fenced National Tutoring Funding. I was signed up to the Third Space Learning email list so decided to give it a go with our Year 10s.

I didn’t go with Year 11 at first as it was so close to GCSEs and I wasn’t sure if the tutors would know the exam spec inside out. It’s one thing to be good at maths, but I needed them to be confident in their GCSE knowledge too.

I’ve sat in the sessions and I like the way the children are having to explain their answers.

Once we decided to go for it with Year 11 too, I sat in on the sessions. It immediately gave me the confidence that the students were working on the right things in the right way as I could hear them explaining their methodology to their tutors. That interaction between the student and the tutor is really positive for our students.

The diagnostic assessment is excellent as it’s enabled the tutors to focus on what the kids actually need rather than just whatever they feel like – the children don’t always know what they need. Their teachers have noted that their confidence has increased. They see it in the classroom when a question comes up and they’ll say ‘I know how to do that! I did it with my Third Space Learning tutor’.

The feedback from the students is really positive. They enjoy it; they want to attend their sessions. That’s obviously the goal.

We had one girl who was having panic attacks in maths lessons and she has settled right down. I was actually a bit nervous about our anxious students doing one to one tuition as that could potentially be quite a lot of pressure, but the tutors have really put them at ease and made it a pleasant experience for them.

I asked one of the Year 10 students how it was going and that we were thinking of putting some Year 11s on it and he told me how great it was and how much he was enjoying it. Then he said ‘hang on… does that mean I have to stop if the Year 11s are starting?’. He was very relieved when I said no.

It’s practical for the staff who are setting it up – this takes so much less time than other tutoring providers.

We’ve worked with another provider for English and science but it does not compare. They’ve not been as responsive and I can’t do as much of the setup quickly myself. There was a time I wanted two Year 10 boys to have some tuition with both Third Space Learning and another provider. It took me 5 minutes with Third Space Learning but took me nearer an hour with the other. The fact that the teacher can choose objectives but doesn’t have to has been great. There isn’t actually a requirement to be involved or put in that time, but they do have the option if they want to.

I cannot fault the responsiveness or the helpfulness of the team, nor the design of the website. It’s been great. I wouldn’t change anything. 

The team has been so responsive. They get back to me quickly and sort any changes I need. They’ve been very patient. The live chat function is great. I had one student who was struggling to connect and I just went on the chat and they said straight away that they were getting in touch with the tutor right now. I know these things will happen and everything got sorted quickly, but they still said they would credit the session as the student had lost a bit of learning at the beginning.

Overall, it’s been a really positive experience.

I’d say the main benefits for our students are the diagnostic element and the fact that the teacher can be as involved as they want; because our students’ gaps have been identified and the objectives are grouped by their impact on GCSEs you know they’re going to work through the topics in exactly the right order for them.

Being able to provide personalised one to one support from friendly tutors, through a system that’s easy to use and with a support team that’s been so helpful and responsive – that’s the number one thing for us.

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