Will a GCSE Maths Tutor be replaced by on-demand service?
Until recently, parents would have to pay a GCSE Maths Tutor if their child was struggling in the subject. However, for many parents on low incomes, paying for tuition is simply too expensive.
Nor is it always possible to rely on family help, especially if parents are working and don’t have the time to help. Thankfully technology now provides help in the form of online tuition. Of course, many tutors provide one-to-one online tuition using technologies such as video conferencing, screen sharing and interactive whiteboards.
One advantage of using an online tutor is that prices are generally much cheaper. Typically £15 per hour compared to over £30 for a tutor to come to your home. Another is that even if you live in a very remote location you can still get help.
However, this is just the beginning of what technology can offer. One company which is pioneering a new type of online service is educational technology start-up Curvestone.
It recently joined forces with another ed-tech startup – tuition company Tutorfair – to trial a new on-demand service. Rather than having to pay for a GCSE Maths Tutor, the idea is that students can text in a query about a GCSE Maths question.
Students simply take a picture of the question they are struggling with and post it to the app. One of Tutorfair’s tutors will then respond during homework hours (6 pm until 9 pm). The organisation goes into schools and trains up students and teachers on how to use the platform.
Helping disadvantaged children?
Whereas traditional tuition services are regarded as expensive, Curvestone’s service is aimed at students from lower-income families. It recently received a £150,000 grant from Nesta to run a pilot programme with 36 schools in London which have over 50% of students receiving free school meals. This is a known indicator of families living in poverty.
In 2010, the Sutton Trust Mobility Manifesto said around 60% of pupils who receive free school meals don’t pass their GCSE Maths and English GCSEs. Passing English and Maths is a basic requirement for students getting their first job.
As then skills minister Matt Hancock said back in 2013: “For lots of employers if you don’t have a C in English and Maths you don’t get that foot in the door.”
So is on demand tuition the way forward? Yes, according to Sebastian Kotur, co-founder of Curvestone. Not only is it a cheaper option than getting a GCSE Maths Tutor to your home, but it’s also a much more convenient solution.
“Disadvantaged children don’t feel entitled or sometimes don’t know how to ask for help,” he recently told the London Evening Standard.
“The cool thing (with Curvestone) is that they don’t need to know how to ask for help. All they have to do is take a photo and the tutor will figure out what help they need.”
AI and machine learning
Launched in 2017, it’s too early to say whether Curvestone’s pilot will make a difference to GCSE results. This won’t be known until the 2019-20 results come in. However, the organisation claims it is seeing some benefits from its own measurements. Around 20 to 30 per cent of pupils become active users once the school is ‘onboard’. Of these around 70 per cent are female.
What’s more Curvestone is using machine learning to help tutors improve their service. By analysing transcripts of conversations between tutors and students, it is able to feed information back to the tutors.
As Breanna Yen, Co-Founder and CDO of Curvestone recently told The Standard:
“They find it really valuable. Tutoring is quite a lonely industry and you don’t get much feedback because you’re usually only one-on-one with a student and they’re not really qualified to give it.”
5 Ed-Tech startups to look out for
Education technology, or Ed-Tech, is one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors. It accounts for four percent of all digital companies, according to The Education Foundation. This is partly due to the increasing demand for tech in the classroom.
According to the Guardian schools across the UK are now spending close to £900 million on Ed-Tech each year to leverage learning. Here are some of the most innovative UK Ed-Tech startups.
- Bright Little Labs:
Founded in 2015, Bright Little Labs helps children ages 7 and up to learn to code. It also provides tech products including a small flying drone.
An online platform which connects pupils with vetted tutors using live streaming. Last year the online service, which has 7,000 tutors, raised £10 million in funding.
A UK-based startup which uses virtual and augmented reality to provide immersive learning experiences for young children. Its main product, The Virtuali-Tee, is an AR T-shirt designed to bring anatomy to life.
Kano produces a number of coding kits starting at £29.99. These include the Harry Potter coding kit, motion sensor kit and a computer touch kit. The firm also offers a mobile app which teaches the basics of coding.
A virtual teaching assistant Zzish helps teachers instantly see which of their students need help and what they’re struggling with through an assessment application called Quizalize.
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