Tutor Stories

Smriti Ramakrishnan, July 2016

Towards the end of my last year in sixth form, I still had no idea what I was going to do in my gap year, but teaching was something I had always wanted to experience, so when I saw a poster advertising yipiyap, I thought I’d give it a go.

I tutored maths and science at two high schools and a college, and my experiences were very different at each one. I mainly worked with individuals and small groups outside of class, sometimes helping students who were struggling with a particular topic, and sometimes stretching higher ability students, but I also supported teachers within the classroom, and spent some time working intensively with year 11s who had been excluded from many lessons. I really enjoyed getting to know my students, and working with a wide range of ages and abilities.

A gap year can be quite lonely and isolating, so it was great to meet the other tutors, and work alongside some of them, as well as meeting at various talks, activities and socials organised by Anne, Catherine and Halyna throughout the year.

My time as a yipiyap tutor has given me many invaluable skills, lovely memories and some money in the bank! My role this year was not just to be a tutor, but to bridge the gap between student and teacher, and to be someone whom the students could connect with and come to for support and advice.

Although the year has had its challenges, it has been so rewarding to see the progress of my students, and to have had the chance to make a real difference.

Kelvin Chu, 19, from Stockport

Why did you decide to work for yipiyap during your gap year?

I’d applied to study medicine at university and despite being predicted the required grades at A-level, I missed out on a place and didn’t receive a university offer. I was disappointed, but I knew that I wanted to do something worthwhile with my gap year and boost my university personal statement at the same time, so yipiyap seemed like the perfect answer.

I still had a real passion for the the subjects I studied at A-level – biology, chemistry and maths – and loved the idea of helping others achieve the best possible results.

How have you found being a yipiyap tutor?

I didn’t know what to expect. I started the role with an open mind, but still wasn’t sure how I’d adapt to teaching the pupils. However, I knew straight away that I’d made the right choice, as it’s tremendously rewarding and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a tutor. I’m able to plan the lessons and have a real input to the pupils’ learning and targets.

What’s the best thing about your job?

It has to be helping someone with a concept they find particularly challenging and finding a way for them to understand it. Every pupil is different and picks things up in their own time, so you have to think about how teaching can be tailored to their individual needs. Whether it’s a mathematical equation or a scientific formula, it’s great to be there when it finally clicks and it all falls into place for someone.

What are your plans for after yipiyap?

I’ve now been accepted to study medicine at Imperial College London and I think being a yipiyap tutor had a lot to do with helping secure an offer. The last year has given me an opportunity which I never would have had if I’d gone straight to university, as I’ve now had experience of the working world, allowing me to grow in confidence and boost my CV for future employment.

Saber Rahman, 18, from Rusholme, Manchester

Why did you decide to work for yipiyap during your gap year?

I’d wanted to study aerospace engineering at university, but my predicted grades weren’t high enough, so I’d planned to take a gap year. After hearing about Yipiyap through a presentation at school, I got in touch with them to find out more, as it seemed like a good way to spend the year. I was keen to hear about how the scheme worked and how GCSE pupils could benefit from someone like me going in to help them; the fact that it would equip me a set of new skills was an added bonus.

How have you found being a yipiyap tutor?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as a tutor and I feel like I’ve really made the role my own. A typical day will begin at 8.30am and I’ll meet with the relevant heads of department in the school I’m in. We’ll chat through the lessons for the day and I often get the freedom to compile lesson plans myself, which allows me to be creative with how I deliver particularly difficult topics.

The role has given me an excellent grounding for my future career and I’ve picked up skills that I just would not have learned had I gone to university.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I love the fact that I can relate to these students and understand the pressures that they’re under. While teachers can provide extensive subject knowledge and advice along the way, it was only a few years ago that I was studying for my GCSEs, so I remember how it feels to be sitting those exams.

Combined with a genuine passion for the subjects I teach, I hope that the pupils have found me approachable and see me as an extra resource to get them through their exams.

What are your plans for after yipiyap?

My plans have actually changed over the course of this year and I’m now planning to do an apprenticeship with a well-known international company. I have no doubt that my experience at yipiyap has provided me with the tools I’ll need to juggle my work placement and college work at the same time – I’d fully recommend yipiyap to anyone who is unsure about what to do with their gap year.