WE PLAN FOR OUR VOLUNTEERS TO BE IN SCHOOLS AFTER THE OCTOBER HALF TERM..
WE WELCOME ENQUIRIES FROM PROSPECTIVE NEW IN-SCHOOL VOLUNTEERS NOW, FOR INTERVIEW OVER AUGUST/SEPTEMBER AND TRAINING IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER.
IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID 19, WE HAVE A STRONG FOCUS ON HEALTH & SAFETY AND WE WILL WORK WITH SCHOOLS TO ENSURE THAT THERE IS AN APPROPRIATE ENVIRONMENT FOR VOLUNTEERS.
Our trained volunteers provide one-to-one support to children in state primary schools who are behind in maths.
If you’d enjoy volunteering regularly for 1½ hours once a week during the school day, and would find it rewarding to help 6 to 8 year-olds, you could be one of our In-school Volunteers.
We work on a school-year cycle, although this year our start in schools will be delayed.. We are currently looking for volunteers to attend training in September or October and to work in a school from November 2020, ideally for a full school year.
As well as enthusiasm, you will need adequate numeracy. For working with 6-to-8-year olds, this means being competent with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – and also being confident in explaining them.
By sharing your competence in numeracy, you will enable children to build key skills and confidence for their school years and beyond.
Before you start in a school, we will provide training on how to interact with children in a school setting, on the early-years maths syllabus, how to communicate ideas in maths, and on creative ways to engage young children with maths games and other activities.
We have current and former teachers acting as Mentors who deliver this training and provide on-going support to our volunteers. We also deliver training in safeguarding and arrange for DBS background checks for all our volunteers.
If you are interested in being an In-school Volunteer in 2002-21, please have a look at our FAQs below, and then contact us and we can discuss or send you more information as appropriate.
We really value our In-school Volunteers. We see them as a major source of ideas and advice, and listen to their suggestions for the wider development of the charity.
Currently we are active only in North London. Our plan for the next few years is to expand across London, and after that into other major UK cities. So if we are not yet in an area close to you, we hope that we will be in the medium term.
A one-to-one session with a child lasts 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the school. A volunteer will typically see three children in a weekly visit. So a weekly commitment would be 1 to 1½ hours (plus your travel time). You will also have to a small amount of preparation for each session.
Before you start your volunteering, you have to come to one of our training sessions. Including pre-reading and pre-watching that will take about 7 hours.
We usually ask our volunteers to commit for a full school year. Normally this is late September to July, but, in the unique circumstances of 2020-21, it will be early November to July. However, given the increased need in schools for support for children who have missed months of education, we are prepared to consider prospective volunteers who are currently unemployed but looking for full-time work, and therefore cannot commit for a full year. We will discuss this on a case-by-case basis.
If you apply to Number Champions after the school year has started, we would still love to have you if a vacancy arises – and the commitment would then be for the rest of that school year.
We very much hope that, having completed an initial year, you will wish to continue volunteering with Number Champions!
We – and the schools – appreciate that volunteers have their own commitments. So, if you are able to attend for most weeks during the school year and can also give advance notice of your unavailability, you can certainly volunteer and make a positive contribution to each child over the year.
Sessions are during the school day, with exact times depending on the school and on the volunteer.
Schools typically teach core National Curriculum subjects such as Maths and English in the morning. Some schools have asked us to take children out of morning maths class for their one-to-one sessions so that they do not miss out on other subjects and, but most have asked for the sessions to start immediately after lunch so that the children do not miss the core subjects. Schools do offer some flexibility, but they generally want volunteers to commit to the same time each week.
We try to match volunteers with schools which are at a convenient location for them to travel to. We will arrange for you to visit the school before you start, so that you can meet the senior teacher who is acting as our coordinator and who can discuss with you the practicalities of the volunteering. You could certainly decide at that stage that the particular school was not for you, but in practice no volunteer has!
The actual location will depend on the particular school. You might be in the library, the dining room, a spare classroom, or perhaps in a quiet corridor area. For safeguarding purposes, the location must be visible to other people. Some arrangements are less ideal than others, but the school will generally do its best.
The volunteer fetches the child from the classroom at the start of each one-to-one session and accompanies them back to the classroom afterwards.
We deliver initial training face-to-face in small groups. This is designed to give you the skills and confidence to work with children, to identify their weaknesses in maths, to play relevant games with them, and to deliver simple counting and numeracy exercises.
As part of the training we supply a condensed version of the National Curriculum for maths, broken down into individual skills for easy understanding. For each skill, we give a link to a resource such as a video or a game which will help you understand how to communicate the skill to the child or how to give the child an opportunity to practice it. We provide this document online to our volunteers, and it is periodically updated with new resources.
We also have current and former teachers acting as Mentors who deliver the training and who will be available afterwards to advise you by email or telephone, and, if appropriate, face-to-face.
We organise meet-ups of volunteers and Mentors during the year so that you can exchange ideas and learn from one another. We are keen to hear what works so that we can pass on ideas to all of the volunteers, including adding the ideas as resources to our Curriculum document.
At least once a year, a mentor will observe one of your sessions and give you direct feedback. This will not be passed to Number Champions, although the Mentor will give us an anonymised summary of the sessions observed.
We encourage the schools to give good feedback to the volunteers on the progress of the children, and to be available to support the volunteers as needed.
We will give you a ‘kit’ including whiteboard, dice, counters, cards, snakes and ladders, and various printed sheets with number lines and number squares, etc. Your training will show you how you can engage in various games and activities using such simple props.
Schools will usually make other teaching tools available, such as toy money and ‘Numicon’. Again, our training will explain how you might use these.
We do not expect you to buy equipment yourself, but for a specific session you might want to bring in items which you have available at home. For example you might bring a tape measure for a session on measuring lengths and heights.
We aim to have at least two volunteers at each school, and most of our partner schools have three or more volunteers. Volunteers may not necessarily be in the school at the same time, so we will introduce the volunteers at a school to each other so that they can share experiences and ideas.
We will have a brief telephone conversation with you to make sure you understand the role, and then we will arrange a face-to-face interview. This is typically at a café near your home. We will discuss the role in more detail and make sure that it is appropriate for you. We then require two proofs of identity and two reference letters. (We follow up a sample of references by telephone.) You will also require a DBS check which will be organised through the school.
You will have a training session before you start in a school. This is with a group of other new volunteers and lasts about four and a half hours. Before the training you have to do some ‘pre-watching’ of videos on how young children learn maths and pre-reading of our policies and of a few terms used in early years maths. All this should take another couple of hours.
We will pay reasonable travel expenses as explained in our Volunteer policy. We encourage volunteers to use public transport but we will pay car mileage and even parking costs if there is no reasonable alternative. We require evidence of expenditure, but there are circumstances where we can accept a log book rather than receipts.
An organisation with a strong physical presence requires people on the ground in each area where we operate. This means not just In-school Volunteers, but also people to recruit schools and manage the relationships, and people to recruit and to support volunteers. Our strategy is therefore to focus on London while we grow to a suitable scale, after which we can open up in new areas, building a local support structure in each.
We have developed our intervention based on discussions with experienced teachers, incorporating ideas from existing literacy schemes which support children learning to read. We have also built on feedback from our volunteers.
At the end of our first year, in July 2019, we asked the class teacher of each child we worked with to evaluate the child’s progress over the year compared to the rest of the class. This used a five point scale from ‘very much better’ to ‘worse’. (It turned out that nobody was evaluated ‘worse’!) The teachers rated 60% of the children ‘very much better’ or ‘noticeably better’.
These results are particularly striking, as the selection criterion for the children is that they have performed less well than their classmates in previous years.
For school year 2019-20 we have asked the same question to class teachers on over 100 children. As the pandemic has meant that our intervention has been for a half year only, we anticipate positive but less emphatic results.
Thus we have an intervention which professionals predict will succeed and which is already showing positive impact. However, we want to continue to improve the quality of our intervention and to get external validation of our results.
We have made initial steps towards establishing a partnership with independent academics who can evaluate whether we achieve improved outcomes for the children we work with. A statistically meaningful analysis will require tracking hundreds of children. Our goal is to achieve this by 2024-25.