Student Tutoring Scheme celebrates 30 years of inspiring pupils across north-east Scotland

bp Student Tutor Scheme - 30th anniversary

THREE decades of a bp education scheme, which has provided around 3,000 students with an opportunity to inspire north-east pupils, was recognised at the company’s North Sea headquarters last night.

The enduring success of the bp Student Tutoring Scheme is thanks to the partnership between north-east higher education institutions; North East Scotland College (NESCol), Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the University of Aberdeen, the region’s two local authorities; Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, supported by bp.

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Every year the scheme places students from RGU, the University of Aberdeen, and NESCol into school classrooms, to act as role models to pupils, help raise aspirations, and motivate them to continue in education after school. It also helps students to develop problem-solving and communication skills and encourages them to consider a career in teaching.

This year, 70 student tutors were placed in almost 30 schools across the region.

Established in 1994, the bp Student Tutoring scheme, evolved from an earlier bp programme ‘Aiming for a College Education’ that focused on encouraging school pupils to stay on after compulsory schooling and aspire to further and higher education.

Kathryn McKee, head of UK communications and campaigns at bp, said:

“The scheme was originally created to help the region’s young people progress into further and higher education so they might benefit from the highly skilled job opportunities in the burgeoning energy industry. The fact that the scheme remains as relevant today as it was 30 years ago is a testament to its success. 

“This year mark’s 60 years of bp in the North Sea and we are very proud of our long-standing investment in education here in Aberdeen and across the UK, and hope that the education partnerships we support continue to help talented young people take advantage of exciting career opportunities for many years to come.”

Jen Eddington took part in the tutoring scheme in 1994/95 whilst studying Consumer Product Management at RGU.

She went on to become a principal teacher and is currently a small business owner. She also supported many bp tutors from the scheme during her teaching career.

“The scheme was an eye-opener for me. It meant I could talk with conviction about my time in the classroom and it gave me hands-on experience before I applied to become a teacher. As a teacher, I continued to support the scheme by having students in classes across my faculty and saw how advantageous it could be for them to experience teaching a subject they are studying. And for pupils, it’s beneficial to have fresh ideas from a different perspective in the classroom.”

The scheme provides additional stimulus and assistance to pupils of all ages and abilities, helping to make school lessons more interesting by providing tutors who have different backgrounds and areas of expertise. In all placements, students work under the supervision of the class teacher.

Alex Davidson-Clark is the principal teacher of learning and teaching and an art and design teacher at Mackie Academy.

She took part in the bp Tutoring Scheme while studying at Gray’s School of Art: “I’d never considered teaching before taking part in the bp scheme and certainly not secondary school teaching, but my mentor helped me gain confidence to enter the classroom and see that this was something I could do as a career.

“For pupils, having a student in the class opens conversations as they have a different rapport with a tutor than with a teacher, and can ask questions about career paths and what university or college is really like. For teachers, it’s great having an extra pair of hands and someone who can spend time on different projects with pupils.”

Shona Milne, interim chief education officer at Aberdeen City Council, said:

“Both Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council have strong connections with the region’s colleges, universities, and employers like bp, and schemes like this are an excellent way to work together to get the best experiences for our young people. Having students in schools allows pupils to speak to people with potentially different lived experiences and shows them that there are excellent education opportunities locally, so they don’t need to look further afield.”

The bp Student Tutoring scheme runs annually and applications will open in October.  Enrolled students at NESCol, RGU, and the University of Aberdeen should contact their institution for more information. 

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