Educational Reforms and BBC Radio Bristol

Well the new School year has started. Kids the length and breadth of the country take a deep intake of breath, pull on the school uniform and head back to School.

This year is different though. Love him or hate him, Michael Gove’s reforms are making an impact. From free school breakfasts (okay a Clegg initiative) through to tougher marking for GCSE and A levels, he has definitely left his mark.

Last week, I was asked by BBC Radio Bristol to take part in a discussion involving educationalists and head-teachers about whether these reforms were on the whole good or bad, and the growing role of tutoring in education. I was not there to blow the trumpet about Tutorhub, but to provide insight from the perspective of The Tutors Association.

You can listen to the discussion by clicking on the bar below.


What next for Tutorhub?

We have been working on Tutorhub for some months now. We expect the website to change dramatically over the coming months.

It’s fair to say that it has taken longer than we would have expected, but understandable considering our decision to focus on chat technology using XMPP – which is also used by Facebook chat.

We have a laser-like focus now on controlled growth in customer numbers and adapting the customer offer so that it fits what people really want. We will be holding more parent and tutor market research sessions – getting credible primary research on our web app. When we have ‘nailed it’ then will be time to ‘scale it’.

Measuring what happens on the website is really important – and I have started using Webtrends in preference to Google Analytics. Early signs are that this will be a really useful tool, and worth the investment – even though the dev team find it a pain. We are also completing a website scorecard, so that we can measure things such as feedback ratings. Getting the management information right at the outset is important.

To date, just about all of our resources have been focused on the development challenge – but from now the main challenge is commercial. We have recruited an intern to help with the communications and marketing, and this marks the start of building a commercial team. Our technology remains very important, and we have a series of planned developments in progress.

We have already received our first subscribing customer but are keeping the website low key until the week commencing 1st November when we start advertising on Google. We will also kick-off a wider PR and news campaign then.

Exciting times!

TutorHub Pilot

Just a quick blog post to say that our new web offer is being tested with parents and tutors, prior to be launched as a public beta.

This is a new and innovative offer to parents wanting to support their children’s learning out of school. We are testing the website with a group of Bristol-based parents and tutors. We are really pleased by the quality of feedback received and are adapting the offer around what our customers say they actually want.

I have been a close follower of Steve Blank’s work, and the whole lean start-up philosophy. What will result, is a customer offer that is much more customer focused and breaks the mould.

Exciting times.

Bristol Families – We need you!

Exciting news! We are three weeks away from launching Tutorhub, a new internet-based educational service, and we’re now looking for families with children in years 7-12 to take part in a trial of the service.

For the kids, Tutorhub combines the one-one attention of a home tutor with the speed and convenience of just looking it up on the internet. To start with, we’re focusing on maths tutoring, but we’ll be adding further subjects as we go.

What’s in it for you? Well, the bottom line is that for the pilot period of two months, your children will have immediate access to a whole bunch of maths tutors, for free. In a nutshell, they post their tricky question on Tutorhub, it’s picked up by one of our tutors who can best answer it and they can start a ‘chat’ session’ to get the problem solved. Once solved, the session ends and you can rate the tutor on how well they answered the question.

For your peace of mind, all of the tutors are CRB checked and all the sessions are recorded for review later. The kids will find the technology very familiar and it means you don’t have to answer those tricky questions they got for homework that night.

What do we want out of it? We want you to try it out and let us know what the kids think and hat you think. At the end, we’ll have three questions for you: what did you like about it, what did you dislike about it and what would you do differently.