Excited: Joann Dill, principal of Heron Bay Primary, with some of her pupils. She said students and parents are enthused about the tutorial programme. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Excited: Joann Dill, principal of Heron Bay Primary, with some of her pupils. She said students and parents are enthused about the tutorial programme. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Teenagers are to help primary school children with their homework in what is being called an “academic renaissance”.

An innovative after-school tutorial programme is launching this month, with senior school students playing the role of makeshift parents.

Older pupils will be expected to tutor up to 40 pupils from Heron Bay Primary School in Southampton.

They have been asked to volunteer their time “for the sake of the community”, as many parents are too busy to ensure their children do their homework.


About 50 students from the Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy have signed up as volunteers.

It is hoped that children will learn to “express themselves in a positive way” rather than resorting to a life of crime.

The Village Pride after-school tutorial programme is the brainchild of the Vernon Temple A.M.E. Church.

It will be officially launched next week by Education Minister Dame Jennifer Smith.

If the tutorial programme is a success at Heron Bay, it looks set to be rolled out to other schools.

Pastor Pedro Castor of Vernon Temple said there was “an immediate need” for this sort of after-school tutorial.

He added: “Our secondary school students will be a great help. They will provide the homework assistance that is needed.

“They are giving back to their community and helping those that are coming up behind them. It’s going to be an academic renaissance.”

Joann Dill, principal at Heron Bay Primary School, said the school was “very excited and thankful” to participate and that parents and children were keen to get involved.

Ms Dill added: “We are building this strong community connection and it will be the students who will benefit.

“Parents can be very busy and when you’re busy, it’s difficult to be able to focus on things like homework.

“But this will give children the opportunity to extend their learning in a non-threatening, community-based programme.

“The interaction with older children will be very beneficial.”

The free after-school tutorial sessions will kick off on Monday, November 15.

“They will run from Mondays to Thursdays, from 3:45pm to 6pm, in a classroom setting at Vernon Temple, which is opposite Heron Bay.

Mondays and Tuesdays will focus on literacy and Wednesdays and Thursdays on mathematics.

Pupils of all ages from Heron Bay will be involved with teachers detailing “areas of concern” for them to work on.

Children will be given a snack before settling down to do their homework with instruction when needed.

Each session will finish with a formal dinner, with the older students engaging in “family-type conversations” with youngsters.

Volunteers will also be aware of Heron Bay’s ‘virtue of the week’ so they can ensure the children are continuing to demonstrate qualities such as compassion, respect and loyalty.

Ms Dill, who became Heron Bay’s principal at the start of the school year, said: “Every child will always have some homework they can do.

“As well as whatever the teacher has assigned, they will have a book they can read out aloud to someone.

“The fact that children are also going to be engaging in conversations is a real plus point.

“Speaking and listening are a huge part of the new Cambridge curriculum and this is really going to help.”

The Eliza DoLittle Society will provide the club’s nightly snack and dinner as part of its Daily Bread feeding programme.

The programme was born several months ago after representatives from Vernon Temple met with members of the PTA at Heron Bay.

Vernon Temple has been carrying out community-based initiatives as part of its Village Pride programme since 2008, including movie nights and discussions for young people.

Pastor Castro said: “We wanted to make Village Pride more accessible to the community.

“We are helping to build relationships in the community.

“We are coming together and working together.”

Teachers and paraprofessionals will oversee the tutorial programme.

A director will also be appointed with his/her wages paid for by an anonymous donor.

The scheme will also be supported by Wok Express and Ice Queen through a coupon scheme. They will offer customers a five per cent discount for a five per cent gift to the Village Pride programme.