Tom’s story

I’ve been tutoring at Friday Night School for five years now. I’m proud to say that, not only have I watched the kids grow up in that time, but I’ve grown up myself, and I’ve learned many valuable life lessons through the unparalleled joy of teaching others.

At first, like many first-time tutors, I was a little apprehensive. I was only thirteen, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t know enough. What if they asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to? What if I couldn’t do whatever exercises they were doing?

But soon I realised that what I offered was something much more than mathematical knowledge or literacy skills. These played an important part, true, particularly for kids who don’t come from English-speaking backgrounds, but by far the most important thing I had to do for the kids was just be there.

This is the beauty of Friday Night School. For a kid who finds himself in a world that is new, as he tries to adjust and make friends in an unfamiliar environment, a smiling face from someone his age is more important than I first realised. Through Friday Night School I could offer my services not just as a tutor, but as a friend, as role model for the younger kids, a big brother.

The chance to be a big brother has been a particularly enriching one for me, too. Just as I’ve been able to make a lasting impact on some of the kids I’ve met, they too have had an impact on me. The opportunities to cheer up a kid who’s been having a bad day, or to explain something that has been confusing them, are ones I really treasure.

The Friday Night School community is a truly special one. Every week the hall becomes a bustling hive of activity: immensely proud mothers helping to keep the program running; little children running around, laughing and playing; tutors trying to explain concepts they themselves have only just learned; it’s a truly uplifting experience, with lessons abounding for pupils young and old.”

Tom, Xavier College