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Last week, it was the seventh and final session held by UCL students as CoachBright volunteers at Stoke Newington school. Merely three miles away from the hustle and bustle of Euston Square – where it is hard to walk 500 meters without encountering someone studying at university – lies a school whose pupils are not very likely to attend one.

Nicholas Ooh, student and head volunteer of the programme at UCL, believes these students are not underprivileged because of a lack of access to resources, but rather because no one in their families attained higher education. He says these coaching sessions not only help students gain confidence academically, but that it brings them closer to university students and the very idea of attending university.

Watching the tutors and tutees interact with each other certainly cements this idea. They chat as if they are old friends, not people who have seen each other once weekly for seven weeks. Since this is the last session, some pairs bring each other presents. Memorably, one tutor brings her student a slice of chocolate cake – she remembers him saying he loved chocolate, and since he recently got braces, he could only eat soft things, making cake the obvious choice. Sweet treats are not the only indicator of affection: one tutor brings his tutee posters to use even after their sessions are over, he hopes she will put them up on her walls and think of his guidance. This is the level of thoughtfulness that makes the tutor/tutee bond so strong.

So how does one make a difference in seven weeks? Become a volunteer tutor, bring chocolate cake, multiplication-table posters and an intense dedication to coaching sessions – that seems to be the effective and heart-warming way of the student volunteers for CoachBright.

Written by Anoushka Gandhi - UCL Photojournalist.

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