Online cross-age peer tuition is a feasible transition intervention for schools

Written by Wayne Harrison, PhD Student (ESRC funded) Durham University

As part of an ESRC Funded PhD at Durham University a feasibility study has trialled a new type of transition intervention in schools. The feasibility study involved Year 7 pupil’s peer tutoring Year 5 students in mental arithmetic strategies on the Tute Virtual learning platform.

The study demonstrated the feasibility of using online cross-age peer tuition, with peer tutors and tutees engaged in the learning experience throughout the programme. The research highlighted how online cross-age peer tuition overcomes the logistical barriers identified by teachers in completing a traditional peer learning experience across the transition between primary and secondary schools.

These included barriers such as transport, time to travel, classroom timetabling and health and safety forms. The 6 week intervention involved 6 x 30 minute sessions using computer rooms in participating schools, either during extended form time or after school as an optional extension activity. The study used a randomised control design with pupils randomly assigned to group sizes 1:1, 1:2 and 1:4, with Durham University CEM InCAS assessments used as a pre – post assessment.

The research has shown how online cross-age peer tuition has the potential to provide schools with a flexible transition intervention, providing an academic focus to transition and creating opportunities to improve communication skills, confidence and develop peer relationships.

As a follow on from the initial feasibility study, further trials are currently involving schools in Durham and Derby to pilot a cross-age peer tuition project involving Year 8 more able and talented pupils peer tutoring Year 6 pupils in mastery level mathematics for data handling. This study is testing the implementation and instruments so that an aggregated trials model can be used to create an evidence base for online peer tuition strategies used in schools.

For further information on the Year 7 / Year 5 feasibility study, I have created a sway document to explain the work completed already.

If you would like to involve your school in future trials at Durham University involving online peer tuition strategies, please email

For further information about the Tute virtual platform, please visit


One thought on “Online cross-age peer tuition is a feasible transition intervention for schools

  1. Pingback: Online peer tuition as a transition intervention for schools | wayneharrison2015

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