The Elevator Project

Sophie shares how a student tutoring project helped her to feel part of the city community as an Edinburgh student.

Women with dog outdoors

The Elevator Project provided one-to-one tuition by student volunteers to pupils in selected Edinburgh secondary schools, who may be facing barriers towards exam success.

Sophie, who played a key role in organising the project, tells us more.

“The Elevator Project really allowed students to become part of the wider Edinburgh community, and see a different side to the city. Our volunteers ranged from Scottish students (who had attended the schools they were working in) to international students, which was fantastic because it really reflected the diversity of the school community.

Building confidence

“Teaching was new to many of the volunteers but I really saw their confidence in teaching grow through the process, and by having one-to-one sessions, tutors were really able to build a rapport with pupils and gain their trust. The biggest challenge we encountered was building pupil confidence. All of our pupils were really very able, but helping them see that for themselves proved to be the real key to success.

“We received excellent feedback from everyone involved in the project. Our students were absolutely amazing. There is so much talent within the student community and passion for learning. It was great watching our volunteers share that talent. The teachers we worked with were amazing and very supportive the whole way through. Our pupils were also fantastic, and I think their enthusiasm grew as time went along and they could see their own progression.

“One of the biggest things I learnt about myself is that I am able to work confidently in situations with many unknowns.

Sharing success

“My most memorable moment was exam results day. All pupils improved their grades, more than half got a C. One pupil even got a B grade. Being able to share that with our volunteers was an amazing feeling.

"One of the biggest things I learnt about myself is that I am able to work confidently in situations with many unknowns. Setting the project up was a whole new experience for me, and whilst I had taken part in many outreach activities before I had never been the organiser. Working in the education sector, I had to get to grips with a lot new structures very quickly, including safeguarding and the curriculum. Beyond the project, I think these skills have proved very useful to me working in a research environment.”

Sophie's inspiration

"The students I worked with in this project were a huge inspiration. They were all such lovely people and so keen to help. Slogging across Edinburgh every week in the wind and rain to get to the schools. I don’t think it was easy, especially early on, to get the pupils engaged and also to gain confidence themselves in teaching."

The background

About Sophie

Sophie Flack-Prain graduated with a PhD in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences in 2019, and completed her MSc in Environmental Protection and Management in 2013. She is now working as a spatial analyst for a natural capital assessment company. 

How the Elevator Project was funded

The Elevator Project received a Student Experience Grant for £1,070 in autumn 2018. The money helped to cover travel expenses and joining fee for the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme.