A day in the life: optical apprenticeships tutor

Kay Bagshaw is a dispensing optician and a tutor for optical apprenticeships at Woodspeen Training

How do you start your day? 

I log onto the e-portfolio system and check if any learners have uploaded work ready for feedback. I go  through emails and diary tasks. Then it’s on to the first group training session, on a Teams call with a group of learners for 2.5 hours. We will discuss a new topic, or build knowledge by adding to a previous week’s session.  We have group discussions, watch videos, and have activities.

After the session the learners complete the set work for the week. My e-portfolio system alerts me when a new piece is uploaded and I will try and mark it as soon as it comes onscreen. I give feedback and growth exercises for each individual learner.

What do you love about your role?

The best thing about the job is that no two days are the same. I work from home, which allows me to drop off and pick up my kids from school, but I also visit learners at work.

It’s nice to get out of the house. We go through skills – things that are better seen in the flesh rather than through a screen. I observe them working, making sure all their skills and knowledge are being used correctly and effectively.

After 12 to 18 months of interacting with learners every week, when they leave I am sad to see them go but it is a joyous time for them as they have achieved their qualification and are moving up the career ladder. My hope is that they stay in the optical profession and their passion for it grows.

What are the challenges?

All learners acquire and retain knowledge in different ways. I make the sessions, assessments and feedback inclusive so as not to discriminate against any particular styles. This means I really need to get to know and understand my learners.

The apprenticeship course has a list of standards that have to be covered, but I handle them differently from person to person, group to group – that’s what makes no two training sessions the same.

Tutors are always reflecting. Do the learners need special assistance? Is the course delivering what it was intended to? Do we need to revise resources, or the session, or how it is delivered? We discuss these issues as a whole team before making any changes. 

Colleagues and employers always seem to want to ring me during the school run. I have two children in different schools so I’m out of the house for around 45 minutes every afternoon. I often sit in the car at the school gates taking phone calls.

How do you wrap up each day?

By 3.45–4pm I’m back home and marking and feeding back on work that has been uploaded from the morning and afternoon sessions. I then complete tasks from emails that have arrived throughout the day.

What’s your advice for DOs interested in tutoring? 

 Make sure you are passionate about the subject you are teaching – that way the job never feels like a chore.

Allow time for self-reflection. This will make you a better, more adaptable, approachable tutor.