A GCSE student in 2019 wrote a reference for me which is far more memorable than most. He wrote ‘Always keen and upbeat – even when he had a cold!’

I’ve always thought that, in all walks of life, if I appear gloomy it will rub off onto others around me. I’ve always managed to keep my problems to myself, never taking problems to work and putting on a brave face, no matter how difficult it was sometimes.

This has always been my quest in tutoring.

Present an image of positivity, even if I don’t much feel like it. True, some students irritate occasionally but I just take a deep breath and keep calm. I say, “I don’t mind how many times I need to explain this – please tell me if you don’t understand.”

The problems in 2020 really put positivity to the test.

And we are still in the thick of it to be honest.

As far as tutors were concerned, most of us made a dramatic change to our working practices. We shifted almost instantly from face-to-face tutoring to the business of ‘on-line’. We have therefore been able to carry on working and our students have continued to have the extra help they needed.

But I only see my students for 45 minutes per week. In the grand scheme of things, I wonder what I am not seeing. Some will have much input from school, parents and their educational learning will be largely on track.

But many students will not.

Their positivity is perhaps crumbling under the seemingly relentless inevitability of day after day of pretty much nothing in learning, social interaction but computer games. Some children, I read, are actually turning to parents as friends rather than – well, er – parents.

That’s a positive – I think.

This summer sees another year in which GCSE students, for example, will not have the opportunity of the exams they have been working for.

Tutors must try to help them to be positive.

To help others to be positive, we must be positive.

Their learning is not wasted. Tell them. Learning isn’t just about exams and results. It’s preparation for the future – whatever that is. There is a future. It’s been a long haul in our fight against the virus but there is light ahead – and it’s not a train coming towards us – it’s a bright new chapter in which the problems brought by COVID-19 will present new opportunities, a different way of working and living our lives.

I’m sure of it.