I’ve been through the standardised education system in the United Kingdom and I have to say, I was not and still am not, impressed.
As a student I’ve experienced both private school education and state school education, which if I’m completely honest are almost identical. In a private school system your class sizes are smaller and you have consistency with teachers, whilst state school class sizes are larger and the number of supply teachers are more frequent. However, both systems expose students to the vulnerability of slipping through undetected, based on one ever present flaw; lack of 1:1 tailored support.
Regardless of the size of a class it is impossible to teach in a way that challenges and feeds the minds of every student present in the classroom purely because of the difference in abilities. Every student is different, in their mannerism and learning styles. In state schools the environment is very intense due to the strain on resources and large class sizes. This pressure is further exacerbated by government imposed pass rate quotas, so what ends up happening is a focus on the quantity rather than the quality. By this I mean, state schools strive to raise the number of passes without focusing intricately on the grade that their students are passing with. I have experienced this first hand, and note that once teachers realise you are capable of achieving a grade B or higher they do little to help you maximise your full potential. This isn’t because they have a personal objection to it, but because they are so pushed for time and capacity they have no choice but to focus intensely on those students scraping a grade C or below.
State schools often have ‘sets’ for each subject i.e. you are placed in either a higher, middle or lower set class based on your ability. Again this is problematic purely because; what if you are on the higher end of a middle criteria or a lower? Surely the work set will thus be either too challenging or too easy for you? Similarly, this does nothing to encourage students to push through such categorisation and could equally be quite demoralising.
I believe this issue is ever-present and whilst in a private school education your class size may be smaller, teachers will still have to succumb to the overwhelming pressure of catering to the ability of the majority.
So how do we resolve this?
I believe independent learning enabled through 1:1 support can allow students to achieve their full potential, whilst helping them build a strong work ethic they can use for the remainder of their academic career. Tutoring allows students to gain access to a professional with expertise in a particular subject area that they may be struggling in, thus preventing them from falling through the the gaps built by the flaws in the educational system.
Every student deserves to be assessed either by a staff member at their forum of education or by an independent tutor. Parents can also play a greater role in this area by discussing their children’s needs in an empathetic manner. However I do believe the role played by parents is often hindered by the fact that they may have limited patience as it is harder to be objective with your own.
Of course a huge obstacle towards gaining access to a good tutor is funding and if you come from a background where there is a strain on finances – as I did – it is perhaps a luxury you are unable to offer your child. But education is a fundamental human right so surely there should be some extra government assistance provided to ensure there are more mechanisms in place to support students of all abilities and backgrounds, in order to truly tackle barriers to learning.
Having tutored students of all ages I cannot stress how rewarding it is to enable someone to reach their full potential, and knowing you’ve had some sort of positive impact leaves me feeling content!
The reality of resources remains in issue but the current reform of education to a linear design will prove even more challenging to those already struggling. For this reason a better educational infrastructure must be put into place to ensure students are receiving the support they need. If we look at countries with a successful educational system or even prestigious universities around the world, a big component of their teaching style has always been 1:1 sessions with teachers and professors. The tutoring market has been growing astonishingly and it is not surprising to see why!
This blog was first published on Huffington Post on 6th December. We are so proud of Farida for this amazing achievement.