It is totally true that “it was different when we were at school”. Especially when you consider the new GCSE structure due to start this summer. Following on from the positive response of the interview styled blog, I’ve switched the power into the hands of parents to dispel some of the most common myths about 1:1 support.
1: If my son/daughter is doing core subjects every day at school surely that’s enough to pass an exam?
Well it could certainly be enough to pass for most students. The purpose of education, however, is to unlock your potential… not limit it. So why would you want your child to simply pass? If a school lesson is 60 minutes and there are 30 children in the class, a fair one-to-one focus by their teacher cannot be more than two minutes. Two minutes compared to a 60 minute tutoring/support session can make a big difference to a child’s confidence in any subject, especially the core ones (English, Maths and Science). The student gets one-to-one focus, teaching them confidence and technique, as well as a crucial chance to grasp concepts they may not have properly understood at school.
2: I’ve heard the Maths and English GCSE has changed this year? Is it harder to pass?
Well, that’s a difficult question to answer. Everyone is a bit in the dark here! The sample papers published by the exam boards are certainly much more challenging than the ‘old’ GCSE papers. The adaptation into linear styled exams means that students will be expected to know/memorise a lot more than before. This makes understanding key topics in the core subjects crucial, as well as perfecting a proper exam technique.
3: My son/daughter can’t decide what A levels to do. Should I persuade them to pick Maths/English as one of their choices?
Unless your child has known since they were six years old that they wanted to be a doctor, dentist or lawyer; it is really hard to decide A level choices. If they are only just scraping an A the core subjects at GCSE (equivalent to the new grade 7) then don’t make them do it, as it would only be torture! There is a huge jump between GCSE and A level, which is why students drop a subject when beginning A2 to help with the demanding work load. It is better for students to pick subjects they enjoy; as they will be more likely to put the work in and excel.
4: I used to get really bad exam nerves. What four things will help stop my son/daughter worrying about exams?
1. Make sure they have proper revision techniques; at least two or three months before they take the exams.
2. They need to read the question – especially in Science! A lot of students answer in detail, but don’t answer the right question.
3. They need a well-practiced exam technique so that they can recognise how to answer particular questions.
A good night’s sleep is critical! The first thing that takes a hit when we are deprived of sleep is short-term memory. (Another reason why last minute cramming of revision never helps!)
5: My child is in private education – surely they don’t need a tutor?
Tutoring doesn’t mean ‘my child has a low IQ’. It shows you are helping your child through a difficult challenge. Often a students’ Math gets better as they develop the confidence to realise that they do understand the questions on an exam paper. Equally the subjective nature of literature means that often there is no wrong answer; it is more a question of making a good argument. Two lessons a week for six weeks helps a student move up a grade – if they are paying attention. In some ways tutoring is really well supervised revision with a confidence boost.
6: My child goes to a good state school – why do they need a tutor?
Tutoring isn’t a dark secret! Lots of families use tutors, whatever their income or own education. Tutoring is one-to-one coaching that helps give a student confidence and teaches exam technique so they can perform at their absolute best in an exam and unlock their full potential.
Education is changing and it is becoming more demanding, the surge in tuition evidences the need for greater support to help students achieve their full potential. Even the brightest students need help finessing their technique to push their A to an A*.
The stigma surrounding ‘tutoring’ is old fashioned, and ‘so last year’ (quite literally…2017 marks the launch of new GCSEs).
This article was first published in The Huffington Post by Farida Ahmed on 27/01/17.