Here’s my thoughts on a recent BBC education news story about the growth of private tuition for 11+ / grammar school entry exams….
This reflects the trend we have seen here at Kensington and Chelsea Tutors.
Although in the past eleven years we have consistently provided tutors not only for grammar schools but also for selective private and state schools, in the past five years or so there has been a marked increase. I think this is partly because tutoring has moved from being a secret weapon to a mainstream activity. Tutors are out there and parents are increasingly using them to boost students’ prospects at all levels.
It defeats me why Barry Sindall, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association (GHSA) says that, “The issue for GSHA is not how do you stop coaching but rather how do you stop coaching making an impact.”
Coaching of any kind is always going to have an impact and that surely is a good thing. Don’t sports professionals train hard to make themselves more proficient in their fields? We (thankfully) live an an open democracy and have freedom of choice – if tutors are out there, why not use them?
Tutoring seems to get criticised almost daily and generally the thrust is one of elitism. The increasingly expensive and exclusive private school system in this country, from Eton on down, seems to be conveniently glossed over. At least tutoring allows help to be given to students whose parents’
wildest dreams don’t even feature the cheapest private schools.
If the argument is that this is unfair then it is something the government needs to look at.
More pupils taking GCSEs earlier
The fact that students are retaking subjects using different examination boards once again clearly outlines the shortfalls in the present system.
There should be only one examination stream for each subject in compulsory education. Otherwise, how can we possibly compare pier groups accurately?
Taking exams early is often used by schools to attempt to get struggling students through and giving them the opportunity to retake in the year that they really should have been taking the qualification. This is gaming the system but with schools involved in an inquisition-type system with league tables it is a natural thing to do. The only way to prevent this happening is to implement strict age guidelines for taking examinations.
Only in exceptional circumstances should children in the incorrect age band be allowed to sit the exams.
Teacher training system is broken
The Schools Direct programme undermines teacher training at a time when we are desperate for new blood. The uncertainty of the present system means established higher education training providers will be less inclined to provide the training for which they have a proven record. More glossy political spin camouflaging cut backs that are short-termist and damaging.
Here’s my take on a recent story on the BBC education news site…
Summer tutoring awaits many pupils
I must say that despite being the owner of a tutoring company I find this trend slightly worrying. When I swap my business hat for my parent hat and look at my children enjoying their summer break I find myself being delighted that they are having such a great time in the sunshine. Obviously it is important to keep up with reading and summer homework but I also think that a break is good, especially for younger children.
We are living in a very competitive world and all parents should want their children to maximise their potential. For some the summer break may be a good time to help a struggling student, the key is getting the balance right.