I am sick of devices. iPads, iPods, iPhones, xboxes, wiius, playstations, etc., etc.. After getting my three children to school this morning I realised that the carnage had been slightly less painful than usual. I had nearly cleaned up the mess before leaving and we were actually on time!
An in-house ban on all electricals before school, including television. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are not obsessive about it, they do plenty of sport and other stuff but as an exhausted parent it is easy to let this stuff creep up on you.
It feels like the whole world is becoming virtual with everybody spending most of their time staring at screens. I am just another parent bemoaning the present. ‘It wasn’t like this in my day’ etc.. Just like every generation before this. Much about the internet et al is positive, but it is all too easy to let it overtake you.
My children’s behaviour this morning was subtly different and we had a good laugh despite the stress.
During my thirteen years in the tutoring industry I have seen an enormous change in the way private tuition is perceived. In the last five to ten years having your child tutored has moved from a dark art to a badge of honour. Granted, my experience is very London-centric, but from what I read this seems to be the case right across the UK – and indeed the rest of the world. Back in the early years of the new century when I founded K & C Tutors there was an element of secrecy and possibly a little embarrassment connected to engaging a tutor. Is your child stupid? Nowadays having a tutor is seen as a strong support mechanism rather than a lifeboat. Because tutoring has become so mainstream many new agencies have been established and inevitably, with the light speed growth of the internet, so have a myriad of websites offering lists of tutors and providing a shop window for individual ‘tutors’ to place themselves in. Be careful when choosing a tutor. Now I’m bound to say this, but using an agency is by far the best way to choose the right tutor as long as correct procedures are in place. Does the agency interview EVERY tutor they offer? Does the agency carry out Enhanced Disclosure background checks through the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS)? Does the agency check tutors’ academic backgrounds and experience? Does the agency understand the ever changing education system in which they exist? At K & C the answer to all these questions is a categorical YES and it has been since day one. However, this misses one crucial point, our years of experience mean that we have insight and empathy – a CV only tells one superficial side of the story. Much depends on personality and match. Only experience gives you this and we have lots of it. Cost is also a critical factor. An industry that is talked of as ‘booming’ will inevitably attract individuals and organisations keen to get their pound of flesh. One very important thing to remember is that within certain geographical areas (for us it is London) the best tutors will be signed on with several agencies but those agencies will charge them out at different rates. At K & C we charge NO REGISTRATION FEE which makes us very unusual and our prices remain lower than all our immediate competitors. And these are competitors with far less experience.
Schools and teachers are not to blame for social immobility, disadvantage and poverty. This is a grass roots social problem, so blame can really only be apportioned in one direction – towards the Government; past, present and future.
There is an implication here that schools and teachers carry a bias. Teachers want to teach and they want ALL their pupils to succeed regardless of their social status. The suggestion that they can and should ‘do more’ for those with less is insulting to the profession.
The government needs to cut the red tape, unify the system and support teachers better instead of always making them the scapegoats for problems which are totally unconnected to the classroom.
Unfortunately this is what can happen when you give these schools free reign with their budgets and accounting. The system for non academies where local authorities award funds after consultation creates checks and balances. That system is not perfect, but at least it is fair. In a local authority containing a mixture of academies and local authority run schools funding is not balanced, with academies getting greater sums of money. This system leads to the elitism that the original ethos of academies – to help struggling schools – was designed to prevent.
We are being left behind by the rest of the world because our compulsory secondary education system is confused, complicated and not testing enough.
Standards have been dropping year upon year for decades, reflected in higher and higher ‘pass’ rates and a greater quantity of ‘top’ marks. Look at the attached Graph. O Level & GCSE Achievement 1953 -2009
(Source: House of Commons Library – Standard Note SN/SG/4252 – Social & General Statistics)
This lowering of standards has fed right through to Higher Education. Top Universities are finding that freshers do not possess the knowledge which their high marks should reflect. Mathematically heavy subjects are particularly badly effected. Engineering Undergraduates at top Universities often have to have extra lessons in Mathematics because their assumed and necessary knowledge of Mathematics is just not there.
This is because we have dumbed down our examinations.
There needs to be a revolution in the examination system and it needs to happen NOW.
Through Kensington & Chelsea Tutors I come across students from all over the world. I have been consistently shocked by how we are being left behind by other nations, particularly in the 11 – 16 age range. The difference is particularly noticable in Mathematics and Science where students abroad are tackling far more testing material than students of the same age in the UK.
Unless this changes the future looks bleak; we need reform to keep the UK competitive.
Surely this is a sensible policy? By reducing standards and allowing almost everybody to ‘pass’ their exams the government has entered into a world where the difference between students is being masked. Not everybody is an academic and that doesn’t matter. Every pupil should be given an equal chance. Gathering people of similar abilities together is surely going to make teaching easier and more efficient. It also introduces (DARE I say it) competition; something that we are surrounded by every day of our lives. Let’s not pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s hard enough taking my 8 year old son to football tournaments where everybody ‘takes part’ but nobody wins. God forbid that somebody should lose!?
Does the government just trawl through statistics in an effort to find a way to lower standards through budget cuts? How can anybody seriously put forward the point of view that larger class sizes will not effect standards? Why can’t the government focus on improvement rather than cost cutting?
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.
Are there really people sitting around thinking up this nonsense? Can you imagine the arguments? When would the cut off date be? How would it be quantified? Some things in the world are not perfect; there are probably only a limited number of parents who think about the academic year when producing children!
There is no doubt that somebody born on September 1st is likely to be at an advantage in comparison to a child born on August 31st however grade inflation is a ridiculous, divisive answer.
It would be fair to cite birth dates as a mitigating circumstance but grade changing is an unworkable answer. If younger children are struggling they should be helped and encouraged by their teachers. Do we tell younger students they don’t have to try so hard and older ones that their hard work will be less well rewarded.
Does an argument based on such spurious evidence as this carry any weight?
“More than 60% of September-born pupils achieve five A* to C grades, compared with less than 54%”
Is it me or is that not virtually the same?
“August-born students are also around two percentage points less likely to go to university when they leave school, one percentage point less likely to attend a leading university and one percentage point less likely to complete a degree.”
We are also told younger children, “… are more likely to start smoking younger than their relatively older peers.”
Give me strength!!!.
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