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!?
Here’s my take on a BBC education news story concerning an educational charity that says the culture of coaching pupils for 11-plus exams must end so poor bright children are not excluded from grammar schools.
This is cold, hard economics. The Sutton Trust’s opinion on 11+ preparation is absolutely sound; it is unfair. The issue here runs far deeper into society as a whole, right to the roots of our nation. If we are an open, democratic, free market economy should we subsidise tuition for those from poorer backgrounds or should we look deeper and focus on how we can make those families less poor?
There are major issues here. Who do you subsidise? Who will pay for this tuition at the back end of a double dip recession?
According to the BBC, ‘the report suggests giving priority to poor, bright pupils who meet certain entrance requirements and are eligible for the pupil premium because their families have been in receipt of certain benefits in the previous few years.’ Will not people argue that this unfair to families who work very hard to scrape the money together to provide tuition for their children to help them gain grammar school places? Could this not be a disincentive to families on benefits to find work and leave the grasp of the benefits system?
I continue to believe that the only solution to these problems is root and branch reform of the UK Education system as a whole. Qualified teachers only, no Free Schools, abolition of the multiple examination board system, back to challenging examinations at 16 with the same exams sat by all, introduction of vocational qualifications at school in tandem with compulsory education for 14 – 16 year olds, decent and fair pay for teachers, slashing of red tape; the list goes on.
With better education for all the middle class scrum for grammar school places would be reversed.
Education expert Nevil Chiles, founder of online tuition platform Webtutornet and London and South East private tuition agency Kensington & Chelsea Tutors, gives his views on the GCSE changes announced today…..
Finally we seem to be moving back towards a system that actually TESTS students’ abilities but why, why, why change the grading system?? Eight to one?? Possibly a reaction against the unwillingness of Wales and Northern Ireland to endorse the changes?
Time and effort should be employed to make universal changes rather than creating a new grading system and a splintered infrastructure. Should we not be making the system simpler?
I wholeheartedly agree with a move towards more rigorous courses based on end of course examinations; it has been needed for years. Scrapping coursework is also long overdue.
As a History graduate I am delighted that pupils will be required to write essays instead of the nonsense short, pre-structured questions we have become used to.
Actually making pupils think instead of just pass is a giant leap forward if they are true to their word. Just reading that students will be required to read WHOLE books as if that is something of a move forward is an unbelievable indictment of the present system.
I praise Education Minister, Elizabeth Truss for finally telling the truth and echoing what I’ve been saying for a long time:
“But we do need to start competing against those top performing countries in the world because for too long we’ve pretended that students results are getting better when all that’s been happening is the exams have been getting easier and it’s been a race to the bottom between the exam boards and we need to stop that happening now.”
What needs to happen is that the planned changes need to be implemented as soon as possible but PLEASE with an alphabetic grading system and let’s wave goodbye to the nonsense of A*.
We then need to go further and do a wide-reaching review of course content and sweep away the multiple exam board system. One subject, one examining body. Only then can we have a meaningful comparison of standards within a given pier group.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!
Private tutors reveal their top ten exam and revision tips
“Keep calm and carry on” is one of the overriding pieces of advice to UK students currently in the midst of GCSEs, A Levels and end-of-year exams from a survey undertaken in May of 500 private tutors.
The eponymous World War 2 poster message, which has become a widely recognised part of popular culture iconography in recent years, is just one of ten ‘tips’ offered by tutors attached to online private tuition platform Webtutornet and Kensington and Chelsea Tutors to help guide students through the stressful ordeal of revision and examinations.
The ten tips are as follows:
1) Stay calm and don’t panic whether you’re in the midst of revision or within an examination environment
2) Get a life balance during the exam period by eating well and getting plenty of sleep with early nights. Aim to get up every morning even when you have no exam!
3) Create a revision plan that involves a clear structure of 40 minutes on and 10 minutes off. Continual intervals from study are essential to learning. One day of revising flat out will negatively affect the following days so spread activity out evenly.
4) Go through past exam papers on a timed basis during revision and try to understand what the examiner is looking for
5) Read the question and answer the question! It may seem obvious but ensure your answers are concise, relevant and clearly structured. Your opinion counts but isn’t enough on its own. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of a subject.
6) Do the questions you find easiest first. Don’t attempt to do them in the order in which they appear on the paper.
7) Read as much as possible whether relevant or irrelevant to your exams. Reading is a form of brain training that will help with revision and your levels of concentration during an exam.
8) Avoid long meandering sentences as nine times out of ten these will act against you. Keep your sentences short and sweet.
9) Towards the end of your exam, if you have time, reread all of your answers. You are bound to come across a mistake of some description and this is the easiest way to improve marks at the last minute
10) Understand how the marking works for each question and find the marks scheme on the exam board’s website. There’s no point spending lots of time on questions that offer few points to the detriment of more rewarding ones.
Nevil Chiles, who founded Kensington & Chelsea Tutors in 2002 and Webtutornet in 2012, commented: “The tips we received from the tutors surveyed make for interesting reading and undoubtedly reveal that a calm and organised approach to both revision and exams will reap dividends.
“This is the most stressful time of the year for hundreds of thousands of students of all ages and it’s therefore important to prepare in the right way,” added Nevil who has personally interviewed and vetted over 2000 tutors in the past 11 years.
– Easter is the time when demand for private tuition starts to increase with end of year exams on the horizon
– The number of parents enquiring about online face-to-face tuition is on the rise
– 60% of those taking private tuition are female
– Tuition requests for the 6-11 age group up 20% due to 7+ exam
– Tuition requests from pupils direct doubled in the last year
– Mothers continue to be the main drivers when it comes to opting for private tuition
The face of private tuition looks set to change forever according to education expert Nevil Chiles!
Despite the economic situation the demand for private tuition continues to rise with a growing number of enquiries from parents and pupils specifically requesting an online variation.
That’s the finding of Kensington and Chelsea Tutors, a private tuition agency that’s operated across London and the South East for the past 11 years, and its associated pioneering online platform Webtutornet which allows pupils and tutors to connect for face-to-face private tuition over the internet.
Webtutornet, and other online tuition resources, represent the future of private tuition according to founder Nevil Chiles, MD of K&C Tutors: “Delivering private tutorials online will soon become the norm as today’s media savvy Facebook generation recognise the inherent advantages.
“The days of tutors travelling through rush hour traffic to deliver a lesson at a pupil’s home are numbered.
“Webtutornet is one of the solutions available that offer parents peace of mind with a safe, secure and closely monitored service.
“It costs £50 to register with everyone who signs up receiving a pack with webcam, microphone and smart pen and pad to allow for the online sharing of resources. No software is required.
“We are approaching the busy period for private tutors. Easter tends to be a watershed with many parents and a growing number of pupils themselves, recognising the importance of topping up their classroom education and preparing effectively for those all important exams in the summer.
“We’ve seen a very clear increase in the numbers requesting an online approach and that trend is sure to continue,” added Nevil who has worked within education as a teacher and academic for over 20 years.
That trend is one of a few that Nevil and his team have identified. There has been a 20% increase over the course of the last 12 months in 6-11 year-olds opting for extra curricular tuition due to the introduction of 7 plus tests and pupils themselves are increasingly taking the initiative and organising their own lessons.
“The number of students contacting us direct has doubled in the last year,” continued Nevil “from one in twenty to around one in ten but mothers continue to be the main driving force when it comes to extra education.
“From the start with K&C Tutors in 2002 we’ve seen a consistent 60%-40% split with more females opting for private tuition. Perhaps the girls are more conscientious?” added Nev.
One recent convert to online private tuition is mother-of-three Mrs Rifat from Oxfordshire but she had her initial concerns.
“The single most important consideration as a parent is that the system is safe and secure and that the tutor involved has been vetted by the tuition facilitator.
“You have to have peace of mind if you are to entrust your child’s education into the hands of a relative stranger online and I found it important personally to chat initially online with the tutor that we use. That puts your mind at rest.
“Secondly you must be confident that the information shared during the lesson remains confidential and secure and this is very much the case with solutions such as Webtutornet.
“Since then each and every lesson has gone very smoothly and it’s a simple and easy way of delivering private tuition,” added Mrs Rifat.
Each and every K & C tutor is personally vetted by the company. In fact Nevil himself has interviewed over 2,000 to date with every successful applicant undergoing strict checks and CRB accreditation.
There are significant advantages from the tutor’s perspective as Angad Rihal, a maths teacher engaged by Mrs Rifat, explained: “This is a truly bespoke solution that has been developed for the student with teaching in mind. The ease of use clearly shows it has been masterminded by people in the industry and is far superior to just using dabble board or Skype.
“This is finally bridging the gap between the internet and private teaching which is long overdue and fitting given the tech savvy zeitgeist.
“It also saves a lot of time on travelling to the homes of students which, with traffic the way it is, can be a priceless advantage!” added Angad.
Nevil summarised: “Systems such as Webtutornet allow tutors and pupils to be anywhere in the world when conducting lessons. It is inevitable that this approach will become the norm!”
The future is here and it’s clear that Webtutornet is in the vanguard of the changing face of private tuition!
For more details visit http://www.webtutornet.com
My views in relation to this recent story on A Levels…
A-level plans challenged by school and university heads
This is what I have been saying for years. Make A Levels linear and difficult! Universities are not fooled by candidates who relentlessly retake modules. Examinations are about assessing ability not staying power. I totally disagree with Brian Lightman quoted below.
ASCL’s general secretary Brian Lightman said: “The argument that A-levels are not preparing students adequately for university is contradicted by the fact that one in six achieve first class honours – a three fold increase over the last 13 years.”
Achieve first class honours in what subjects at what Universities? ‘University’ entry has exponentially increased over the past decade and not always to renowned establishments providing cutting edge courses. I wonder if Mr Lightman has looked at similar statistics for Oxbridge and the red brick Universities?
The O Levels and A Levels of the seventies are the standards we should be aspiring to.
Hard exams which identify ability across the whole spectrum are a much better reflection of achievement not dumbed-down nonsense pretending everybody is an academic.
You can’t beat being a private tutor according to Edward Kiely!
There’s no well defined career path into private tuition however in Edward’s case it was a case of following the family tradition.
“I’d undertaken volunteer work while I was at university with an educational group for students with anxiety disorders and found working one-to-one with students really rewarding,” explained Edward who graduated from EmmanuelCollege, Cambridge, with a First Class Honours degree in Social and Political Sciences
He went on “My mother has been a tutor for a number of years in Suffolk and because I was interested she set me up with my first student. I spotted a previously undiagnosed learning difficulty and then helped to raise him three grades in his Maths GCSE at which point I started to consider tutoring as a career.
“Once I’d moved to London tutoring fitted my lifestyle perfectly as I use my daytimes to work on theatre and comedy projects. I really enjoy working with children and young people but the aspect that I enjoy most is the sense of achievement that comes from having a breakthrough with a student,” added Edward who has been a private tutor for just over a year specialising in Common Entrance English, Maths, Biology and Sociology A-Level.
Getting enough work in is a major consideration and to that end Edward has registered with six different agencies including Kensington and Chelsea (KC) Tutors who have been providing personalised private tuition across London and the South East since 2002 as well as, more recently, online face to face private tuition through their Webtutornet technology platform.
“I find that KC Tutors manage to be efficient and professional while remaining friendly and supportive. Their invoicing system is simple and they always pay on time, not always the case with some agencies, and they respond to any queries that one may have quickly and effectively.
‘At the same time I feel that they are genuinely concerned about my level of satisfaction in my work as a tutor. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they have found and offered me more work than any other agency in West London.
“KC Tutors e-mails a number of interested tutors with details of a potential student and invites them to apply. While this does mean that you have to be quick to respond your e-mail, it also means that you never feel forgotten and that, if your circumstances change, they are the most efficient at finding and offering you work,” added Edward.
It’s not all plain sailing and there have been negative experiences as Edward pointed out: “I had a bad experience recently with one agency who placed me with a very difficult client in full knowledge that they were unpleasant to work for and then offered me next to no support.
“When the client refused to pay me for an introductory session, for which I’d been assured that I would be paid, the agency merely said it was ‘out of their hands.’
“The support offered by KC Tutors contrasts with that experience. The one and only occasion that I had difficulties with a client that I’d been given through KC Tutors, the agency made clear that the client had broken their clearly-defined terms of service and that I would therefore be paid for all of my time,
“This made a world of difference in a potentially difficult situation,” added Edward.
Nevil Chiles, who established KC Tutors, has personally interviewed over 2,000 tutors in the past 11 years and with a background in education spanning over 20 years he’s well aware of what will and won’t work for a private tutor.
“From our perspective it’s not about simply referring on clients and then taking a fee. It’s about providing ongoing support and feedback on a tutor’s progress and giving them peace of mind.
“That approach means that tutors can focus on what they do best and deliver the best possible and most effective tutorials to students be that face to face or online through our fast growing Webtutornet service,” added Nevil.
As for Edward he’d be the first to suggest a future in private tuition to any potential tutor: “If you’re looking for interesting and challenging work that is flexible and adapts to your lifestyle then I’d definitely recommend private tuition!”
With the January exams underway or in prospect for thousands of UK schoolchildren now is the time when a growing number of parents and students are recognising the measurable benefits of private tuition.
The growth in modern technology is making the process of delivering private tutorials much easier with platforms such as Webtutornet, part of Kensington and Chelsea Tutors, pioneering face to face online tuition.
Established in 2012, Webtutornet is the brainchild of Nevil Chiles who established K&C Tutors back in 2002. Now recognised as one of the premier private tuition agencies in London and the South East, K&C Tutors has helped thousands of students of all ages, from 4 to 84, improve their academic performance.
Specifically designed for Webtutornet, the technology allows student and tutor to conduct safe and secure scheduled tutorials over the internet with webcam and microphone allowing for the delivery of a lesson without ever having to leave home.
Each tutor and student pays a fee of £50 to register with Webtutornet and they then receive a pack containing a webcam, microphone, mouse pad and pen that connects tutor and pupil allowing for the sharing of online resources, both safely and securely, during a tutorial with no software required.
“This is the time of the year when pupils face their first major challenges and parents get to judge where the strengths and weaknesses of their child’s education lie,” explained Nevil “and increasingly the option of topping up school lessons with in person or online private tuition is giving children a much better start in life.
“It’s estimated that one in four pupils within London use private tuition. Across the UK as a whole it’s reckoned that one in five state pupils have received personal tuition at some point in time. The increase in demand over the past decade has been considerable and there’s no sign of that reducing despite the economic climate.
“On the back of this growth there’s a burgeoning interest in how private tutorials can be delivered more flexibly using online technology and Webtutornet is one of a number of providers that can connect thousands of tutors across a wide range of subjects with students.
“We’ve already had pupils engaged in productive one hour and two hour online lessons with tutors who are based on the other side of the planet
“There are however inevitably major considerations for parents such as the quality and reputation of the tutor and the safety and security of the system that’s utilised.
“This is not some form of Skype style approach but a strictly controlled process in which personally delivered private tuition is mimicked online with defined lesson times and costs.
“Webtutornet and K&C Tutors take these concerns very seriously and that is why each and every tutor is interviewed, vetted and CRB checked,” added Nevil who has personally conducted interviews with over 2000 tutors over the past decade.
Mother of three Erica from Oxfordshire was one of the first to recognise the benefits of the Webtutornet approach: “When considering online tuition for your children it’s important that the process replicates the nature of a personal visit to or from a private tutor.
“Your child has to be ready to start at the preset time or they may miss part of the lesson. This is crucial to structuring their understanding.
“Children are frequently more technology savvy than their parents and an online approach to private tuition fits in perfectly with how the Facebook generation communicates.
“However, like every aspect of your child’s life, you have to exercise vigilance and common sense at every turn. When the major issues and concerns are taken care of, as is the case with Webtutornet, you can rest easy,” added Erica.
Nevil concluded: “We all want to give our children the best start in life. Private tuition is invariably a fun, engaging and productive process that contrasts with the, at times, impersonal nature of school education.
“Delivering tuition online is another option for parents to consider. It’s an easy and flexible alternative to the traditional home visit from a private tutor,” he added.