Private tuition risks learning gap… cuts take their toll!!!

COMMENT FROM NEVIL CHILES, MD OF K&C TUTORS & WEBTUTORNET

BBC website story http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23973213

It has to be true that pupils receiving extra help will be at an advantage.

For almost all students receiving private tuition there will be a cost and so cold hard economics will obviously come into play.

Here at K & C Tutors we were involved with Westminster Council in a scheme called Making Good Progress which gave struggling pupils ten hours of both and English and Maths tuition during school time and funded by the government. Unfortunately the scheme ended with the sweeping public cuts following the recent economic downturn.

Surely this kind of project is the way forward to bridge the gap?

One exam stream for each subject needed!

More pupils taking GCSEs earlier

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-23521378

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.

Summer tuition? The key is balance!

Here’s my take on a recent story on the BBC education news site…

Summer tutoring awaits many pupils

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-23465178 >

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.

 

Pupils ranked at 11..disappointing and destructive

Here’s my take on the recent news that 11-year-old pupils will be ranked against peers…

** Pupils face national rankings at 11 ** Primary school pupils in England could be ranked directly against their peers across the country, under plans to change performance measures.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-23334334

Disappointing and destructive is exactly how I see these proposals! Has this really been thought through? Raising the standard to an 85% pass mark of an assessment that hasn’t even been decided upon yet??

As a father of three children I feel strongly that to constantly label younger children is very damaging especially to those that are doing less well.
Surely this measure would mean a huge increase in workload for already overworked teaching staff. Why do politicians keep making new policies which are obviously just measures to try to demonstrate that they are doing something.

Please can we let teachers teach not pile them high with more bureaucracy.

 

National curriculum changes

Here’s my take on the following UK education story…

** Curriculum to match world’s best **

A revised national curriculum for schools in England is to be published later, with the aim of catching up with the world’s best education systems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-23222068 

I’m all for improvements in the curriculum but am also always wary of politicians making crowd pleasing statements. How can such changes realistically be implemented by 2014?

As for the content, politicians should leave well alone. Let the educational community decide on content; teachers are the people on the ground who best understand what is required and / or possible.
It also brings into question the whole system of academies. If academies are now the majority of secondary schools why on earth are they not expected to follow any new curriculum.

In the long term, with an increased number of academies, won’t changes in certain aspects of the curriculum be pointless?

 

GCSE changes welcome but why tinker with grading?

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.

For more details visit www.webtutornet.com and www.kctutors.co.uk

UK education changes cause pupil anxiety

A recent survey of 200 private tutors has revealed a palpable sense of anxiety and uncertainty about the future on the part of many pupils in primary and secondary education in the light of reforms instituted by the coalition Government.

Around 40% of the tutors surveyed stated that their students were exhibiting a lack of confidence in the many changes being announced by central Government to both GCSE and A Level curriculums.

The survey was conducted by online private tuition platform Webtutornet and Kensington & Chelsea Tutors and posed the following question: “How have the changes to primary and secondary education introduced by the coalition government affected your tuition planning and how have they impacted, if at all, on the confidence and readiness of pupils in their coursework and exam preparations?”

Nevil Chiles, who founded Webtutornet in 2012 and is MD of Kensington & Chelsea Tutors, commented: “Since the coalition Government came into power there has been a raft of announcements about radical changes to education and we often forget the impact all of this has on the pupils themselves.

“What we’ve discovered is that it’s all having a negative impact on the confidence levels for a significant minority particularly those considering the humanities as a path forward at degree level.

“There is a lot of uncertainty out there and a lot of mixed messages coming from those in power in this is only complicated by u-turns and amendments to proposed changes,” added Nevil.

One tutor commented: “Whilst students are certainly as prepared as they’ve ever been for exams there is a distinct lack of confidence as it seems that the exam system, with A* at A Level, is increasingly stifling creative thought.

“With the exam system setting out criteria so precisely following the controversies of the past 12 months it seems students are less prepared to demonstrate original thinking because they are tending to become more risk averse.”

Another tutor noted: “Students seem to be more and more confused about their syllabus and this, in turn, affects their approach to exams. They are unsure as to what formats will be in place next year and simply don’t know what is expected of them.”

“Many pupils recognise that the system is a bit of a lottery and they might work hard and think they’ve done well only to find out they haven’t,” said another surveyed tutor.

Nevil continued: “I have personally interviewed over 2,000 private tutors in the past 11 years and the levels of uncertainty expressed by many of their pupils are a genuine cause for concern.

“All private tutors and teachers have to prepare their lessons carefully but they have to be constantly aware of the prevailing zeitgeist in education and curriculum requirements when the goalposts are continually moving as seems to be the case at present,” added Nevil.

For more details visit www.kctutors.co.uk or www.webtutornet.com

ENDS

Exam grading based on birthdate ….give me strength!!!

Here’s my take on this recent story that appeared in the national media

Summer-born need exam score boost
http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-22469216

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.”
1%? 2%?
We are also told younger children, “… are more likely to start smoking younger than their relatively older peers.”

Give me strength!!!.

FOLLOW NEVIL ON TWITTER @webtutornet / @kandctutors

UK education…GCSE exam changes nowhere near enough!

Here’s my take on the following education story that appeared on the BBC website…

GCSE change unpredictable results

The government’s overhaul of GCSEs in England could see exam results varying more than normal for several years, the exams regulator Ofqual warns.

< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-22448963 >

I agree entirely that the current system allows schools to ‘play the system’
and any way of stopping this should be encouraged. I also believe that some weight should be given to English Language and Maths instead of them being lost in ‘the best eight’.
However, the whole system remains FLAWED. It needs to be simplified so that there is only one exam per subject at compulsory level without multiple boards setting exams. There also needs to be more focus on vocational qualifications for the less academically able. We are still stuck in a results driven culture; top grades mean top students, low grades mean lowly students. The focus should be teaching the right stuff not the grades!
I am pleased that the modular system is being phased out and that extending questions are coming back into the frame. A ‘test’ should be testing; only then can you differentiate between students. Not everybody can excel – many have talents that are beyond the academic. They should not be seen as failing if results are poor they just need to be steered in a different direction.
It will be interesting to see these changes unfold, but they go nowhere near far enough.

 

 

Schools need good wifi access!

Schools lack adequate wi-fi

Only about a quarter of schools in England have good enough wi-fi to get the best out of digital technology, figures suggest.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-21476385 >

Schools obviously need to provide high quality broadband wi-fi to their students but let’s not be too critical. We’re coming out of the worst recession in a generation and many schools are lacking far more than fast broadband. Playing fields for example?

The internet is obviously rapidly becoming an integral tool in education. As MD of http://www.webtutornet.com I obviously have a vested interest in this but I am concerned that the education system needs funding root and branch. Let’s not forget the fundamentals of our schooling whilst continuing to look to the future.

Security is also important. With growth in internet access in schools comes the increased risk of exposing children to unsuitable material.

I love the D of E spokeswoman’s comment, “Head teachers manage their own budgets and are best placed to decide the extent to which they make wi-fi accessible in their schools.” i.e. whatever the issue it’s not our fault.