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!?
RAPID GROWTH IN STUDENTS SEEKING HEADSTART
The number of university students across the South East of England requesting private tuition has risen by over 50% in the last three years according to London-based tutor agency Kensington & Chelsea Tutors and their nationwide online platform Webtutornet.
Prior to 2010 the amount of enquiries from university students had remained relatively static but, since then according to Kensington & Chelsea Tutors founder and MD Nevil Chiles, interest has significantly increased:
“We’ve seen a very clear increase, year on year since 2010, from both BA/BSc and Masters students looking for extra tuition to top up their university education and the trend is hard to ignore.
“Clearly the number of foreign students across the capital and Home Counties has increased over the past few years but only by around 2 to 5% per annum. The proportion of enquiries we’ve had coming from those from overseas has remained consistent at 25%.
“This suggests, if replicated with other agencies, that students across the board are recognising the importance of getting a head start within the context of an increasingly competitive graduate job market,” added Nevil who has seen student enquiries rise from around 700 in 2008-2009 to just under 1100 over the past 12 months.
Nevil went on “About 70% are studying for a BA or BSc with Business & Marketing, Economics and Law accounting for the lions share. The male to female split has remained consistent at 50:50.
“The vast majority of enquiries we get for private tuition are for GCSE and A Level subjects, predominantly Chemistry, Maths, History at GCSE level and Economics, Psychology and French at A-Level but the proportion of university students requesting our services has grown to 10% over the past 12 months.
“It’s intriguing to note that in the post 2008 Credit Crunch world that more and more students are realising that they need to gain an advantage in some way. Private tuition, whether face-to-face or online through our Webtutornet platform, offers a clear path for them to achieve that,” concluded Nevil.
Kensington and Chelsea Tutors was founded in 2002 by Nevil and has, since then, provided private tuition to over 20,000 school pupils and university students and personally vetted and interviewed over 2,000 tutors across London and the South East.
Webtutornet was founded in 2012 to provide safe and secure online private tuition to pupils and students globally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
** Level sixth-form playing field call ** The government should level the playing field for post-16 education in England, the Sixth Form Colleges Association will tell MPs on Tuesday.
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-21579926 >
Shouldn’t funding decisions be dependent on what is being taught and the quality of the teaching however I agree with David Igoe. Why should sixth form colleges be treated differently to institutions providing equivalent qualifications?
The report states, ‘… that sixth-form colleges tend to attract students with lower GCSE grades and higher levels of deprivation than either academies or school sixth forms.’ I fail to see why that is relevant. Are they successful institutions providing quality courses? Surely that is the only reason to level this playing field?
** Historians back Gove curriculum ** Some of the UKs leading historians endorse Education Secretary Michael Gove’s new history curriculum for schools in England.
For once I entirely agree with Mr Gove! As a History graduate myself I believe that a clear chronology is essential to understanding cause, effect and development. It seems to be creating opposition because it is difficult to achieve not because it is the wrong thing to do!
Poorest need entrance test help
Some selective state schools should do more to help poorer children pass their entrance exams, suggests a government-funded study.
Unfortunately money (or lack of it) is a bar to many things. It is an unfortunate fact that parents who can afford extra tuition are going to give their children an advantage over those who cannot, whether this is building towards entrance examinations or for general school work.
At K & C we encounter many parents who request tuition for specific school entrance tests as well as for 11+ and 13+. Private tuition working towards these tests creates a paradox for the schools. Clearly what they are looking for is students who can pass not students who can learn to pass through extensive preparation. Many schools continually change their papers to try to subvert this but tutors are never far behind.
Follow on Twitter @webtutornet / @kandctutors
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.