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!?
Imagine if we had just one body setting examinations for 16 year olds in the UK. The government is constantly looking for ways to save money; printing costs alone would save millions. I don’t think parents and the public in general have any idea of the ludicrous work load put upon Examination Officers these days. At many schools it is a full time job! At many private schools children in the same class will be sitting different exams for the same qualification! Mistakes are often made because of the complexity of so many different papers for the same subjects. Results comparisons are meaningless and standardisation is virtually impossible.
We need ONE body setting the examinations for core subjects at 16 and EVERYBODY should sit identical examinations for each subject. This would save money, raise standards, avoid errors and make statistical comparison of results have some meaning.
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?
It’s a big question with many answers; often conflicting. I have been involved in education professionally for nearly 20 years, I am state educated but have had intimate ties with private education throughout that time.
The answer to the question is enormously affected by demographics. Most privately educated children will aspire (or at least their parents will) to A Levels, University and a career to follow. This will also be the case with many state educated pupils. However, (mainly) within the state sector there will also always be enormous quantities of students for whom school is just compulsory. They have to go and they look forward to leaving; often with few prospects and very little idea of what to do next.
It is these students that the system lets down the most.
If you leave school at 16 what should you know? Most people will agree that a basic knowledge of English and Maths (numeracy and literacy if you prefer) is a given – but what else?
In our heavily politicised system there is far too much emphasis on passing (so that the government can say what a good job they’re doing) and far too little on content.
To take one example it is possible for two students to both get an A* (A* being of course a nonsense concept in its own right) at GCSE without having done a single question in common. How can we possibly compare pier groups in this way? With multiple Examination Boards the statistics are meaningless. With this system there is also no standardisation of content excepting broad National Curriculum guidelines.
We need to sweep away the nonsense of the multiple exam board system, set up panels consisting of a mixture of academics and representatives from industry to decide exactly what people ought to know at 16 for each subject. There should be a single syllabus for each subject and everybody should sit the same examination.
Beyond 16 is the time to academically diversify, compulsory education should give everybody a solid grounding; even if they never read another word in their lives. Telling them they’ve ‘passed’ a meaningless exam helps nobody.
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.
The internet and information technology are changing the way we view the world and they are now playing their part in changing the face of private tuition!
Despite the economic situation the demand for private tuition continues to rise, particularly for those in private education, with a growing number of enquiries that we receive from parents and pupils specifically requesting an online variation.
Although there will always be a place for conventional face to face tutorials, the days of tutors travelling through rush hour traffic to deliver a lesson at a pupil’s home are becoming somewhat numbered.
Online tutoring allows pupils and tutors to connect wherever they might be in the world. For example at Webtutornet we’ve already seen lessons delivered by tutors in Australia as well as to pupils abroad on holiday facing imminent exams.
It represents a wholly flexible approach and is clearly the way forward for today’s media savvy ‘Facebook’ generation.
They are far more used to communicating face to face online through MSN or Skype than my own generation. However, it is the concerns of parents that frequently have to be countered.
There are a number of online tuition resources and platforms which represent the future face of private tuition and most of the solutions available charge a registration fee and offer parents essential peace of mind with a safe, secure and closely monitored service.
It’s critical that each and every tutor delivering private tuition is comprehensively vetted by their agency. Every tutor applicant interviewed by Kensington & Chelsea Tutors undergoes a series of strict checks including Vetting & Barring Service (VBS) Enhanced Disclosure checks before they are appointed.
Having vetted over 2000 tutors since 2002 and being a father myself I’m well aware of the importance of this process and the integrity and credibility it offers.
Because by its very nature online tuition does not always allow an in person interview webtutornet has been designed to maximise student security. There is no computer sharing or exchanging of personal information necessary to have an excellent online lesson with an expert.
The trend towards online resources is one of a few that we have identified in recent times. 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+ 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 and that maybe down to a growing awareness of the importance of getting a good start in life and an evolving knowledge of how lessons can be delivered just as easily online. It’s still the parents who will pay the fees though!
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?
Returning to online private tuition perhaps it’s good to get the expert’s perspective? Angad Rihal, a maths teacher who has used Webtutornet extensively, 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.
Online private tuition allows 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 the face of private tuition is changing!
** 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!
** Free schools site rules to change **
Changes to planning rules in England will make it easier for new free schools to open in offices, hotels and shops from this summer, the government has confirmed.
< http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/education-21197489 >
Just another knee-jerk way of saving money with little or no thought for standards, facilities or conditions. Anybody with any sense knows that devolving the education system makes for a disparate, disorganised system lacking standards and standardisation. Free Schools ‘…cannot be run for profit.’ but charities (as many private schools are) do not make profit.
However, profit is just the difference between income and expenditure. Salaries of staff in charities are not controlled, increase the salary, decrease the profit. We haven’t made any money again sir…
This is plugging holes in the dam with tissue paper. Cannot any government ever have a decent, sensible long-term plan?
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!”
It is hardly surprising that teacher morale is low. Government incompetence continually undermines the profession.
Free schools and academies complicate and dilute an already flawed system.
Poor exam quality does not adequately differentiate between student abilities.
The English Baccalaureate is a poorly researched political knee-jerk reaction. Constant criticism systematically undermines professional confidence.
Budget cuts further handcuff teachers. All that Mr Gove and the government have is the usual spin about what super things they’re doing.
Mr Gove behaves like a new factory manager implementing change to demonstrate action without actually having any idea about the product or how it is made.