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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:12 am 
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I have just learned :shock: that at some leading independent schools (Westminster, NLCS, etc), some parents retain outside tutors for the DCs post-11+ exams (ie once their DCs are students there). How pervasive is this and at which schools is this most prevalent?

Is this also common at the leading state secondary schools (QE Boys, HBS, Tiffin, etc)?

FWIW, I think this is rather OTT.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:34 am 
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There have been lots of discussions on this forum about this kind of thing over time and views as you might expect are polarised.

Personally I think if a child is needing extensive tutoring throughout secondary school on top of the usual curriculum delivery it is suggestive of special needs frankly. Certainly KS3 should not present huge intellectual challenges for children who supposedly are bright enough to get into selective schools; nor for most who aren't, quite honestly. Most children of average intelligence who are prepared to do some work can come out of school with a decent set of exam results. I wonder if some parents are prepared to pay for tutors throughout university and even beyond as presumably at some point people have to cope in the big bad world all alone.

I think parents would be better off encouraging a decent work ethic and some resilience and tenacity in their offspring; and the world would be a better place if tutors were prepared to help some children with real difficulties and barriers to learning rather than further privileging the wealthy all the time. I've done some tutoring myself and the children who in my view are the best to work with are those who have real issues - health, social or learning difficulties - though of course I know tutors also need to make a living and often these sort of people can't afford to pay (one reason I never got rich on it!).

Sorry - maybe a bit controversial for a Sunday morning. :oops:


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:54 am 
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Thanks for sharing your perspective, Amber.

Some of the leading schools (for example, SPGS, HBS, NLCS) have deliberately chosen to not rank their students in order to de-emphasise competition. Coupled with the fact that students at the leading independent and state schools achieve mostly A*/A at GCSE, what is the point of extra tutoring for the students at these schools?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:30 am 
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I know of a quite a few parents who do this. The problem is that some children are really heavily tutored to get into very selective schools and then struggle to keep up without the tutor once they are at the desired school, so the parents bring the tutors back.
My son managed to secure places at all of the schools he sat exams for without the help of a tutor, including 2 very selective schools. We did consider getting a tutor but reasoned that if he couldn't get in based on ability alone then perhaps they were not the schools for him as I was not prepared to continue with tutoring throughout senior school just so he could not fall behind.
Not surprisingly, the children in his class who did have tutors didn't all get their priority choice schools and their classroom performances have dipped now that the tutors have gone. I think parents need to be more realistic about which schools are going to best suit their children based both on their natural level of ability and their personality.
I wouldn't want to put a child through tutoring on top of senior school homework loads.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:38 am 
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Some tutoring (at any stage) may be less because the child isn't perfectly capable of achieving under their own steam, more because the parent isn't willing to take the risk that their offspring might be anything other than top...

I would add that this emphatically does not apply in our house. We know that our DC are able - and they know that we know.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:52 pm 
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When someone says 'my child has never had tutoring' mum/dad sitting down with them and doing work is a form of tutoring..


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:43 pm 
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I think Victor has hit the nail on the head...

"I think parents need to be more realistic about which schools are going to best suit their children based both on their natural level of ability and their personality."

I am aware of a parent who sent their child to a private primary, they didn't pass the 11+, they persuaded the head of the private primary to change their recommendation for the child ( :shock: ) and are now paying (goodness knows how much) for the help of goodness knows who (barristers and such like) to get them through an appeal....at what point should parents sit back and say well, hey, perhaps my child really isn't bright enough for this school? And what about those poor parents who don't have the luxury of money to get the rules bent a bit for them?! Slightly off topic, I know, but it really irks me.

I certainly would not contemplate paying a tutor to help my children in secondary school - if they were struggling in any subject, I would expect them to approach the teachers - or indeed the teachers to approach them and us - and work together to address the issue.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:44 pm 
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AML wrote:
When someone says 'my child has never had tutoring' mum/dad sitting down with them and doing work is a form of tutoring..
I don't think this is what the OP means, with respect.

And some of us can count on one hand the number of times we have been considered suitable to 'sit down and do work' with children who feel (probably rightly) that we have little to offer, even if we were offering that service. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:06 pm 
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Completely agree about the doubtful choice of continual tutoring. I do, however, feel that a little extra help leading up to a maths GCSE or similar, if the child feels they would like the individual support to give them extra confidence, is perfectly acceptable. To my mind anyway. I failed maths o level - its really not that hard to muddle on through and appear to be ok, but not be confident enough for an exam. I had about 12 sessions of half hour coaching and maxed it with a B on second sitting - largely my confidence meant I didn't panic, so for 'spot' fixing, OK. To keep a child's head above water in a school that doesn't suit them, bad move.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:26 pm 
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AML wrote:
When someone says 'my child has never had tutoring' mum/dad sitting down with them and doing work is a form of tutoring..


I don't see parents checking that homework has been done or buying some practice papers for a child to do independently as tutoring. Tutoring is specific teaching on a one to one or very small group basis and I think a lot of parents parents are not capable of teaching the current curriculum at senior level because the things that they learnt at school are no longer relevant to the current curriculum. At senior level I believe that a lot of parents will do more harm than good by attempting to tutor their children themselves. I know that my own child will probably exceed my own academic levels within the next couple of years and he is only starting senior school this September (and I have decent GCSEs and a good degree).
I won't be getting a tutor to help through any difficulties. My son got into the schools based on his own academic merit, without a tutor and therefore should be capable of keeping up once he is at the school. If he struggles with a specific topic then I would expect his school teachers to help him.
Tutoring at senior level is complete madness and if it needs to be done then it suggests to me that the child is not in the right school. Tutoring to get them in if they don't have the natural ability is a recipe for needing tutors long term.
Why can't people just be honest with themselves about whether their children are really top selective school material rather than subjecting them to years of incessant tutoring?


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