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 Post subject: Views on tutors.
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:47 pm
Posts: 1348
Location: Berks,Bucks
Having been through the 11+ process as a parent last year, I have found it one of the most stressing experience that I ever had. One of the reason was the difficulty in getting proper information, and wish I had known at the beginning what I know now.

I would be happy if my experience was of any use to new parents so here's my little story about tutors.

We sent our child to a tutor group last year but I ended up coaching my son myself for the last two month. The subjects for our area are Verbal reasoning, Non Verbal reasoning and Maths and format NFER and multi-choice for all.

Compared with the national curriculum for the beginning of year 6, the level of Maths in the NFER papers is much higher and needs to be topped-up .By the beginning of September this year, I expected his tutor lessons to have bridged the gap, as we were told that he was doing well and on track to get a good pass.

But as he had missed a few lessons, I assessed him myself and I realised how little had been done by the tutor in the Maths areas that he hadn�t learned at school. I also discovered that the situation wasn�t much better with the other two subjects.
In Verbal reasoning he was regularly given Bond practice papers, which include types that he did not need, and he had never practiced with multi-choice papers. He had a timing problem and nothing was done about it.
In, addition, most of his practice papers were well below the required standard for the region. My son then told us that are homework was only marked every 4 or five weeks and that he was never told where and why he was getting some questions wrong, and given the opportunity to work on his weaknesses.
We were also old that he would start with a small amount of homework to get used to it, and that the amount would increase during the year. This did not happen. If anything, it decreased.

With just an hour a day on average for the remaining few weeks before the exams, he caught up and improved greatly in every subject and finally passed. I was inexperience in teaching at the time, so I am wondering how someone who claims being an 11+ experience tutor can do worse,

During the time my son went to this tutor group, I did not know the exact format of the exams. I was trusting the tutor and assuming that they knew exactly what level was required, how to get there, and how well the children are doing. Was I expecting too much of a tutor?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:20 pm 
No, I dont think that you were expecting too much. However, did you check whether the tutor had sufficient knowledge of the schools you were interested in and their test format?

Importantly, from the outset, you should have been informed/'clued up'. Whether you opt for a tutor or not, doing your own research first is highly recommended. Otherwise, how can you monitor and check that progress is being made?

I coached my child independently and it was an exceptionally trying time, but worth it (v good results). I chose not to have a tutor primarily because I knew they wouldn't be as dedicated as I was.


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 Post subject: Tutors
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:55 pm 
Considering the amount tutors charge (typically around £15-£20 per hour where I live in Essex) I don't think you were expecting too much. A good tutor will get to know your child's weaknesses (eg. the child may have difficulty with spellings, comprehension, fractions or code-breaking) and make those a priority. If the child spends most of the hour simply completing a paper with little or no input from the tutor, I'd consider that to be money wasted. Ideally, the tutor should spend the hour working through questions with the child, asking how the child would tackle them and going over any areas which cause difficulty. The tutor really ought to have a sound knowledge of the exams used in the area, and have access to plenty of past papers. Supplementary material chosen with that particular child in mind is also likely to be used by a good tutor, to improve certain skills. The tutor I used did all this and also set a past paper each week to be completed as homework (not timed until the weeks leading up to the exam). I don't yet know whether my daughter passed but I'm pleased with the progress she made generally and I don't think the tutor could possibly have worked any harder.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:45 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:47 pm
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Location: Berks,Bucks
I agree with both of you. With hindsight I would do things differently, but what seems obvious now wasn't at the time.
I also know a few parents who were in the same situation with different tutors, and I was wondering if there was many people out there who didn’t get what they expected.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 1:53 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
I am in Catherine's camp on this one. We paid even more than the £15-£20 per hour quoted for our son to have group tuition. It seemed a reasonable deal because the tutor has a first-rate reputation. We also felt that encouraging our son to give up time at the weekend for coaching might be easier if he were in a group, all "suffering" alongside him!

By the late summer it was obvious to us that our son had been able to do 70% of the question types with reasonable ease all along, but still had major difficulty with the remainder. By that stage it was really almost too late to do anything constructive, and he was approaching burn-out with coaching.

I am sure that if we had used a one-to-one tutor they would have spotted this problem much earlier and focussed their efforts on the problem types. The group tutor merely ploughed through the "syllabus" as planned, and was unable to address my increasing cries of woe about the remaining problem.

I suggest getting a practise book early on - during Year 4 - to see how your child responds to the questions, and then think very carefully about whether a group or personal tutor will best suit your child.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:02 pm 
That is unbelievable! Over £20 per hour per child. How many children?
I would have thought the hourly fee would have been reduced if there was more than one child. Perhaps £12 per child for 2 children, or £8 per hour for 4 children. With hindsight we would all do things differently, but by using a tutor who had an excellent reputation you cannot blame youself.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hold on to your hat Tinkerbell.....£30 per hour for coaching in a group of 20. Practice papers were extra!

Should I be reincarnated I would like to come back as an 11+ coach!


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 Post subject: Tutors or NOT
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:59 pm 
I suggest getting a practise book early on - during Year 4 - to see how your child responds to the questions, and then think very carefully about whether a group or personal tutor will best suit your child.

I would suggest getting a practise book early on, and see how YOU AND YOUR CHILD respond to the questions - and then think very carefully about whether to teach your child yourself.

Very often we are our children's best teachers and I enjoyed the extra time I spent with my son during the lead up to his 11+.

It may also put less pressure on your child as it won't seem like 'such a big thing' and you will know how they are progressing before it is too late. Bear in mind you are not teaching them from scratch, if you have reached this stage they are already considered 'able' - they just need a little more guidance.

This forum offers alot of information and support for you, however, you will need to be very organised and I would suggest you commit yourself to a regular weekly time slot.

I do realise this won't work for everyone but sometimes we need to have a little faith in ourselves - at least give it a go - if it doesn't work for you then you can alway fall back on the tutor option.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 5:54 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
I admire MM for coaching his/her own child - I taught my children to read, even though I am not a teacher, and also enjoyed it. The 11+ is very different, and I don't believe that I would have done it well, even though I personally have the right sort of mind for "puzzles" of that type. (In much the same way, most parents drive, but don't elect to teach their own child to drive).

The point about group teaching is that the questions progress in difficulty week-by-week on a fixed programme. This allows the children to develop confidence, but also means that the coaching goes at a fixed pace. In hindsight, our son marked time for the first half of his sessions, and we were reassured by his results in coaching and at home that he was making steady progress. Only once it was getting close to the 11+ and they got to the more difficult types of question did it become clear that there was a problem. A personal tutor would have adapted the schedule to move faster in the early days, getting to the problem types earlier and had more time to spend on talking to us about support we could provide at home.

It is nice to think that one could try to go DIY and then fall back on a tutor if it doesn't work out, but all good tutors are booked up many months - even years - in advance.


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 Post subject: group tuition
PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:20 pm 
wow £30 per hour per child!!! :shock:

As a teacher and a tutor, I charge £10 per hour in a group of 5. Anymore and thats just being plain greedy!! I want to give as many children as possible the opportunity to get into a selective school and get the most out of their education- perhaps the most expensive isn't always the best (and the cheapest isn't the worst either!)

Group tuition can be very beneficial for pupils and gives an informal atmosphere to the 11+ prep lessons, without them losing the personal education they need. It also strengthens their confidence and self esteem and does wonders for their social skills. 1-1 tuition is not for every child, especially if they are not overkeen on getting a tutor in the first place. I still set my 5 homework everyweek and we mark it and go through the problem areas as a group, before we start the next activity. Once the work is set, I can then spend my time with individuals who may need an extra helping hand. I can not see any reason why other tutors can not do this- so do not accept anything less!!

Emmy Howard
Founder
Tuition For You


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