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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:40 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Something cropped up on another thread where a parent declared that they had engaged private tutors for almost all their child's GCSE subjects, despite the child attending an 'Outstanding' school. The discussion was ended because it wasn't the right thread for it but I found the situation interesting, particularly so since one or two posters were keen to defend the school after it was questioned and I wondered about their reasoning for doing so. I know from my daughter's schooling that she has a few friends who had tutors to assist with some subjects and had them all the way through from year 7 to 13, again, in a supposedly 'Outstanding' school. They were in the same classes as my daughter and to my mind there were no issues with the quality of teaching so what is going on? These schools are delivering the same GCSE and A level curriculum as all the other schools, have taken in what are supposedly the most academically capable children yet there are parents who feel the need to supplement their schooling with private tuition. Are those parents speaking to the school to find out what's happening and to take their advice or are they just taking the plunge without consulting the teachers?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:57 am 
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It's something I really don't understand. If parents think there is an issue then surely the first thing to do is to talk to the school? Schools fall over themselves to put on additional revision sessions in KS4 so why is more needed? If talking to the teacher doesn't work then the next step is the Head of Department/Subject leader.

I do sometimes help students [not for financial gain I hasten to add] but their teachers always know and it is when there are specific difficulties such as dyslexia. These students are/have been in Upper schools and need a grade 4 (C) in maths to get on the course they need. This is a very different scenario to what I've read on here.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:24 pm 
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I don't think its too hard to understand why. In some cases it is more to do with an obsession with high achievement rather than because there is anything particularly wrong with the teaching in the school.

However outstanding a school may be, being taught in a class of 30 is not going to be quite as intensive or effective as a 1-on-1 session with a private tutor.

If a child is on course for say a GCSE grade 6 or 7, presumably most teachers would feel this was absolutely fine and nothing to worry about. Many parents would agree. But there will always be some parents out there who would feel this was not good enough and send their child to a private tutor to get that little bit extra which they hope would increase their child's grade to an 8 or 9.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:44 pm 
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Surterfish - managing a class of 30 and enabling all to achieve at least expected progress is 'the day job' of many teachers and it is achieved very successfully. One-to-one support is always available free at lunchtimes.

It is very sad that some students don't even talk to teachers about additional help. It is actually harmful if tutors do homework and, my big bugbear, when they give them the most recent past paper that a school might want to use for a mock. Masking difficulties like this actually stops a teacher doing their job effectively.

My big plea would be - talk to school first before getting a tutor and ensure that tutor is actually a qualified teacher and that they are up to speed on the changes. Ask them not to do homework or use recent papers with the student until after any mocks.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:19 pm 
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Guest55 wrote:
Surterfish - managing a class of 30 and enabling all to achieve at least expected progress is 'the day job' of many teachers and it is achieved very successfully. One-to-one support is always available free at lunchtimes.

It is very sad that some students don't even talk to teachers about additional help. It is actually harmful if tutors do homework and, my big bugbear, when they give them the most recent past paper that a school might want to use for a mock. Masking difficulties like this actually stops a teacher doing their job effectively.

My big plea would be - talk to school first before getting a tutor and ensure that tutor is actually a qualified teacher and that they are up to speed on the changes. Ask them not to do homework or use recent papers with the student until after any mocks.


Don't get me wrong. I was not advocating that parents should employ private tutors or defending those who do so. I was just trying to give an explanation of why I thought some parents of able children in good schools still did so because yourself and anotherdad both seemed to be puzzled by it. I think its a mentality of believing that every little extra will help increase their child's grade, even though as you explained in reality it can sometimes be counterproductive.

As an aside, you mentioned that tutors should not 'do' homework. (presumably you meant help with homework rather than literally 'do it' for the child?). Does the same apply to parents in your view? We don't use any tutors but we do sometimes try to help with DS's homework ourselves when he gets stuck or try to explain a concept he doesn't understand. Is that wrong of us though?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:12 pm 
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My children say that it is not common at their school but both say that the only people who have tutored are people whose parents perceive anything less than an A* (hopefully not just 9s for next year). They say everyone they know who is tutored is perfectly capable of great grades without it but some families have just tutored all the way through, not waiting to see if it's "needed".
My dh tutors occasionally and rather enjoys it. He tends to tutor those who want to do his subject at A level and who are being predicted a B but want an A*. So far it's worked!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:42 pm 
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Surferfish wrote:
Don't get me wrong. I was not advocating that parents should employ private tutors or defending those who do so. I was just trying to give an explanation of why I thought some parents of able children in good schools still did so because yourself and anotherdad both seemed to be puzzled by it. I think its a mentality of believing that every little extra will help increase their child's grade, even though as you explained in reality it can sometimes be counterproductive.

As an aside, you mentioned that tutors should not 'do' homework. (presumably you meant help with homework rather than literally 'do it' for the child?). Does the same apply to parents in your view? We don't use any tutors but we do sometimes try to help with DS's homework ourselves when he gets stuck or try to explain a concept he doesn't understand. Is that wrong of us though?

I didn't think you were advocating it, sorry if it came over like that :)

It depends how extensive the 'help' is - personally if you've explained something by for example, doing a different question in maths and then the child has done the homework on their own I would have seen no problem. I liked parents to write me a note after the homework if they'd had to help - it's all part of the parent -school partnership. In the same way I'd record in the planner if I'd helped someone at lunchtime.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:43 pm 
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I must admit we don't generally put a note on the homework, but I can see why that might be useful for the teacher.

Our general approach when he's stuck on something is to try and guide him through the problem by asking questions, rather than giving answers.

e.g. What is the question asking you to find?
What do you already know?
How can you work out this value?
How can you simplify that answer? etc, etc.

This often results in him getting the right answer without him really being told anything at all, but can be quite infuriating, because we feel that if he could only learn to ask himself these basic sorts of questions he wouldn't need any help. Of course we've suggested many, many times that he try this same approach but it doesn't seem to go in.

Do you have any tips on how he can learn to be less reliant on guidance form others?


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:49 pm 
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What about printing out these helpful questions on a poster for where he does his homework and saying he needs to go through those questions first?

My usual first question was 'What have your tried already?' i.e. not helping someone if they haven't at least had a go first and can explain where/why they are stuck.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:53 pm 
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Both with DD and with adults (having basic maths tuition) I used to work with, the more you continue with the approach you are taking, (ie asking questions and guiding them) the more it will start to sink in and they do start doing that for themselves. It can take a bit of time, depending on that they have been used to in the past, but they do get there.


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