20 June 2018

All You Need To Know About Tutors

If you reside in one of the areas in the United Kingdom that has a grammar schooling system, you may have already heard the playground talk about finding tutors for the Eleven Plus (11+) year.  The Eleven Plus year examinations are exams completed by children in Year 6 who wish to continue to grammar school and can involve any or all of these four separate disciplines - math, English, non-verbal reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

While the two primary examination authorities, the CEM and GL Assessment, are constantly reviewing papers to ensure the 11+ exams are "tutor-proof", the reality of the situation is that many families will have their children tutored for the examinations.  It is not an essential activity, but people feel that increased preparation can be done at home by using tutors with revision material and past papers.

According to the managing direct of the Independent Education Consultants, Catherine Stoker, the belief is that parents can see tutoring as a means of familiarizing the child with certain exam techniques that they would not learn at primary school.  By tutoring the child, they will learn how to suitably pass the 11+ instead of scraping through and then struggling in the grammar school system.  Stoker agrees that tutoring is a large investment of time and cost; therefore, it is important to be realistic regarding whether the child is suited to the grammar school system and if the system should be considered.

What Are The Different Types Of Tutors?

There are various types of 11+ tutors and the type chosen will depend on the child's preferences and area availability.

1.  Independent Tutors

An independent tutor is an individual working locally and tutoring a child at their home either on a one-to-one basis or using a small group.  The tutor is typically a qualified teacher that is retired, a teacher on a career break, or a teaching student.  According to Stoker, independent tutors often have a strong knowledge of the 11+ examination in their particular area. 

The average cost of independent tutors will range on the region and the tutor's level of experience or popularity; however, the cost can range from £20 per hour to £80 per hour.  Rates for group tutoring tend to be cheaper than private session fees.

2.  Tutoring Centers

A tutoring center or tutoring company is a company employing different tutors.  The company may be part of a national chain or can be locally-based, but they will often organize group tutoring for children.  One of the benefits to using a tutoring center is that there is a classroom atmosphere making it less stressful for the child and allowing children to "bounce off" one another.  Stoker explains that tutoring companies will often charge monthly rates and these can range from approximately £50 to £120 per month covering two or three sessions per week.

3.  Online Or Skype Tutors

The use of a tutor website or Skype tutors is a new technology where students can be tutored using the internet.  According to Stoker, this remote tutoring can be beneficial for expat families who are interested in returning to the United Kingdom, for instance, as the student can use the skills of a tutor immersed in the UK schooling system.  Face-to-face tutoring is often more beneficial, but online tutoring can be as advantageous.  The average cost of online tuition is approximately £15 per hour.

How Can I Find An 11+ Tutor?

Currently, tutors are not regulated and do not require any formal qualifications; therefore, it is important to do research when looking for an 11+ tutor.  Word of mouth is a good method to find a tutor, but because of the rivalry in the 11+ schooling system certain parents will keep their tutor's details a secret.  It is also possible to find tutors using recommendations from past pupils.  According to parent Kirsty Hughes, their tutor was recommended from a friend who was a retired teacher and had used the tutor for one of her sons.

If you do not have the option of personal recommendation, then you should be able to locate tutor details in your area by searching online or perusing the local newspaper's classified section.  In certain regions, particularly regions like Buckinghamshire and Kent that have large grammar schooling systems, there are agencies supplying tutors to pupils in these situations.  Of course, this can be more expensive because you will be paying agency rates as well as individual tuition fees.

The majority of families begin tutoring sessions during the start of Year 5 and the examination for 11+ takes place in the autumn term of Year 6.  Popular tutors are booked in advance, so it is recommended that you begin researching and reserving a tutor for your child during Year 4.

How Do I Choose A Tutor?

There are certain considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing a suitable 11+ tutor.  

1.  Experience

According to Catherine Stoker, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a tutor is experience.  It is vital that you check if they have experience coaching students in all areas of discipline that will be tested.  Furthermore, if the 11+ exam format has undergone changes in your area, the tutor needs to be aware of the change and have experience in dealing with the new format.

2.  Pass Rates

It is recommended that you ask the recommended tutor about their pass rates before hiring them.  This involves the percentage of their past students who have passed the 11+ examination in recent years.  Ideally, you should attempt to get references from these students and their parents.

3.  The Qualifications

While a tutor does not require any formal qualification, you may feel more comfortable if your child's tutor has some type of further education.  For instance, if your child struggles with math, you may feel comfortable if the tutor is a qualified math teacher.

4.  Their Methods

There are various types of tutoring methods and you need to consider your tutoring preference.  For example, do you prefer tutoring individually or in a group?  Would you rather have the child attend weekly classes or participate in a summer course?  Remember that methods can change and the student may alternate from one tutoring method to another based on their experience.  For example, one parent state that her daughter changed from one-to-one tutoring to a small group's option because she was uncomfortable with the one-to-one setting.

5.  The Location And Price

While location and cost may seem less important, they are significant to consider before making a long-term commitment to a single tutor.  Sarah Melling, mother to ten-year-old Penny, stated that she does not drive fast because of her younger children; therefore, finding a tutor that would go to their house was a key factor.

Will The Tutor Suit My Child?

One of the greatest factors to consider when choosing a tutor is how they will get on with the child.  Stoker agrees that certain parents prefer traditional tutors with several years of tutoring experience, whereas others opt for younger individuals who can motivate the child.  You should also consider whether you prefer a female or male tutor, and if you want your child to be tutored by the same individual during each session.

Disclosure:  This is a contributed post.

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