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Archive for November, 2009

What to look for in a maths tutor

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Formal education

A good maths tutor will need to have a good understanding and knowledge of the material that s/he is tutoring and so it’s important that they have a strong formal background in mathematics. When teaching young children, of primary school age, a tutor with at least a GCSE grade C in maths would be recommended. Teaching older students, in high school or college, requires more specialist knowledge and so the ideal tutor would have at least an A Level, but ideally an undergraduate degree, in a subject with a strong emphasis on mathematics (engineering or science degrees often have solid maths requirements too).

Experience and training

Helping others learn requires great communication skills, patience and the ability to identify the best way to convey the material that matches the individual needs of the learner. Previous experience in either tutoring or teaching is highly recommended when choosing a maths tutor, and that experience should ideally include the grade-level of the material you are covering.

Practice, practice, practice

The best way of learning maths is through practice, practice, and more practice. It also helps to write it down (it has become very difficult to get students to show their working and write down a maths problem!). A good maths tutor will be able to identify and work on areas of weakness through explanation of the method and practice.

Tutors will also offer homework assignments, if asked, and regular testing is important. Maths tutors often help their students prepare for specific standardised tests such as the eleven plus, 11+, entrance tests, SATs, GCSE’s and A Levels – AS and A2 and so using practice tests in the same format as the expected standardised exams is helpful.

Our tutors have experience and knowledge of the requirements for the different exam boards at the main key stages – e.g. AQA, Edexcel, OCR and for the GCSE, IGCSE, AS and A2 exams.

Student- teacher ratio

Many academic studies have recognised that students learn best when they have more attention to their individual needs. Smaller classroom sizes, or even one-on-one learning, are advisable to maximise the benefits of maths tutoring.

Location & Availability

To save time and travel expense, it is best to have the maths tutoring near you, or even in your own home. A tutor’s availability will depend on several factors, such as your location, the times you require tuition, the time of year [most tutors are fully booked close to public exam times] and the level you require – the most experienced, successful tutors get booked quickly and so often have less availability and/or a waiting list. Some tutors are only available out of school hours and/or at weekends, whereas others may be free at other times.


Tutors need to be compensated for their time (they’ve also got families to feed!), so it’s unrealistic to expect good maths tutoring for a very low cost or free – again, the most experienced, highly successful tutors are in high demand and as a result charge higher fees. One to one, individualised tutoring will naturally cost a little extra. Whether or not that is a good investment will depend on the individual needs of the learner, and their enthusiasm to succeed at maths.

If you need a maths tutor in the Manchester or Cheshire area then contact us today.

What makes a good tutor?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The first thing that is important when you want to find a good tutor is understanding what the student needs – whether that’s you or your child. That’s why when you come to us, we ask lots of questions and try to get to the bottom of your specific needs.

Does a tutor need to be a qualified teacher?

Some parents are surprised to find out not all of our tutors are teachers by profession. Many of our private tutors are teachers or teacher trained but lots of our 150 male and female tutors come from different backgrounds.

Each one goes through the same stringent application process and we review each application individually. What we have found is that non-teachers can also make superb tutors – some non-teachers have a greater practical/working knowledge of their subject [for example language tutors] and a great deal of passion for their subject.

All our tutors have at least a qualification in the level above that which they teach in (so if they are teaching GCSE Maths they’ll have at least A Level Maths).

A teacher is not always one the best placed to ‘teach’ the student to pass exams. Teachers often teach and cover a lot of information that’s not always needed for a test. It’s information that’s fantastic for subject knowledge but may not be exactly what the student needs to pass a particular test.

So that’s why when you make a tuition enquiry to 121 we’ll ask a lot of questions. We need to find out if you need help and support, then we’ll focus on a particular type of tutor. If you need specific help with exam technique then we’ll find just the right match. And sometimes it can take us more than one go to find just the right tutor – there are as many different styles of tutor as there are teachers!

But we do listen to our parents and anyone receiving private tuition from 121 – if a tutor isn’t meeting your needs or standards then we’ll rectify the problem.

What to look for in a private tutor

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

The Daily Telegraph Independent Schools supplement (19th Sept 2009) had a few handy hints on tracking down and hiring a private tutor.

They include:

  • Using a trusted website like 121hometutors, where you can get a specialised, matched tutor recommendation and read what other parents say about the tutors.
  • Focusing on one or two subjects at any one time. Hiring too many tutors at once can be counter productive as it doesn’t give the student time to absorb the new information.
  • Ensuring the tutor has been fully checked – at 121 we carry out a comprehensive checking process including taking up references and double checking qualifications. We focus on a tutor’s track record and their suitability for your needs.
  • Check costs – at 121 we agree any fees before tutoring starts. Remember that the cheapest is rarely the best and education is always worth paying for. Tutoring isn’t about price; it’s about getting a quality tutor who cares about a student’s education.
  • Looking at results – you need to know your child is making progress. At 121 we continually get feedback from both tutors and parents to make sure the tutor/student relationship is working. We often find the whole relationship is more honest as tutors can be open rather than being pressured to praise.

Tutoring for the eleven plus exam (11+)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

The eleven plus (11+) exam has always been something of a hot political potato with the main parties agreeing that it should be phased out. The compulsory 11+ exam ended 40 years ago but there are still 164 grammars schools and 36 local authorities that have selective schools. In Manchester and Cheshire, especially in the Trafford Borough,  there are a number of schools that require passing the eleven plus for entrance, and it looks as though tutors will always be needed in this area.

The eleven plus (11+) entrance exam tests Maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning and English (not all schools test for English – you can find out what the entrance exams consists of by contacting the school).

Often children get very anxious about preparing for the eleven plus and this can affect their performance on the day. A private eleven plus tutor, working with them at home, can explain how to tackle each part of the verbal and non-verbal reasoning sections of the exam. An eleven plus (11+) tutor can then set a schedule of learning so the student does not become overwhelmed and is confident and relaxed when they sit the eleven plus entrance exam.

You can find comprehensive information on the eleven plus (11+) at

Help me find an eleven plus (11+) private home tutor…

GCSE English – tutor tips for learning

Friday, November 6th, 2009

GCSE English is one of our most popular private tutor requests, with lots of tutors wanted near exam time. Many students love the topic but become overwhelmed when it comes to exam time, this is often because they aren’t sure what the examiner is looking for. So our GCSE English tutors put their heads together and came up for a list of hints and tips for smashing that GCSE English exam.

  1. Read the question – our GCSE English tutors suggest you take five minutes to just sit and read the question, what is it actually asking, who is the audience, what is the genre.
  2. Write for your audience – keep in mind who you are writing for and use the same tone.
  3. Use the question – the answer you give will relate to the question you’ve just been asked, so look at the question and highlight any points you can use to structure your answer.
  4. Make a plan – use your highlighted points to create an argument that has a beginning, middle and end. Then plan each paragraph focusing on one point per paragraph.
  5. Start big, end well. It’s a good idea to start off well, craft a really good opening sentence rather than drifting into it. Know when you should stop writing and plan how you’ll end.
  6. Keep me interested. Try to make your writing exciting and lively, vary the structure of your sentences and the words you use, avoid too much repetition.
  7. Remember what you learnt in class and with your home tutor. Examiners aren’t usually trying to catch you out,  you will have covered the material you need in lessons or with your GCSE English private tutor.
  8. Check and check again – check that you’ve used the right format and for full stops, commas and spelling mistakes.

Help me find a GSCE English private home tutor…

A Level and Adult tutoring in Spanish

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Spanish is a passionate, vibrant language and many adults often choose to study it when they fancy taking on a new challenge. Spain is also one of the most popular holiday destinations and 2nd favourite for us Brits.

For school and college students it can be a good alternative to French or German and many schools now teach Spanish at primary, secondary and even GCSE level.

If you just want to study Spanish for pleasure we have private tutors who can work with you in your home to get you up to speed. Then you can use your newly found skills on a Spanish course in Spain! (

If you’re learning Spanish at school or college, for GCSE or A Level, then your tutor will focus on helping you through the listening, reading, writing and oral elements of your Spanish exam (while ensuring you have some fun!). Then you’ll be one of the millions of people who speak the fourth most spoken language in the world! (

Tutors are also wanted to teach Spanish – so if you are qualified or a native Spanish speaker tutors are needed. Contact us to find out more.

Help me find an A Level or Adult Spanish private home tutor…