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Archive for November, 2010

Do children learn better with male teachers?

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

A recent article in The Daily Mail suggested pupils make more effort with male teachers as they are seen as more fair. The article was based on information from a study by researchers from Westminster University, the London School of Economics and the graduate business school INSEAD who carried out an experiment involving 1,200 pupils aged 12-13 in 29 schools. They wanted to explore what shaped children’s effort, motivation and educational achievement.

“Each pupil received £2 and was asked to buy up to ten questions, priced 20p each. The questions involved having to define the meaning of words. A correct answer doubled their money each time while an incorrect one forfeited 20p. Therefore, pupils who tried ten questions and got them all correct could earn £4. In one group, marking was done anonymously by an external examiner. In the other, marking was done by the teacher in the classroom.” (, 30th Oct 2010)

In the study there were 9 male and 18 female teachers and it explored the number of questions the pupils bought in each group, their perceptions of grading and willingness to make effort.

There wasn’t much difference in the number of questions purchased between the groups but when the marking was done by the teacher, pupils bought significantly more questions when they were assessed by men.

“The study found that male teachers foster self esteem, perceptions of fairness, but that they are no more lenient than female teachers.” (, 30th Oct 2010)

This is particularly interesting at a time when male secondary school teacher numbers are dropping and many primary schools have no male teachers. Also, at 121 Home Tutors we frequently find parents request female tutors, maybe because they feel more comfortable with a woman teaching their child? But, could this mean they are doing their child an academic disservice?

A study carried out in the USA in 2006 by the Hoover Institute also concluded boys learn better from male teachers and that having a teacher of the opposite sex can hinder a boy’s academic progress.  Men are more likely to include games and competition in their teaching methods which can work very well in a one to one tutoring situation.

So before you rule out the idea of a male tutor give 121 Home Tutors a call and chat through the options. Who knows, the perfect tutor for your child in Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow & Cheshire areas might just be a chap!

How to get the best from your tutor

Friday, November 19th, 2010

At 121 Home Tutors we know our students get the most out of tutoring when they are on the same wavelength as their tutor. But how do you make sure you have a good relationship with your tutor and what can you do when things go wrong?

Here to help

Remember your tutor is there to help. They aren’t the enemy and will always be willing to offer help when you ask. But you do need to ask. Tutors can’t read minds so you need to get it out in the open if you are struggling with a particular area or something the tutor does. If that’s hard face to face, you can always write it down, send an email or if you’ve chosen your tutor through a company like 121 Home Tutors speak to the person who initially put you in touch with the tutor.

Do the basics

Our best students enjoy their lessons and we enjoy tutoring them, they participate in each lesson, ask questions and take an interest. It’s great if you turn up when you should (as our tutors do), complete the work between sessions and stay alert during the lesson.

Keep it real

Tutors can’t work magic. We can’t help you jump three grades overnight. If you feel like you aren’t making progress at the pace you’d hoped then talk to your tutor. Most tutors will sit down with you before they start tutoring and talk about how you can achieve what you want and in what timescales.

What is the problem?

If you aren’t clicking with your tutor then before you stop using them try and figure out what the problem is. Is it the tutor or the subject you dislike? If you really hate a subject it can affect how you feel about the tutor. It can be the case that you just don’t like the tutor, some people get on better than others. But you will have to work with people you don’t like in the future and as long as you respect your tutors opinion and experience there’s no reason you can’t work together to get good results.

If you’ve reached a stage where you feel like the relationship is affecting your learning then take a three step approach. First try and talk to your tutor about the problem. Second talk it through with a friend or parent, ask them how you could get on better with your tutor. And finally if all else fails and you use a tutoring company like 121 Home Tutors go back and ask for a new tutor, sometimes it can take more than one attempt to find the right match.

If you live in Manchester or Cheshire and you’d like more information on working with tutor and how it can help improve your grade and confidence drop us a line today.

What to think about when choosing a secondary school

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Following on from our article last month about ‘Which secondary school is right for your child’ we’re bringing you some additional hints and tips around what to consider when choosing a school for your child. If your child is in Year 4 or 5 then it’s worth starting to think about some of these things now.  You have plenty of time to make decisions about catchment areas and think about moving to a specific area. If your child is in Year 6 and will start secondary school next September then it could be a bit late to start upping sticks but here are our top ten things to think about:

1.      What works for your child? Would they flourish in an ‘academic’ school with an arts or science focus? Do they love sport and need a school that excels in this area? Or do you already know they are likely to need strong pastoral support?

2.      What facilities does the school have? So if your child shows promise in swimming do they have an onsite pool or access to lessons? If they show a flair for the sciences do they have labs which are fully kitted out?

3.      Exam results and Ofsted reports. League tables and Ofsted reports are often the first place parents turn to when deciding on a school for their child. You can get this information from the local authority, school prospectuses or school visits.

4.      Special attention? Is your child particularly bright or has special needs? If so does the school have gifted & talented programmes and what is their special needs system?

5.      What happens at sixth form? Does the school have an integrated sixth form or feed into a particular sixth form school/college? Some schools don’t and it can mean a great deal of disruption at the end of Year 11.

6.      Getting there. If your child is going to get themselves to school (and face it they won’t be very keen on mum or dad dropping them off) are there good transport links and systems? Is it close enough to walk to? Will they have local friends they could walk with?

7.      What are people saying about the school? We don’t mean local gossip.  What do other parents have to say about sending their kids there? Ask your child what they know about the school and (as they’ll be the one attending) if they like the sound of it.

8.      How deep will your pockets need to be? If you are considering an independent school then you’ll already be paying fees. Will there be additional costs on top? Even in a state school the costs of before and after school care, uniforms, trips etc can add up.

9.      Friends matter. It’s not vital that your child knows people before he/she starts secondary school but it can make the transition easier. Is their current primary a feeder to their chosen secondary? Will they know other people at the school?

10.  Open days. Does the school have an open day? If so then make sure you attend and ask as many questions as it takes for you to be satisfied you have the information you need to make an informed choice.

Once you’ve visited the schools make sure you have notes and a prospectus so you have a basis for discussion and decision making. If your child needs one to one tutoring help during the transition time from primary to secondary education and you live in Manchester or Cheshire we can help.

Decision time – which secondary school is right for your child?

Monday, November 1st, 2010

If your child is in Year 4 or 5 you’ve got a big decision looming – which secondary school is right for your child? If your child is in year 6 you may be in the midst of a testing time – literally – with grammar schools entrance tests completed and entrance exam tests for independent schools taking place in January.

You may already know that you’d like your child to go to an independent (often called private) school or maybe you’d love them to attend the highly sought after state grammar school or comprehensive. But if you’re still undecided here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

1.       Be clear about the different types of schools and all the costs involved. There are state maintained comprehensive/secondary schools where you don’t pay fees, but if it’s a good school then it’s likely housing costs in the catchment area will be higher. There are grammar secondary schools (164 of them in England) which select pupils based on their academic ability using the 11+ entrance exam or similar. They are funded by the state and don’t charge fees. Finally there are independent (private) schools, they can be called grammar schools but are not funded or run by the state so you can pay substantial fees. They also select pupils based on testing.

2.       Think about hidden costs. In an independent school setting your child is likely to get access to additional sporting and extracurricular activities as part of the fees you pay. By putting them in a state school will you end up spending extra time and money finding out of school sports and other clubs to keep your child occupied? On the other hand private schools often have more expensive uniforms and costly activities.

3.       Remember your child is an individual. You need to visit the schools and get a feel for what would suit your child. You child may need the nurturing, one on one environment of an independent school with smaller class sizes or they may be very confident and flourish in a local comprehensive.

4.       Are you in catchment?  If you are thinking about getting your child into a really good state secondary have you checked that you actually live in catchment? Check with your local authority. It’s also worth asking about admissions criteria.

5.       Does your child have special needs? If so you need to talk to your ideal schools in some detail – how would they cope with your child? Do they have experience with children with the same condition? It can be the case that state schools are better equipped to deal with special needs.

It’s worth remembering that you can transfer between the systems, so if your child has been in an independent primary school (prep) then you can apply for a state secondary school or apply for sixth-form College after a private secondary education. And if you feel like you child needs additional help outside of school then track down a tutoring company who have experience of all school systems.

If you need help preparing your child for independent school entrance exam tests or need extra tutoring support while they are at state, grammar or independent secondary school and you are based in the Manchester, Macclesfield, Stockport, Trafford, Wilmslow, Cheshire areas we can help. Get in touch with us at 121 Home Tutors.