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Online tutoring – is it the future?

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Over the last few years we’ve seen lots of online tutoring companies pop up. And there are plenty of online learning methods.

Here at 121 Home Tutors we offer online tutor in a number of different subjects including:

English – lower secondary, scholarship entry exams, GCSE, proofreading, general writing

History – lower secondary, scholarship entry exams, GCSE, AS, A2, degree

Maths – primary, 11+, entrance tests, GCSE, A level

Physics – GCSE, AS, A2

Psychometric aptitude tests – for graduate job applications

How does online tutoring work?

We use the same tutors we use for face to face tutoring – they are of the same high standard. For many students we combine online and face to face tutoring so we work with tutors who are able to provide tutoring in both ways.

We can also offer tutoring that just happens online – and we use a variety of technologies. So it could be Skype or Facetime to create the same face to face tutorial feeling. We also use Google+ Hangouts as well as constantly exploring new technologies for distance, online tutoring.

What are the benefits?

  • It’s great for students who live in rural areas, don’t want to have a tutor in the home (this can be for many reasons such as no quiet area to study). This form of tutoring also means we can help students in any part of the country or the world.
  • Online tutoring can be more flexible – tutors might not be able to travel to a students home early in the morning or late at night but might be able to offer online tutoring at those times. It can also be useful for students who struggle to concentrate for long face to face tutoring sessions as you can break online learning into shorter 15 or 30 minute sessions.
  • It works well for a number of subjects but can be especially helpful for essay based topics where the tutor can look a piece of work and then chat through any issue during a web based tutorial.

If you are interested in online tutoring then contact 121 Home Tutors today.

 

Is tutoring too tiring?

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Over the last few months there have been lots of reports that tutoring can be damaging to children. Just this month one headmaster said private tutoring overloads children with work and makes them too tired.

If you’re thinking about hiring a private tutor how do you ensure it’s a positive experience that benefits your child? Here are our top tips.

  • Work with an experienced tutor, checked by a reputable company. That will mean they will understand how tutoring works and what an ‘average’ child can cope with.
  • If you decide to use a tutor then be prepared to spend some time with the tutor explaining what your child is like, what you think they can cope with and what ‘normal’ is for your child. A good tutor will also get to know and read your child but no one knows them better than you.
  • Make sure your tutor has a plan and that it fits in with other activities and isn’t overloading your child on any day or week.
  • It depends on your child but we wouldn’t normally recommend tutoring for more than 2 subjects at any one time.
  • As soon as you start seeing signs that your child isn’t coping with tutoring or it is negatively affecting their performance in school then reassess things with the tutor.
  • Ask your child how they feel – can they cope? Are they too tired?
  • Build in plenty of down time for your child – they need to blow off steam!

If you need help with finding a private tutor in Manchester (we cover all areas) or Cheshire (Didsbury, Wilmslow) then call 121 Home Tutors today.

 

We hope you all have a fantastic Christmas break and look forward to seeing you back reading our blog in 2014.

 

Is tutor regulation the way forward?

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Last month was packed full of news about private tutoring and whether it is a good or bad thing. And we’ve spotted a few news items discussing whether tutoring needs more regulation. The Centre for Market Reform of Education is making plans to set up the first national association for tutors.

The idea is such an association would develop industry standards and improve the consistency of tutoring. It is just at the consultation phase, but it would require all tutors to be vetted (checking background information) and to have a minimum set of qualifications. This minimum level would mean all tutors would have to have a degree in their specialist subject (so to tutor GCSE Maths they would need a degree in Maths) if they were tutoring children over the age of 11. For younger children the tutor would still have to have a degree but in could be in any subject.

There are no plans to make membership compulsory for all tutors.

At 121 Home Tutors many of our tutors do have degrees but we don’t think insisting on that level of education is always needed. We always ask our tutors to be at least one level above the students they are teaching (so they must have a degree in English to tutor A Level English). We agree that that a specialist subject tutor with a degree is a good idea for secondary school students but it’s not always needed for younger children.

We’ve found over the years that undergraduates can make fantastic tutors as they are enthusiastic and students often relate very well to younger tutors. We realise there is a need to ensure tutoring is being carried out correctly and we encourage all our tutors to learn and understand the correct curriculum. We also offer ongoing support to our tutors and encourage them to take teaching qualifications or gain teaching experience.

In our experience good tutors continue to find work through word of mouth and recommendations from other parents. On the other hand ‘bad’ tutors tend to be known locally and quickly find it hard to get work. It’s also worth remembering that you are rarely ‘stuck’ with a tutor as they are on a week by week basis.

Our major concern is that if you insist that all tutors are graduates you make tutoring much more exclusive (and expensive) and then there’s no opportunity for the very students who need the help to access tuition.

If you’d like to know more about our approach to private tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire (Sale, Trafford, Didsbury, Heaton Moor) then contact 121 Home Tutors today.

 

 

The Child Driven education

Monday, May 13th, 2013

TED is an organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It’s a fantastic resource for students (and teachers) to watch inspirational speakers talk about a variety of topics. We recently came across educational researcher Sugata Mitra talking at TED about children and teaching.

“There are places on earth, in every country, where, for various reasons, good schools cannot be built and good teachers cannot or do not want to go…”

http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

There are some fascinating insights on why and how children learn. There’s a very powerful message about children being interested in something in order to be educated.

We frequently find students who come to us for tutoring aren’t interested in either the topic or the way it’s being taught in the classroom. It becomes our job to find new ways to engage a child, either by taking a different approach to learning (so  we might ditch the books and use videos, or turn off the computers and try drawing mind maps and using pens and paper). What we find, as Arthur C Clarke says in the video, is once a child is interested it becomes education.

If you’d like to know more about how one to one tutoring (covering Manchester, Hulme, Trafford, Heaton Mersey, Wilmslow and other areas) and how it can change your child’s approach to education call us today. 

Is it worth investing in a private tutor?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

A recent article in the Telegraph discussed the pros and cons of using private tutors for children who are already privately educated. The issue being discussed was whether, if you are already paying a substantial amount for your child’s education, should this be topped up with private tuition (and if so when do you need a tutor). Some of our students go to independent schools but many are in the state  school system – we feel the issue of whether to work with a tutor doesn’t depend on whether or not you pay school fees. At 121 Home Tutors we believe if you are trying to decide whether your child needs a tutor then your child is where you should start.

  • Tutoring can be used for many different reasons – it maybe that you want your child to go to a particular school or university and you want to help them ‘get to the top of the pile’. It may be that your child is struggling with a particular subject or topic within that subject. Or they may lack general confidence or study skills they need within the educational environment. In some instances you may be able to find additional support within school but often educational problems become linked with school and a learning situation away from that can help. We’ve seen many students have sudden breakthroughs with a tutor after months of struggling with a subject at school.
  • Observe your child. It’s important to listen to what teachers are telling you but you also need to listen and watch your child – their reluctance to complete homework could be a sign they are struggling, do they suddenly not want to go to school? The signs can often be much more subtle than this and an experienced tutor can quickly distinguish between genuine issues and laziness.
  • For children that are falling behind or have developed a negative relationship with learning just a few months of tutoring can turn them around. It boosts confidence in general and can make them fall in love with learning again.

If you’d like to know more about one to one private tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire at primary and secondary level (covering all subjects including Maths, English, French and Science) then call us today.

Disclosure and Barring Service and Tutoring

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Many parents will be familiar with a CRB check.

For certain jobs in the UK, including those that involve working with children, you are usually  required to have an enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check.  When a company request a CRB check a person’s details are checked against various sources including the Police National Computer. The check reveals if they have a criminal record and any convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. It may also show if an applicant has been barred from working with vulnerable groups.  Tutors have not always been required to have a CRB check as most tutoring is carried out in the home and classed as a domestic arrangement.

At 121 Home Tutors we have always required our tutors to have a basic CRB check. In the last few weeks the CRB  has become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).  The idea behind the change is to bring the functions of certain checking bodies together – the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and reduce the number of people being checked.  The change also means the certificate will be sent to an individual who can challenge the information before it reaches an employer.  It will also see the end of a new check every time a new job is taken, with updates to a certificate now possible.

What does this all mean for tutors?

It won’t make a great deal of difference day to day. All new certificates will be branded DBS and old certificates still stand. You will now be able to port your certificate to a new job from Spring 2013.  If you are a self-employed tutor you still can’t apply as an individual  – you can use an umbrealla organisation or you may be able to apply through a trade or professional body. You can find all about the changes here http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/dbs/services/dbs-subscribe/

If you’d like to know more about tutoring for 121 Home Tutors (covering Manchester and Cheshire) you can contact us here.

 

Be a better tutor in 2013

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

At 121 Home Tutors we think it’s important to find ways to continually improve our tutoring skills. This is about more than keeping up with general educational changes or a new syllabus. It’s about how we can be the best possible tutor so we can help students improve their own skills and confidence.  You can be a good tutor if you know your subject but a great tutor needs to love their subject and have skills such as good organisation and the ability to build relationships quickly. We’ve gathered together some top tips to help you be the best tutor possible this year.

  • If you are considering being a tutor then you have to think about how much you enjoy your subject area. It’s important that you are really enthused about what you tutor and can pass this onto a student. Why? Because the students you encounter will often have a bad relationship with the subject you are teaching so you need to find ways to turn them back onto it and want to learn again.
  • Know your own skills. Don’t fall into the trap of offering tutoring in areas you are weak in, you have to be honest about this and know your strengths.
  • Agree fees (how much and how you will be paid), tutoring times (and length) and location (somewhere quiet) before you start any tutoring with a student. It’s a good idea to also have this in writing.
  • Be clear about what is expected of you and your student. You need to establish this very early in tutoring (and revisit it often).  It’s a good idea to sit down with your student (and parents if appropriate) and talk about what they want to get out of tutoring, what they expect from a tutor and what you are able to offer.
  • Be prepared to talk about how you tutor and the methods you use. If you are new to tutoring then you need to think about this.
  • There are certain things you have to be prepared to do as a tutor – you have to turn up on time and where you said you would, you need to be organised and able to keep records and paperwork in order. You have to be able to keep your student (and their parents) informed of their progress.
  • You will have different relationships with different students but you have to be prepared to work on them and always keep them professional.
  • If tutoring is likely to continue for some time then it’s good to agree up front how many months it might be for (so you can plan your own workload). You can also then talk about booking holidays and what will happen over school holidays. At this stage you also need to discuss what happens if you or your student want to cancel one session or end a tutoring agreement.
  • Get planning – every tutoring session will need some thought about structure, content and what your student will get out of it.
  • Find ways to establish rapport quickly and get to know your student – ask lots of questions, especially open ones which start a conversation and encourage your student to think.  Remember to give your student enough time to form an answer and respond. Be prepared to wait and listen. Make sure your student knows they can ask you questions.
  • Get into the habit of praising. There will be times when you have to correct but try to find the good parts of what your student is doing.
  • Apart from teaching the subject you should find ways of teaching your student the skills they need to succeed – from essay writing, to analytical thinking and providing evidence to back up their arguments. Don’t presume a student has these skills and even if they do they can always benefit from refreshing.
  • Give structured, quality, feedback regularly both verbally and in writing. Check your student is making progress and meeting the objectives you set at the beginning of tutoring. You also need to make sure parents receive feedback as well. As well as monitoring your student you need to make sure you are doing a good job, ask for feedback from your student and parents and be prepared to take criticism on board.

If you are interested in private one to one tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire, whether you have primary, secondary, A Level or industry experience then we’d like to hear from you. You can contact us here.

 

Is tutoring really worth it?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Last week we stumbled across this article from Canada about whether private tutoring really offers students any advantages.

The article states that about a third of Canadian parents hire private tutors. In the UK, according to the Sutton Trust charity in 2005 around 18% of 11-16-year-olds received some private or home tuition. Last year that number had risen to nearly 25%. With increasing competition to get into grammar schools some parents see tutoring as a necessity rather than the luxury it once was.  There has been concern expressed on both sides of the Atlantic that the rise in private tutoring will widen the gulf between those that can afford it and those that can’t – creating an unbalanced education system that favours those with money.

In our own private tutoring company we see parents from a wide mix of backgrounds, some with money, some with not so much. Their reasons for accessing tutoring for their children vary – some see academic success as an important measure of future success, others just want to help their child be better at Maths or English. Either way we hope we offer a service that allows children and parents to access the education they need.

If you’d like to talk to us about private one to one tutoring for primary or secondary aged children in Manchester or Cheshire (Bury, Levenshulme, Heaton Moor and other areas) then get in touch.