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Archive for the ‘high school’ Category

Is your child struggling in their new school?

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Starting Secondary School can be fraught with worry for many children. Will I make friends? Will I cope with loads of homework? Will older children bully me? 

Often, children take to new experiences like a duck to water. Others, however, seem to sink under the weight of it all. But what are the tell-tale signs that your child is struggling?

  • Refusal to discuss school/changes the topic
  • An attitude shift from positive to negative
  • Spends far too long on homework
  • Detentions or messages from the teacher
  • Sleep disturbance, eats less or more

The truth is, because our kids don’t always share things that bother them, a situation can escalate quickly. Troubles don’t always blow over after a few weeks. There could be a real issue brewing.

How to support your child at secondary school

  1. First of all, stay calm and approachable. Anxiety around new situations is common for everyone – not just children. Conflict is part of life. Showing empathy during these rocky times can help to show your child that it can take a while to settle in a new environment.
  2. Ask open-ended questions: Asking, ‘what did you do today?’ will probably return a, ‘nothing!’ reply. Asking, ‘What was the best thing about today?‘ followed by, ‘And the worst?’ your child is more likely to open up. You might even share a tricky experience you had at school at first which was later resolved.
  3. Get them organised and stick to it: If your child is badly organised, telling them off solves nothing. Instead, get practical. Know their timetable and homework timetable – stick it to the fridge. Help them pack their bags the night before. Keep to do lists on mini white boards for each of your kids. Rub off when done!

Still having learning issues? Approaching your child’s form tutor can be a useful first step to see if they have noticed any problems too.

Finally, if your child is still struggling with a key subject and they just can’t get a handle on it, one to one tuition can make a huge difference. Get in touch with us here at 121 Home Tutors.

We’ve a wonderfully supportive private tuition team across Manchester and Cheshire ready to step in and be there…

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.


Literacy and maths in the UK – are we failing our children?

Friday, October 25th, 2013

This month the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of a large study measuring the literacy and numeracy skills of 16 to 24-year-olds  across the world. The results for England were shocking – 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries in the study.

The study involved testing 166,000 young people and adults (age 16-65) from different countries including the UK, England and Northern Ireland. The study looked at literacy, numeracy and digital skills. Japan and Finland topped the tables while the UK lagged far behind. One of the most worrying findings was that in the UK the younger population fared badly compared to older people (in most industrialised countries younger people do better). This shows a continuing decline rather than improvement in skills.

There have been calls in the last couple of years to ‘toughen up’ the UK system, reintroducing exams and getting rid of coursework in a bid to improve skills. The study throws up a number of questions around testing of children in the education system – because despite a year on year increase in GCSE results between 1997-2010 the study has shown many young adults lack basic skills in key areas.

It’s vital we tackle this issue right now, not only for the future careers of our children but also to put the UK in a strong position in the global workforce.

If your child needs support with basic literacy, numeracy or digital skills then one to one private tutoring with 121 Home Tutors can help. We cover Manchester and Cheshire (Didsbury, Sale, Trafford) – call us today. 

Lorna’s journey

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

If you read our blog regularly, follow us on facebook or twitter (@121HomeTutors) you may have seen us mention Alison’s niece, Lorna, in the last few weeks.

Alison, MD at 121 Home Tutors, wanted to show the journey that Lorna is going through at the moment. A few weeks ago she was sitting her GCSEs at Weston Road High School Stafford, then she went to her school leaving prom and now we’ll wait with baited breath until she gets her GCSE results and decides on her future career path.  Lorna loved school and learning and is thinking about a career in either forensic science or law. She’ll start college in September where she’ll take the first steps by studying Forensic Science.

Keep reading our facebook page to see how Lorna is getting on.


Shorter school holidays make for more successful students

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Last month Michael Gove, Education Minister, argued that pupils in England should spend more hours in school each day and have shorter holidays.

Speaking at an education conference he said that the most successful education system (in East Asia) has both longer days and fewer holidays. He argues that our education system was designed to work around an ‘agricultural system’, maybe harking back to a time when children had to be in the fields helping their parents with the crops and animals. As we are now in more modern times Mr Gove thinks we need to have children in school more to compete with more academically successful countries. He also made the point that longer days combined with shorter holidays would make life easier for working parents.

And maybe in this respect Mr Gove has a point – in families with two full  time working parents early school finishes and long summer holidays can cause real childcare headaches and have a considerable financial impact. If you aren’t lucky enough to have friends or grandparents who can do the school pick ups or act as holiday cover then you can incur huge costs for after school clubs and holiday play schemes.

Many parents and teachers have objected to the idea of longer days because of the pressure many children already find themselves under, especially with the introduction of testing at a younger age (SATS).

Although there may be some benefits to what Mr Gove is suggesting at 121 Home Tutors we’d like to see some research done into the pros and cons for both students and teachers before these steps are taken.

If you’d like to know more about one to one private tutoring in Manchester, Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton and surrounding areas contact us today.


State, independent, religious – what will you choose?

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

On 1st March Year 6 students found out which secondary school they will be going to. In the news last week Nick and Miriam Clegg announced that their son will go a state catholic school. This has caused some controversy, as Nick Clegg has been vocal about the fact he is an atheist. However, his wife is Catholic, their children are being raised in that faith and their son has attended a state catholic primary school.

If you are fast approaching the time when you have to make the choice about secondary school it can be very confusing. For some it’s a simple choice but often good local state schools can be oversubscribed or where you live in relation to the school you want can cause problems. We’ve written before about what to think about when choosing a secondary school for your child but in this blog we’ll explore the main differences between state, independent and religious secondary education.


In the UK to provide free education to all children at primary and secondary level the government funds state schools. There are some state boarding schools that charge fees. There is a vast array of state secondary schools but all follow the National Curriculum. There are state Faith Schools, they have formal links with religious organisations and this religion would form part of your child’s education. These schools often have religion in their admissions criteria. Most grammar schools are state schools with a few fee paying.  There are some schools that receive other kinds of funding; these are known as foundation schools or voluntary controlled schools.


Independent schools, sometimes known as private or public schools, are independent from the Government for the purposes of funding and governance. That means you have to pay fees to go there. Some independent schools have a religious affiliation.


As mentioned above both independent and state schools can have a connection to a particular religious organisation and require you to follow that faith to attend the school. Most faith schools also allow non-religious people to apply to attend the school.

There are a number of other variations in secondary education and you can read more about them here.

If you need help with choosing a secondary school or private tutoring at secondary level call 121 Home Tutors in Manchester & Cheshire.


Secondary school – did you get your first choice?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

On 1st March Year 6 primary school children found out which secondary school they will be going to. Some local authorities report that over 90% of children were allocated their first place school. But data from 2011 shows those numbers vary depending on where you live. For many parents and children not getting into their first choice can be a crushing disappointment – it can cause practical problems such as transporting children in different directions and emotional issues such as facing being separated from well-established friends.  So if your child didn’t get their first choice what are your options?

  • Don’t discount any route at this stage – you can accept a place at one school, appeal to others and go on the waiting list of other schools.
  • Give your allocated school a chance – go and visit, speak to the head and teachers. Form your own opinion and look objectively at any practical issues getting in the way.
  • If you do want to appeal then focus on the school you wanted and what it can offer your child over and above the school they have been offered a place at.
  • If you are appealing understand the grounds on which you can appeal, be prepared to be specific and offer lots of evidence. It is worth revisiting the entrance criteria for a school.
  • The appeal process needs to be based on fact, not your gut feeling or local gossip. Roughly 1 in 3 appeals are successful.
  • If your child didn’t pass the 11+ then take a moment to reflect – maybe grammar school wasn’t the right path for them?
  • Have a Plan B if your appeal isn’t successful – could you consider independent schooling or home schooling, even for a short period?

If you need advice on tutoring at secondary school level in Manchester or Cheshire (Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton, Heaton Moor, Wilmslow) for Maths, English and many other subjects, contact 121 Home Tutors.

GCSEs to be replaced by EBacc – Part One

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

In the last few weeks, a huge shakeup of the secondary education system has been announced. Michael Gove, Education Secretary, announced that GSCEs will be scrapped and a new English Baccalaureate qualification will be introduced from 2017.

The EBacc is seen as more academically rigorous and is being introduced as a way to regain confidence in our qualifications. There have been calls for a number of years to improve standards at GCSE because students going onto A Levels and University struggle to cope. GCSEs have become known as ‘easy’ exams with lots of coursework and modules which allow multiple resits, the changes will see a return to a linear approach with one set of exams at the end instead of modules. Here at 121 Home Tutors we agree that things need to change – qualifications obtained by 16 year olds need to be valued by employers and the students given credit for having worked hard to achieve a qualification.

We welcome the changes but we also understand parents confusion about what happens next.

GCSEs will not be stopped immediately – they will be phased out and the EBaccs slowly phased in (as any new syllabus is) – you can read more about this here.

From a teaching and tutoring point of view, we are very used to education systems changing (although you might not be aware of it). Syllabuses change regularly, usually every 5 years or so and we have seen a slow move back towards end of year exams over the last few years so most teachers and tutors were aware of the changes coming. All of our tutors are used to working with multiple syllabuses and with students from both independent and state schools. What this all means is that teachers and tutors are highly adaptable and will be able to help your child through and transition from GCSE to EBacc.

From your child’s point of view, because of the background work teachers and tutors will be doing, they won’t notice much of a change – probably the only significant change will be less resits and more end of year exams, which might mean more support is needed around preparing for and sitting exams. However, the students won’t be aware of the change as they will only have ever known one system.

This year’s GCSE students are already allowed fewer resits (there are a set number allowed rather than endless resits). Most of the exams for qualifications have to be in one sitting, even when there is a modular approach to a subject.  Over the next few years we are likely to see a decrease in pass rates as modules and the ability to resit them decrease. Part Two to follow next week.

If you would like to discuss tutoring for GCSEs or EBacc in Manchester or Cheshire (Didsbury, Sale, Trafford) then contact us today.


Exams – what happens if it all goes wrong?

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

If you are in Year 10 (or your child is) then they are probably right in the middle of taking GCSE exams. Next year will be one of the most significant years of your life – when you will sit the majority of your GCSEs. What happens during that year can determine where you go to college or work and what career path you may end up taking.

Many people dismiss year 10 exams because they think they can just resit them or make up the grades in Year 11. However, what happens in Year 10 can have a real impact on your GCSE performance in Year 11. If you don’t put the effort in Year 10 exams and fail (or fail because of other reasons), it means you can enter Year 11 lacking in confidence and behind academically. Some schools may even recommend you take different college courses based on your Year 10 performance.

If your child starts Year 10 this September then they will take their exams in 2014 – there will no longer be the option to take some exams in Year 10 and then resit if they fail.  So with this in mind what happens if it all goes wrong and you fail an exam?

  1. Don’t panic. If you are currently in Year 10, you will have the option to resit the GCSE in Year 11. Do keep in mind this will mean extra work during Year 11 when you will already have a lot to deal with.
  2. Ask your teacher (or ask your parent to ask them) if you can sit down with them and talk about where things went wrong. It could be one area where you are failing and you can use the summer break and the help of a private tutor to get back up to speed.
  3. Although we need a break over summer considering using some of the holidays to work on weak areas so you enter next year ahead rather than behind – consider a private tutor or summer school.
  4. If you worked hard and still failed then focus on what you achieved – you studied well and actually sat the exam, don’t let one fail put you off how far you have come.
  5. If you slacked off and failed then maybe it’s time to put a study plan in place, one that fits around your life and having fun but ensures you get the results you want.
  6. Failing a GCSE isn’t the end of the world but it can influence what happens in the next stage of your life so if you are struggling now then ask for help.

If you need helping preparing for GCSEs or summer catch up tutoring help and you live in Manchester or Cheshire (Heaton Mersey, Trafford and more) then call 121 Home Tutors.

End of term reports – what do they mean?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

It’s just a few weeks until the end of the academic year and that means school reports will soon be coming home. A school report is a good time to reflect on your child’s progress over the year and start to identify any areas where improvements could be made. At 121 Home Tutors we often get asked by parents to work on specific areas that might be a problem over the summer holidays. This year we’ll also be offering summer schools where your child can have fun and keep up their academic work over the long break.

If this is your child’s first report or they just bring back bad memories of your own school reports then here are a few things to think about:

  1. Don’t think about the report too much before it arrives.  Hopefully by now you have developed some sort of relationship with your child’s teacher and have dealt with issues as they have come up during the year. It’s best to deal with what’s in the report when it arrives rather than second guess the contents.
  2. Focus on what your child has done well. You may have your own expectations for your child but it’s a good idea to praise them for achievements (even the small ones) and positively focus on areas where they struggle. This will help build up their confidence.
  3. Each school will have its own reporting system and if you don’t understand what it means then do go and speak to your child’s teacher. They may refer to National Curriculum, levels and grades. Most schools are happy to hear feedback on reports so if you feel the report isn’t giving the information you need then approach the school to discuss how improvements might be made.
  4. It’s worth remembering that a class teacher has to write reports for EVERY pupil in the class. That’s a lot of reports to write and it does mean you may not always get the in-depth detail you want. Most teachers will be very open to having a chat if you have concerns about the report.
  5. Talk to your child about the report – ask them what they think about it and any areas where they think they need help and support. This is where a 121 private tutor can come in handy – you can focus on a specific area over the summer and ensure your child starts the next academic year in the best shape.

If you’d like to discuss private tutoring and summer schools in Manchester, Stockport or Wilmslow & Cheshire areas (we cover areas including Altrincham, Didsbury and Hale) then contact 121 Home Tutors.