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Posts Tagged ‘high school’

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.


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.

Grammar schools top popular schools list in Manchester

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

In the last few weeks the most (and least) schools in Manchester have been revealed with grammar schools dominating the top spots.

There are around 160 grammar schools in the UK and entrance to them usually depends on your child passing an entrance (or 11+) examination. In recent articles we’ve discussed which secondary school might be right for your child and what you need to think about when choosing a secondary school for your child. We’ve also got vital information on what your child might encounter on an 11+ test (and it’s never too early to start preparing).

But what does a list like the one in the Manchester Evening News tell us? It gives us information about which schools are most popular but not how ‘good’ they are. And here at 121 Home Tutors we know what might be right for one child could be completely inadequate for another. If your child has just taken the 11+ then you might be sat around nervously waiting for the results. But what if they arrive and your child has failed?

  • Even bright children fail – the 11 plus is a very particular kind of entrance exam which requires specific preparation, at 121 Home Tutors we work with children over a period of a few months on the different areas of the exam.
  • It good be a good thing – if your child doesn’t pass the 11+ it could be a sign that the school could be too academically focussed for them and they’d struggle. In fact it could be the case that they’d be much better going to a school with stronger pastoral support or a focus on sport or other specialisms.
  • You do have a right of appeal (this form is usually enclosed with results). Carefully read this form and complete it fully with extenuating circumstances (if your child has failed/not qualified) or reasons for wanting entrance to a particular school (if it’s oversubscribed).

If you’d like more information on 11 plus tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire then call us, we have a number of specialist tutors who can help.

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.