Home tuition... Often a debated subject in the media. Some say it undermines teachers in the classroom, whilst others say it eats into a child's free time after school.
Some even say that hiring home tuition is devisive - that it gives children an unfair advantage over peers whose parents can't afford it.
Instead, let's look at the facts:
- According to an Ipsos Mori poll last year, almost 25% of youngsters have had home tuition
- Some children need extra support as they don't get all the help they need in class
- Children don't learn at the same rate, and some have specific learning difficulties
- Some children have personal and emotional challenges to contend with
- Vying for attention in an overcrowded classroom can lead to frustration - and worse - apathy
In a sense, schools have become exam factories with the emphasis on results. They matter, of course. However, results are now used to judge a school's performance under OFSTED. In turn, parents make decisions based on a school's results and reputation.
In the competitive world beyond the classroom, parents naturally want the best for their children. They want to give them every chance, every opportunity to get on in life.
Unfortunately, schools - with the best will in the world - simply cannot provide individualised learning for every child. The key to unlocking learning is inspiring children to want to learn. Is that possible in the classroom? Absolutely ... sometimes.
The problem in todays classrooms
We all agree teachers do a fantastic job - under the circumstances - making teaching both a wonderfully rewarding and yet frustrating career. How?
When I was a full-time classroom teacher, there never was enough time to spend with every child. With some children soaking up my energy and attention, there were always a handful of children who never received the ongoing support they needed.
Despite my best efforts, classroom management and strong discipline, I STILL couldn't spend time with those who needed more from me...
It was one of the most frustrating aspects of teaching in state schools. Even when I worked in a tiny independent school, the same was true.
Politicians say teachers should differentiate lessons, make them accessible to every child. An ideal... In reality, it's impossible to differentiate work for every child, in every lesson.
Though I always prepared expension work, and resources for specific students with learning difficulties, there wasn't enough time in the day, evenings, weekends or holidays to cater for every child. Fact!
I was never one of those classroom teachers who sat quietly in the corner catching up on my marking. I'd give every second to my students and yet still couldn't help everyone...
How tuition can help
In my 23 years' experience, I have never been in a situation where a child doesn't benefit from one to one attention. In fact, the typical outcome is that they blossom...
I've transformed disaffected boys into learners who achieve, inspired children who'd given up on themselves to regain a sense of purpose and self-belief - and even helped children who never felt good enough to compete with the best.
That's the beauty of private tuition or home schooling. You have the luxury of time to spend with a child. You can plan lessons tailored to their exact level. And you can help a child leap forward in the fraction of the time.
What is often not realised is how different an experience private tuition is to classroom teaching. Lessons are more relaxed where a child can talk through a problem which he or she might have difficulty doing in front of classroom peers.
Children, because all the attention is on them, often re-ignite their interest in a subject, or discover an interest they never had.
Rather than 'replace' their classroom teacher, tutors help a student access learning in different ways. In turn, knowledge and skills gained then help the child to achieve more in the classroom and at exam level.
Unfortunately, there will always be a minority who are distrustful of tutors, or who view them as detrimental to education.
What I can tell you is that when a parent emails or texts telling me she can't believe her usually disinterested son is looking forward to the next lesson, I know I must be doing something extraordinary...
If you've chosen to home educate your son or daughter in Surrey, and need some local tuition support covering core subjects - English, Maths and Science - call us at The Lemon Tree today.
Areas we cover? Cobham to Weybridge and Esher, from Guildford to Woking and Godalming.
GCSEs... They're here. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to grow your knowledge, it's also a chance to start making decisions about your future. So use this time to build up your skills and look forward.
If, however, you are dreading the next two years, it coud be that you just haven't got your head round everything yet. Far from being a walkthrough, GSCEs can be fraught with all sorts of hassles unless you keep on top of them.
There will be heaps more work, stacks of assessments, exams and more commitment from you. Don't panic though. Getting yourself sorted from the start will help you make the best of the two years ahead.
To help you tick all the boxes so you hit the ground running, here are some top study tips. Hope they help!
1. Get organised:
If you're the type of student who shoves paper in your bag and hopes for the best, you'll get in a muddle fast. Instead, buy a cheap file with tab inserts to divide your subjects up. If you do this now, you'll keep all the important information together without losing any vital data. There's nothing worse than wasting time looking for stuff when it could be right there when you need it.
2. Be disciplined:
Sticking the telly on the moment you come in from school until 6pm might seem like a good idea at the time, but it's time you're wasting. Of course, you deserve some chill out time after being at school all day - but getting into bad habits now can be really hard to break. It's impossible to study GCSEs without working at home. So accept that fact and decide on a routine to help you meet your school commitments AND still have a life.
4-6pm works for lots of students, as does 5-7pm. Just don't be a lastminute.com else you'll end up rushing. Also, be really disciplined when you do knuckle down. Resist the urge to play the next few levels on that addictive game app, or check out the latest gossip on Facebook. ;-)
3. Ask for help:
If you're the type of person to just wing it when you confront a problem, you could come unstuck. At some stage, you will hit a problem - something that just drives you bonkers. Rather than letting it get to you, or ignoring it, speak to someone. A mate, your teacher, your parents.
You might even find it useful to have some tuition at home for a while to keep you on track. There's always an answer to a problem. If you leave it, it'll still be there. And, worse, it could come up in your final exams and you'll end up kicking yourself that you didn't grapple with it earlier.
Remember, if you stick to some routines, you'll free up some time. Make better use of your week day evenings will give you more time at the weekend. Happy days!