On the weekend I offer one to one tuition for students in the local area. With exam season in full flow some of my students are requesting extra lessons with parents paying up to premium prices per hour.
This got me thinking… where are our schools failing to educate our children that parents have to fork out £££ as a top up to what they are learning in school?
From my experience in the past few years, and while doing supply work, nearly all schools have 5 lessons of core subjects a week, as well as booster sessions, after and before school revision and sometimes taking students out of other subjects to do some extra English or Maths. Is this not enough to cover the core curriculum?
Some students will be paying me over £1000 a year just for 2 hours extra tuition a week. As a parent myself I would be questioning the school as to why they are not doing enough for my child.
The students I tutor vary in ability and in the schools they attend. What strikes me the most is that students from private and grammar schools are also needing that extra help.
In a short space of time, I have managed to get my students up at least 2 grades, and that is only through one hour a week of one to one personalised tutoring. Each week I have gotten to know their learning styles and abilities better and in a way I have a created a curriculum and pedagogy just for them. However, this is not achievable on a wider scale. But why isn’t it? This again highlights the strain put on teachers on a daily basis. We are told to differentiate differentiate differentiate. We are told to create accessible learning for all abilities and levels, but how is that really possible when every single student is so different?
Through teaching one to one I’ve learnt that getting results is definitely achievable but I don’t have the added issue of keeping the student engaged as there are no distractions when they are sat across to table from me in my own kitchen. All questions can be directed to me and I will answer instantaneously and while they are writing, I can watch them etch each word onto the paper and correct them as they go along. I have no behaviour to manage, I have no interruptions and I can give the student 100% of my undivided attention. Work is also marked within the session and feedback is instant. All things that are luxuries that do not allow in school. What this shows me is this is not realistically achievable in the classroom as there are countless extraneous variables that hinder learning, and most of the time they aren’t the fault of anyone.
Private and independent schools traditionally have better results because they have three students in the class. Like I find with my tutoring, I know my student like the back of my hand, I know exactly what will work for them and how they like to learn, but in a class of 30 students this was never possible. Added to this, we would have 5 classes of 30, all different ages and learning different texts.
I don’t have all the answers to what can be done in school, in fact, I don’t believe there is actually a definitive answer to improving the situation in school but what I do know is that I have learnt a lot about teaching and learning and my own craft through tutoring.
Aside from the questions this has raised in my mind about teaching in schools, it has definitely been a valuable learning experience for me. As well as knowing the curriculum inside out, it has shown me what I can achieve by giving an hour a week to a student, it’s the confidence boost I definitely need after being out of teaching on maternity leave. Another thing is that I have genuinely enjoyed working with the young people on a one to one level, getting to know them personally and the indescribable feeling of when they tell me they did well on their latest mock.
The extra money definitely doesn’t hurt but I would recommend every teacher should dabble in tutoring at least once in their career simply to see what you yourself can learn from the experience. It might pay off a holiday or that credit card bill that’s been building up interest but on top of that the benefits are manifold and it’s certainly one of the less stressful features of being a teacher. Seeing my students become more confident and resilient and just having a receptive, engaged and eager student sat in front of me makes it all worthwhile. Maybe it is unfair to compare tutoring to teaching in school and it is impossible to apply the same strategies on a wider scale, however what I do know is I am now a much better, more effective and more confident teacher because of it.
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