As mock examination season comes around again we encourage students to come for help with not only study skills but subject specific coaching. At MTA we believe that tutoring works. Indeed 1 in 4 students in the UK currently seek additional tutoring support.
Studies indicate that tutoring can comfortably move a student one and a half grades. This could mean moving a student from a low D to a good C, or a low B to a good A grade. A positive move when thinking about the all important IGCSE and A levels.
Additionally, it really doesn’t matter where you are now academically it’s where you are going to that is the important thing.
I read an article published by BBC recently which states that after-school clubs and sports can improve the academic performance and social skills of disadvantaged primary school pupils. Poorer primary children who had taken part in after-school clubs were found to get better results at age 11 than peers from similar homes who had not.
The Nuffield Foundation says clubs are an “easy vehicle” for enrichment.
These findings are fantastic news and come as UK becomes a relative newcomer to the group of dozens of countries around the world who have decided to put taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks. Ireland does it, France does it, South Africa does it, and so do Philippines, Hungary, Norway, Chile, and the US cities of Berkley, California and Philadelphia.
Further on in the report it states that along with sporting activities private tutoring should be considered as one of these activities. I for one agree and know that it is not solely, as the report would suggest, for those from disadvantaged homes.
Any child will benefit from effective tutoring outside the school environment. Whether it is to improve grades, give confidence or gain an A star.
So why is tutoring so effective?
A tutor is a helper. The dictionary defines it as ‘helping students improve their learning strategies in order to promote independence and empowerment. The purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves, assisting them to become independent learners and thus no longer needing a tutor. A good tutor should strive to tutor him /herself out of business!
This is exactly what we do at MTA. We are passionate about students learning to learn independently and are delighted when they graduate away from us because they have succeeded in meeting their objective and do not need us anymore.
Everyone benefits from independent tutoring. The student gets an individualised, structured and systematic learning experience which improves academic performance and aids development and growth. The learning is self-paced and self-directed which in turn develops self-confidence and self-esteem. It provides intensive practise for the students and improves communication skills between students and instructors.
Tutors work totally in line with the students’ learning at school, therefore for schools it is an incredible support as it increases opportunities to reinforce instruction and develops a positive frame of mind by the student in a different environment other than that of the day to day routine. It enhances measurable changes in performance, attitude and results which in turn reflects on the school itself with an overall increase in results.
There are six key strategies which make effective tutoring:
-Promotion of independent learning –This means that we focus on how to do the task rather than what to do, so the student learns how to do it themselves for all subjects.
-Personalised instruction – Each student has unique abilities and learning styles and therefore a good tutor will develop the most effective learning strategies for that individual.
-Facilitation of Self-discovery - A good tutor should provide the opportunity and support in such a way that the student learns how to discover the answers, thereby gaining the necessary skills to learn independently. We are not there to just give the answers, students must learn how to do that themselves. By doing this they then have a greater ability to use these skills across all other subjects.
-Respecting individual differences – Each student brings individual background experiences and expectations. Effective tutors recognise this and structure the class to reflect this so that each student feels a measure of success.
-Developing the ability to reflect – Encourage the student to summarise what they have learnt, how they have arrived at the answer. On occasions there may be more than one way of solving a problem or looking at an issue. What was originally perceived as a mistake may be in reality just a different way of looking at things.
-Building rapport – Knowing the student well, understanding their objectives and goals, respecting their limitations will make it easier for the relationship to foster excellence and honesty.
At MTA we must also stress that many people have misconceptions with regard to tutoring. There are certain things we are not:
- Homework machines - We are not there to do it for the student. Tutoring is a two way street- one in which the student should play an active role and contribute to their sessions.
- Miracle workers - If the student has procrastinated throughout the term already, expecting to be made into a genius in a two week period will NOT work. Success comes after an effective, long term programme where the student comes to the class ready to learn, take notes, follow what we recommend and practise.
- The font of all knowledge – We will not know ALL the answers to EVERY question ALL of the time, but we do know where to find them!
- We are not solely responsible for the student’s final grades. Only proper preparation will prevent poor performance. The preparation and revision strategies we use have proven to be incredibly successful, however ultimately success or failure is the student’s responsibility.
So finally I had to put the quote below in as it is exactly what I should say in future when asked the question ‘So what does tutoring do anyway?’
To quote Karan Hancock, The Tutor Recipe Book: ‘Master tutors are really like master chefs. They both take the unprepared and the underprepared and with a little help from a dash of that, a bit of this, a dollop of spice or a twist of something else, they help prepare and create something wonderful; the gourmet meal or the successful student who can now take charge of his / her own academic recipes.