Benjamin Clayton’s article in the TES last week highlights the importance of factors outside the school on delivering an effective learning experience.
In addition to the fundamental need for a safe and secure home in which to study and be supported in learning, the article points out the importance of good transport links, not just between home and school but between school, home and the carers’ workplace.
We at Realtime Tutors found the article interesting and we concur with the points being raised. We also got a tad irritated. Not with Mr Clayton or the TES but with the wider academic infrastructure.
The students whose learning is affected by the problems identified in the article are more often than not living in tough circumstances. They are de facto also likely to be missing out on another resource that may play a positive contribution to an effective learning experience – private tuition. Realtime Tutors believe that all parties – tuition companies, schools, government – should be contributing to bringing accessible private tuition to more disadvantaged students who are considered to be likely to benefit from this kind of support.
We are actively looking for an academic partner or partners to work with us to trial a free or low cost tuition programme specifically for students from disadvantaged homes. Numeracy among 16+ students who have not attained a Grade C or above in GCSE Maths is our subject of choice because this is an educational priority. Tuition would be delivered online, so students who lack a suitable home environment for study could use school computers and study in an appropriate environment.
If you are interested in potentially partnering with Realtime Tutors to in an initial trial to assess how effective such an intervention might be, please do contact us https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/
Where was the personal statement when today’s parents and carers were completing their own university applications? Probably nowhere near as high on the priority list as it is today.
It is an intrinsic part of the admissions process. The personal statement may be the university’s only means of getting a sense of the individual behind the academic profile. For competitive courses it may be the difference between an offer and no offer. On results day, if a student is just shy of the required grades, a compelling personal statement may tip the scales towards an offer. It deserves as much attention and input as the student can give it.
Most schools offer excellent support and guidance on how to write an appealing, credible and persuasive personal statement. This still leaves quite a bit of work for the student and they may will turn to their parents for assistance.
We’re not going to try to re-invent the wheel by regurgitating some of the great advice that is readily available to help you. The UCAS site is as useful as start point as you would expect it to be :
Three additional practical recommendations.
Like anything, you need to understand the desired end result, from the perspective of the end user ie the university. Take the time to check out the role of the personal statement and the ways it may be used by universities you are considering in the context of the specific courses.
Give it enough time to draft, redraft, edit and polish to perfection. The stipulation about length is crystal clear. To make the key points as succinctly and persuasively as you will wish to will need craftmanship.
The first sentence is often the trickiest. Wrap your head around what experience and evidence indicate to be effective and what is a turn off. Either write it after you have completed the rest of the personal statement or resign yourself to several rewrites. Check out the advice given in this article by Alan Bullock published on the Which University website:
Good luck with your personal statement, If you need still need help, Realtime Tutors selected undergraduate tutors have recent experience of the process and will be happy to provide coaching, so please do get in touch https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/.
Parents searching for the best private tutor for their child tend fall into two camps: those who believe that the tutor must be a qualified teacher and those who believe that this is not a prerequisite and happily hire undergraduates, trainee teachers and even A- level students as tutors.
Who is right? If your child is at KS1 or KS2, where tuition is likely to be addressing core subjects such as literacy and numeracy, or preparing them for 11-Plus or Common Entrance exams, then they should have a qualified teacher who knows exactly how such subjects are best coached and what is appropriate for their age and stage. The same applies to a child who has recognised learning difficulties and needs specialised support.
For students at KS3, KS4 and A –level, the waters become slightly muddier. This is a function firstly of the range of very specific and different needs students have. A 15 year old looking for a Geography tutor may be seeking help with one specific topic and another might need ongoing help to prioritise their study and answer exam questions within a timeframe. Yet a third may seem to need tuition but is actually very capable and needs to build confidence. Alongside this is the necessary development in their attitudes to and approach to learning, from the anxiety driven (over) worker, to the (apparent) ‘would rather be doing anything except studying and you can’t make me’ and a myriad of personalities in between. The role of the tutor at this level is generally much less about formal teaching than about skill or subject specific coaching, delivered in a way that suits the student’s unique personality.
While they will not suit every student or every learning requirement , undergraduates are often excellent tutors for teenagers because of 5 qualities that they very naturally and easily bring to the tuition environment .
Syllabus and Subject Specialists
Cynics may protest that in the current period of change to examination structures and grades, there are no syllabus experts out there at all. Whether or not they are correct is immaterial – parents and students still have to choose from the best available.
Undergraduates, who have been accepted to a top university are by definition superb in their chosen subject and often excellent in others. That’s one of the reasons they have been accepted. They are currently studying their chosen subject at the highest level for their age group.
Yes, of course teachers ‘know’ the syllabus structure and content and what examiners are looking for, but they relate to it as teachers, delivering knowledge, understanding and skills. Undergraduates have very recently been on the receiving end of the delivery of that content and the application of those exam requirements as students. As such, they understand, in a way that no one else can, how specific subjects and questions ‘feel‘ to the learner and what the learning challenges are. They have not simply observed from the outside, they have lived and worked through them. They ‘get it’ and if they have the top grades in the subjects they tutor, they will have developed or otherwise acquired their own effective techniques for getting to grips with the problem areas. That is gold dust for parents and students.
On average, the relationship between a tutor and student lasts for between one and three terms. The learning process will work better if they engage with each other and develop a relationship of some kind. This is inherently easier to achieve with an undergraduate than with a teacher. Even the youngest teacher is still going to be at least 5 years older than the oldest student and is moving already in a different world with different priorities. Do your squad* speak the same language as your teenagers? Do you know the difference between a (Snapchat) streak and a story? If you don’t, most teachers are in the same boat. And teenagers can be brutal about those who try to be ‘one of them . Undergraduates do not have to try. They are in a similar space, use the same social media channels, follow the same bloggers and vloggers, shop in the same places, stream the same music , stress over the same things. The basis for a relationship is in place from the outset.
There has not been a generation in living memory who have not responded more positively to their peer group than to their elders – or “the olds”. If Mr McCartney, 32, with 7 years teaching experience or Mrs Jones, 49, teaching since before Johnny, aged 16, was born, says that the world will be invaded by aliens from the planet Zogg, it’s likely to be greeted with a response somewhere between apathy and automatic resistance. If Cristina, 20, second year International Law and Spanish at Bristol says the same thing, Johnny just might give it due thought and consider it. Nuff said.
Many, but not all, teachers are hugely enthusiastic and similarly, not all undergraduates are enthusiasts. On balance however, undergraduates by virtue of their age and stage are at a point where life is exciting, learning is fresh new experiences abound and are there to be explored. And that enthusiasm can be delightfully infectious. Add to this the fact that the undergraduate tutor recognises that doing a good job will help them build their client base, whether they are working independently or for an agency. They know that great feedback from students enhances their CV to a degree and in ways that non skilled jobs do not. Most acknowledge that tutoring helps their own competence in their subjects.
Key skills in tutoring include the ability to listen, to question, to explain, to plan, to organise, research, evaluate, manage time, and give feedback. Many of these are inherent in the undergraduate’s ‘day job’ so they have little difficulty applying them to deliver top quality tutorials. The savvy ones also appreciate that tutoring develops the skills that they perhaps lack and which will enhance their employability. Indeed, being able to show how tutoring has helped them to develop same is a very handy interview tool.
There is a growing recognition within the private tuition industry that many tutors need training in the skills identified above and this is becoming more readily available. For example, The University of Worcester deliver a two week Diploma in Private Tutoring and Realtime Tutors offer all their tutors a self study, assessed training programme at no cost to the tutor. Those who meet the required standard automatically qualify for a higher rate of remuneration.
There are lots of keen and capable undergraduate tutors out there. Giving them the opportunity of working with your son or daughter may just be a win all round.
*Teenspeak for ‘gang’. Just in case…
On international Day of the Girl #Dayofthegirl what a great opportunity to remind your daughter of the value of her education. http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/.
According to the Global Partnership for Education, an estimated 131 million girls worldwide are still denied enrollment at school. Overcoming the barriers to education and addressing global gender equality is a key objective for the GPE. http://www.globalpartnership.org/focus-areas/girls-education
If your daughter is young, you could get her thoughts on how different her life would be without education. An older girl may have some great ideas about how she and her peers can contribute to global efforts to give all girls the education that they accept as the norm.
The season for university interviews is fast approaching and your son or daughter is having to prepare for this on top of their studies and other activities. The university interview is not just about the questions, the answers and the discussion between the interviewer(s) and the student, but about the whole experience. There will be travel to arrange and perhaps an overnight stay. They may need to find their way around a new city and environment. They might have to handle being on their own or indeed take the initiative in meeting new people. That’s in addition to preparing for one of the most influential meetings they will ever have experienced. Rosie Crawford’s vlog, Oxford Interviews, is a great way of helping your child to get their head around the whole process. It’s almost 10 minutes long so watch it over a coffee and don’t be put off by the fact that it’s Oxford – most of the tips and experiences apply to any university interview experience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC3r5P7TuUk&feature=youtu.be
If your son or daughter needs coaching for their university interviews, Realtime Tutors’ team come from Russell Group universities and have recently been through the process themselves, so they are the ideal people to help. Just get in touch https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/ and we’ll introduce you to the best qualified tutor for your subject and university.
The EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) stays under many people’s radar until their child is suddenly telling them that they need to think of a subject for theirs…
This excellent article summarises what the Extended project Qualification is, its value to a student and what it demands in terms of commitment.
For a student who has decided to complete the EPQ, or whose school expects them to do so, this is often the first time they have had to research and examine a subject so extensively and for the most part, independently. Many will need help and support. A number of our tutors have successfully completed an EPQ prior to going to university, so they are well positioned to coach and advise. Why not get in touch if your child needs guidance with their project and we will help you find a tutor who has experience in a similar subject area.https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/
It is not uncommon for our potential clients’ to express concerns about the technology used in online tuition. Technology does not always work. We’ve all had glitches and poor connections that have in some way impeded us from doing what we wanted to do as effectively as we wanted to do it. Does anyone out there remember the first online grocery shopping sites? It would have been quicker to bake a cake than to try to get one into your virtual basket and pay for it. Yet that did not stop us using it. We saw where it was going, we liked the convenience it promised and we stuck with it. Why should an online learning environment be any different?
While it would be naïve to suggest that online tutorials are always going to work 100% of the time, let’s give this concern the reality check it needs. The Skype option generally favoured by traditional face to face tutors as a solution when location is a stumbling block to business is pretty reliable: you would expect no less from a platform owned by Microsoft. Does Skype work for online tuition? Up to a point, yes it does. The tutor and student can see and hear each other, they can text and share screens.
What they cannot do is interact to the same degree as is possible in a ‘virtual classroom’ designed specifically for the purpose of tuition. This platform is the learning environment of choice for tuition companies which operate solely in the online space and have developed the technology to facilitate a more interactive and natural learning experience. The platform (or classroom) might be a Webex or Brain Cert derivative. Crucially, in addition to a recording facility, the key advantage they deliver over basic Skype technology, is real time interaction. A tutor and a student can actively write on a shared whiteboard : the tutor can draw a diagram and ask the student to label it in real time. Or the tutor can have the student work through a solution to a maths problem on the whiteboard while they observe and identify ‘live’ which steps are covered correctly and can intervene and coach as required.
Such classrooms are also designed for easy interactive file sharing. So, for example, a tutor can work through with their student an assignment set by a class teacher, or can review the student’s work by writing in the document the student has produced, while discussing and explaining what and why they are doing it. Skype’s best alternative is screen sharing which means that the tutor can only view the file rather than work ‘live’ with it.
Technology will not do what you want it to if you have the wrong kit to start with. An online tuition company will be very specific about the browser to use, the need for headphones to optimise sound quality and the connection speed needed for a good quality tutorial. Generally it’s no more complicated than this. However if you disregard these guidelines, you shouldn’t even consider online tuition. It would be like trying to decorate a room without preparing the walls and using the right brushes and paint .
Dedicated online tutors are trained to check sound and vision for themselves and their students at the start of each tutorial. If there is a problem with sound, there is a text chat facility so they can coach the student to make any adjustments, reboot etc. If the whole thing does go to maggots, a reputable provider will have a clause in their user agreement which guarantees refunds and / or a reschedule. If it’s happening regularly despite tutor and student using the right equipment, then you’re with the wrong tuition company.
we’d love to have you experience Realtime Tutors’ virtual classroom, at no cost and with no commitment – if you would like to give it a try please do get in touch ,https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/ and we’ll arrange it for you.
Many of us regard online as the first approach, the desired approach and ultimately the best approach for an increasing number of daily interactions and activities.
When it comes to online tuition, for parents, answering the question of security is a natural, understandable and indeed desirable first step.
Companies which are specifically geared up for online tuition rather than traditional face to face tutors who offer it as a bolt on, are generally a better option in this respect. This is because any sound, dedicated online learning platform will have the facility to record each and every tutorial delivered on it. That serves as an automatic deterrent for anyone whose motives for offering online tutorials might be in any way questionable. It should also provide comfort to any concerned parent, because they can look at the recording to satisfy themselves that the tutorial was conducted properly and professionally throughout. Where tutorials are offered through Skype as an alternative to face to face, this facility is less likely to be available.
Is a virtual classroom not a strange and uncomfortable environment? Maybe it is for parents who have done their learning in a ‘real’ classroom, but teenagers generally have no problem with it. Indeed parents of shyer kids say that their offspring prefer it to face to face tuition as it is less invasive and feels less intensive (which does not mean less effective). Other parents claim that their kids prefer it to face to face because it is just a bit cooler to go into your bedroom and stick on your headphones to work in a digital environment than to be shut up in the family dining room or wherever it is.
Realtime Tutors, a relatively recent entry to the dedicated online tuition after 15 years delivering face to face tuition, offer training to their tutors on how to engage a student in the online classroom is the unlikely event of them being fazed by it. Give us a call and we’ll show you how the Virtual Classroom works. https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/
If you’ve never tried an online tutorial you might be a little concerned about how it all works. Here’s a chance to find out for free.
Realtime Tutors are offering a free online tutorial, recorded and lasting one hour, to the first 5 people who book a Free Meet the Tutor session with your best contact phone number and the subject and level (KS3 and 4, GCSE, A level) with which you would like help. https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/If you are one of the first five, we will call you, arrange your Free Meet the Tutor session and explain how to book the free online tutorial . There are no strings, no commitments – all we ask for is your honest feedback about the experience and the tutor you choose. The tutorial booking may be made for a time and date of your choosing (subject to tutor availability of course!) and the booking should be made before Friday 22nd September. So Contact us now https://www.realtimetutors.co.uk/contact-us/ or share this opportunity with a friend.
It’s normal to feel anxious about choosing a tutor. You want to be confident that they are competent, reliable and a good ‘fit’ for your child. You want to know that there will be a demonstrable improvement in results. You want to make sure that your money is being invested, not wasted.
There are some very obvious questions to ask and many sources to help you, however here are 5 key question areas which are often overlooked and can really help you pinpoint the right tutor.
- Are they syllabus and exam savvy?
Ask the tutor what syllabus they studied. (more…)