When’s the right time to get a tutor?

Have you thought about private tuition for your child but ask yourself  ‘is it the right time?’. Well, now might be a good opportunity to further explore the possibilities it provides, because the London Academy of Tutors are welcoming in 2017 with £500 of free tuition to one lucky family and 10 more prizes worth £250. Enter here.


At the London Academy of Tutors we are never busier than just before the summer exams. Requests come thick and fast for exam focused tuition, beginning at the turn of the year and peaking in the Easter holidays. But are these ‘revision sessions’ effective? The answer to this is… yes. But with the caveat: they are not as effective as they could be.


Of course, a tutor will help any student improve, whether they are aiming for Oxbridge, or striving for the crucial C grades in mathematics or English: a tutor at these crucial moments can guide a student and their family through the stressful uncertainties of the exam period with a calm, experienced head, improving understanding, supporting revision and developing study skills and exam technique.


Despite these benefits, we have found that ‘hot-housing’ or ‘exam cramming’ is never as effective as longer-term student specific interventions. 1 or 2 hours a week of one-to-one tuition for several years builds confidence and gives students a real experience of how their effort can lead to improvement and understanding. This is a subtle but incredibly significant difference to the experience of students who are ‘hot-housed’. Often these students take knowledge out of sessions, but don’t really reflect on the learning process. Was it any good? What did they do to learn? In these cramming sessions students often come out the back of a long string of exams seeing their learning as something necessary and facilitated by a third party. This is not the way to encourage life-long learning.


If a student admits that they don’t really ‘get’ algebra, a month before their exam, then of course their tutor can teach them how to answer the question on algebra in that paper. But they cannot recover the benefit of the hours of maths and science lessons and homework’s that were insufficiently understood. For such a student, the right time for them to get a tutor was many years ago, when they first didn’t ‘get’ algebra.


In my work with SEN students, I have seen first hand the challenges that some students face to keep up with their peers and some of this can be used to help mainstream students. With carefully designed learning programmes and lessons tailored specifically to their needs, dramatic improvements are always made possible. If intervention is needed then a few hours a week over the course of a number of years is much more beneficial to develop deeper understanding of key concepts in favour of the last minute cramming sessions typical of the UK educational system which so often paper-over the cracks in learner understanding.


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