Tutoring is not just about passing exams

11 Plus English Comprehension

Talking to a colleague earlier this week made me realise just how much tutoring I have done which has not been aimed at passing exams. Both of us could think of many examples of children who have benefitted enormously from a bit of extra help with maths or literacy. I have helped a number of children to improve their reading and writing ability, and mathematics is a subject where children commonly fall behind. It is so dispiriting to be sitting in a maths lesson to find that the child next to you has finished their set of 20 questions and you are still struggling with question 3. There seems little point in learning your times tables for a "times table shoot out" when Sid the swot has shouted out the answer almost before the teacher has finished asking the question! Children I tutor gain the confidence to believe that they CAN do maths as they master the building blocks needed to complete ever more complex mathematical questions. The teacher of one child I tutored had told her parents that "there is nothing I can do for her"; at the end of the year she was awarded a certificate for her achievements in maths.

Most of the 11 Plus tuition I do is on a one-to-one basis, rather than in groups and this has a tremendous benefit for the child concerned (not to mention the convenience for the parents as I normally tutor at their home so they don't need to worry about taking their child to and from the tuition). We can focus on the interests of the child so recent writing tasks have included an account of "my best match ever" for a boy who is mad on football and "Your dance school is going to be bulldozed to make way for a football stadium, write a letter to the chairman of the football club to persuade him to change his mind" for a girl who was a dance enthusiast. Some children have clear ideas of what they want to do in the future and have particular interests in science, languages or the arts and these interests can built into lessons. A 5-minute sidetrack on a topic of interest can inspire and enthuse a child, but is not going to have a detrimental affect on their exam preparation. This would not be the case in a group of 5-10 children or a class of 30 children who were all given 5 minutes to talk about their interests. I have written most of the materials which I use in tutoring and I am always trying to make them more relevant to the children I tutor (that reminds me I must change that "Luke Friend is my idle/idol" question to someone like Jamie Vardy). My comprehension on Ornithology has references to Paignton and Marldon and a number of the passages I have written for comprehensions are short stories based on children of a similar age to those I tutor.

Many parents have said to me that even if their child does not pass the eleven plus they still feel that the tuition has been valuable in itself as they see how their child has gained in confidence, ability and self-esteem.