Selecting a tutor for your child

Posted by iChild, April 18, 2018 11:32 AM

By Thimble & Twig

It was only a few years ago that you were agonising over the right primary school for your child. Now you have the equally challenging decision about the right secondary school and whether your child should sit an additional test for a grammar school place.

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We’ve found ourselves in this very position for our Year 4 child as we begin to look at the varying landscape of secondary schools in our area – all with very tiny catchment areas.  Whilst making the decision to opt for the 11-Plus can often be a very emotional one, a plan has to kick in quickly once the decision to opt for a grammar school has been made in order to ensure that your child has the best possible chance of success.

It can be a dilemma knowing if tutoring your child for the 11-Plus entry test is the right option to go down. For some, tutoring would only add unnecessary pressure. For others, it feels unfair not to prepare their child through tuition – particularly as state schools do not always cover this style of questioning.  It also poses questions such as when to start this process of preparation, to ensure that the child is enthused and engaged with the process, and not bored and un-motivated when the test day arrives. It’s not uncommon to start 11-Plus tutoring a year in advance. As most schools hold exams in September - January, this means booking a tutor to start in Year 5. So, if you’re thinking of choosing an 11-Plus tutor for your child here are some top tips!

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Top Tips for Choosing a Tutor

• Ask friends, family and parents of Year 7 children for recommendations. They will have the most up to date information from those who have already successfully taken the 11-Plus exams. When it comes to tutors, word of mouth recommendation is often the most reliable.

• The 11-Plus system can vary across the country and you need to ensure you have the right tutor and materials for the schools in your area. Eleven Plus Exams has a great regional section as well as lots of 11-Plus specific advice. It also has a busy Forum,which is an excellent place to get local knowledge from parents.

• Another good place to start is to contact The Tutors’ Association.  Freelance tutors are members of this professional organisation and so you can research for recommendations.

• Once you’ve had some recommendations, don't be afraid to ask what their pass rate has been over several years. You should also ask for references from parents of children they have tutored previously and obviously make sure you check they have a full DBS.

• You should also check how the tutor organises the session. It would be preferable, for example, for you to oversee your child completing full test papers at home.  That ensures that the tutor’s time is spent actively teaching your child, not simply watching them complete test papers.

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What else can you do to help your child prepare for the 11-Plus?

• Anything you can do to help your child reduce the natural anxiety they may feel around the 11-Plus is a good thing. One of the best ways to do this is with a mock exam. Ideally, organise this with other local children who will be taking the 11-Plus and do this in a house that is unfamiliar to your child. Keep things formal, give timings and ensure everyone works in silence. Be sure to throw in a couple of unexpected questions – the aim being to help children prepare for what happens when things look unusual or when problems arise. Then you could go through the papers afterwards to identify strengths and weaknesses.

• Online tutoring is an increasingly popular choice, which can reduce the need for an additional after-school journey and may help less confident students. If you’re considering this, consider Tutorfair, which not only offers one-to-one tuition but also an innovative "one for one" programme too. For every student who pays for tuition, Tutorfair provides free tutoring for a child who can't. Their "child for child" promise ensures that tuition is not just for "the privileged few". The service is limited to London and the South East at present but there are plans to roll out the scheme across the UK.

• Ask prospective schools what support they suggest you should give your child. They may recommend past papers, which are sometimes available on school websites. Or they may recommend particular websites you can use to revise from. There are also plenty of good resources available from book shops or Amazon.

• iChild also has some sample 11-Plus English and 11-Plus Maths papers.

• The most practical advice is: practice, practice, practice, especially at completing answers under timed conditions. 

Good luck! 

By Thimble & Twig

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