Personal Tuition

People come to us for tutoring for various reasons. It may be that they have fallen behind at school or college or that they need to get promotion at work and don't have the required qualifications. Often they simply want to make more of themselves than appeared possible. It may be that they have missed part of their studies because of illness or absence by the teacher.

Although education today and for the last hundred years or more, is almost always run on a classroom basis, it was not always so. Wealthier families would employ a tutor or a governess for their child or children. On a full-time basis this would be rather expensive but the wealthier families in those days could easily afford it. Two difficulties with learning in the classroom situation are that not everybody has the same ability and not everybody has the same problems. Often students will have to sit through masses of material that they know and not learn anything new. Also someone who has fallen behind or is less able may be unwilling to raise their hand and ask questions for fear of ridicule by the rest of the class and even by the teacher. Another feature which makes private tutoring preferable to a classroom situation is the absence of distraction. For examples: from other students. By contrast, our lessons are in a quiet village, in a beautiful part of Kent, in fact, designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Personal tuition works best on a one-to-one basis. Two people can be tutored together, provided they are of similar ability and have similar difficulties but usually it doesn't work so well. Some organisations tutor in small groups but in our experience, over four decades, once more than two students are present, it may as well be a classroom situation. In a one-to-one situation the specific problems of a student can be dealt with and at a speed which is suitable for that particular student.

Having said all that, personal tutoring doesn't replace teaching at school. The reason is simply that there is such a large amount of material in an examination syllabus that it could not all be covered in one or two hours a week. Generally the tutorial lessons focus on troubleshooting, finding those parts of the work which the student is having particular difficulty with and resolving the problems. In any particular week the student may not have any specific problems from that week’s school or college work. We would then go back to some of the basic ideas of that particular subject or topic. Near an examination there is more focus on examination technique. Even if a whole topic is not mastered by a student, the effect is unlikely to cause loss of a few percent in their score. By contrast poor exam technique, such as working too slowly or too fast, not reading questions carefully enough or letting a particular question take a disproportionate amount of time, can have effects on the entire outcome.

It’s usual to use the textbooks that a student uses at school or college. This keeps what we are tutoring in line with what the school are doing. Homework is not always set unless the school are failing to set any. One of the difficulties is that marking the homework can take a fair amount of lesson time.

There are quite large differences between the way in which different subjects should be studied. Mathematics is very much a skill subject and not so much one of rote learning. Typically the tutor would take it in turns with the student to do questions once the topic had been explained. Non-verbal reasoning needed for 11+ examinations, is also very much a skill. We would let a student attempt questions and then look to see what went wrong if anything did and give explanations of the correct answer. By contrast, English is as much a matter of knowledge as skill. Apart from providing the basic rules of spelling, punctuation and grammar, a great deal of reading is recommended and this cannot all be done in a tutorial situation. The sciences are Physics Chemistry and Biology. Of these, Physics is the one that requires the least rote learning but the most skill. As wide a variety of problems as possible are attempted to develop the necessary skills. Chemistry requires much more rote learning. For biology it helps greatly to learn the meanings of the words as well as all of the diagrams. One of the things that we do in the lesson to help with any rote learning is to encourage students to make flash cards of any important facts. These prove invaluable as revision aids near the final exam. Again, near the exam, some effort is made to improve the student’s technique.

One of the main assets that we have that other tutors do not generally have, is our excellent series of educational videos. These are freely available to all of our students. They can extend a lesson indefinitely, allowing the student to repeatedly study a topic in order to understand it thoroughly.

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