Why is tutoring such a big deal with some people?

(302 Posts)
APMF Sun 02-Dec-12 23:05:14

We downloaded some past papers. We 'tutored' our DCs in standard test taking techniques ie watch the clock, skip a question if you are stuck and return to it later, recheck your maths answers if you have the time and so on. Now, if parents want to pay someone to tutor their DCs in such obvious exam techniques then my rates are quite reasonable smile

After listening to so many presumably working class parents harp on about middle class parents buying a GS place for their dim? DCs, I wonder if the said parents realise how stupid they sound.

I mean, there is no secret technique that is known only to the Secret Brotherhood of Tutors. Some parents haven't the inclination to do the above and so they hire someone to do it for them. This hardly gives their kids an advantage over yours.

I get it that some of your DCs didn't pass the 11+ but why blame others for the fact that you didn't do your part as a parent or that your DC wasn't clever enough to pass?

Copthallresident Wed 05-Dec-12 16:42:53

APMF Nothing wrong with wanting the best for your child and supporting them to achieve their potential and get where they want to go. Most of us know instinctively how to do that, or our child makes it clear to us, without pushing them too hard or damaging their confidence. The problem is that it isn't a case of whether you do or don't "tutor". It's a big deal for some people because of all the manifestations of that word, and the way that parents best instincts about their child get hijacked by the parental angst around exams for selective schools. Around here we have a tutoring industry that reminds me of nothing so much as Victorian quack doctors. Tutors cash in on the desperation, anxiety and competitiveness of parents by allowing them to think they have some sort of inside track on success in selective school exams. They allow parents to think that by word of mouth they are gaining admission to their exclusive services, reinforced by having selection tests for their tutoring (so it is pretty much a self fulfilling prophecy) and even bringing out books. What they are actually getting exclusive admission to is being crammed around a kitchen table with other children doing endless repeat papers, and if they are lucky getting some of the feedback and advice on exam technique you mention. Tutoring can be a positive experience but often it isn't. What your child will need most to achieve their potential is confidence, and parents who become so desperate that they are prepared to go through whatever hoops are created by Chinese whispers in the playground tend to lose sight of that, and regret it later. It really is true from DD's peers that where children go to university is in the end pretty much in line with what you would expect from their ability regardless of where they went to school (though we have excellent comps and sixth form colleges around here). I am very glad my DCs got to the selective schools they wanted, and I did help them with that, but I was never under any illusions that we were buying some sort of fast track to the top, just the benefit of the facilities and a culture that suited them .

It is also a big deal because some children that don't have the benefit of parents who are able or willing to support them. Private schools have bursary and access schemes, if not arising from their ethos, then to retain charitable funding. Yet with state funding the Grammar Schools around here appear to have no obligation to enable access, as indeed Universities do as a condition of their state funding, or even ensure an even playing field in their exams. As long as they get a cohort of bright students who will pass exams they don't put themselves out in any way to neutralise the tutoring culture, or facilitate bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the opportunities they offer. They should be governed by the same moral framework on their admissions as exists in the rest of our Education system.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 11:37:58

REallytired: sounds like an interesting approach.

ReallyTired Wed 05-Dec-12 09:49:16

Our local comp/ academy has a four part system and even a unit for childen with speech and language difficulties. There are four different pathways during keystage 3 dependent on the level of support needed for literacy. Children also start GCSEs at different ages depending on which pathway they are following. There are also a range of vocational courses for children who want to do them.

Sometimes children who have failed to learn to read at primary have social issues rather than intelligence issues. I think its good that children who are level 3 at the start of secondary can still access GSCEs/ A-levels, but they need an extra year of keystage 3 learning to get there. The children have extra numeracy and literacy lessons so that they can function in the adult world whether they choose a vocational or academic route for key stage 4.

Conversely the children who arrive with level 5s across the board in year 7 will be ready for GCSEs a year early.

All the keystage 4 classes are mixed age. It will be interesting to see what affect this has on discipline. There may well be three years difference between the youngest and the oldest child in the class.

I feel its better that children make the choice to do a vocational course rather than doing a vocational course because they were deemed thick at the age of ten or eleven. Unlike a grammar school/ secondary modern system no child is written off as useless or denied opportunties. There is also flexiblity between the pathways for at least the first year of secondary.

APMF Wed 05-Dec-12 09:12:18

@Copt - Thanks for the info. A short while ago DC wanted to be a games developer so I suspect that his dreams of becoming an architect will go the same way smile

I coasted and got myself a 'reasonable' degree and promptly found that all the dream jobs that I wanted asked for a First. Looking back, I wish that my parents had pushed me. Don't get me wrong. I'm in a position where I can afford to privately educate my DCs so I'm obviously doing well but I want my DCs to be doing great as opposed to 'doing well'.

LaQueen Wed 05-Dec-12 08:52:19

Yes, totally agree with the three-part system LaVolcan.

And, the secondary modern wouldn't be the third best school in the area. If you have a local sports academy and a music school...does that mean the local comprehensive is suddenly only the third best school?

The secondary modern would be the best school for those children who went there, because it would be tailored specifically for them, and their needs and their abilities.

If those abilities and levels, academically speaking, aren't as high, or as fast as the kids at the local GS...well, that's just life.

We can't all be academic...just like we can't all be musical or artistic...and we can't all have good pratical skills. My DH has aced every exam he has ever sat...but there's no way he can put up a level shelf, or change a tap-washer.

Copthallresident Wed 05-Dec-12 08:48:27

APMF No, a "reasonable" degree is not going to get him that job. He is going to have to get into one of the top architecture courses like UCL or Cardiff, and get at least a 2.1. He won't actually need top grades at A level, AAB will do, but he will need to show outstanding flare and creativity in his art portfolio to get on to those courses and then he is going to need even greater flare and creativity (some might say way out wackiness) to get that 2.1. or first. Which is why, at UCL and Cardiff at least, they have one of the highest proportions of state school pupils, because the art departments in schools with a traditional ethos are not always very good at preparing their pupils for way out wackiness. It is why they are at the forefront of access schemes to enable applicants to apply from disadvantaged backgrounds.

And with his first if he is very lucky he will get a placement with one of the big firms and get to spend years doing the boring stuff like designing the loo pods for big buildings like the Shard

I really wish your son well, but hope he understands what he is letting himself in for, and that there are no fast tracks for coming from a particular background or school.

Brycie Wed 05-Dec-12 01:17:03

AMPF - I'm with you.

LaVolcan Wed 05-Dec-12 00:48:07

I wasn't singing its praises APMF, but a system which rejected only 20% would have been, in my opinion, an improvement on one which rejected 75% which would appear to be the system that you find preferable. It's irrelevant because that system won't come back but it's something of a pity that it wasn't implemented after the 1944 Education Act.

Just because your son's friends went to comprehensives, (let's assume that they were genuine comprehensives) which didn't set until year 9, by no means says that all comprehensives don't set until year nine. The ones that I had direct experience of set for maths and English after the first half term. Modern foreign languages weren't set then because they were a new subject for most people.

APMF Wed 05-Dec-12 00:33:59

@Yermina - To each his own. Just because you was happy to 'coast' doesn't make me a bad person if I want more for my DCs than just a 'reasonable' degree and a 'decent' job.

DC wants to be an architect designing large glass tower blocks like the Shard. Well, a 'reasonable' degree isn't going to get him that job.

APMF Wed 05-Dec-12 00:17:20

@LaVolcan - You was singing the praises of a tripartite system where the top % go to a GS, middle x% to tech college and bottom % to sec mod. I was just making the observation that the sec mod kid will now have another school above him in the pecking order.

Yermina Tue 04-Dec-12 22:39:17

Am I the only one here who coasted, dreamed and lazed all the way through secondary but still managed to pass my GCSE's and A-levels, get a reasonable degree and a decent job at the end of it?

For goodness sake APMF - you're DESPERATE about your children 'pushing' themselves academically. If I'd had a parent like you I would have wanted to chuck myself off a cliff. :-(

LaVolcan Tue 04-Dec-12 22:29:28

@LaVolcan - So instead of going to the 2nd best school in the area, the child will now be going to the 3rd best school.

Umm, sorry, I don't follow you. Who exactly is going to the 2nd best or 3rd best school?

APMF Tue 04-Dec-12 22:14:50

@LaVolcan - So instead of going to the 2nd best school in the area, the child will now be going to the 3rd best school.

Yup, I can see why you think that the tripartite system avoids the 'failure' tag grin

LaVolcan Tue 04-Dec-12 21:54:21

But everyone one on here has being talking about the children failing the exam which i think is a wrong choice of words and could be really damaging to their self esteem and future motivation to do well.

Yup, so in my day, when the letters were given out the headmaster gave a little homily about how we had been selected for the appropriate school. Next morning in the playground was it 'which school have you been selected for?' Was it heck- 'have you passed?' was the question.

LaVolcan Tue 04-Dec-12 21:50:45

...children at secondary moderns are still getting an education, in the vast majority of cases, perfectly suitable for the ability level of the children at that school.

Personally, I would say perfectly suitable for about half the children. For the very brightest in the grammar schools yes,the Kent/Bucks system is OK, for the less academic in the Secondary Modern yes, but there are vast numbers in the middle, where I don't think there is all that much to choose between them in terms of ability.

Now if we really did have tripartite system, which the old system was supposed to be, but wasn't in most places, with technical schools in the middle, with say the top 20% going to the grammar, the bottom 20% to the secondary modern and the 60% going to the technical schools I think you would have a decent system which served the majority without the same tag of failure.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 04-Dec-12 21:22:53

If you have a local gs, you don't have a local comprehensive.

Houseworkprocrastinator Tue 04-Dec-12 20:38:20

I have read all the posts here and do find this interesting, i can see both sides of the argument and have mixed feelings about the whole thing (my bum is sore from sitting on this fence) and am very relived i am not in a position where this will be an issue, but if i were i think i would have to say that i would probably push my child to take the 11+ well the clever one anyway grin because as much as i would like to say it isn't a fair system and it is elitist when it comes to my children they are number one priority for ME.

Can i just say that it must be very hard on the children who don't get into these schools, sometimes only just missing the mark and i am assuming that they take the top % of the grades rather than there being a pass/fail situation? But everyone one on here has being talking about the children failing the exam which i think is a wrong choice of words and could be really damaging to their self esteem and future motivation to do well.

LaQueen Tue 04-Dec-12 20:10:37

And I agree with APMF. I have worked in GS and worked in comprehensives...and I'm just not prepared to chance my DD's education, on the hope that their local comprehensive is going to be as good as their local GS.

LaQueen Tue 04-Dec-12 20:08:27

"and that is important to me but I also care about the other kids having a chance too"

But losing children at secondary moderns are still getting an education, which is, in the vast majority of cases, perfectly suitable for the ability level of the children at that school.

A grammar school style education is going to be inappropraite for a huge number of children - they just wouldn't be able to cope with its demands.

APMF Tue 04-Dec-12 19:53:59

@seeker - Ok it was a primary school and not a secondary school but DC was at one rated as excellent by Ofsted. He found Year 6 so boring. The work he was given was pitched too low. When we got him to complain the teacher's solution was to give him same level work times 2 or get him to do same task but faster. He basically ended up 'coasting' Year 6.

At the end of Year 7 he had a get together with his primary school friends who had gone onto comps. They discussed school and what the lessons and teachers were like and DC was roughly a term ahead of them. Their schools don't set until Year 9 so DC would have 'coasted' for another 2 year's.

I obviously can't claim that ALL comps are like this but why would I chance it?

seeker Tue 04-Dec-12 19:04:35

Brycie- I can't remember what I said was silly. But I absolutely reject that I have a sneering attitude. I have made a couple of slightly bitchy remarks- but that is nothing compared to the accusations and insults that have been chucked at me!

Brycie Tue 04-Dec-12 18:58:46

Seeker: it's absolutely not silly - it's evident throughout the thread, not least in your own sneering attitude.

losingtrust Tue 04-Dec-12 18:15:08

All I can say is when my dc's go to as good a uni as I did from a comp once previously a secondary modern and get nice professional jobs then I will be comfortable with the decisions that I made and that is important to me but I also care about the other kids having a chance too and my lefty view that selection at 10 and even 7 great for summer borns by the way have not yet been changed.

losingtrust Tue 04-Dec-12 18:10:05

I'm done with this. Since when people start saying that just because they are white they will tutor more and others that a high iq will always be the one that gets the results even though they may get into drugs, mix with the wrong crowd and get into trouble. Yes before you say it grammar schools do have drug issues. There is no point.

LaQueen Tue 04-Dec-12 17:48:31

"By 14, you know whether someone has a good IQ and is going to use it whereas at 10 a high IQ could be there but no work ethic and it is too young to see this."

As far as I understand these things, your IQ is pretty much hard-wired - and can be demonstrated from a very young age.

I don't think it likely that a child at 10, with a below average IQ is going to be able to develop a high IQ by the age of 14, are they?

And, as far as I also understand these things from the GS teachers I know (and that recent article I read on MN), GS don't particularly want children with an average IQ, but who are very diligent and hard working with a sound work ethic.

What they want are the inherently bright children, with the high IQs and the ferocious intelligence, that can race through lessons and produce exceptional exam results without too much effort.

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