11+ Super-tutor who gives tons of homework or more measured one (in v. competitive super-selective grammar area)

(26 Posts)
deeplydullmnnickname Fri 10-May-13 21:12:51

I am looking at 11+ tutors for ds and probably have the choice of one who is renowned as something of a super-tutor, let's call her tutor A, but gives absolutely tons of homework and is quite strict about it all or tutor B who also seems to have a good reputation but is more measured.

My heart says tutor B so he can have a life but we live in a completely crazily competitive area for secondary entry with super-selective grammars and highly-sought after independents.

I can send ds independent so don't have quite the same pressure as if we were desperate for the grammars, although he still has to pass the 11+ for one of the better independents (think top 10 in league tables) which is no easy task but probably not quite as hard as the super-selectives. As a fall back there are perfectly good second tier independents too (sadly the comps are less so).

I am concerned that with tutor A he will have no life for 18 months and it could become counter-productive if it all turns into a battle (although he is quite swotty so might not be too bad) but if I go for tutor B, maybe I am disadvantaging him compared to tutor A's pupils.

Any views on which to go for, especially from those who have been there and done that?

MTSOrganicChickenFan Fri 10-May-13 21:46:04

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deeplydullmnnickname Fri 10-May-13 22:13:24

Good point about homework but I don't have a problem with that amount at secondary age. For a start, by then they will be up later so have more time into the evening.

I do have a concern about it for a young for year year 4 child though. I could see ds doing say half an hour a day and a bit more at weekends though which surely should be enough.

Joskar Fri 10-May-13 22:26:59

What type of homework? Is she giving homework because she thinks it is impressing you or because it is helping your child. Homework that isn't relevant or is just for the sake of it is counter productive. Homework should be engaging your child not drilling them. Bear in mind that the school is also issuing work and if the child is overloaded then it will ruin what ought to be a positive learning experience.

To be honest, if your child is quite swotty then I'm quite sure what the school are doing will be enough.

deeplydullmnnickname Fri 10-May-13 22:34:54

Joskar, it definitely wouldn't be enough in our school, in our area. Let's just say it isn't a very academic primary at all. Homework usually takes about 10 or 15 minutes a week and whilst it might increase in years 5 and 6 before SATS (if they still exist by then...) I doubt it will be very taxing.

Many of the private school kids get tutored, it wouldn't be anywhere near a level playing field if those at our very unacademic primary were not and they wouldn't know the type of questions in the paper or some of the more advanced material in maths, without tutoring.

I don't know enough about the nature of tutor A's homework to answer your question but will try and find out. She seemed very knowledgeable and pleasant to talk to when I spoke to her and she is very highly thought of by those who used her.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 07:49:36

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deeplydullmnnickname Sat 11-May-13 09:40:49

Yes for all the local schools it's a mix of maths, English and VR/ NVR.

I will try and find out what lots of homework means as I agree one person's idea of a lot might be different to another's but the amount of tests/ past papers done each week etc. did sound very full on.

Yellowtip Sat 11-May-13 12:37:51

Tutor B. Save the money.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 12:53:20

If your DC is in a very unacademic primary school and doesn't get much homework, I would have thought your Tutor A would provide a better preparation for the demands of a highly selective school.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 12:54:56

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Yellowtip Sat 11-May-13 13:08:45

DD4 attends an impossibly unacademic primary school which gives no homework at all (well, one single task last week with anod to the SATS). But I still wouldn't have liked to subject her to a Tutor A. Her superselective only gives 30 mins homework a day in Y7 though, so it's more manageable. I wouldn't have wanted to risk ramping the pressure up too much and more importantly I wouldn't have wanted to risk killing her enjoyment of learning. She does go once a week(ish) to a retired couple we've known for years who do some Y7 maths and a bit of French (which the primary doesn't), but she was keen and it was to keep her interested more than anything else.

Yes it does depend on the child, or it should. This child sounds as though he'll be fine, but the parent is clearly set on a tutor - hence my vote for minimising the hassle for the child and the amount spent by the parent.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 13:46:39

I only make the suggestion because I think that going from practically no homework to 1.5 hours per night might be a huge shock to the system. If a secondary school is only going to give 30 mins per night in Y7, there would of course be no need to ramp up the volume at home.

I find it quite hard to conceive of such a world...

Yellowtip Sat 11-May-13 14:07:32

A world with 30 minutes homework Bonsoir?

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 14:14:41


Yellowtip Sat 11-May-13 14:22:37

Oops, just checked, it's apparently now 30 minutes a night for two subjects, so an hour.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 14:24:28

Phew! Sounds more realistic smile

deeplydullmnnickname Sat 11-May-13 14:24:47

The (perhaps) £10 cost difference a week between tutor A and B is neither here nor there.

Yellowtip, honestly in the area we live in, even a very bright child (not saying mine is) would have to be tutored coming from the sort of school we are at. It's not like the more gentle 11+ areas where a high proportion of the kids get in. These are the sorts of schools where 12 children try for each place (albeit I know most/ all enter for several schools). I wish it were not like this but the reality is it's very competitive.

Lots of the local kids who are quite academic preps still get tutored on top so coming from a rather gentle primary, it's hard to compete with no tutoring at all (although a parent could do it at home if they are clued up). We like the structure of a tutoring session and the deadline of homework that entails.

Bonsoir Sat 11-May-13 14:26:15

"We like the structure of a tutoring session and the deadline of homework that entails."

Yes, you pay to enforce discipline. It's a bit like having a personal trainer - sure, you could go out running on your own. But would you actually have the discipline to do it?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 11-May-13 15:03:44

Why are you paying for a tutor when you'll need to get all the books anyway,it isn't rocket science?

A lot of it surely they'll be doing at school anyway.

deeplydullmnnickname Sat 11-May-13 17:46:52

Yes I imagine it probably isn't rocket science but there's an element of knowing the papers for specific schools round here and also, as I say, the structure and discipline of a tutor's weekly session.

Ha no way do they do it all in school in most state primaries round here. There is a big gap between what's been taught in class by the start of year 6 and what's expected.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 11-May-13 18:06:35

My dc are only in a Satisfactory state and looking at papers and what is expected they're well on course and already doing/have done a lot in year 4.

If you look on that 11+ site they have what each school requires and lists of books/ papers to cover each school.

It is a big gamble going with any tutor imvho. There is no way I'd just be leaving it to them,I'll be doing my research too which means buying a lot of the books etc anyway. What exactly is a tutor going to do in an hour a week that you can't do?You'll be overseeing the groundwork anyway as the tutor won't be there.

I only speak as somebody who was given a load of stuff done by a friend which her dd had done with her all singing all dancing tutor.I was incredulous that she was paying £40 an hour for it and there was even a waiting list.shock

I was a primary teacher but honestly think the vast maj of parents could do a better job than most tutors.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 19:06:00

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MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 19:07:28

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Yellowtip Sat 11-May-13 19:24:40

Yes I'd be very dubious about very, very many tutors. One popular tutor in this area appears to have a hit rate of 20% success with pretty bright kids in the past few years. This is an average since I understand her to have had a zero % hit rate this year.

If you look carefully at a particular Oxbridge tutoring organisation much lauded on MN a year or so ago it comes up with much the same spin. It's Platinum Package (or whatever it's called) promises something like a 40% chance of success but of course you have to be 'selected' for this Platinum Package (ie they basically look for the almost dead certs amongst the offspring of nervous, gullible and well off parents and then don't do them any particular service).

Some parents need to have more faith in themselves and their children and the selection process tbh.

thecatfromjapan Sun 12-May-13 09:05:45

Why don't you just send him to both for a bit, and then compare them?

I think the homework thing is a bit of a red herring. What does the homework consist of? Is it like kumon homework? Or violin practise? If it's something like learn tables and recite for 5 mins a day, that's fine. If it's write a story in 20 mins, that's probably OK too.

What matters is if the tutor engages and brings confidence along with knowledge. Who knows which one will be best at that.

I know what you mean about a non-academic primary. Schools vary so much across the country that people on mn sometimes have no idea what a non-academic primary is like. It does not mean that the KS2 scores are low, it means that the school's ethos is to not teach beyond the subjects and learning objectives required for level 4 (maybe a bit of level 5). That means pretty much no extended writing (though they may have a theoretical grasp that a story requires a beginning, middle, end - they will have practised those separately) and a lot of mathematical topics will simply not have been covered.

I'm not saying that is bad, actually. In fact, i think it can leave the curriculum free to do lots of interesting things that enrich education in unquantifiable way, and allow for children's confidence to grow. But all of that falls apart if they are then going to take part in a race with different rules. <shrug>

Having said that, Tutor A sounds a leetle over the top if what you are saying about joy-sucking, family-imposing-on amounts of homework is true. I suspect slight exaggeration: would that be possible?

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