Explore Learning Centres - Are they worth it?

(101 Posts)
pepsi Fri 10-Jul-09 11:59:01

My DD7 had a visit from Explore at her school this week and has expressed an interest in going. Ive been had had a look at it this morning and everything looks lovely and the staff friendly and enthusiastic. It comes with an £89.00 per month price tag which is so much. I have booked her in for the free trial session. Has anyone got experience of these sessions? Their literature claims eg. rather than 6 months progress in Maths in 6 months your child can progress 12 months. It all sounds too good to be true.

Milliways Fri 10-Jul-09 16:43:05

DS used to go to boost his Maths as he was bored at Primary school and they gave him "Problem Solving" puzzles aged up to 14yrs to tackle. It was a LOT cheaper then though!

They also offered him Creative writing but he declined!

DD has a job in our local centre and loves working with the kids. They also do a lot for SN children, People learning English etc, but it is geared to your child.

Some do 11+ workshops as well.

Kids love it, but depends if you can spare the cash. If it is in your Supermarket you get to shop in peace

ihatemyjob Wed 15-Jul-09 10:53:35

I applied for job there and they pay in London "around 5 pounds an hour" to the tutors. Am not sure if that is even minimum wage! They are not qualified teachers so as long as you know what you are getting and don't mind.

mumeeee Wed 15-Jul-09 21:33:07

Minimum wage is £5.73 PH so if they are paying less than that they are breaking the law.

they are not qualified teachers, and mostly what they do is computer-based. So, unless you think its worth £10 a time to get shot of them for a while, get some 'edutainment' computer games instead and make them play them in return for treats.

ExploreStu Thu 04-Mar-10 08:40:31

I work for Explore Learning, so I'm not sure if I am allowed to post a response to this?

Firstly I work in the IT Department, so I'm not directly linked to Educating Children (I feel under pressure to ensure my grammar and spelling is correct now though grin.

I can tell you a few things about Explore though, and I can speak about this as a parent not just a member of staff, as two of my Children go.

I honestly don't know how much our tutors get paid, but it certainly won't be below the minimum wage. There is no way that we would do that. Our reputation is too valuable for us to allow something like that. After tutors have been with us for a while they will have pay reviews and appraisals so most of our tutors will be earning more than the starting salary.

I understand the "Edutainment" comment made above, however I would strongly suggest that you book your Son or Daughter in for an initial consultation, I think youâ�™ll be amazed out how much we focus on Education. Since our first centre opened we have struggled with theœCreche image and unless people try us it is very difficult to convince people that the service we provide is so much more than somewhere to dump your kids while you go shopping. The fact that our locations are within shopping areas is for convenience for parents, it would be cheaper for us to have centres located in unused office buildings, but parents like to be able to do their shopping while their Children are getting some additional help.

As a company we are incredibly passionate about Education, what we aim to do is give your Children additional help with maths and English and to boost their confidence. We try to do this in a fun and engaging way and the computers do help us do this, but our teaching staff are without doubt, the most important resource we have. We employ fantastic, energetic people that can really engage with Children.

My Children have both gained in confidence since going to Explore and the recent conversations we have had with their teachers has confirmed this. Teachers themselves like Explore and we have a number of Children that come to us whose parents are teachers. I believe our rates work out at about £10 an hour which I think is fantastic value for money. We are Ofsted registered and therefore you can use Childcare vouchers with us, you can also use working tax credits and if you are on a low income then we have a Scholarship scheme. We really do try and make it accessible to all.

As I said at the start of my post, I work in the IT Dept. so I am not the best person to tell you about Explore, but check out our website and book a free initial consultation and see what you think. There is no pressure.

If you book tell them Stu in IT sent you! grin I've not posted our website address or details as I'm sure that wouldn't be allowed?

Marjoriew Thu 04-Mar-10 09:06:23

My grandson is 10 and home educated. He has been going to Explore Learning since the new centre opened in Sainsburys in High Wycombe in September.
I have custody of grandson and am a pensioner. I pay £50 a month and it's worth every penny I have to get together every month to pay for it.
He has come on leaps and bounds since starting there and he has grown in confidence.
He was Star of the Month last month!
The centre has been opened early one a Wednesday afternoon at 2.30 as opposed to the term time of 3pm to cater for children who are home educated.

Also, I get to nip around Sainsburys to get my shopping done and grab a cuppa while he's there.

bruffin Thu 04-Mar-10 09:18:03

Marjoriew - Can I wave to you

I used to post on parentcentregrin as christywhisty?

How are you?

Marjoriew Thu 04-Mar-10 09:26:58

Hi, christywisty!

Long time no hear. We're just fine. Took grandson to get his checkup from his heart ops and he's fine.
Still home educating him. He's growing up now.
How are you and yours, then?

mnistooaddictive Thu 04-Mar-10 15:08:16

They are one of my pet hates. The manager was stood outside our local sainsburys telling people about it. Her tone was that of trying to guilt people into it. Making you think your child will miss out if you don't pay for it. She was VERY reluctant to tell me the cost giving me lots of fluff about discounts if you receive tax credits etc. I pushed and pushed and eventaully she told me it was £90 per month or thereabouts. I was shocked. The staff are NOT qualified teachers and are mainly teenagers earning a bit of extra money.
£90 a month to sit in from of a computer with a 17 year old who has no understanding of how childrewn learn or how to explain concepts in a way they can understand.
EXPLORESTU - you say teachers like explore. NO THEY DO NOT, we can see it is a con relying on people feeling they have to do everything they can. There are plenty of free websites that are just as effective as well as cheap software that can be used to get the same benefits without the explotative price tag.
They make vague claims that sound marvellous but for that money you could have 1 hour a week with a qualified experienced teacher who will actually know what they are talking about.
Right I have had my say and will now calm down.

Marjoriew Thu 04-Mar-10 15:18:38

My grandson is not tutored by any 17 year old.
The director of the centre is a graduate from Durham University.
The Assistant Director is an Oxford graduate.

To my knowledge there are no 17 year olds working at Explore Learn where grandson goes.
Furthermore the centre is very popular with children from the local schools and home educators.
There are discounts for people on benefits.
They are also OFSTED registered.

Maybe some of us feel that there wouldn't be a need for such organisations if children were reaching their potential in schools.

mnistooaddictive Thu 04-Mar-10 16:00:55

I don't know about yours but I made a point of going in my local one and asking and of the 4 members of staff present one was an ex teacher the other 3 were teenagers earning extra cash in their free time. I have no doubt they are popular as they make people feel they are faiing their child if they do not send them. I already put there are discounts. I understand some people may feel their child is not achieving all they want at school and my point is that these people are being exploited into spending a huge amount of money for what they could do for free or for very small cost at home. Graduates are great but have they studyed pedagogy? I am a graduate but that doesn;t mean I could practise medicene. The subject of the degree matters. How we learn is an important part of understanding how to explain things so people can make the next step conceptually. There are plenty of very intelliogent people out there who have a complete lack of ability to explain concepts to others.

claig Thu 04-Mar-10 17:49:23

There is a quote by the management guru, Peter Drucker, about teaching

"Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the "naturals," the ones who somehow know how to teach."

I think there is something in the view that good teachers are born rather than made. To teach a complex subject like maths, I think you need to have clarity of thought, the ability to go back to fundamentals, and an ability to put yourself in the student's shoes as if you were learning the concepts for the first time.
"To teach is to learn twice over."

I think there are some 17 year olds that do have this ability. I am not sure you really need a degree to be able to do it. Many of the home educated child prodigies were taught by parents who had no professional qualifications in teaching. Some teachers may have passed their qualification exams but may still not be effective teachers. Some maths graduates may be better than some of the teachers on the Dispatches "Kids Don't Count" TV programme.

I may be wrong about this, because I don't really know what is taught in pedagogy classes. It would be interesting to know what type of topics are covered and if anyone has any links to sites explaining it.

ExploreStu Thu 04-Mar-10 18:16:59

As I've stated I work for Explore so obviously my opinion is going to be biased, but I do also send my own Children to Explore, not something I would do if I didn’t believe that they were getting real benefit. The nearest centre to me is about 30 miles away, yet my wife is still happy to take the children as she has seen her for herself the benefit.

I believe that £89 a month is fantastic value and we should be singing loudly about the value of our service, we certainly shouldn’t be afraid to tell people at. However some people will make a judgement about the cost before they understand what we do. If you view us as somewhere to “dump” your Children while you do your shopping then yes £89 is expensive. I believe that £89 (without any working tax credit, child care voucher, Scholarship discount) is fantastic value. Children spend 1h:15m with us for each session and can do two sessions a week, so about 9 sessions a month, that’s an hourly rate of less than £9 an hour, that’s great value and that’s without any of the discounts, that a lot of people benefit from.

All of the centre managers and assistants are graduates with a 2:1 or above.
With regards to teacher comment, as I stated previously we have lots of teachers who send their Children to Explore. We also run classes for Schools. If you look on our website you’ll see a large selection of quotes from teachers saying how good we are:

http://www.explorelearning.ltd.uk/teacherquotes

I find it really very upsetting to read comments that suggest we rely on people feeling guilty. That’s absolutely not the case, we rely on the fact that we provide a great service and that the Children that are members have a great time and that their parents can see an improvement. I’m not exactly sure of our retention figures but it is well over 90%, people wouldn’t stay with us if we weren’t doing something right. We have a number of centres that have a waiting list of Children who want to join, but because of our 1:6 ratio we cannot accept any more members. I think this illustrates that parents and Children love Explore.

I agree with the comments about software it is possible to get some great resources online and it is possible to spend time with Children tutoring them yourself, but for lots of people they don’t have the time or skills to do this. The software that we use is a resource, it costs us thousands of pounds per centre and it is very good, but as I stated earlier our staff are the most important resource. Explore is not a replacement for School, it is a way of providing your child with additional help in a fun and engaging way.

Please come along for an initial consultation, and see for yourself. You can see how a centre works; your Children can try out the centre and see what they think while you can ask as many questions as you like.

RollBaubleUnderTree Thu 04-Mar-10 18:40:02

'All of the centre managers and assistants are graduates with a 2:1 or above.'

What do you mean by assistants? My local branch were advertising for staff recently and the minimum required was GCSE maths and english at grade c or above.

claig Thu 04-Mar-10 18:49:06

looking at the website it looks like RollBaubleUnderTree may be right. There are vacancies for part-time tutors which require candidates to
"Have an impressive academic background (minimum of grade 'B' at GCSE English & Maths)."

southeastastra Thu 04-Mar-10 18:54:40

it's it way too much for us! kumon is cheaper.

apparently you can get about 80% off if you're on certain benefits. so not particularly fair to us who earn just that little bit too much.

am sceptical also as one of their ads had an ability to sell as desirable above wanting to work and help children.

to me cynically someone is going to make big bucks out of this and some parents will fall for it.

seems so gimmickey to me and there are tons of real resources online.

don't they get to pick a prize if they do well hmm.

definitely i am very cynical.

southeastastra Thu 04-Mar-10 18:56:00

oh and, (sorry) i think children's free time should be spent playing. much more worthwile to encourage real learning smile

charley5283 Wed 09-Mar-11 09:52:12

I personally work as a tutor at Explore Learning, and whilst only being 19 can firmly say i have great experience with the way children learn. I work as a teaching assistant in an upper school, and when applying for the job had to state all work I had previously done with children.
When you start as a tutor you have 3 months intensive training before you are even allowed to work with the students, where you are trained on behaviour management, national curriculm methods, SEN and all sorts of other engagement activites.
We aim to not just build up child's progress in their learning, but encourage a passion to learn and a thirst for knowledge.
Having worked there for a year and a half I have personally seen the great benefits Explore has to offer people and strongly disagree with anyone saying it doesn't benefit the children.
Whilst I understand that sometimes the price is seen as expensive, I have also seen first-hand how the managers at the centre try to reduce this as much as possible for every single customer individually by putting together money saving ideas for them.
Overall I think it is a FANTASTIC company and thoroughly enjoy working there and being a part of it.

ambivalentaboutmarmite Wed 09-Mar-11 12:40:52

From the Explore Learning careers website

We need passionate people who want to make a difference to children. We require that you have strong GCSEs (or equivalent) in maths and English and to be able to demonstrate the ability to build rapport with children.
Although you need to be confident in tutoring children aged 5-14 in maths and English you don't need to have specialised in either of these subjects, or be a qualified teacher. Explore Learning will provide training in the curriculum and teaching techniques.

Enough said.

Take your 89 quid and buy a half hour session with a qualified tutor every fortnight and spend the remaining 50 quid or so on books.

boohoohoo Wed 09-Mar-11 12:56:10

Mmm the staff at our local explorers are definitely teenagers!!!!!

ninah Wed 09-Mar-11 17:10:08

can it be right - morally - that tax credits should fund this? what do people think? I thought the childcare element of TC was there to help people with lower wages continue to work, not so that they can send their dc to these kind of institutions while they do a quick shop?

mnistooaddictive Thu 10-Mar-11 06:33:19

They are vultures. See my comments above.

Cantthinkofausername Mon 14-Mar-11 23:07:13

I have worked for Explore Learning and let me tell you the exact truth..

Started out it was fantastic all the managers were smily and happy and desperate for parents to stay, it is a money making business after all! I taught the kids loved it. To be honest some kids hate it,some kids love it just listen to what your child makes of it.

I was a tutor and I was 20 years old at the time and I got payed £4.90.(Quite recently).It was not worth it. You do* *not just watch them whilst they do work on the computers you have to manage 6 kids who are replaced by another 6 after an hour and they are constantly asking for help.You then have to make sure that you right down 4 sets of scores for each child (which is 24 scores for 6 children) and 6 comments for how EACH child has done which is 36 comments in the space of an HOUR!

After a while approximately a year or so the managers leave and they are constantly replaced by news ones, which provides an unstable enviroment for children as the managers are very active in the centre. I have seen this myself children have left because their favourite manager is no longer there.

My advice from the work I have seen children do on the computers?
Teach your child at home, an hour in the evening, it would help build a stronger connection with you both and they'll look to you as a role model, if your bad at maths or whatever use online resources to help you on the way, or better still ask dad to muck in!

£89 a month? It is ALOT of money!Think before you send your child there, it is all smiley and happy at first and then you see your bank statement at the end of the month! I remeber how I felt when I saw how much all the hours I put into added upto in money..!

Cantthinkofausername Mon 14-Mar-11 23:07:24

I have worked for Explore Learning and let me tell you the exact truth..

Started out it was fantastic all the managers were smily and happy and desperate for parents to stay, it is a money making business after all! I taught the kids loved it. To be honest some kids hate it,some kids love it just listen to what your child makes of it.

I was a tutor and I was 20 years old at the time and I got payed £4.90.(Quite recently).It was not worth it. You do* *not just watch them whilst they do work on the computers you have to manage 6 kids who are replaced by another 6 after an hour and they are constantly asking for help.You then have to make sure that you right down 4 sets of scores for each child (which is 24 scores for 6 children) and 6 comments for how EACH child has done which is 36 comments in the space of an HOUR!

After a while approximately a year or so the managers leave and they are constantly replaced by news ones, which provides an unstable enviroment for children as the managers are very active in the centre. I have seen this myself children have left because their favourite manager is no longer there.

My advice from the work I have seen children do on the computers?
Teach your child at home, an hour in the evening, it would help build a stronger connection with you both and they'll look to you as a role model, if your bad at maths or whatever use online resources to help you on the way, or better still ask dad to muck in!

£89 a month? It is ALOT of money!Think before you send your child there, it is all smiley and happy at first and then you see your bank statement at the end of the month! I remeber how I felt when I saw how much all the hours I put into added upto in money..!

RoadArt Tue 15-Mar-11 10:13:43

If they are just sitting in front of a computer learning, then why dont people use online computer programmes at home.

You could get your child to commit to 15,30,45 minutes at a particular time every day/week and they can learn just as much at home.

If your child doesnt like you doing it, you could pay a friend or someone a small amount of money to sit with them whilst they work through the programmes.

If you get a good online programme you dont need to do any work at all, just be there as moral support can be just as good

Any child who does extra learning/tuition/study for an hour a week is going to improve, it doesnt have to be so expensive.

chrissy20 Tue 15-Mar-11 16:38:54

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

SamanthaHemmings Thu 17-Mar-11 17:24:58

My child was on the Explore Learning programme for a year, and I am really angry. The recent school report shows he has got much worse in Maths and English. His test results have got much worse and he is now behind in the class, whereas he was slightly above average before Explore.

The school teacher asked if he was spending too much time staring at screen because he now seemed 'vacant', 'couldn't concentrate' and seemed to find it difficult to remember anything he heard.

I told them I was surprised by this because he was on tuition. They asked what kind. I told them it was Explore Learning. The teacher gave me a knowing look and told me that it was a common problem amongst students going to Explore Learning. They always seemed to get worse in the Maths and English, and had problems with memory and concentration.

It seems that computer programmes are too reliant on multimedia, which damage a children's ability to concentrate and remember things, much as we know TV harms children.

Explore Learning seem to know about this problem, as they now deny it is 'computer tuition' on their website. But the truth is that at my centre my son is always on the computer and never does any real written work - just a bit of hand writing which they never mark.

Right now I am really angry. I feel like Explore Learning is an elaborate scam.

It is a bit silly of me though. Why should I pay £98 per months for a US computer programme with Explore, when I can get it for free on BBC bitesize which is based on the UK national curriculum?

I should have known better.

I've asked Explore Learning for a refund and pulled out my son.

My advice is that computer multimedia tuition will ruin your child's education. A recent BBC Panarama programme seemed to say as much.

RoadArt Thu 17-Mar-11 22:03:05

Kids also need to use maths practically for them to retain the knowledge.

They can learn strategies and concepts from a screen but is pointless if they dont experiment with what they have learnt in real life situations.

They should also be doing written maths at school. I dont believe that most schools would only teach via a computer

So a combination of all should help.

How much other screen time does your child have? Playstations, Wii PSP etc?

chrissy20 Sat 19-Mar-11 07:45:59

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

LouiseCurtis Tue 29-Mar-11 13:22:02

Hi all, I just wanted to add another perspective to the debate. I worked at Explore Learning as a centre manager, rather than a tutor, for over 4 years. I also no longer work in the centre so can be completely honest!

I loved my job and miss it hugely (I only left because I had my DD). As the manager of the centre I can assure you all that my teams focus was ALWAYS the wellbeing and educational improvement of the children. Yes, Explore is a business and I did have to ensure the centre was profitable but we did that by making sure all our members were happy and didn't want to leave.

For those with an issue about us using computers rather than paper, we very much viewed the computers as textbooks. The computers did not teach the children, they just provided the curriculum (which despite what others have said is mapped directly to the English National Curriculum). Samantha I’m sorry your experience of Explore was not a positive one but I’m afraid I have to disagree with you about computers damaging children’s concentration and ability to remember things. In fact in my opinion it is the opposite – the fact that the curriculum is multimodal (hearing, viewing and typing) means children remember things better. In schools SEN children with attention and memory problems are often taught in a similar manner (my background before Explore was SEN in schools).

The cost is not expensive for tuition. The average cost of private tuition in my area is £20-£25 per hour, Explore works out at about £12 per hour. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that £98 per month is cheap but it is good value when you break it down.

When my daughter is old enough I will definitely be sending her to the nearest Explore centre (she’s only 13weeks so will have a while to wait!). Feel free to PM me if anyone has any questions about Explore – I will be honest!

mnistooaddictive Tue 29-Mar-11 18:49:55

Louise - how do 16 year olds working a few hours a week know how to get children to learn effectively? There are so many things to be taken into account - different learning styles, different personalities etc. How do you accomodate this in your tutoring? If the computers do not do the teaching then who is?
If your experinece was SEN in schools were you a teacher? Or were you a TA?

FedUpWithSchools Wed 30-Mar-11 11:13:21

My son goes to a private tutor, 1 hour a week, costs me £40 a month. Not sure why somebody would pay so much for a computer-based study. DS used to do Carol Volderman's online programme, it was quite good, but I did feel that he does not retain any information. After we changed to a "paper and textbook-based" tutoring, he improved so much, I am amazed at how well he is doing with his maths and English. By the way, I would still recommend Carol Volderman, I think I paid around £15-£18 a month, and you can do it every single day, not just once a week, which is great value for money.

SurprisedTeacher Tue 05-Apr-11 19:01:36

This is a really interesting debate and I wanted to comment from a teacher point of view.

My school has had a number of visits from a centre nearby which have always been fantastic. The tutors are enthusiastic, engaging and run activities that challenge and motivate learners. They are very aware of maths calculation strategies and often provide activities as a problem to solve which supports children's breadth of understanding in maths, enabling children to apply what they have learned to other situations. The activities are always accessible to all in the class sessions and I understand that when a child attends Explore Learning, they have a programme specifically designed for their needs. You can't get much better than that! My feeling is that Explore Learning compliments the school education allowing children to go at their own pace rather than the pace of the class.

I am privileged to have a class of very able children and initially wondered if Explore would be suitable for my high achieving class, but I have to say I have only had positive comments from parents and children alike. My next door neighbour's daughter also goes which was to give her a confidence boost after her parents' separation. She loves every minute!

Children all learn at different rates, which can be directly related to something that parents have a lot more input in - times tables! Many parents have to work and are not able to spend as much time with their children in Literacy and Maths. Something like Explore Learning means that children get the support they need. It also allows children to go over areas of the curriculum they had previously covered in school. As much as I would love to do the impossible and cover every area of maths each week there is not enough time in the day, so over the course of a term we, as a class, approach different areas of maths (usually each week). We will revisit areas after several weeks and at times, particularly in trickier areas of maths like fractions or decimals children need more time. The support that children get at Explore Learning means they can practise these areas of maths in-between class lessons.

As an IT co-ordinator as well as a Year 4 teacher, Explore Learning is a great initiative. It uses ICT which helps children not only develop ICT skills which can only help them in adulthood, but takes away the issue of handwriting, allowing children to focus on the areas of Literacy and maths they need to.

It is not suitable for everyone, but what is? I say stop giving them such a hard time without knowing the details. I can't fault the centre that supports my school and know that I can call them regarding curriculum concerns for individuals and know that they will help in whatever way they can. Does it really matter if they're qualified teachers or not? They know what they're doing and it works.

SurprisedTeacher Tue 05-Apr-11 22:08:06

I also wanted to add a separate comment for 'SamanthaHemmings' as it seems you have some concerns.

Firstly it seems incredibly unlikely that your son's attainment level would have decreased from extra education. What is more likely (and I'm ashamed to say this as a teacher) is that the level that you were told he was achieving last year was incorrect and that your son was probably underachieving in school. You do however have to bare in mind that it takes 2 years to progress a level. A child may achieve a level 3 in some areas of maths or literacy, but may still be working on level 3 in Year 4, this is perfectly acceptable because your child will be working on more challenging areas of the level 3 curriculum. I would suggest that you ask your teacher to explain the areas of maths or Literacy that your son hasn't progressed and ask why this is. A child should make some progress without additional tuition, if not this needs to be addressed in school by the teacher. If this were a child in my class I would be asking parents in to discuss the matter. so your teacher will I'm sure happily discuss this with you.

From what you have said about your son's teacher it appears that s/he has a prejudice towards additional tuition. It's not the best compliment for a teacher to say that you're sending your child to additional tuition, but should be more accepted. More parents are working these days so can't dedicate the time that used to be dedicated to home learning. If parents want to give their child extra tuition why not? Some teachers feel threatened by extra educational services like Explore Learning, because often when a child improves parents put it down to the tuition, not a combination of teacher and tutor. This is infuriating for the teacher who, day after day teaches your children, helping them with their understanding. It really is no great surprise to me however, that extra learning will help children have a better understanding.

The comment about the lack of attention span completely shocked me! There is not evidence to say 1 or 2 hours on a computer each week will decrease a child's attention span. 1 or 2 hours a day maybe but not per week!!! I would question the activities that the teacher is doing in class. If you can't keep children focused for an hour's lesson then you need to change the activity. Your son's teacher needs to stop passing the buck and consider other options. When something doesn't work in my class I am the first one I question, not home, extra tuition or anything else.

Lastly you're argument about the computer programme I'm afraid is unfounded. I have seen the software they use and it is perfectly suited to the curriculum in this country. I also know from watching the tutors when they have been into my school that their teaching methods are accurate. Going on BBC bitesize is great for revision, but not so good if you can't remember how to do it; that is the purpose of the tutors. Which is why Explore Learning isn't computer tuition it is 1:6 tutor tuition.

I hope I have put a few things straight for you and anyone else who is unsure. You need to see your son's class teacher and talk about steps forward. It's all very well discussing the past and passing blame, but what is going to be done to support your son from now. If he really is behind he will need help in school and out.

Good luck and I hope you get some help from your school.

rustygate Wed 06-Apr-11 14:49:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Superteach Mon 11-Apr-11 03:45:28

Samantha Hemmings, as a teacher with more than 20 years’ experience, I can confirm what you've found. There has been a big deterioration in educational standards over the last 20 years, as we all know. Many parents are worried. The main culprit is a change in children's lifestyles. They don't read any more. Too few do real written homework.

Instead they spend up to six hours per day staring at the screen:

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1122225/The-toxic-Web-generation-Children-spend-hours-day-screens

Children should be doing a minimum of 5 hours per week on homework or reading, and more as they get older. At school we only get 6 hours, and after deducting lunch and breaks there are only four and a half hours left in a day – and how many other subjects are there. It is not enough. If some of the extra study is tuition that is fine.

There can be no doubt that screens are harming many children's lives. This has been confirmed by a number of studies and there is a growing body of scientists who recommend that children should be severely restricted in watching TV and computer games in order to prevent brain damage. This is now standard advice in most schools.

www.simplydumb.com/2007/10/tv-causes-brain-damage/

Explore Learning exploits parents fears, and simply makes matters worse. When modern lifestyles are causing this problem the last thing we need is children spending even more time in front of a screen.

Most studies show that regardless of the activity on the TV or computer, it is still harmful to overall learning outcomes and success in life. TV, computer games, etc. inherently require reactions that are too passive, primitive and basic. They stifle the child.

We have found that the simple multiple choice type computer programme used by Explore Learning does harm learning in Maths and English. It is a poor substitute for complex oral responses and sentence based written responses in English or hand written Maths answers showing full working out. None of this can be done in the US computer programme used by Explore Learning.

While I wouldn't use the word scam, I would say that Explore Learning is not a real tuition provider, but a baby-sitting service. Parents should not kid themselves that this is real learning or tuition. It is not. Children should spend more time interacting with their parents while they shop in the supermarket, not be left to sit in front of a screen with Explore. They would learn more exploring the store than in Explore.

This is the conclusion most of the teachers at our school have drawn.

We were even at the receiving end of their aggressive sales tactics. They pestered the head teacher’s office with sales calls, so they could come in to the school. Inside they gave us another aggressive sales pitch about their programme. After hearing them out, and discussing it amongst ourselves, we were quite shocked to discover what we found. Some of the worst performing children in the school had already been enrolled onto Explore Learning for some time. Teachers also found the 'blank stare' in these students, and a difficulty with listening and concentrating in lessons. Many of them had not been poorly performing in the past. Their parents told us Explore Learning had been very aggressive in trying to enrol them at the local Sainsbury’s. Some seemed upset at their children’s lack of progress.

Since then I have spoken to teachers from other schools as well. They all report problems with the ‘blank stare’, and poor academic performance. The most common problem mentioned by teachers is with memory. The children tend to retain very little of what Explore Learning claims they have learnt via the computer screen.

Our school decided not to have anything to do with Explore Learning. We have always been positive about tuition programmes in general, but advise parents quite strongly to limit time on the computer and TV – they are good for entertainment, but very poor for study. We don’t directly recommend any programme by name, but we do suggest any programme that asks children to do real written work as the core element of learning, or includes real teaching requiring complex oral understanding from the child is better, and will not harm the child.

As for Explore Learning we do not feel they should be allowed to call themselves a tuition provider. They do not provide real tuition. We do not have enough information about Kumon to draw a conclusion. However, parents report that they provide worksheets only, and do not provide tuition. All marking and teaching must be done by the parent.

RoadArt Mon 11-Apr-11 22:16:09

Whilst I agree with some of the comments from Superteach, I dont agree that computer teaching programmes cause the blank staring, memory loss and poor academic performance for all children.

I dont believe parents need to pay the amount of money demanded from these external computer centres. There are lots of cheaper options available for home use that provide exactly the same material.

I also agree that computer programmes do not suit all children. One big problem is if they cant read well, they cant do the programmes properly.

I do encourage my kids to use online tuition packages so that they are taught the correct strategies, rather than the methods I was taught as a kid that didnt work.

They have not been taught the whole curriculum at school, there were huge gaps, the teachers hadn't covered everything/realistically cant cover everything they need to learn. The computer programmes have filled in a lot of these gaps and my children are extremely successful with their academic performance and have excellent memories. Their maths abilities are advanced because they understand their knowledge and strategies.

Their general knowledge is also excellent as a result of both books and the internet, they certainly know more than I did at their age about the world we live in.

I also hate the tick box/choice of answers based websites and that a lot of teaching also has to be done away from the computer.

My kids' teachers say they dont need to learn more at home because they area ahead of their peers, but kids need to revise strategies and knowledge regularly because they will forget unless they use it, and the schools quite often dont repeat some topics for a year. I am not deliberately trying to push them ahead, but I am making sure they fully understand everything from the basics upwards.

RoadArt Mon 11-Apr-11 22:30:20

Going back to Pepsis original question, can your child progress 12 months rather than 6, any child can progress if they spend extra time learning, and it doesnt have to be on a computer.

My kids do 10-30 minutes a day, maximum 3 times a week on the computer, and have progressed very well as promoted by the websites. But any child who spends this time doing maths, or reading, or literacy, or spelling or whatever for extra time above what they do at school, will progress. They just need to be exposed to a topic to be able to learn it.

My kids went to something similar to Learning Centre for a term, the tutor had 6 kids to look after, even though the site promoted one to one teaching, and after every maths game they did, they played a game (on computer), so the actual maths teaching was very minimal. My kids loved it but I considered it a big con and they didnt actually learn very much because the tutor was always busy with other children.

easterbunnyhopsback Mon 11-Apr-11 22:49:22

Explore seems educationally neither here nor there. The children enjoy it using the computers, but it seems quite an expensive way to do your weekly shopping! (I mean... Sainsbury's - you've already added 10% on your shopping bill before factoring in Explore Learning!)

It looks a bit like it's continually assessing what they can already do, rather that teaching them new things - I may be wrong! As a teacher, I'm happy with that, because they don't learn different methods to those they use in the classroom.

Sophie1978 Thu 14-Apr-11 18:11:30

The 3 Biggest Scams in After-School Tuition

1. Explore Learning Scam No. 1 (charging for crappy American software, when much better is free on internet - see many free links below that offer better software than Explore Learning).

2. Student Support Centre Scam No. 2 (massively overpriced videos that children cannot understand - they still ask for a tutor).

3. Kumon Scam No. 3 (massively overpriced worksheet printing service - includes no tuition, marking, teaching or support - parents have to do everything).

All three of the above rake off massive amounts of money, use aggressive sales tactics, and are not 'tuition providers' at all. Explore learning uses untrained teenagers as teachers! So does Kumon. Students Support Centre doesn't even have teachers - just videos.

The fact is it’s only because we parents have been so gullible that all 3 of the above get away with. Don't get ripped off by Explore, Student Support, or Kumon.

Kumon worksheets actually reduced my child to tears through a combination of no teaching or explanation, endless repetition and intense boredom. Children need more.

I myself have been ripped off by two of the above, and warned about the other by many parents. Now I am much more careful.

If you want tuition (and the truth is all children need it today), then my advice is get free worksheets and software off the internet. But if you are serious about your child's education pay for it. We get what we pay for. A good tutor usually costs £30-50 per hour now. However, if you are lunch you can get some very good tuition centres that will teach properly with real teachers for just £15 per hour. That is pretty good value.
Links:

These are good and are free.

www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks1bitesize/index.shtml
www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks2bitesize/
www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks3bitesize/
uk.ixl.com/math/years

These are very good and cost peanuts.
www.mymaths.co.uk/
www.themathsfactor.com/

But I would still recommend getting a proper tutor or tuition centre. In the long-run they are worth the investment.

Biggles123 Tue 10-May-11 15:29:55

I have recently signed up to Explore Learning in my area which is New Cross in South East London. Although I am capable of helping my 6 and 11 year olds understand basic mathematical concepts and help with their English, I do not feel best placed to help with their learning as I feel an outsider is more in control with this - this is my personal situation and I know other parents are better able to do so. From my initial visit, I know the programmes seem out of date and need updating. I observed that some of the kids there were noisy and one could not stay still and kept trying to leave his seat. I felt sorry for the Assistant Director (read Manager) who had to juggle numerous tasks on the day I visited, but she seemed to cope admirably. From the literature she provided, I see she has a 2i in Psychology and seemed friendly, chatty and helpful and also aware of learning styles, teaching methods and the national curriculum. I also noticed that the two centre assistants were quite young, but certainly not 17 years old and seemed involved in helping their charges. I am taking a chance on Explore Learning, knowing that I can terminate my membership if they let me and my girls down. I will feedback in a few weeks - I hope to report positive things!

topolina87 Tue 24-May-11 11:38:55

hello,

Had an interview at the london centre last week. After and initial telephone interview and a month of waiting I was told to attend a recruitment day. I was interviewed by a lady which was quite friendly followed by a role play. I was asked to explain a math problem to a child. A role play where the interviewer is a child and I'm a tutor. Well I must say that the interviewer (lady) was grilling me with questions and I found her interviewing skills quite intimidating giving that I'm already a maths tutor and I have never come accross scenarios like that.

In the end they didn't take me for the role but I heard the pay is crap and I wouldn't recommend anyone to go and work there. Most of the tutor are very young in Uni or somenthing. If you are a private tutor or teacher you wouldn't put up with their nonsense. And if I have child I would rather have a tutor at home.

MrsDime Fri 10-Jun-11 18:08:11

One person here commented that Explore Learning are OFSTED registered. I enquired about this and was told that they are registered as child minders, so not subject to the scrutiny of education inspectors. I thought it was important to mention that. I would agree with Sophie1978 about the three 'scammers' as she called them. I would also agree that a well run tuition centre is an excellent option - and usually cheaper than either Explore or a tutor! I don't think that you have to be a teacher to provide tuition - it all depends on your experience and the materials you are using.

Rosey23 Sat 11-Jun-11 22:05:41

I have also worked for Explore Learning. I worked as a tutor for 6 months during my PGCE training as a primary teacher. I was 22-23 at the time and earning just over £5 an hour, very little!!

I completely agree with the comment above by 'Cantthinkofausername'. I think it is more beneficial to your child and yourself to work with them at home. I believe they would learn more if you worked with them for one hour at home then they would over 2-3 sessions at explore learning. Reasons being that at explore they employ very young tutors, which although can work well in terms of them relating to the young chn and being fresh from school, they are however not trained. I've seen lots of them just tell children answers and not fully explain, therefore the children aren't actually developing any understanding. This isn't the tutors fault, they are not given the training or time to explain to the children with all the scores and written feedback they are expected to provide in the short time given.

Having worked for the company I believe their intentions are good but if I had children I would honestly save the £89 (probably more by now) and spend an hour or two a week helping them myself.

stockportlass Sat 11-Jun-11 22:31:06

Also a teacher who has experienced the in-school taster sessions I think you may as well just burn £5 notes than pay for this. At least Kumon gives your children (boring) but useful mental arithmetic skills which they can apply in school Maths lessons, Explore seems to be, as previous posters have said, computer based stuff you can find for free, plus undemanding, unchallenging games "taught" by unqualified teenagers. Give your children money and a watch and with your help they will get all the extra maths practice they need.

mum172 Wed 06-Jul-11 00:56:10

After reading all of the comments above, I would just like to say that my two children attend one of the centres. Both for different reasons, one to gain confidence and one to be stretched as she is doing very very well at school. They both love going down to Explore, and have achieved and exceeded initial goals. I have every confidence in the managers and tutors in the centre. So what if they are 17, they have the ability to build bonds with my children and they actually want to go and do extra maths and literacy because of this! All of the tutors I have met over the year love working there and you can tell from their passion and enthusiasm.

Of course my children go through phases and would prefer to play with friends sometimes but we have built it into their routine and they enjoy it and know that it helps with school so they are happy to go. The feedback I get is very useful, it enables me to keep up to date between parents meetings about what they are covering.

They also LOVE lizard cards and getting prizes, in reply to someone earlier - this is a great motivator for them as they have earned the cards and can trade them in for whatever they choose.

They have been going to the centre once or twice a week for the last year and will continue to go for the foreseeable future. The cost is £98 a month and that is not hidden at all, it is cheaper than a private tutor (which i know my kids wouldn't respond well to at all)

I think that it is all I need to say about it...all this nonsense about a scam is crazy! I have seen the results first hand, many of my friends and family use the centre too, and they love it!

aries12 Sat 16-Jul-11 10:36:57

I am a teacher but I am also a Mum of a Year 2 child. I have been happy to spend an hour a week with Dd doing Maths and a little English. She was a little behind in Maths when she started in Y2. I can honestly say she has improved so much with the extra help and has reached level 3 in most areas for her end of year report. I am a Secondary teacher so not familiar with the primary curriculum so I just bought books for key stage 1. Any parent can do this and you can save yourself a lot of money.
I would not send her to Explore Learning but at the same time I would not criticise others for making that choice. We all lead busy lives and if as a family you can afford extra tuition, then why not avail of it. I would say Kip McGrath may be better than Explore Learning as they do have more written work along with the computer activities. All their teachers are fully qualified. Every child learns at a different rate...what works for one may not work for another.
As for spending time on computers my Dd spends at least an hour a week on the computer and it certainly has not disadvantged her in any way. High literacy skills have enabled my Dd to be very comfortable using a computer and is well able to scan websites for information...perhaps too much beacuse she can now find all those toys she wants!!

Lou2377 Fri 18-Nov-11 23:07:53

I agree with everyone above who says this place is a con, money making scheme. They have no idea how to differentiate work to suit individual needs. When my son had a trial the tutor had no idea how to TEACH my child when he couldnt do something....she just kept asking him to give the correct answer!!! rubbish!

When I saw the cupboard full of toys....and the Disney Shop sales approach I was almost sick

ExplorerG Wed 07-Dec-11 12:42:15

Hi there,

I am also incredibly shocked at some of the comments and bad experiences that people are talking about on here. I am a tutor at Explore Learning, and have been for a little over a year. I strongly support the centre I work in as I can see first hand the difference it can make to not only the childrens' academic development, but also their confidence and enthusiasm for learning.

I'd like to point out that yes, I am only 18, and I'm not a qualified teacher. But I'd also like to point out that I got straight A*s and As in my GCSEs as well achieving A*AB at A-level. This applies to all of the tutors in my centre as far as I'm aware, and the quoted minimum of Bs in Maths and English really are just a minimum - the centre receives several applications each day, and the centre director and assistant directors work hard to choose only the best applicants.

I'd also like to point out that I LOVE working there, it's a job that I'm happy to commit a lot of time to, not just for the sake of my bank account, but I feel a genuine enthusiasm and desire to help the great kids that come to our centre. I have also never had any experience of bad pay - I started on a reasonable amount for anyone starting a first time job (more than some of my friends in other jobs they'd been at for over a year) and have had several opportunites to prove myself leading to pay reviews (I now earn around £7 per hour - an amount I'm more than happy with).

Now more about Explore Learning. I appreciate that parents have fears about the overuse of computers. However, I believe the computers can be a great asset, recording far more detailed information about a child's progress than a single person can do - it picks up exactly where a child is struggling and excelling. This allows it to adapt the programme to the child, a programme which is already tailored carefully to the member from the beginning. 95% of our members' courses/programmes also include AT LEAST 15 minutes of written work - whether that's a handwriting book or comprehension books and activities. I have also had in depth and regular training in National Curriculum methods, as have all of the other tutors. We are comfortable with a number of different methods for each problem a child can be given and can offer adequate support where it is needed. I know of many members who are working well beyond their age and well beyond what a school can offer (completely understandably, a school has to progress along with the whole class, we allow gifted and exceptionally intelligent children the chance to progress at their own pace - and they do this comfortably).

I could go on all day, I am a huge advocate of the company. I will say that it's not right for everyone, but as ExploreStu said, retention is above 90%, which proves that over 90% of members are happy. That's without considering the fact that some of those 5-10% of members leaving do so for financial or other reasons beyond our control. But from my experience, children love it, parents love it and I have heard of a great number of positive comments from teachers also.

toomuchicecream Wed 07-Dec-11 17:02:31

Well I'm a teacher and I've only had negative experiences of Explore Learning - their name is mud in both schools I've worked in (two different Explore Learning centres). Parents are given an over-inflated idea of their child's attainment and then come into school wanting to know why their child is level 5 at Explore Learning and only level 3 in school. At my last parents evening I had a parent very eager to show me a report telling me about the work from the school year above her son is doing. Great - he is in school too, but we don't label skills as belonging to a particular year, we teach what a child needs to learn next. Also, the report I was shown covered a fraction of the topics covered in school. Parents who've spent a lot of money to be told how advanced their child is don't respond in a particularly friendly way when the teacher tries to explain why their rigorous assessment of the attainment of a child they teach all day every day is more likely to be correct than that of a tutor who has watched them work on a computer for an hour or two a week.

lallyboo Thu 23-Feb-12 21:39:40

I looked into applying for a job there but was told I needed a B at Maths GCSE which I don't.I am a mother of two children,have three A-levels,used to be a trainer and call coach,worked with adults teaching them English,have worked in children's Holiday camps and as a Nanny.I also help out once a week at my daughters school taking phonics groups and reading groups yet despite my experience and training ability I wouldn't get a job there.My daughter had a trial there today and loved it but when I asked if the tutors had training in teaching/ training I was told the managers do.The tutors who all looked around the age of 18 were trained in the National Curriculumn.When I asked what background they came from I was told it was a mixture,some at Uni,some studying for their PGCE and some about to and some at college.All the staff were very friendly and enthusiastic but I agree with the earlier comments if you want proper tutors who have experience teaching children this isn't the place.My daughter is only 4 and a half and her concentration span very short.Im not sure an inexperienced tutor would be able to cope as well as somebody who had worked with children before,knew learning patterns and styles and how to engage a child of that age.My friend is looking for a job and he was an education welfare officer and before that a trainer with young people.He also coaches children's football and is heavily involved in his children's schools.He would make for a fantastic tutor but again doesn't have the required qualification.

IcklePickle Tue 10-Apr-12 22:55:09

In response to Sophie1978 - I have used Kumon for both my boys. One to stretch as was above average, the other to build confidence as under achieving (in relation to peers, although Summer baby). My son did it for 3 years and says today that he is thankful I persuaded him to do the sheets each day as it helped him to know maths off rote, i.e. not using his fingers. Yes, it is repetitive, the pupils teach themselves by repetition and that instills as sense of 'I can do it myself'. He also understood where he was going wrong (parent marks each sheet and child corrects any mistakes straight away). That is something not available on Carol Vorderman's Maths Factor and which we have tried with no gain - times tables were ok but unless you use all the time they forget them.

Yes, it is more work for the parent with Kumon - however, my youngest has improved his confidence already in a month 'I can do it' rather than 'I can't do it'. For me that is worth the money.

Also with Kumon, they are assessed at the correct level for their current need and move as quickly as they need to - not as quickly as a computer programme says you need to. If they do not achieve a certain level they simply do it again. The only incentives are getting it right and progressing - no gimmicks - only their own achievement.

Yes, it is a bind fitting it in every morning (or whenever to fit into your day) - but you soon get into a routine and overcome any personal gripes, safe in the knowledge you are helping your child achieve their potential. Schools simply don't have the resources to repeat number bonds over and over like some children need to fix the information in their brains. As my eldest said, once it is in their brains and is used frequently it helps progression. He has even asked if he can start it again for multiplication.

Cremeeggsandkitkatsoldiers Tue 10-Apr-12 23:00:23

I applied for a job there, I didn't have enough experience of working with kids even though I had relevant GCSEs, A levels and two relevant degrees. I do have experience of working with children but it wasn't enough, so I think their standard is quite high.

I think I'ld avoid it personally if screen time was an issue at home.. otherwise I'ld consider it, my research when applying didn't put me off it in any way

BlueElephant90 Wed 11-Apr-12 18:08:05

The programme is called success maker I believe and it is fantastic. When it's done properly you don't need a tutor to help you. In North America parents can have it at home but not allowed in the UK!? The computer adjusts the level according to what the child is doing.

Technoprisoners Sun 15-Apr-12 16:37:06

They prey on parents' insecurities and anxieties. Do not buy into poor quality. If you wish to spend £90, hire a private tutor 3 or 4 times a month, one who is properly qualified. You wouldn't submit to a medical operation by unqualified 'doctors', would you? Why do the same with your child's education?

aceofspades84 Mon 30-Apr-12 13:51:33

I used to be an employee and I have advised my cousins against joining because I think, in our centre at least, it is a con. We made promises that we could not deliver on, we put down schools/qualified teachers in order to promote membership/our services and the tutors who work in our centre were often only children themselves (we had 16/17 year old tutors). While some of the tutors were graduates looking to gain experience before teaching, your children as just as likely to be tutored by someone with a few GCSEs. It's worth investing a private tutor to give your children one to one tuition, many of whom are qualified to do this.

teachermum13 Wed 02-May-12 19:56:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

kavitapinky Fri 04-May-12 13:41:51

it is a very interesting debate and I would like to share my personal experience with all the mums on net .My daughter joined explore learning last september. She is a bright girl and a very quick learner but I thought the home work was not enough for her and eventhough she reads books for an hour every night and is also involved with extracurricular activities ,I felt that she needed to be challenged further which was not possible at school . I was really satisfied with the tailor made learning method at explore learning .People are discussing about the internet based studies at explore learning ,since it is a tailor made method anyone can choose to have both internet as well as handwritten method specifically to improve their writing skills which I think is FANTASTIC !! Maths needs a lot of practice and at explore they do it very well .In Literacy ,they work on the comprehension skills and handwriting .
She is so quick with her mental maths at school now and is in the top groups in both literacy and maths .... I am a very happy parent . I understand that parents should get involved in thie child's education and being an educated parent I know the best way to do it .My daughter needed that extra work in a good environment which we couldn't do at home since her younger sibling always disturbed her ,I found the right place for her .BUT ,She continues to read Books for an hour every night and completes all her homework on time !!!!!! She also has Plenty of time to play /clubs etc

Last year my dd (10) came home from school all excited because Explore Learning had given a presentation and she was really excited about the competition they were running. She really wanted to go to the local centre in sainsburys so I took her along because she has been struggling a bit in class with maths and I had been thinking about getting her a tutor. I couldn't believe how much they were charging for basically playing about with a computer and it was very clear that no-one was a qualified teacher or seemed capable of giving me confidence. One session was enough! There are lots of online maths programmes we can do at home much more cheaply. I found however that maths homework was becoming very stressful and she had a very "I can't do this attitude". I decided to take her to the local Kip McGrath Education Centre for an assessment as her friend's mum had raved about it. To be honest I'd never heard of them but I was immediately put at ease when I met the teachers (yes actual qualified!) The husband is a maths teacher and his wife English teacher. The assessment showed that she had areas of gaps in her maths learning and was behind for her age. I initially was concerned about the cost £26 per session but it was for 80 minutes and not 60 and she seemed enthusiastic so I decided to give it a go. Six months later and she loves going to Kip! She has come on so much that she has even moved up a group in her class and homework is no longer stressful. She even considers herself good at maths now which is a big turnaround. I have to find the money every month to pay for this but I consider it an investment in her future as I want her to be well prepared for High School. Explore Learning might work for some children but I wouldn't waste my money!

Chigley1 Mon 28-May-12 14:49:52

A very interesting debate, I see that Explore Learning are in the news again. As a parent, a primary teacher and a tutor, I am really not sure about them. I think if you are serious about having tuition for your child, I really think it needs to be from a qualified teacher. I'm not saying all teachers are perfect tutors, or that all non-teachers are useless tutors, but it does make a difference. Of course it does.
Tutors who have never set foot in a mainstream classroom can't really have a proper understanding of the way children learn or of the curriculum itself. I would recommend looking for a 1-1 tutor (making sure they are qualified and CRB checked) or a Kip McGrath centre, who only use qualified teachers as tutors.

explorer1 Mon 04-Jun-12 00:56:50

I'll start by saying I currently work for Explore Learning, and think this is a very interesting debate. For a start, those of you who do not agree with Explore Learning clearly do not know enough about the company to discuss it, as the majority of points that have been made are incorrect.

All of the tutoring staff that are employed by Explore Learning are very highly qualified in maths and English (along with a huge variety of subjects) from A Level standard to undergraduate and indeed qualified teachers are employed. As a company, they feel like using qualified teachers can sometimes make the child feel like they are in school too much - something we do tend to keep away from to increase the childs enthusiasm about learning and the subjects they learn with us. All of the tutoring staff are employed, as mentioned, based on their qualifications, but also based on their experience of working with children to ensure they are the best equipped for the job. All tutors are CRB checked and go through monthly training in the National Curriculum, current teaching methods, SEN training, and much more. All managers are graduates who go through a very strict employment scheme to ensure only the best are employed.

As far as the computers are concerned, they act purely as interactive textbooks for the children as they are encouraged to do ALL working out on paper provided for the tutoring staff to verify. If they are unsure of a concept, the tutors are on hand at all times to direct them in the correct way with whatever teaching method the child is most familiar with from school (as there are several ways). It must be remembered that Explore Learning is there to compliment school, and not replace it.

Moreover, the software we use, SuccessMaker, maps the National Curriculum and the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland so the children can take their new skills back to the classroom. All children do different work as it entirely depends on the individual needs of the child - all programmes are individually tailored and automatically adjust as and when they become confident in certain areas. Every 2 to 3 months, parents are invited in for parents meetings when a manager will go through, in a lot of detail, the levels the child is working at and how that relates to the National Curriculum. Areas of difficulty are highlighted and we further tailor their courses to meet their needs.

All Explore centres have extremely good relationships with local schools and we are invited in by Head teachers to run maths and literacy workshops to all ages.

There are so many other benefits of Explore Learning that I cannot mention on here for time purposes, but before anyone is quick to ignore these benefits, book a free trial session in your local centre and make sure the manager who holds your meeting explains everything I have mentioned on here - I know I'm biased, but I would be extremely surprised if you were not completely satisfied with the service we provide.

whiterose88 Thu 07-Jun-12 17:53:34

I agree with Sophie1978, I too felt has been scammed by Explore Learning, I paid the the 50 pounds non-refundable fee to join in last year, even if I wasn't ready to commit, my daughter was only 5 years old at that time and felt she doesn't really need it yet, as one of the tutor promised me that if I pay during that time i would be guaranteed a lower monthly payment of 98 pounds as they are about to increase it the next month and according to her the company will only start charging me the moment I start bringing her in regularly, so that enticed me with all the great sales pitch and as a mother you will do everything to support your child especially if education is concerned. Finally in Feb this year I decided to start regular sessions with them as my daughter's maths is starting to get trickier for her, but as we don't live locally to where our centre is (as that is the nearest) plus I work full time and I'm the only person who can bring her, we can only manage it every weekend, but my daughter doesn't enjoy it " feels like only playing in the computer" and told me she rather have me as a tutor than go there and she has all the excuses not to go on a weekend, so we have been missing a lot of sessions, I was told that we can complete all the sessions we have missed anytime we can, I have already tried to cancel it earlier but was persuaded to continue for a bit and see how she goes, but eventually missed more as i have been unwell as well, so decided to cancell it eventually in June, from when she started she only managed to attend 11 sessions and it's eight sessions per month and when i spoke to the the tutor I was told that my daughter is not allowed to get the rest of her remaining sessions as she is no longer enrolled, I was really dissapointed,as it was my hard earned money that I used to pay for those monthly tuitions for nothing, so whoever is planning to enroll their children in Explore Learning, make sure the small print is explained and understood properly as they don't care once your money has been taken.

t1zzy Tue 19-Jun-12 19:47:28

my son is paid less in his job at pizzahut as hes under 18! much less! slave labour but its the experience hes after

GracieW Sat 23-Jun-12 21:45:47

We were told that DS was way above average by Explore.

Went to parents' eve and was told he was below average in his class.

What's the point of being above the national average? Means nothing.

Save your money, OP.

0724mum Sat 30-Jun-12 09:18:08

My son recently went for a job interview at the Ashford Kent explore learning center. He is 17, studying A levels. He has an A grade in maths and English (almost A*). During the interview they had him teaching the children for an hour. He was told by the assistant interviewing him that he needed no experience and that they would train him. He already teaches privately on a one to one in our area. He has managed to get one child whom was struggling from an E to an A in the child's maths monitoring at secondary school. My son has allot of patience for children as he himself had to have extra tuition. Therefore he has a good understanding of the problems faced in the education system. The pay he was offered was only £4. an hour. The interviewer said she would let him know in 5 days if he got the part time job or not. However, when we got home she had already emailed him saying they were 'taking it no further'. No explanation at all. So I went into the center to ask her about it. She said she didn't like it that my son had experience teaching children on a one to one. That was her reason. Its absolutely ridiculous. My son has also worked part time for another summer maths school a year ago. He has some experience for a 17 year old, and has references from other parents. After this I have looked on their website, read the overall description about each worker at the Explore learning centre in Ashford kent. They actually hold no qualifications themselves in maths or English. They have studies other subjects at university but do not hold a teaching qualification in maths and English. That is why they want to employ young teenagers to work in these centers as the teenagers are up to date and current with the education system. My son knew more about maths and English and already had some teaching experience with references than themselves. I believe that because he has some experience teaching already this made them insecure. When he came out of the hour long interview I was surprised that they had him teaching as he has not go a CRB check done. I explained to him that I didn't this this would be allowed. My niece has had to have a CRB check done for her work placements in primary schools and she is also 17. They have also had one hours free work from my son without pay. I do not believe these centers can teach very well. They just stick the child on a computer, employ teenagers for a very low wage, have no experience themselves. Always do your research before you send your child their. You can find a local person with experience to help your child. These centers are not what they seem.

0724mum Sat 30-Jun-12 09:42:45

Explorer 1, The staff in these centers do not all have university teaching qualifications at all. Some have qualifications in 'other subjects' that are not Maths and English related. Try looking at the Ashford Kent site. Read the description of experience for some of the staff here. One member of staff has no description of her experience at all. You must admit it is all a bit of a scam, a money making idea. You are employed by one of these explore learning centers and therefore are bound to sing their praises!!

GracieW Sun 01-Jul-12 12:18:24

PS and I also found them "hard" sell and knew it would be difficult to get out of without being persuaded to stay - so when I picked DS up one day I left the letter on the counter saying I was cancelling.

The manager was really shocked and kept asking if there was a problem or anything she could do, to which I kept replying (with a big smile), "No, there's no problem, thanks for the offer though" and got out of there as fast as I could grin

Marjoriew Sun 01-Jul-12 15:04:48

It is the biggest rip-off and a very expensive one too at that. I home educate my grandson and paid for him to go there. The staff who run the centres may be undergraduates, but the 'tutoring' is done by unqualified staff, some of them trained for just a few hours. Get a sixth former from one of the local schools which is what I did.

explorerjames Sun 25-Nov-12 18:50:28

I spotted this feed and feel I should contribute a bit. I work at an explore centre. Take my information as it is, but I'm not trying to bend anyone's opinion. For everyone who believes it's ridiculous that we are not qualified teachers, do you really need a PGC to be able to explain the bus stop method of division? Do you need a PGC to help with handwriting? Explore Learning is not another school, it is tuition.

If you are unsure about the courses or the tutors, book a FREE trial, if you don't like it then don't join up, you have spent an hour in a warm friendly environment. It may seem expensive but when you look at private tutors who have no way of constant tracking of the child's ability who charge £25 per hour. Independence is a huge part of child progression, yes, explore don't provide one to one but even at the busiest time it's a ratio of one to six, this provides independence and help whenever they need it.

Finally, Explore Learning is also a place for the children to have fun. The amount of friendships that have been brought about through children meeting at Explore Learning is astonishing! These are just children after all, they need to have fun.

Message me if you want any details or have any queries with my post.

difficultpickle Sun 25-Nov-12 19:09:57

I enquired a couple of years ago for my ds. I was totally put off by the number of follow up calls I received. Seemed quite hard sell to me but maybe it has changed.

minifingers Tue 27-Nov-12 21:02:09

My niece is one of the 'tutors' there.

She gets paid about six pounds something an hour. She started work there after failing her AS levels. She's a very nice girl, but not qualified or trained to teach.

I imagine most parents who send their children to these places are about as well qualified to teach as the (mostly) unqualified teenagers they staff the centers with.

minifingers Tue 27-Nov-12 21:08:59

"All of the tutoring staff that are employed by Explore Learning are very highly qualified in maths and English (along with a huge variety of subjects) from A Level standard to undergraduate "

See my post above.

You are lying. You employ people who are studying for A-level, who have nothing more than a GCSE in the subject they are 'teaching'.

Esther63 Fri 30-Nov-12 06:51:59

BlueElephant90, where can you get SuccessMaker to use at home in the US? confused Another company called Time4Learning seems to be comparing themselves with Pearson's SuccessMaker. www.time4learning.com/learning-successmaker.shtml If I get the chance to buy a subscription of SuccessMaker at home, I would try that. Installing it on a server at home and buying a copy of the program for many students seems a bit expensive and elaborate. Otherwise I have tried my son on demo of Time4Learning and he does seem to like it.

Not sure how much different the UK and US curriculum is for primary schools. wink I think the grades are a year later compared to the years here in the UK.

Thinkingchild Tue 04-Dec-12 13:57:24

This is an interesting thread. But the one thing that is missing in all of this debate for me is ' Where and when are children being encouraged to think for themselves? What I would call 'Good learning' happens when a child combines knowledge and skills into Understanding. The best way to do that is to have opportunities to think and problem solve and predict and most importantly - make mistakes. Mistakes that you can discuss with someone - and learn from Lots of talk makes for good learning. An example might be when you are trying to help a child to learn about time. Time is an abstract and difficult concept that children understand gradually; reading a clock or moving the hands on a screen is only a small part of it. They need to be doing fun interactive activities that relate to real life on a regular basis to be able to really understand the concepts of time. Challenging them to estimate how long it will take to do something; hop across the room, sing a song, walk to the shops etc. Then ask them what would be the best measurement for each - would it be best measured in seconds, minutes, hours?
Literacy needs the same amount of thinking and interaction with quality books, words and sentences. How are children ever to become proficient readers and writers if they aren't exposed to pleasurable literacy experiences: beautiful picture books and other things they are actually interested in. All the research shows that a child who reads for pleasure (that's PLEASURE) goes on to be successful. Whilst there are some excellent private tutors who understand that and work in this way - I fear these centres in the main will not. Do you want your child to be a Thinking Child - or not?

Mooonday Sun 30-Dec-12 16:16:35

My son has been going to Explore for several months now. The fact is his
maths and reading has improved considerably, and he enjoys going there.

His good progress is all the proof we need it works.

Its worth paying the amount if your child settles in well, enjoys it, and you can afford it.

Teaching staff are very motivated and are very good with him.

No complaints - very satisfied.

My DS has been going to Explore for over a year and he absolutely loves it. It was recommended to me by his class teacher at school because he was really struggling with his reading, and now he reads at home on his own without any arguments, which is worth the cost alone. The staff there are very supportive and give you really regular feedback on how your child is doing, which is very reassuring. Yes, some of the tutors are quite young, but he is much happier learning with them than he was when we used to have a private tutor (retired teacher) coming to our house. I'd definitely recommend it.

MattR808 Sat 12-Jan-13 11:23:04

I take my son to explore every week and he loves it. The staff are friendly and he doesn't feel intimidated about going, he loves the atmosphere and he also feels much more confident in school after attending sessions. The staff keep me up to date with how he is progressing and he comes home inspired and motivated to learn. I would recommend the service to anyone whos child needs/wants that little extra help outside of school.

gill189 Wed 08-May-13 21:52:12

Hi all the mum's out there. I would like to say I have previously worked for Explore Learning as a Tutor (working in the centre with the children) as a part time job. Tutors only get paid minimum wage, which is nothing compared to how much effort they put into each child. Also I would like to tell you, that tutoring 6 children at once, writing their report progress and at different levels is very tricky.
The staff only need gcse's, no proper teaching qualification is needed- so basically 16-18 year olds most of the time are teaching your children. Staff are given no training, so when tricky/ more challenging questions come up that require more explanation to the child half the time you couldn't explain it, because you have 5 other children to help and monitor, so the child would loose out. And the whole 'tuition' experience is based around a computer which generates questions - and when the children need help they put up there hand. So basically, your child is answering questions from a computer, which there are plenty of CD's these days that can be brought. If they get a questions right positive words are used to encourage them/build confidence - but then that could also be done at home too?
It does increase children's confidence, but when times are getting very tough and you want your child to be the best they can possibly be, I think opting for a private tutor for your child is the best thing.

In past experience I feel that children benefit greatly from private tuition 1:1 experience, and I am talking for myself as I have been a 11+ candidate and taken private school examinations and passed them. My advice to you as parents, make time to sit with your child and teach them and tutor them yourself, or find a very good tutor (like my parents did for me and my siblings, and the rest of my family has).
Personally explore learning is not worth it, and when I have children, I would not give a second thought to companies such as explore learning.

exexplorer Mon 15-Jul-13 17:35:27

I've recently finished working as Assistant Director at a relatively new Explore Learning centre.

Whilst I loved working in the centre, I must confess that a lot of the time during 'show time' (Which is what we, as managers call the period from 3pm - 8pm when children visit the centre), I felt that the centre was absolute chaos.

Don't get me wrong - all tutors work extremely hard and managers work their fingers to the bone to ensure as much of a smooth ride as possible, but this simply isn't possible when as many as 100 children visit the centre over the 5 hours of 'show time'.

You should be made aware of this chaos right from the start...but you are not!

As a manager I found that I was constantly juggling tasks - having to attend multiple parents meetings, train new tutors, compere children in and out during busy periods, prepare school event materials, deal with financial matters, look after any SEN children and undertake general business management of the centre and many many more tasks throughout the course of 'show time'. The ridiculous amount of tasks that head office throw at the managers mean that they simply do not have the time to ensure that every child that comes in through the door has a quality session. In some instances, I feel that tutors were simply running around like headless chickens - writing 'session notes' about the children's work and actually not helping/ tutoring the children in anyway.

'Surf club' - an area in the centre where children are allowed to socialise and relax...actually turns into a holding pen when members come in for their sessions - with some children spending up to 40 minutes in there before their session even starts!!!

THERE ARE some benefits of joining Explore Learning - I feel that children with low confidence often progress amazingly well. However, if you are looking for a centre to support your child's learning needs or challenge your child, I would recommend a 1:1 tutor.

weirdthing Tue 16-Jul-13 22:19:39

How come there are so many employees of Explore Learning on this thread? I don't feel, from reading their posts, that they are parents. I suspect they are all on here to do a damage limitation exercise. Explore Learning looks bloody awful!

ShoshanaBlue Wed 24-Jul-13 12:48:09

I would say that if your child has SEN then that has to be a definite NO! My child who is severely autistic loved going until they had a change of management, that she felt difficult to cope with. At the time, her grandad had just had a heart attack and was awaiting surgery for a quadruple bypass and life was very difficult as I was struggling to care for an autistic child and a very sick man in hospital.

Not only was my child expelled from the centre, but the manager actually made a complaint (on no real grounds) about me to Social Services (exactly what I needed at the time!). However, in this instance, SS just ignored the complaint and sent out a letter to me that they were doing just that. However, this particular manager was certainly needing some sort of basic training on Child Protection Issues.

I can understand why she was expelled - it's a private thing, run for a profit and a lot of parents have children that are just too precious to associate with my child. However, to involve social services because my child had a meltdown is either indicative of total incompetence or just mere spite.

Frandroid Mon 12-Aug-13 12:16:34

I have wondered a lot about kumon, tutors and schemes such as this when my child was having a tough year in year 2 particularly as he was the youngest boy in the class and I felt was getting left behind. (over 50% of kids on my childs class were having extra help it seemed).

If he had a specific problem I think having a specialist on board might help but I just thought its worth a shot having a go ourselves first to get him up to speed and to improve his literacy - his school worksheets were unfinished and he seemed unmotivated.

We got some literacy books from Sainsburys and worksheets from the library, I bought some science books from the internet (it's his favourite subject although they didn't cover it when he was in year 2 very much) and just tried to do a little bit every week on the areas he had problems such as punctuation and tried different techniques to get him to learn his spellings. We had a lot of conversations about how he felt about school and various lessons. (There seemed to be a lot of boredom, distraction and frustration). With a mixture of worksheets, his own interest in science, a change of teacher and classmates at school he really seemed to be improving. His practically empty unfinished workbooks started to fill up.

I was so pleased that we had a go ourselves because this year when he got a really good report and some amazing feedback about his literacy I felt really proud - of him for putting in the effort and myself for learning some patience and finding out what his exact problems were. I feel that if I'd hired a tutor or signed up to a course, he wouldn't have felt as though his improvement had come from his own achievement which I think is really important - a lot of his improvement is down to his love of reading which suddenly came on in leaps and bounds. I'm really glad we gave this a shot before hiring extra help which is very costly and might not have addressed his issues.

jrabean Wed 21-Aug-13 13:14:33

It's rather shocking that a Year 4 teacher cannot write properly! Even my Year 1 son knows the difference between "bear" and "bare" and "your" vs "you're".

Maybe the kids should be teaching the teachers!

BlackMogul Fri 30-Aug-13 17:51:20

Marjoriew. I am amazed you cannot find a good primary school around HW!! There are some fabulous ones. How hard have u tried? Bound to be a few with vacancies. Making friends is such an important part of a child's life and this is way more difficult at home with Grandma.

aceofspades84 Fri 30-Aug-13 18:08:48

I'm an ex-employee and I'm not here to do damage limitation. I'm not a parent but I was trying to highlight to the people being conned by Explore that it is a con. Surely the people who work there when the parents aren't around are the best to actually say what it's like?

I would say:

The graduate staff are often fresh from uni and just looking to gain some management experience before moving on. A lot of the people I know that were managers are now in fields that do not involve kids at all.

I was a tutor, as a graduate, which WAS NOT THE NORM! I had what I would consider children as my colleagues! They were in the first year of studying for their A-Levels (16/17 yo) and some of them could barely spell or use correct grammar. When I was talking to the parents to tell them of the activities that day I was often embarrassed by the horrendous spelling and grammar I was handing over on their child's session notes and made a point to mention that it was x or y tutor who had worked with little Jordan that day so that I was not mistaken for the culprit.

Worse than the poor spelling was the crap that we spewed at parents. The person seeing your child out has NO IDEA what they have been doing. I'm sorry but it's the truth. We go on the same basic notes that are handed to you and then waffle around them to make it look like we know what we're talking about. In reality, as someone else mentioned, we are more like headless chickens. The people who see your children out and give you their feedback have spent the past hour running around managing all of the centre. It's very hard to know what any one child is doing when you have about 30-36 working at once and tutors to organise. It's actually more children than the average classroom and as I went on to become a teacher, I know how little time teachers can dedicate to children too.

I think it is abhorrent how Explore is sold to parents and that is, in the end, why I left! They slate the local schools (when they know NOTHING about them) and they make promises that they cannot fulfil. I left mine to work evenings in another job and volunteer in local schools during the day - schools do it BETTER!

Surf club, as someone else mentioned, is a holding pen and nothing more. As most of the children are left unsupervised or the tutor in surf club is playing a game with some children whilst the others run riot, a lot of the resources and games are ruined and ours was quite shoddy. That's probably the reason it was hidden at the back away from parents. One of the children in our centre accidentally accessed porn in surf club.

If you want a typical Explore session in a nutshell:

1. Child arrives

2. Child is either seated in a zone if there is a space or they are sent to surf club to wait until there is a space.

3. Child receives tuition in a zone with 6 other children but what it really boils down to as a tutor is that we are constantly watching the clock and checking the time on sheets, making sure that each child only spends 10 minutes on this or 15 minutes on that or does all their spellings in 5 minutes so they can do their digitext. It was a nightmare. I spent more time worrying about timings and cramming everything in (or else the managers would go mad) than I did actually tutoring the children.

5. Once a child has finished their work for the day, they are sent back to surf club until their parents turn up.

6. When the parents arrive, the smiles on the compere (person running 'show time') come out and the child is taken to the front of the centre. Their session notes are taken out of the holder by the computer and the compere then reels off a list of rubbish that the child apparently did that day before sending them on their merry way.

Those of you who send your children, I would:

Ask them about their experiences and see whether they agree with what has been said about them at the end of their session (if they're still awake).
Ask them how often they saw the tutor/manager who gave you the breakdown of their progress that session.
Ask them how long they were bunged in surf club on a busy day - you pay for an hour of tuition. Sometimes the children get 35-40 minutes on a busy day. Would you really spend upwards of £89 if it was made clear that at busy drop in times, your child may actually do as much surfing the net or colouring in as they do tuition?

I'm just trying to be honest. It's a scam company as far as I'm concerned. I think it had good intentions but it is a franchise model so nothing is standardised. The centre nearest to you may well be brilliant as depends largely on the staff, but this relates to a centre in the West Midlands (can't be more specific due to the nature of the comments). I would try to find reviews of your local Explore and really talk to your children about it if they already attend.

aceofspades84 Fri 30-Aug-13 18:14:53

Oops, I stand corrected. It's not a franchise model. It felt like one though. It's not a very cohesive company.

aceofspades84 Fri 30-Aug-13 18:18:59

One final point I will make is that you should take note of the standard of English of the Explore employees or ex-Employees (myself included if you like) and decide whether or not you think it is worth having your children tutored in ENGLISH by Explore.

aceofspades84 Fri 30-Aug-13 18:27:46

Just to be clear, none of the directors or assistant directors tutor the children unless they absolutely have to (i.e. it is too busy). It is the kids in blue polo shirts who tutor your children.

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Swede1 Tue 17-Sep-13 21:52:39

I am now a qualified English teacher but after I graduated from university some years ago, I worked as an Assistant Manager for Explore Learning. I have read the above discussion with a lot of interest.

Like any private 'educational' establishment, Explore Learning's main aim is to make as much profit as possible. As a graduate fresh out of university (the market they aim their recruitment at), I believed that the ethos of the company was to help educate children in a fun and interactive way. To a degree, EL can perhaps help compliment the National Curriculum but in my opinion it is no substitute for qualified teachers or even 1:1 after school private tuition.

The Centre Managers may hold a degree but they often lack life experience and education in pedagogy. The training that is offered to the staff is created by the HQ staff for the company and really relates to ensuring the Explore Learning ethos is upheld by the managers. The two basic principles of the business are marketing (to sell the centre to the parents and get sign ups) and retention (to maintain the customer base by making sure children / parents are happy). This is done through a number of ways: standing in the supermarket stopping potential customers, going into schools to 'sell' the centre to the children and through other events. The staff also have a bonus scheme that encourages competition to see how many sign ups one can get. To be fair, you cannot really blame a private company for using these strategies or having the intention of making money.

With my teaching experience and with hindsight, I do not believe Explore Learning is the big enemy and really it is a parent's choice whether to send their child to a centre. However, I do think that the staff are indoctrinated with the idea that they know better than a school about a child's education. The so called 'reports' they provide to parents are evidence of their arrogance that they know better than a teacher who spends up to 7 hours a day with your child. Explore Learning play on the fact that some parents are naive about the National Curriculum or are disenchanted with their child's school. This of course can cause friction with local schools. I also should add here that some of the supportive quotes on the website are over six years old and therefore do not necessarily paint a realistic picture of a centre.

In conclusion, Explore Learning does have some merits: it is a fun place for children to 'educationally' play, the tutors really can build fantastic rapports with the children so this encourages them to learn and it is definitely convenient for parents. On the other hand, I think parents need to be realistic about what this company offer. Explore Learning are there to make money, they use clever marketing strategies to hook the children in and their young university graduates deliver this with much enthusiasm. If you really care about your child's education, please look at all the options before you spend your 90 pounds...sometimes it could just be as simple as spending 20 minutes a night with your child and reading together to help improve literacy. Remember that most teachers have the same goal as you, they want to help your child learn in a supportive enivironment and often working collaboratively will solve many issues.

darl2283 Tue 17-Sep-13 22:16:01

Spot on Swede! I have had to pick up the pieces when parents have been given totally false information about their child's National Curriculum levels that are computer generated. I was so incensed I marched down to my local Sainsburys and complained. It got escalated up to Explore Leaning HQ but I got nowhere.
Are they worth it? Yes if you can afford £90 to keep your child entertained whilst you shop but if you are expecting to advance their learning then keep your money firmly in your pocket!

WansteadG Fri 20-Sep-13 00:13:23

go by word of mouth - my son was tutored by an ex teacher as he was falling behind in maths as his music made him miss 20% of maths each week. We paid £20 hr for this - thankfully he is now in year 9 and still in the top set for maths

yoyo7 Sat 12-Oct-13 13:45:56

Feel I need to add my 2 pence worth as an experienced, qualified teacher and owner of a tuition centre who has had many students arrive after spending months (and years!) at Explore with limited gains in progress...

No doubt the experience appears to be a really fun way to spend a few hours during the week - and can't fault that!

Educationally, may work for some but there are many better options out there... forget computers making the decisions, in my view, can't beat the eye of a trained professional who can move students forward - don't underestimate that! smile It's the choice of work (learning programme) which will make all of the difference and in my opinion this cannot come from some 'pre-set', 'intuitive' computer programme. Variety is the key - not an overreliance on using one computer programme which you could buy for home use anyway. Ideally, a variety of carefully thought out activities (computer and paperbased) addressing individual needs followed up by some targeted weekly homework to consolidate learning! Get the kids writing on paper (at least for some of the time) if they need English support -as that is what they are expected to do at school!

It has been my experience that parents seem to buy into the clever marketing (they are a business of course) and fail to understand that their child needs a person who really understands learning and who is at the top of their game. Not all teachers are good teachers - I have met many who shouldn't be out there. Explore tutors are probably very friendly and some of them very motivated as well - this is not enough in my view. The 'inspiring' staff at Explore (with all the training in the world) could never work in my centre - as our parents expect and deserve more for their hard earned money. Yes, Explore tutors can teach the methods no doubt, but can they really identify the gaps in learning and choose an appropriate resource in order to address the gap? Explore, in my view, is simply a one size fits all approach.

Kids still need to be kids and I think learning should be fun. I think Explore ticks that box but I would recommend parents would do better finding a place which ticks far more boxes -especially in terms of providing a truly individualised approach which can still give kids all the rewards and fun along the way. The ratio of 6 to 1 could never be an option in our centre. Why? Not enough personalised attention - too many for even the best teachers to genuniely support the individual. If you decide to enrol your child at Explore, take a closer look and trust your own instinct with regards to their progress - forget the computer reports. Just my opinion smile

ParentsParadise Sun 20-Oct-13 12:16:08

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Mummyoftheyear Tue 22-Oct-13 15:18:42

I'm a tutor. Not there. For myself.
I would never send him to a computer-based learning centre.

I'd echo the advice above of working with your child at home - unless, despite your ability to do so, your child won't respond positively to your input.. and it ends up in a negative spiral/ row.

For those who are set upon using computer-based learning programmes, I do particularly like Maths Whizz. I may look into using it as a motivational learning tool for my son.

However, I'd not use a computer-based tuition service with tutors who can't spell or punctuate.

Janacek Mon 11-Nov-13 21:44:04

We went to Explore as our grade 1 osfted primary was sadly lacking in numeracy and literacy. Forget the hour they were supposed to spend on each. My sons were planting 4 rows of 4 trees to learn 4 times table. I applaud the practical learning but a little time consuming !
The tutors were fantastic (Walton branch) and the boys came on in leaps and bounds, both enthused by the computer learning. It's not cheap but no tutoring is. The bigger question is why are we having to do this ? I went to a state primary in a rough area of Yorkshire 40 years ago. I received a good education. This was not our experience of primary and so now we are paying private fees. We are not rich and do without holidays and extras. I felt Explore was good but only plugging gaps left by inadequate teaching at primary.

Scientific Fri 13-Dec-13 16:39:01

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mnistooaddictive Fri 13-Dec-13 17:07:39

My bad opinion is not ill informed, and why did you have to post this on two threads. Your lack of maturity and experience shined through your whole post. Of course you are telling us they are great - your income depends on people booking it.

town59 Sun 15-Dec-13 13:02:00

Both my children went to our local centre, reluctantly. It did help but they didn't enjoy it and they didn't stick it for long. The elder one then went to work there after GCSEs as it seemed a suitable job for a bright kid who didn't appreciate waitressing! The money was bad but she was assured it would go up to a reasonable level….hmmm.

In our local centre the standard of tutors is high - my offspring is extremely conscientious and is very committed to the children. She has A* GCSES and A* English A level and many of the others have equally good grades - but I do notice that the the tutors tend to be maths based and that the number who are very very good on the literacy side is lower. My daughter is an English pedant - very particular about grammar and spelling. She has been criticised by the centre for picking up on the other tutors mistakes in spelling and grammar which I feel is unfair.

My gripe is that it may be a great and highly lucrative business model but that the tutors are exploited - the wages for what they do are very very low and they are expected to be very "corporate" for want of a better term. Yes, they are young but they love what they do and most are very good indeed at it. They deserve more than a minimum wage. I do feel they have more insight into the kids' school experiences and problems than older tutors might. The tutors are very high calibre students and at least in our local centre, care very deeply about the children and their progress. My daughter keeps working there because she has bonds with kids that she feels benefit from her help, not for the pitifully low wages.

It seems to be the managers who are more concerned about the money than the clients - I was very put off by one trying to hard sell Succeed in Secondary to me for my younger child, who is already doing just that! She was only there for a maths boost and we moved to a private tutor rathe quickly (cheaper as we only go when she needs help).

The sooner my elder one leaves the happier I will be. She was on minimum wage for an under 18 when she started (at 17) and earned a few increments for various bits of extra training and achievement - but as soon as she hit 18 she was back on minimum for that age, they wouldn't add on the "extras" she had already earned!

All in all, not a big fan of this organisation.

Singularity Wed 26-Feb-14 22:31:48

I realise this discussion has been ongoing for years, but hopefully someone will still be reading this.

I'm a tutor at Explore and I've been responsible for running the Entrance Exams/11+ additional content sessions for a while now. First off, I don't want to let my involvement with Explore Learning make me biased - I'll be as fair as I can be, given my experiences. I'm not here to sell the company.

If you're wondering whether or not to send your child to Explore, the best thing you can do is try an initial session - they're free, and they give children the exact experience they would get as a member. Considering it doesn't cost anything, there's no harm in going along to see for yourself what it's like. Your opinion on what's best for your child is more relevant to you than anyone else's.

Yes, we have a few teenagers in our centre (I myself am 18) however that doesn't mean that we're incapable of tutoring effectively. I won't deny, being a full fledged independent tutor is useful - you'll have a lot of experience teaching children and will have a lot of insight into how they learn. But there are also pros to being a younger tutor. Nobody knows more about how to prepare for exams than those who are still sitting them in college and university and have attained high grades in them in recent years. That also applies to the curriculum - tutors who are still learners will be as accustomed to the current curriculum as the children they teach are. They are often in a very unique position to help others with the topics that have barely changed since they themselves we taught.

I feel quite hurt by some of the sweeping, negative comments made regarding teenagers teaching children, suggesting we don't know anything, or that we don't have the children's welfare and best interests in mind. Although I cannot say this for every teenager working at Explore, I know for a fact that everyone I work with is keen and devoted to providing the best teaching standards we can. I tutor children in the same manner in which I would expect to be taught myself. Whenever a child struggles to grasp a concept, we can easily talk through other methods and ideas (even those we found to be useful when we were learning the topic) and we have a unique ability to explain an approach that is different to that which children are taught in school.

As I teach the additional content sessions for Entrance Exams/11+, I'm also responsible for talking to parents about how their child is coping with the work. I mark homework and organise the activities the children do as part of the lesson. I always keep note of how individual learners react to certain tasks (group work, homework, practice tests, etc.) and I use this to feed back to parents on how best they could reinforce teaching at home. As far as I'm concerned, this specialised teaching approach has been well-received by parents, and it's useful for building a good relationship with children - something which is helped by the smaller age gap between some tutors and learners. It makes for a more exciting, friendly environment when the children know you and you know them.

Again, this isn't me trying to sell the company. As I mentioned earlier, your opinion is what matters, not mine - which is why you should attend initial sessions to gather more information for yourself to make an informed decision. However, I did feel as though some of the comments made regarding the quality of teaching due to young tutors were very sweeping and, as such, unreliable.

Thanks for reading!

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