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..!

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