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.

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?

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