Explore Learning Centres - Are they worth it?

(111 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.

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!

gabby305 Tue 12-May-15 14:20:52

Both my children attend an Explore Learning Centre in Merton. My daughter Emily has been a member for two years and my son Harry has recently started attending too I would honestly reccomened them to anyone. I pay just under £200 per month for both the children and I think it is worth the money.
During the two years I have seen Emily's confidence soar and we have seen a huge improvement at home and in school. Emily had a hearing problem when she started school, and by the end of reception was hugely behind in her phonics as a result. Her confidence was so low and she would cry and and throw tantrums about going to school. I was told about explore learning by a friend and to be honest I was initially unsure about the computer work, but willing to give it a try as it seemed like a fun and happy enviroment. I even attended an open session with my husband where we were able to look at the programmes in detail- they are brilliant- really interactive and engaging! From my understanding the computers are used to tailor the work to the childrens level and it is the tutors who are doing the teaching! Both Emily and Harry also do written work during their sessions- although being 5 harry's is mainly handwriting practise. My advice to anyone looking into tuition is to take your child down for a taster session and see for yourself before making any decisions.

PettsWoodParadise Wed 13-May-15 12:07:46

Prices have obviously gone up. £150 pm in our local centre for the 11+ course which meant one 11+ session a week plus one other maths or English session. It was just too noisy and disruptive for our daughter, 24 kids in a room the size of our living room in pods of six for an hour - all asking questions and the computers often not working. the teachers were mostly dedicated but a mixed bunch, some better than others, I liked the regular parents evening idea, but our daughter just didn't like it there and it was cheaper (and calmer) to get a tutor at £30 an hour one to one once a week. For noise levels we are booked in for some mock exams so DD isn't totally lulled into a quiet zone ;). We gave Explore Learning a few months. I think the concept is good, but won't suit every child. My daughter found a lot of the cheering gimmicky and she didn't need a confidence boost as she had that in spades already.

Teacuptravells Wed 13-May-15 12:16:21

Good lord a tutoring centre after school for a 5 year old sad

supermom123 Thu 21-May-15 22:17:21

I have to agree with others that explore learning is crowded, not completely academic, and expensive. However, my biggest issue with the centre was the lack of qualified teachers! The tutors are basically underpaid TAs or students who simply like working with kids. Disgruntled employees don't necessarily teach well even if they like your child.

I tried KUMON as well but again, quality teachers are hard to find I must admit. Very recently, I came across Licensed Tutors in Woking who were exactly what I was looking for: qualified staff, small class sizes, report cards, and communication with teachers. They are a small start up company and so far, have delivered what they promise. If you live in Woking or surrounding areas, they are worth looking into. I love the fact that they liaise with school teachers to boost grades. Prices are reasonable as well...about 10 pounds an hour...

Only downside is that they run every Saturday because they have teaching posts during the weekdays.

Eleanor12 Sat 30-Jan-16 20:37:44

Hi,

I realise this thread is old, but I wanted to weigh in with my opinion on Explore Learning, tuition centres and private tutoring in general.

I am a private tutor and have been for 4 years. I am 21 years old, achieved straight A/A*'s at GCSE and 4A's at A Level, including English Literature and History. I do not have any formal teaching qualifications or a degree. I am an extremely conscientiousness tutor and can proudly say that all of my students have improved greatly in both their grades and confidence. The majority of my tutees come from recommendation/word of mouth and in the past year I was hired as an English, Maths and History teacher at an independent school.

My point in writing the above is that I feel it is important not to tarnish all 'young people' or those without formal teaching qualifications as incapable of teaching. That being said, I am sure there are young people hired by these tuition centres who are not as conscientiousness as I would be.

Now that's out of the way, I'm going to give my thoughts on Explore Learning. I have had experience with Explore Learning as a potential tutor and turned down the opportunity to work for them. I decided against working for Explore Learning because I feel it is a lot of smoke and mirrors and I hesitate to use the word, but con.

Explore Learning is not 1-1 tuition and when I visited my local centre I can only describe it as chaotic. Tutors had not been instructed or trained properly and I witnessed children sitting for 10-15 minutes before receiving help. The other thing I observed is that as it is a computer based system, some children would simply skip through questions they did not understand to get a game. There was no system in place to prevent children from doing this. Children would skip through loads of questions and their tutor would be none the wiser.

Explore Learning, in my opinion, is not a credible teaching establishment. If you are looking for somewhere to keep your children occupied whilst you do your shopping in Sainsbury's then Explore Learning is great. If you are looking for somewhere that will help or stretch your child academically, not so great.

Eleanor12 Sat 30-Jan-16 20:45:00

Apologies, that should read 'conscientious' smile

nicki129 Sat 30-Apr-16 15:19:25

My daughter has been going to Explore Learning for a few years and she loves it. The work she does with her tutor is national curriculum work and her teacher has seen a big improvement in her maths. She works on the computer for her maths which means that the work she does excites her. The price is very reasonable and works out cheaper than a one to one tutor. She gets lots of attention and help when she is stuck and also has time to work independently. Her teacher has said that she is now able to work well in the classroom too. The tutors are all trained in national curriculum concepts and really engage the children. We have recommended lots of friends to explore and they love it too. It's a small price to pay for the improvements that my daughter has made.

nicki129 Sat 30-Apr-16 15:19:26

My daughter has been going to Explore Learning for a few years and she loves it. The work she does with her tutor is national curriculum work and her teacher has seen a big improvement in her maths. She works on the computer for her maths which means that the work she does excites her. The price is very reasonable and works out cheaper than a one to one tutor. She gets lots of attention and help when she is stuck and also has time to work independently. Her teacher has said that she is now able to work well in the classroom too. The tutors are all trained in national curriculum concepts and really engage the children. We have recommended lots of friends to explore and they love it too. It's a small price to pay for the improvements that my daughter has made.

Crimsonavenger Fri 27-May-16 20:43:42

I have a child that works for explore learning and know 2 others in the same position. They are very bright highly educated a-level students who will heading off to university this year. Just as a previous contributor suggested they look after 6 children at a time, have to support and monitor the Children and can build really strong relationships with the kids that help them learn.

The problem I have is that my child gets paid £4.90 an hour for that. All of her friends that work in local shops and businesses get paid about 50% more for filling shelves than many of the tutors at explore get for educating your children.

I have been there and heard the sales talk about the highly skilled and degree qualified tutors, but that will be the manager and certainly not the normal tutor staff who in my experience will usually be young people being paid what in my opinion are exploitative wages. My own child work shifts straight from school until 8 o'clock in the evening and after paying the train fair is left with about £10 for all her hard work.

If you are considering explore learning then ask the questions, who will actually be teaching your children and how much is explore learning paying them to do that. I think that all employers can be judged on how well they treat their own staff... But of course you can make those judgements for yourself.

Naz588 Thu 16-Jun-16 16:35:43

Having worked for Explore Learning, I would not recommend their services. Tutors receive 4 induction shifts and are then expected to manage a zone of 6 children independently. Managers are also targeted heavily on sales so will do all they can to get you in to the centre for a free trial and then sign you up. They are then targeted further on how many families keep their membership going meaning that even if your child isn't benefiting or reached their goal they won't tell you.

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