Biggest Tuition Scams - Explore Learning, Kumon & Student Support Centre

(43 Posts)
Sophie1978 Thu 14-Apr-11 18:15:16

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.

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.

These are good and are free.

These are very good and cost peanuts.

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

chopchopbusybusy Thu 14-Apr-11 18:26:54

All children need tuition? Really? Mine haven't had any. DD1s GCSE results were excellent. A levels look promising. She uses some Internet resources which her school tells her about.
I do know some parents who have used Kumon classes and were happy with them.
Quite frankly it's bollocks to suggest all children need tutors though.

SamanthaHemmings Thu 14-Apr-11 20:21:24

Chopchop I disagree.

I personally believe that when it comes to education it's important not to be cheap.

If a child is good at tennis do they need more or less?

Most parents would say more. Tennis could be their talent, their future.

It is a fallacy to say a child needs less education because they are doing OK at a subject. It could be their talent, and it is more likely to be their future than tennis.

Also in education they don't stand still at school. A child doing ok on one topic, can stuggle on the next, or struggle the next year.

Take maths. Many children that find multiplication easy then struggle with division. Many children that do well in algebra then struggle with quadratic equations. And so on. This is what happened to my son.

I know many parents from my school's PTA, and I have yet to meet one that said their child didn't need tuition or help. Every parent want their child to get an advantage because we all know how competitive it is getting for jobs.

Of course the type of tuition matters. Free only takes us so far. When I gave my son worksheets he asked for help. On some of the more advanced things I didn't know how to teach it or explain it properly. I just got him confused. Have you tried explaining quadratic equations to a 13 year old?

To play tennis well we go out and get a good tennis coach. That's just for a sport. To do education well, we need a proper coach as well. I think most reasonable people would agree with that.

SamanthaHemmings Thu 14-Apr-11 20:26:30

I found Explore Learning to be a complete waste of money. It does not help at all.

The teacher said my child seemed 'vacant' and 'spaced out', and wondered if he was spending too much time on the computer and TV.

He was on computer tuition for a year with Explore, and actually did worse in Maths and English at the end of the year. I asked Explore for a refund.

If you want progress, get proper tuition. I also found that Explore Learning uses untrained children to teach! The 'Centre Directors' are their salespeople, not their teachers! Awful.

I've found BBC Bitesize to be better. And it's free! For tuition I know have a proper tuition centre. And it's going much better now.

PeachyAndTheArghoNauts Thu 14-Apr-11 20:31:20

Sometimes IME the key for a child is to take a step back and give them a break from (formal) education: different difficulties present differently and the key is understanding how your child learns and what the root of the issue is. Most of my experience is with kids with an SEN or SN (do not assume low IQ- very much not the case) and often especially with them time out is key to maintaining interest adn input over time- and to facillitating other forms of learning.

DS3 could not read; he gained a love of a certain game that he'd never have encountered at school, now he reads at a level above his reading age. DS1 did not cope well in primary (AS), in his comp induction term he is sailing ahead- not pushing it too much enabled him to not lose confidence.

Equally I know children with great results from Kumon, and those for whom bitesize is a brilliant resource (cerrtainly when I was an educational mentor it as a recommended resource).

candleshoe Thu 14-Apr-11 20:34:23

I heartily agree - but then I would!

I am a private tutor with a waiting list which includes two 'bumps' not even born yet! At £36 p.h. I give excellent value for money and Kumon in particular (don't know so much about the others) is utterly dreadful. What a con and a waste of money and time. Kumon is so dull kids want to give up after a few weeks! And as for it being personalised or differentiated - pah!

chopchopbusybusy Thu 14-Apr-11 20:51:50

Samantha, I've had no need to explain quadratic equations to DD1. Her school taught her. She got an A* in maths so they did their job well. My point is that not all children require additional tuition.
As for registering 'bumps' with a tutor - words fail me.

candleshoe Thu 14-Apr-11 20:54:21

What can I say - I'm very good! grin

RoadArt Mon 25-Apr-11 08:48:38

Chopchop - your child(ren) obviously went to a good school. Sadly we are not all in the same situation as you and not all children are taught fully what they should be taught at school, for a huge number of reasons.

I for one do recommend additional tuition sources for ensuring that the whole curriculum from the very basics is learned and understand fully before moving up to the next level.

If children are exposed to different methods of learning, it gives them more opportunities to understand the topic, rather than the one way they are taught/shown in school that they instantly forget when they move to the next topic. revision at home helps.

Himalaya Mon 25-Apr-11 09:01:26

The Student Support Centre is particularly unethical. They pay schools to send home 'this is very important' letters signed by the Headteacher, drawing parents attention to the service and telling them to return a reply slip to the school. Then salespeople come round to your house and do a hard sell and try to get you to sign up to a 2 or 3 year contract for thousands of pounds.

I complained to my DS's headteachers - they said they had no idea the kind of costs and long term contracts the company was trying to tie parents in to.

cory Mon 02-May-11 23:26:23

Why does additional learning have to come in the shape of formal tuition? I learnt literacy from raiding my parents' library. I learnt basic maths mainly from doing lots of cooking and baking and rejigging recipes.

"Of course the type of tuition matters. Free only takes us so far."

Doesn't that depend on the individual parent/grandparent/elder sibling/aunt/neighbour that happens to be on offer? Or would they automatically get better if they started charging?

VanessA001 Sun 16-Dec-12 18:12:23

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Mrsrudolphduvall Sun 16-Dec-12 18:16:05

Nice advert Vanessa...have reported

EdnaScoggins Sun 16-Dec-12 18:57:43
EdnaScoggins Sun 16-Dec-12 18:58:20

Just doing the OP's links ^^

Am just going to look at them...

EdnaScoggins Sun 16-Dec-12 19:01:36

This ixl one looks useful to me.

ReallyTired Sun 16-Dec-12 19:10:31

I think that a good tutor is worth his or her weight in gold. A small amount of individual attention can raise a child's confidence.

However the difficulty is that some people who become tutors are not that good. They tend to be ex teachers who could not could not take the heat of the classroom.

I love bbc bitesize. There are some other good pages as well.

If you want to try the Kumon approach you can buy work books from Amazon.

ContinentalKat Sun 16-Dec-12 19:14:06

Our primary keeps inviting explore learning to do taster sessions after which the kids come home with these invitations to join. I absolutely hate it!

Explore learning are inside a local supermarket, so I have ample time to witness their abysmal standard of "tutoring" when I go shopping.

I think it's despicable how they play on parents' fears.

GoldQuintessenceAndMyhrr Sun 16-Dec-12 19:21:30

My son has been tutored once a week since the beginning of the calendar year. It has been really good for him. He had big gaps in his learning after 3 years away from the UK curriculum. He also likes bitesize and Mathletics. But, some of the children in his class go to their tutors 3 times per week.... No wonder the level is high in his class. His school benefit immensely from such pushy parents when it comes to SATS, and pride themselves on their good teaching, ha! hmm

ReallyTired Sun 16-Dec-12 20:18:46

I am surprised there are many parents who can afford tutoring 3 times a week. I assume they are parents who can't get their children to sit down and work.

Where I am tutoring is £22 a group session and is a lot money for many families to find. I am agast that parents fork out money for tutoring 3 times a week.

AChickenCalledKorma Sun 16-Dec-12 20:22:59

"I know many parents from my school's PTA, and I have yet to meet one that said their child didn't need tuition or help."

If that was the case at my children's school, I would be seriously worried about the school. No school should be relying on all parents to make up for its deficiencies by paying for tutors.

Totally agree with you about the Student Support Centre, though. I think their marketing techniques are shocking.

EdnaScoggins Sun 16-Dec-12 20:24:20

Like the look of the khan academy, ReallyTired. smile

hamstered Mon 31-Dec-12 01:20:18

I tried Kumon with my daughter for about a year. She was bored , frustrated and hated maths. It was a complete waste of money. I have heard similar things about explorelearning and did not appreciate their hard sell techniques either.

My daughter was using for school and homework and that worked really well for her. I was wondering if there was anything similar out there?

Thanks EdnaScoggins for the tip on the khan academy, I have spent a good hour checking it out and am very impressed.

anitasmall Mon 31-Dec-12 12:58:55

I also checked the Khan Academy. It is really good.

Tutoring is important for those children who has many LA class mates. Not all the schools and classes are the same.

bananaramma Wed 02-Jan-13 07:54:59

Don't your kids go to school?
That is where my children learn their maths and English (and other subjects). That is also where I learned these subjects. Why in earth do kids need all this extra tuition shock?

My kids would rather pursue their other hobbies in their (little) spare time.

BrummieBelle Wed 02-Jan-13 17:35:54

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maz1982 Fri 11-Jan-13 14:18:22

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tersha Sat 02-Feb-13 15:15:30

I want my kids helped (when they need it) by people not computers. Having said that, I did hear that some places have 'tutors' with only two grade Cs at GCSE! My friends kids all seem to go to MagiKats and seem to like it. I need to find out more.

mumofteen Fri 22-Feb-13 17:21:42

Chopchop I also disagree. Kumon works! Surely everyone realises we learn through repetition. How does a baby learn to talk, how do we learn to play an instrument. In order to be good at something we need to practise it over and over till we have mastered it. Andy Murray has hit more than a few balls to get to where he is today, Tiger Woods has put in a good few hours of practise. If you want to understand why the Kumon Method works read "The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born. It's Grown" Daniel Coyle and "Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practise". If you want to master something you need to practise it a little every day. I have two DD's doing Kumon, both were middle of the road students before they started. Now eldest DD is in the top Maths set in the top school according to the Times List, this is not a coincidence. Is she overworked and pushed too hard - No! she does 15-30 mins maths a day, and still manages to squeeze in 4-5 hours on facebook/TV smile
If your thinking about Kumon give your child a chance and decide for yourself, you wont regret it.

Startail Mon 25-Feb-13 14:09:53

With the exception of languages and possibly to get inside info on the 11+.
Why the hell would any educated parent need to pay a tutor.

Surely the only reason you can afford a tutor is that you have a decent job, to get that job you had a decent education. Surely with a good CGP revision text book and BBC bitesizesd you can tutor your child yourself to at lest GCSE.

Startail Mon 25-Feb-13 14:11:34

Although tyhe dyslexics amongst us do have to get our DH or 12 yo's to proof our spelling.

teddybear21 Wed 04-Dec-13 10:03:40

We learn by having things explained to us as adults rather than performing tasks as automatons. Why should children be any different? Short term examination results by no real teaching is a false economy. Real teaching has to involve explanation and mentoring so building a child’s confidence. Flash marketing machines and computers are no substitute for true one to one teaching. I learned this to my cost. After experiencing several “tick box” tutors only one stood out as providing real tuition for my daughter. I would suggest to parents to try They really made a positive long term difference to my daughter’s education.

SlightlyMe Sun 09-Mar-14 16:49:52

I use a number of sites
but also
but for maths is simply awesome
and all are free!
Maths-aid I can give my kids loads of extra work and as it generates work sheets on the fly never runs out..

BelleOfTheBorstal Sun 09-Mar-14 17:01:43

I underwent kumon maths as a teenager. My basic addition and subtraction were appalling ( as I am dyspraxic).
It really helped me. The worksheets were marked by the people running the sessions and I got a small prize every week upon completion of that weeks worksheets.
I did find it utterly dull but at least I can now do basic mental sums!

gd1976 Tue 27-May-14 22:14:20

My son has been lacking in confidence when it comes to reading and writing, and we recently were told by school he was far below the expected level for his age, and I cannot start to tell you how explore learning has changed that. He has only had 5 sessions and already his teachers are commenting on what a dramatic improvement he has made, he can't wait to go to explore learning, having always been so negative in the past about anything associated with letters:numbers/reading.... And for people who think "but you can do it at home", well my son certainly would not entertain the idea of doing that level of work with me at home, and short of forcing him to do it, and therefore creating a negative way of doing the work, this would not be an option for me. I have not found the money easily and it is a commitment and expense, but from our personal point of you, it has been absolutely

Clarinet9 Fri 13-Jun-14 13:27:17

I have no experience of Explore learning other than going to the local supermarket and seeing children sitting in front of computers, after a quick look at the website it was pretty clear they are (?most of the time) not using teachers.

One of the mothers at my son's previous school had the franchise for Kumon, again no suggestion that she was a teacher or teaching, but one of her very close friends did tell everyone in the playground who would stand still long enough that the Kuomn lady's son had got a scholarship to a local public school ONLY because he had done so much Kumon!!!

this went on for months and just made me laugh but she sucked quite a few of the parents into paying her for Kumon worksheets!

I do private tuition and recently Explore Learning opened up nearby. I contacted them to enquire about jobs but they told me they only really hire students and pay minimum wage! Needless to say they weren't interested in my £30p/h fee or my decade of teaching experience...

ragtimer Sat 14-Jun-14 13:22:54

Don't your kids go to school?
Exactly was I felt like asking, Bananarama!
In my days, the school was supposed to teach you.
A child got extra tutoring if they were getting Fs.
If you got a B, well that was ok. You were a B student. It wasn't the end of the world. The streets are not filled with homeless unemployed B or C students from the seventies.
I agree the above mentioned learning centres are scams. But they exist because parents are willing to pay. Push. Push. Push.

Solution: fix parents' mindsets and let these joke businesses run out of clients.

ragtimer Sat 14-Jun-14 13:24:17

Correcting typo: What I felt like asking.

PrincessV22 Tue 17-Jun-14 13:06:11

My eldest DS has been doing Kumon for nearly 3 years now and while there are still some areas for development in his maths in general, he is a happy confident chappy who is 'near' the top of the class. 3 months ago he asked me if he could start the English too because he didn't feel as confident with his writing as he did with his maths. This is what I wanted for him - to take ownership, care and responsibility of his own learning. For him to have done this at 8 years old I'm thrilled. Some days he moans, but I've learned over the years that as long as the work is at the right level and manageable for him, he's happy to complete it. If not, I speak to his instructor and she tweaks his level. I started my youngest around 6 months ago and while his ability hasn't improved hugely, his teacher at school tells me he's her most enthusiastic learner and demonstrates far superior concentration and posture while working than any others in her class.
I have to admit, Explore Learning looks tempting - the idea of being able to do the shopping in peace while the children learn - it's ideal for any busy mum. But I urge anyone thinking about it to just stand outside and watch the children for 10 minutes. The classes are noisy, unstructured and the children are not taught to sit quietly and learn to concentrate, which let's face it - must be the most important skill needed for any learning.
I've been a teacher for many years and i do think private tutors have their place, but I believe developing independence and study skills are much more important. Surely the worst possible outcome is that a child becomes reliant on having someone sitting next to them teaching them how to do each different topic and this is what a tutor will unavoidably nurture. If the commitment of Kumon is too much I think the books in WHSmith are much better (and cheaper) than a tutor.

forago Tue 17-Jun-14 13:08:15

I'm not convinced all children need tutoring - why if they are not struggling with anything?

PrincessV22 Tue 17-Jun-14 13:21:05

I also don't think extra learning or tutoring is right for all children. But maybe think of it like this (similar to another message above):

Do all children have the potential to be amazing at maths (or any other subject?). I think not but this may be open to debate.... Will they become 'amazing' without a coach or just through school? What if Andy Murray hadn't had extra tennis coaching?......

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