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To wonder if all children would benefit from a bit of small group tutoring

(12 Posts)
ReallyTired Mon 03-Dec-12 15:01:13

If all children got an hour of tutoring a week in a small group (say 4) of similar ablity then bight poor children could then stand some chance of grammar school.

Low ablity children would have lots of attention to make sure that they all leave primary school able to read. Prehaps a small group could help with identifying special needs like dyslexia.

I think it would be incredibly mean to leave out middle ablity children who might well blossom with a bit of extra attention/ TLC.

A little bit of close atteniton from a qualified teacher each week might help narrow the divide between state and private school children. Sometimes children of all ablities get lost in a large state school class of 30. Many primary school classes are bigger than this.

The only issue is how on earth you would fund it. Or would it be more effective to reduce the size of state school classes.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Mon 03-Dec-12 15:05:48

Well surely the purpose of tutoring the lower ability children is to bring them up to the standard where they should be.

Anything more than that then the parents could arrange for their kids to be tutored out of school.

I dont see how it could be done any other way. They should have close attention from the teacher anyway and many classes have TA's on hand to give additional help as well. Otherwise where would it end......

blanksquit Mon 03-Dec-12 16:18:19

I think they do split them into groups and work with them according to ability anyway. The ones lagging behind get small group work on what they're lagging behind with. And those that are ahead get extension groups, sometimes working with the class above. I guess the only thing is that the middle group possibly get less emphasis than they should. But then if they are finding the group too easy for them, they should then be moved up a group.

I can see how 1:1 tutoring might bring a dc on a bit further but don't really see how adding another hour a week to work in groups would be that much different to what they're already doing.

Catsdontcare Mon 03-Dec-12 16:21:23

"Low ability children would have lots of attention to make sure they all leave primary school able to read"

Gosh what high aspirations hmm

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 16:23:59

I think teaching children in small groups is ideal, at least some of the time. From what I understand, often, studies saying that such-and-such an intervention works well are actually studies of children who've been given plenty of interaction with a teacher, either one to one or in small groups.

Obviously children need some group work and a lot of group play, but basically, I know of no research that has stated that larger class sizes make academic performance better.

Large class sizes are unfair on children, IMO, and it'd be great to see more smaller group teaching, if it could be done.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 03-Dec-12 16:34:03

Yanbu. It would benefit every child, and would ideally be given to every child, not just those t the bottom like it is now.

adeucalione Mon 03-Dec-12 16:36:12

DCs state primary has a qualified teacher working with small groups from Y6 throughout the day - every child will see her for an hour a week, with 4-5 children of similar ability, to troubleshoot an area of difficulty. AFAIK this is her only role, and it seems to be working well. For example, DD (top average writer) said that she spent an hour with her last week concentrating on punctuation, which is a weakness for DD. The fact that this only happens in Y6 suggests that it's all about improving SATs performance, but I don't care about the motivation really.

wheredidiputit Mon 03-Dec-12 17:02:09

It depends where your dc primary school chooses to spend it's money.

The school I'm a governor at allocates a large proportion of our income to teaching staff. So every class has at least 1 TA if not 2 working along side the teachers and we also have a vast number of booster groups for all abilities. Whether it's to bring up children who are not meeting targets but also to push those who need it.

EmmelineGoulden Mon 03-Dec-12 17:09:18

I think YmightbeBU. My instinct is the same as yours appears to be - smaller groups would be better for students. More individual attention is good. And a belief that I would certainly be more successful with a small group so surely teachers will too (this last, of course, is quite personal).

But when I've seen broad studies on class size I find the data much less convincing. If you're going to spend that sort of money I think it would be much better spent raising the professional standing of teachers and getting (even*) better people into teaching. From what I've seen the correlation between class sizes and outcomes is much less than the correlation between teachers' standing and outcomes. Societies that can pick and choose who to take on as teachers get the best results.

So I think rather than try to get even more teachers in to the profession, we might be better off having fewer teachers but only ever taking the truely outstanding ones. Which may mean things like paying teachers a lot more and providing them with more professional autonomy and development opportunities in order to encourage those with the aptitude who currently look elsewhere.

(* I say "even" better because I think teachers have got a lot better in the last 20 years and continue to do so. Almost all the teachers I know nowadays are head and shoulders above the teachers I use to have at school. Despite this they aren't generally high achieving people drawn to teaching as a vocation, but people who did OK in their degrees who look to teaching as a profession they can get into that they can also feel good about. They work hard, but most aren't the best our education system turns out and had at best a modest choice of graduate standard jobs they could go into. If teacher training were as hard to get into as bluechip firms' graduate entry schemes I think we might see an even bigger jump in standards.)

ReallyTired Mon 03-Dec-12 20:56:15

Catsdontcare, 20% of children leave primary school with a level of literacy that is far too low to cope with secondary school. Sadly many of these children never catch up and still have appauling literacy levels at 16. I don't think that wanting EVERY child to have reading to level 4 standard is unambitious. Before you attack me, the definition of being able to read depends on the person. Reading is as much about comprehension as barking at print.

I think you have to look at an entire eduation system and not just what the state funds. Many asian countries use after school teaching to fill in the holes. A lot of children in Japan or Korea attend a Juko where there is small class teaching. Surely the Japanese Jukos deserve some credit for the high academic results in Japan.

I think a model where children are in a class of 30 to 35 (max) for 95% of lessons with a truely outstanding teacher and then attend a small group once a week would boost standards. The system I am suggesting would be very similar to the Japanese state school/ Juko system except for the fact the state is paying for the Juko.

lovebunny Mon 03-Dec-12 21:46:13

why do you go on and on and on about schools, really tired? don't you ever think about anything else?

1charlie1 Mon 03-Dec-12 22:14:45

DH moved from teaching at a state comprehensive into the private system this year. His Year 7 class - bottom set - is absolutely tiny. He was astonished when he saw the class list (thought half of it was missing!) His students are thriving, and he has plenty of time to spend with each individual child.

He often mentions how sad he feels when he reflects on how they would have fared had they had to attend his previous school. He now has the time and energy to plan brilliant lessons, which cater for each individual student, whereas it used to be a struggle to get through each day with sanity intact. He now sees fewer students across the four year levels he teaches than he used to see in one single class.

When Gove et al are busy exhorting the wonders of private education, and failure of state education, they never seem to suggest that it might be reasonable to 'improve standards' by reducing class sizes in the state system to levels enjoyed in private schools. This is an obvious, though expensive, solution.

Perhaps it could be funded by increasing the number of classroom teachers, and reducing the number of expensive senior managers who are infecting the state system. DH's new school has nothing like the convoluted, expensive management structure of his previous one, with it's multiple deputies and assistant heads. In a school of 900 kids there were SEVEN staff with 'head' in their title, all earning in excess of £60K annually - and spending very little time doing any actual classroom teaching. Ridiculous. No wonder their results were so bloody awful. DH's new school has one head, and one deputy. How charmingly old-fashioned!

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