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To Tutor or not to Tutor - That is the question....

(68 Posts)
indignatio Mon 28-May-12 19:11:43

Yr 5 boy, in state school, bright, willing to do practise papers, aiming for a place at a local, highly selective school in the top 20. Exams in Jan. Will be sitting both level 6 sats papers in May next year - unless they are scrapped again. Would achieve Maths now, has a fair chance (with work) on achieving English. Bright, reasonably patient parents. Past papers not available through the school or on line.

School will not prepare him for the exams and interview - nor should they, it is not in their remit.

It seems to be taken into account from such selective schools if a child is state educated and has not had a tutor.

DS is happy to sit the exams, do practise papers, but does not want a tutor.

So, do I negate the possible allowances made for his education to date by employing a tutor. If asked, he will not lie - nor would I ask him to-. Or, do I ensure he has the best chance possible by arranging tutoring for the interview and exams?


exoticfruits Sun 03-Jun-12 13:39:58

Although I think it completely wrong-the whole system is unfair-everyone is doing it (even if they won't admit it) therefore if you want a tutor I should get one.

Yellowtip Sun 03-Jun-12 14:03:44

Taking an interest in education and being generally supportive and encouraging is hardly the same as paying a tutor to grind a child down with tactics for eliciting every last mark out of a Bond VR week after week from Y4. The comparison is meaningless.

PooshTun Sun 03-Jun-12 14:20:11

What is the difference between a mum taking her DC to the science or history museum and then discussing what they saw AND a professional teacher taking a child through a science or history text book and then discussing what they read?

The subtle difference escapes me.

Yellowtip Sun 03-Jun-12 15:02:34

Tutoring for grammar school entrance involves drilling kids with strategies to maximise VR, NVR, Maths and English scores, not discussing history or science. Which is why your comparison is meaningless.

PooshTun Sun 03-Jun-12 15:08:49

Yellowtip - It just occurred to me that you aren't aware that some schools exam children on national curriculum subjects at 11+ and also at 13+ for Indies.

Yellowtip Sun 03-Jun-12 15:13:46

I am aware that some independents do but your talk about tutoring seems to focus heavily on grammars. Which don't.

Bink Sun 03-Jun-12 15:36:11

Hello indignatio - I remember you from our long-ago long-running dreamers' thread, don't I? smile

If your ds is happy to practice/revise etc. without the extra-momentum of having a tutor, and the school (is it just the one?) is straightforward with you about what's expected as curriculum to be covered, and will provide past papers and so on, then I think it's quite likely you wouldn't find a tutor adds much.

I think tutors have their value when (a) a child finds it difficult to engage without the one-on-one attention; or (b) there are basics which for some reason haven't yet 'stuck' via school and need another method to register; or (c) it is not clear what the school is wanting and the tutor might have the inside track; or (d) parents aren't confident doing the supervision themselves - or any combination of those - but it doesn't sound like any of those apply to you. I suspect you would wonder a bit about what you'd spent the money for.

Ds has just done his 13+ and we wondered about a bit of tutoring but in the end what he needed was just enough regular practice of extended writing and time-management, starting at first with constant supervision (to click fingers when he went off in a dream) and working gradually up to leaving him alone to get it done. Getting (enough of - he's still Mr. Space) a grip on his own dreaminess was key, so a tutor was sort of the direct opposite of what was wanted.

Bink Sun 03-Jun-12 15:40:00

Sorry - missed that the school won't provide past papers. Presumably they will though say what they expect as curriculum covered?

PooshTun Sun 03-Jun-12 15:49:09

What magical strategies are you talking about? We took our DCs through some practice papers so they understood the format. The rest was them learning to concentrate for over an hour and to work to the clock.

This is what I don't understand about the Tutoring is Bad Brigade. If you as a parent can't handle the above then fine but then don't start complaining about how my child has an advantage over yours. It's not rocket science despite what you might think.

Or is that the problem? Is it rocket science to you?

Metabilis3 Sun 03-Jun-12 18:23:16

Well, some grammars do..... :confused:

Yellowtip Sun 03-Jun-12 19:56:51

Metabilis I understood Poosh to be talking about CE type exams. Grammars stick to English, Maths and VR and sometimes NVR.

Poosh no idea what the strategies are, you'd have to ask a tutor, or someone with experience of one.

Metabilis3 Sun 03-Jun-12 20:00:23

grin @yellow - I'm not really following the subtexts of this thread, I think....Im just refugeeing from the jubilee stuff on the Telly!

goinggetstough Sun 03-Jun-12 20:04:09

Colchester Royal Grammar has tests in english, maths and science at 13+ but it is for a very small number of boys eg 4. Maybe others do this too and this is what the OP is referring to?

PooshTun Sun 03-Jun-12 21:06:56

Yellowtip - You are rallying against tutoring because you say that tutors are teaching their kids strategies. But you have no idea what these strategies are? If you have no idea what it is that tutors actually do then what are you doing on this thread?

Yellowtip Sun 03-Jun-12 23:37:52

I'm far too wearied by these tutoring threads to rally Poosh, that sounds like a big waste of energy to me. But it's a fairly daft argument to say that because a parent isn't feverishly tutoring their child or hasn't feverishly tutored their child they can't know what commercial tutors purport to offer/ do.

Me too Metabilis. I missed Land of Hope first time round, so I've just been catching up with it on the re-run. Shame about the rain.

PooshTun Sun 03-Jun-12 23:55:02

That isn't my argument at all.

You are arguing that parents who hire a tutor have an unfair advantage but you don't seem to know what it is a tutor does. All you seem to be saying is that tutor = advantage. Case proven. End of discussion.

As you've said, it has become repetitive and pointless so live long and prosper Yellowtip.

Yellowtip Mon 04-Jun-12 09:17:45

I haven't 'argued' anywhere Poosh. I think I've merely observed that I find all the endless tutoring threads you start or comment upon quite wearying. I've not expressed an opinion either way about the value of paid-for tutoring on these recent threads.

breadandbutterfly Mon 04-Jun-12 10:58:03

Poosh - all children benefit from being educated, and this will contribute to their sum of knowledge, skills and, if you believe in brain plasticity, intelligence levels, whether that 'education' involves going to museums or swotting for an exam. Is it really necessary to quantify and separate one type of education from another?

Surely as parents it's our role to educate our child in every way - morally, socially, artistically etc as well as intellectually.

Some people - unaccountably - do feel that getting a tutor to swot for an exam is hardly the most fun or indeed effective form of education for a 10 year old.

But for parents unable or unwilling to educate more widely, then that is their choice.

Can't see the need to start endless threads on this...

gelatinous Mon 04-Jun-12 13:23:35

All children benefit from being educated, but anything can be done to excess. Extra tutor sessions (either with a parent or a paid tutor) too often could be a problem and even too many stately homes/museum trips might be as well! As with everything the trick is finding the right balance and also remembering that what works well for one family might not be right for another.

Xenia Mon 04-Jun-12 14:41:24

You can practise papers at home. You can look at 11+ ones for similar schools.
(oOme Haberdashers' boys ones for 11+ are here - private school )

If you don't have time or patience or not that kind of relationship with the child and can afford it a bit of tutoring might help. We had some with daughter 2 for 7+ exams as she was in a school working for 11+ papers not 7+ and that worked. (She went to

We didn't tutor the boys for their 13+ exams as they were at schools preparing them for that and that ought to be enough.

merrymouse Mon 04-Jun-12 14:52:33

breadandbutterfly, tutoring isn't about education, it is about jumping through a hoop to get an education.

indignatio Wed 06-Jun-12 18:02:03

Thank you all.

Sorry for the delay in responding, I've been away and so haven't checked this thread for a while.

Bink - Lovely to hear from you. Your name made me smile before I even read your post.
c is the issue for us!
My dreamer is great. Maths never a problem (except in the need to show working). Still has problems in deciding what to write - actual writing no problem - therefore I was slightly surprised by your thought that a tutor would not help with this. My SiL has two boys like this, both have been diagnosed with dyslexia - not spelling but ordering of thoughts.

Merrymouse - I just need to know which hoops to choose to push ds through!

Xenia - thanks for the links.

Racing.. I've taken what you have said to heart!

Gelatinous - I subscribe to your comments below:

"Some people will describe this as 'supporting the curriculum' and 'familiarisation' rather than tutoring, but really, what's the difference?

I also figured that being really good at punctuating and writing clearly and well was always going to be useful whatever school they ended up at. I don't think doing extra work in NC stuff is setting you up for a lifetime of extra coaching at all, why would it? More likely it will make your life easier over the next few years to have a firm grasp of the basics."

Pooshtun: DS is c - from a biased mother point of view.

Thank you all and apologies to those I have not addressed directly.

Tutoring re type of questions (on paper and in interview) does seem like the way to go - now how do I persuade DS?

indignatio Thu 07-Jun-12 12:47:37

Since my last posting, I've been reading about the particular school on Mumsnet. One poster is adamant that tutoring is frowned upon by the school. I have also read of another school which asks the parents to sign a form stating whether their child has been tutored or not.

So my latest thought - please tell me if you think it is completely off the wall - is to employ a tutor to tutor me, so that I can then best guide DS.

sphil Fri 08-Jun-12 14:23:24

I think that's a great idea. Have little experience of the independent school system but know that DS1 has been hugely helped in SATs by the fact that I work at the school - I have 'insider' knowledge of methods, practice questions, techniques etc which have enabled me to support and reinforce at home much more effectively.

Hamishbear Fri 08-Jun-12 16:26:02

Sphil - Perhaps the reason the teacher's children are allegedly often in the G&T groups and acing the various tests at our school smile?

I think you make a good point, those in the know often secure enormous advantage for their children. This is especially true if they work with them each evening for 20 minutes or so. Incrementally they get smarter.

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