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Has anyone used Explore Learning for 11+ tuition?

(11 Posts)
NanFlanders Mon 02-Nov-15 11:52:48

Hi. Just that really. We are considering putting our dd in for the exam for a state superselective. The area where we live is heavily dominated with girls' church schools that we don't qualify for (minority religion), so the comprehensive doesn't really have a comprehensive intake and is quite male-dominated. DD is a very motivated learner and in the top set for everything, but her school have advised that it is very unusual for anyone to get into the grammar without being tutored. I've tried going through past papers with her myself, but it's not going brilliantly. She gets high scores, but is a bit of a perfectionist and tends to get upset if she doesn't know any answer immediately. I don't want to damage our relationship or have her think that I'll be disappointed with her if she doesn't get in, so I thought it was better to separate the parent/tutor roles. I have signed her up for Explore Learning, as there is one at the end of our road and the staff seemed friendly and to have a good rapport with her. I wasn't sure about the computer-dominated nature of it, but they said that they didn't use computer based tuition for the 11+ tutoring. Has anyone had experience of using Explore for the 11 +, and if so, what did you think?

PettsWoodParadise Mon 02-Nov-15 12:37:49

We tried it for a few months, first month was their basic package which was two slots per week. Second month was one slot per week plus an eleven plus course. I liked the regular progress meeting but for us it was too loud with 24 kids in groups of six and DD felt she wasn't learning anything and it was pricey!. Then we did a bit of self teaching. Some mock exams and tried out a one to one tutor for a month but the tutor just went through sample papers so we ditched her and again did it ourselves (I work full time so it was mostly DD being self motivated and me checking stuff evenings and weekends). She passed three lots of grammar tests including a superselective one and so my wobble part way through the process that we were letting her down by not having a tutor etc was just that, a wobble.

NanFlanders Mon 02-Nov-15 13:14:49

Thanks PWP. Useful to know - and congratulations to your daughter!

MN164 Mon 02-Nov-15 17:00:46

Sounds like our area too.

Like everything it depends on the staff. They aren't doing anything you couldn't do at home, but for a) time and b) patience (mostly your child's patience with you!).

I quite liked the noisiness of the place. If your child can concentrate and work in those conditions then they have learned a skill too.

Most of all, have a non-selective school that you and she are also "happy" with. Don't call it a "back-up" as that already makes it feel like failure to go there. Perhaps divide the world into two - which is your favourite selective school(s) and which non-selective(s)? Takes the pressure off which usually improves performance (contrary to what many say).

NanFlanders Tue 03-Nov-15 11:05:41

Thanks. I have been telling her that the test is just to decide which is the right school for her, and I did like the comp when I looked around it. I'm a bit ambivalent about tutoring at all really - I don't want her just scraping into somewhere she is going to struggle - thanks to a tutor, but otoh, I don't want to send her unprepared into a VR and NVR test and have her confidence destroyed, so following the teacher's recommendation really. (I suppose I'd like a good secular comp with the full ability range and a strong top set!)

MN164 Tue 03-Nov-15 15:44:09

I think you are very firmly on the right track with a healthy attitude to it all.

Whatever happens, you're doing the right thing and the best for her.

NanFlanders Tue 03-Nov-15 20:36:01

Thanks MN164 :-)

namechangedtoday15 Wed 04-Nov-15 09:05:01

Our headteacher, who knows that most parents tutor / do extra work (and is quite passive about that - doesn't really comment on it) absolutely slated the local Explore Learning. Have no personal experience of it, but according to the head, we should actively avoid it. Don't know whether that was down to the individuals there, the process, or the methods, but I understood that it was not "compatible" with the methods / way of approaching maths questions for example that they're taught in school.

lexlees Thu 05-Nov-15 14:51:12

Our DS went to explore learning for the 11+ course.

It is really fun and DS truly loved going and attending . He was sad to stop going.
Staff were friendly and enthusiastic
Some exam technique taught was useful
The mock tests and feedback were useful
They celebrate passing certain stages and ds loved those times.
He was able to save up his cards to get something he wanted before he left.

DS did not score too well on 11+ at all. I don't know anyone who did get high marks.
When the consortium changed exam provider (a couple months before the exam) to one that gave 'untutorable' exams, I realised we had just wasted 8 months of money on explore learning.
Although the 11+ course was taught in small groups and in person, I doubt it was taught by qualified teachers.
On the second session (not the 11+ one) - He never learned anything new and it did not help in school in any way. It was just fun computer based english/maths.
Their curriculum unfolds very slowly throughout the year - so if you haven't started from September, you may miss something critical.

Overall, I think of it as educational expensive fun, but not any better than hiring a tutor or going through the process yourself.

If I had my time again, I would have just found a tutor or bought books and spent time one and one myself. BUT, my son had a fantastic time and that is why we just let him finish the course.

Just see how you go.

JazzDiva Thu 12-Nov-15 11:44:16

Explore Learning provides 21st Century digital/on-line methodology when learning and assessing is still undertaken using 18th/19th learning - with paper and pen and good old reading!!!

Eleanor12 Sat 30-Jan-16 20:38:40


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.

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