My younger brother is getting ready for his GCSEs and we've hired a few private tutors. It seems to be like we are just spending money with no real way of knowing his problem areas or whether he's improving, the real answer will come in the summer at that may be too late. Is this an issue that others have had, if so how are you addressing it?
Ask the tutor or his teachers to contact one another. It is virtually impossible to find weak spots quicklyin an hour a week session. Read his reports and ecercise books from school. Teachers will be commenting (I hope!)on strong and weak points. What is your brother's motivation level? This will have a massive impact. As a tutor (and experienced teacher) I know this to be the most relevant factor in how well he progresses.
Do you ask the tutors to identify his problem areas? If there have been are a few different tutors, how long does each one work with him before you give up on that tutor -- do you give the tutor long enough to get to know him? What do the tutors say when you ask what his problem areas are?
If I were using a tutor for GCSEs I'd have employed them for specific subjects with specific issues, either to help with understanding and/or with exam technique. I would expect my child at that age to know whether they were improving or not I think. Certainly if helping with exam technique I would expect to see improvement in class tests or homework. I effectively tutored my DD1 for a number of her GCSEs and I knew exactly what we were working on improving.
I tutor... and every 8 weeks I test students and give them a grade based on the new levels 9-1. He/she should be doing that, otherwise how does he know what level he is working to. Many students are good in class, but find exams difficult. Do not wait, ask for mini tests and ask for the levels. He should set him targets.
Hopefully, you're not using an agency that employ tutors without teaching qualifications. For the reformed GCSEs, you need qualified teachers who really know their stuff and go on courses for the relevant exam boards.
The tutor needs to show you written work showing an improvement (most tutors would do this anyway?) and be testing against the current syllabus and limited spec assessment materials. An experienced teacher/tutor will be able to create more questions from these.
Btw, I don't want that to come across as knocking parents who help their kids. I was in the same situation and it made a significant difference. I just hear some horror stories about certain agencies who employ friends / people from certain schools who have zero experience and do it for pin money, dropping the student like a hot potato when it suits them.
It depends on the subject. DS has an english tutor and she goes through the set texts with him and they work on practice questions. He's aiming for a 7-9 so she's very exact as to what information he needs to convey to achieve the levels. She also works with him on building a bank of quotes and explanations for the texts.
A tutor needs to do a baseline assessment of their tutees and report to you on their progress. As a teacher I don't mind providing information about set texts and syllabus to tutors but it isn't reasonable to expect the class teacher to liaise in detail with numerous tutors.