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When's the best time to get a private tutor for GCSE

(63 Posts)
pooky213 Sat 28-Sep-13 13:40:38

My dd is in y10 and will only sit GCSE's in Y11. We are considering getting a private tutor for French or Maths but we are wondering is it worthwhile to get one now at start of Y10 or get one at start of Y11 when things start to ramp up? DD's French knowledge reasonable but Maths is weak.

Looking forward to hearing replies. Thanks.

Talkinpeace Sat 28-Sep-13 13:53:28

If he's bright enough to ge C's and he wont carry those subjects on, does it really matter?
Once he's got A Levels and a degree, GCSE grades drop off the CV anyway.
And if he does plant to carry those subjects on, you are storing up problems for later

MadameSin Sat 28-Sep-13 15:15:11

We got ours in Y10, she stayed with us all the way thru revision period and right up till the actual exams ... got my son an A in English and that defo would not have happened without her. She didn't only support the curriculum but the most valuable help she gave was revision technics that worked for our ds. Good luck smile

MadameSin Sat 28-Sep-13 15:19:33

.... also, my sons results affected which college/6th form he went to and what A-Levels he could study once there, so GCSE results are very important ... a C may not get her to study A-Level in the same subject. My ds wanted to do Economics at A-Level, but as he only got a C in maths, he was advised not to. Although no-one will give a monkies what GCSE's you got further down the line, they will affect what can do in between, is you see what I mean.

NoComet Sat 28-Sep-13 15:43:23

A B at maths looks way better than a C and as Madamesin says maths is needed for lots of other courses. Economics, Biology and Psychology use maths as well as chemistry and physics. Some areas of Geography and even my uncles corner of history need maths. (He has written books about the history of American trade with pages and pages of figures).

DH uses maths everyday in his IT job.

I gave up French at 13 and have never needed it except to do the DCs homework.

pooky213 Sat 28-Sep-13 16:30:42

Thank you everyone so far for your comments. The real question from my original thread is should we go for a private tutor in year 10, now, or will we only see benefit in getting a tutor in Year 11 when it's much more exam focused.

pooky213 Sat 28-Sep-13 16:32:50

Many thanks MadameSin.

MadameSin Sat 28-Sep-13 16:49:27

I think the earlier, the better to support the curriculum and get them into good habits ... if you can afford it for that long!

NoComet Sat 28-Sep-13 16:53:13

Maths now as one bit builds on another. French depends on how important it is for what he wants to do in the future.

SummerHoliDidi Sat 28-Sep-13 16:58:09

As long as you can afford. If you can afford a Maths tutor for both years then do it. If you can only afford one year then year 11 would be the one to go for.

Out of the two subjects, Maths is the one to concentrate on imo (I may be biased though as I'm a maths teacher). Most college courses and jobs will expect at least a grade C in Maths, very few care what grade you get in French. Do her teachers think she's on track to get a C but she wants a B, or is a C going to stretch her?

TeenAndTween Sat 28-Sep-13 17:14:54

This is interesting.

MadameSin .... also, my sons results affected which college/6th form he went to and what A-Levels he could study once there, so GCSE results are very important ... a C may not get her to study A-Level in the same subject. My ds wanted to do Economics at A-Level, but as he only got a C in maths, he was advised not to. Although no-one will give a monkies what GCSE's you got further down the line, they will affect what can do in between, is you see what I mean.

The thing is, if someone needs a tutor for 2 years to get them from a C to a B in maths. Would an A level that requires them to have a B in maths be suitable anyway? Or would you be storing up problems for the A level too, where the ability in maths expected of a B grade GCSE is not really there?

For my DD1 (also y10) I have decided to help her (ie random self-tutor) in subjects where she may not get a C, but not help for her stronger subjects that she might consider for A level. If she can't get at least a B (pref an A) without too much extra help, then I think she shouldn't do them for A level. But maybe that's not the right approach. I'm not sure.

0ntheUp Sat 28-Sep-13 18:47:26

I'm just researching getting a Science tutor for DD (Year 10) after a school move, and it seems that the new school have done other bits of the syllabus in year 9, so she is completely out of her depth. My logic is get the tutor when you notice you need it/when the child tells you, - so in my case now, early. For our DD she says she 'feels so stupid' not understanding when the rest of the class does, - so I'd like her to see that with a bit of one to one help, and someone explaining in a way she understands, she can get it, and feel more confident. I hope that we won't then need the tutor all the time to GCSE, in fact that this might be a short sharp 6 weeks, but lack of self confidence for me is key, because our DD was getting to the stage where she thought if she read it, she wouldn't understand it. That kind of panic seeps in. I think of how I used to feel when my driving instructor used to get me to reverse park. I literally couldn't hear the instructions.

Grades at GCSE do have an impact on future choices, e.g. if you want to study medicine lots of places are looking for 5 A* at GCSE I think I've read. At our year 10 parents evening they were citing I think University of Birmingham, which they said wanted 5 A* at GCSE from applicants - but haven't checked it myself. And obviously only matters if thats what you want, and can carry it on independently afterwards, - just citing as a reason why could make a difference. Having said that, I wouldn't tutor to get the grades, just to rebuild the confidence in our case.

Talkinpeace Sat 28-Sep-13 19:35:25

But if you needed intensive tutoring to get those top grades, you will REALLY struggle at University.
The reason courses want top grades is because they want the brightest students, not the ones who were tutored above their natural level.

It is well observed that state school kids often excel at Oxbridge over their more molly coddled and tutored private school fellows.

Its a shame that it is deemed acceptable to tutor kids to the utmost and take places that are not rightfully theirs.

goinggetstough Sat 28-Sep-13 20:47:29

I would start tutoring now. If it all goes well then maybe you would be able to stop in year 11. I think the worst situation would be to get to year 11 and wish you had started in year 10.

GCSE grades are needed often for sixth form applications and some university courses. It is not true to say once you have the next level the previous exams are disregarded. Even when you have a degree many graduate schemes still require you to have certain A level grades.

Talkin l think one should also consider those DCs who are taught well and those who are not. Tutors can fill in the gaps from poor teaching. Being tutored does not necessarily mean being taught beyond your natural level and also some parents do not have the knowledge to help their DCs.

noblegiraffe Sat 28-Sep-13 20:55:20

Yes, get a maths tutor now, it will help her confidence and can identify and rectify weak areas which work in Y11 may build on.

TeenAndTween Sat 28-Sep-13 20:55:48

That is a good point regarding making up for poor teaching as opposed to just finding the subject tough. I stupidly hadn't thought of that (as DDs school seems to be v. good).

Amber2 Sat 28-Sep-13 22:31:51

Talking Peace

I don't see how getting a paid tutor to fill in gaps is any different from the advantage of some children having well educated graduate hands on parents or parent who are teachers helping them 1:1 for many hours outside of school. Some parents don't have the time or wherewithal to help their children academically and a tutor may be a good temporary fix also if there is poor teaching at school or to get them through a selection phase for senior schools. I don't see there's much magic in tutoring vs DIY parental help at home. It's often a question of how much time and effort a parent can contribute also.

Ridiculous to say tutored children take places that are not rightfully theirs...who can sift out all the advantages and disadvantages that one child may have at home vs another or at one school vs another. I am not sure where you draw the line, eg someone sending their kid to summer camp to learn a language on an immersive course in your book would be giving their child an unfair advantage. These kind of advantages have and will always exist, However, if a child is bright and self driven at home and school there is so much now by way of courses and info to DIY online, I think that does level out the field. Even with tutoring, you can take a horse to water...but unless the child is mentally engaged, its effects will be limited.

No doubt child maths geniuses like Ruth Lawrence whose father focussed on her education full time or the boy on the Child Genius programme whose parents were both Cambridge maths Phds would have had lots of 1:1 home tutoring from their expert parents, or children with bilingual backgrounds and therefore have distinct advantages from other children to rise well above their "natural level" whatever that is. I have a DS who hasn't had tutoring as yet but he ahead partly because he gets enough help from me when he needs it and is fortunate enough to go to a very good prep school with small class sizes. I wouldn't rule out getting a tutor for him in certain areas like languages or computer programming in the future in addition if he wanted enrichment or gap filling in certain select areas.

The only issue I would be wary of is force fed acceleration or death by tutoring in which the child has no interest and which may cause resentment and kill interest in a subject in the long run.

Talkinpeace Sat 28-Sep-13 22:36:54

Tutoring to fill in gaps - as I had when I was bumped up a year when I changed schools - is not the same thing as tutoring to assist kids who would otherwise not 'get' it.

Kids like Ruth Lawrence were just early developers rather than true 'genius' (Feynmann had strong views on such things)

I have an issue with the assumption by those who can afford it that they should automatically 'top up' their kids education
and the research supports the fact that in the long term it leaves them less good at self motivated study

Amber2 Sat 28-Sep-13 22:56:48

Talking ....Funny you should mention Feynmann..I read one of his books,,,he mentions that he loved maths so much that he really was not interested at all in the humanities and didn't keep up with the work he should have done in those topics at school ..who knows the nobel prize winner may have even needed a tutor himself in those subjects simply to get through them as a neceassary evil. Not everyone is excellent at every subject - a future top scientist may be dreadful at languages and need a tutor to get through GCSEs. I would think in any case, nowadays, universities like Oxbridge with their focus on interviews and specialized entrance exams like STEP would easily weed out those with inflated A level grades which are down primarily to being spoon fed by a tutor or private school.

Agree, self motivated study is needed to really excel at anything in the long run...but sometimes that may be kickstarted at some stage by some one else at some stage - no doubt Feynmann had his own did Zuckerberg whose father hired a programming tutor for him at an early age- and hardly to fill in gaps but to significant accelerate his son in a chosen subject...clearly that didn't result in him struggling in any way at Harvard or subsequently!

TheWave Sat 28-Sep-13 22:57:25

We did a year of tutoring before GCSE for a language and it made a fantastic difference to confidence etc. Definitely made a big difference to GCSE grade. Wished we'd started in yr 10, maybe half way through but we didn't realise how bad her understanding/speaking was and in the end got an A* so maybe didn't need it as such.

And sciences was really to give her someone to ask to "go through things" which was great to ensure understanding; probably made a difference although you never know if they'd have done well anyway.

Amber2 Sat 28-Sep-13 23:08:22

You only need to read stories like this one of this bright young man to show that self motivated clever children can still rise to the top without all the perceived "unfair" advantages of others with private tutors or private schools or middle class pushy parents specialized in a field home schooling them 1:1 for hours. It may take a special type with enormous self - motivation but it can be done.

pooky213 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:31:27

Thank you to everyone for some really interesting opinions, some of which we hadn't thought about and which are important to consider. This is definitely going to help us make our decision.

NoComet Sun 29-Sep-13 11:41:17

To summarise, Education is not a level playing field.

My DDs have had two science tutors and a maths tutor from the day they were born.

DD's DF's private school no doubt will claim her maths A* despite the fact her mum would have taught her to that level where ever she had gone.

I know DC's who have extra language GCSEs because of having bilingual parents.

DD1 has a tutor for GCSE music, because she has done singing lessons for years and her teacher is recently retired enough they know the modern syllabus.

In practice all music GCSE students have a tutor for the performance bits and most for the theory as no one does music who doesn't have lessons of some sort.

Is paying for a tutor in maths or French so different to the cheque I write each term for music? I think it's perceived differently, but this year, at least, there is no difference at all.

DD2 gave up music lessons, but is quite good at French. Given our state schools MFL staff turnover I will find her a tutor if she needs ine for GCSE.

MadameSin Sun 29-Sep-13 18:00:46

Starball had a conversation just this morning regarding private schools taking all the credit for their pupils A*s .... if you cream the brightest kids off at age 11. They will almost defo only get better. It's the schools where the kids enter at a much lower academic ability, then really achieve that are probably the better of the two - but that's a whole different thread. I tutored my ds because he lacked confidence in the subjects and his (private) school wasn't helping in that area.

nkf Sun 29-Sep-13 18:03:36

If you want to do A levels, Cs don't really cut it any more.

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