Author Archives: Eve Noguerol

  1. Get New-Term Ready! Tips for tutors for September

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    Get New-Term Ready! Tips for tutors for September

    Whether you are a full-time tutor; tutoring part-time alongside other commitments; or an undergraduate who tutors as a ‘side hustle’, the start of the new academic year is the time to get yourself new-term ready.

    Here are our top tips for tutors to help you get ready for the tutoring year ahead…

    Get organised

    For any professionals working in the education sector, September has the same resonance that January holds for most other ‘normal’ people. For teachers and tutors, September is the best time to set yourself new year’s resolutions.

    Don’t worry, we’re not talking about the usual gym memberships or advocating Dry September or Veganember here – although, go for it if that’s your thing…

    No, we’re just highlighting the importance of getting yourself organised and set for the year ahead.

    September is the month when tutor referrals are at their busiest. It’s the time to fill your diary up! But make sure that you don’t take on too much. 

    Whatever your circumstances are, make sure that you only accept referrals that are right for you. In most cases, your teaching timetable will be the same until next May/June. It’s not like a timetable for a full-time teacher working in a school – which is pretty much imposed on you. 

    This is a genuine opportunity to create a work schedule that really suits your needs. Don’t waste it!

    Gen up on exam results and course changes 

    One of the benefits of not working in a school full-time is that you miss out on the annual avalanche of data, data, data that falls in September in most schools – the dreaded exams analysis.

    But while we can be thankful that we are swerving ‘Spreadsheet September’, tutors can do well to keep abreast of what the exam boards are saying. The Report on the Exam – written by Chief Examiners of every subject – gives insightful information on how students fared on the summer exams, and often gives helpful tips and advice for teachers to use.

    Professional development for tutors tends to be lacking. In fact, it tends to be DIY – but it is always helpful. An educational professional should never stop learning. Keep up to date with current pedagogy and thinking and use it to make yourself a better and more effective tutor.

    Don’t forget the reason you are doing this!

    Sometimes tutors can feel a bit sluggish in September. After all, it’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a few weeks off.

    But don’t forget the reason you are here – to help young people achieve their true potential. Teachers can sometimes get bogged down by mandatory frameworks, incessant data collections, rules and policies, and the ever-present threat of OFSTED.

    As a tutor, you cunningly miss out on the ‘bad stuff’ but still get the privilege of helping students get to where they want to be.

    You are free to exercise your professional judgement on a daily basis, and really make a difference.

    Make the most of it – and most of all… enjoy every moment!

  2. The School Day: Could we do it differently?

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    The School Day: Could we do it differently? Conversations continue about whether the long summer break should continue. In fact, we covered this question in a recent blog.

    But it’s not the only big question about education. Take the school day, for example…

    For as long as most of us can remember, the school day in the UK has run – roughly – from 9.00am-3.00pm (give or take the odd 15 mins or so).

    The big question is simply: Why?

    It’s just the way it’s always been done…

    Like many things in education, you could argue the things we do in schools in the UK are done for no other reason than that’s just the way they’ve always be done.

    As we’ve mentioned before in our blogs, in many ways schools haven’t really changed that much in decades.

    The school experience that our kids are going through now isn’t that much different from the one we had – and the one our parents went through before us.

    Holidays, uniform, forms, assemblies, subjects, exams – none of these have changed that much at all.

    And neither has the school day.

    The school day is getting longer

    Having said that, the school day has got longer. Breakfast clubs and after-school sessions are now a part of the typical day in most schools – although the traditional after-school clubs have been overtaken by catch-up sessions and interventions.

    New government plans mean that, from September 2023, all schools in England will have to be open for a minimum of 32.5 hours a week. A 32.5-hour week equates to Monday to Friday between 8.45am to 3.15pm.

    But the change is hardly revolutionary. It won’t make a great difference to most schools. 

    Indeed, it’s thought that the new rule will only affect around 14% of schools which are currently open for less than 32 hours a week.

    Does a longer school day improve results?

    Well, the jury’s still out on this one – but the government’s move to increase the length of the school is indicative of something that many within education see as counter-productive – the notion that more is better. 

    Catch-up sessions now feel like a permanent fixture of the school calendar. What’s more, even half-term and Easter holidays are often given over to various ‘Revision Days’. Summer schools of one form or another are extremely common as well.

    In this country, our young people spend more time in school than most countries around the world. They are tested and assessed far more too.

    But does this all lead to better results?

    Well, sadly, the simple answer is… No, it doesn’t.

    How does the UK’s education system rank?

    There are many measures used to compare the quality of school systems across the world. 

    The one lauded the most by the government is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This has a relatively narrow focus on reading literacy, mathematics, and science – which may explain the relentless focus we have on core subjects in this country.

    The US and UK tend to score highly on overall global education comparisons due to the excellent reputation their university systems have. However, when the focus is just on schools, they fare far less well. The UK currently sits just 11th on the PISA tables – and the US is even further down in 22nd.

    How do the most successful countries do things?

    Finland is often held up as a beacon for others to follow and it’s not hard to see why.

    Students in Finland do the least number of school hours per week across the developed world – and they get the best results. The Finnish school day starts between 8.00-9.00am and is over by 2.00pm.

    Not only do they have a shorter school day, kids in Finland also have the least homework.

    It makes you think, doesn’t it?  Maybe less is more, after all? Does this show that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to education?

  3. How to get ready for the new school year

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    The summer holidays are long – and for parents they can sometimes feel like a lifetime. However – for teachers and students alike – the start of the new school year can really feel like it rushes up on you far too quickly.

    If you’re not careful, it can catch you unawares. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you make sure that you are ready for new school year.

    Don’t panic: Relax

    Even if the summer holidays end in a last-minute rush get to things done, it’s important to try to stay relaxed. The last thing you want to do is to panic. Even if you’ve left yourself with no time to do all the things you should have done over the break, try to keep some perspective.

    What’s done is done, so there really is no point in stressing over it.  Worrying about things is never helpful. You just need to try to get yourself in the best head space you can from that moment on.

    Hopefully though, you’ll be reading this blog way before the start of term, and it’ll give you a bit of a kick-start…

    Try to keep your brain in gear during the summer holidays

    Every young person deserves to (and really should) switch off and unwind during the summer holidays. You need to recharge the old batteries, after all.

    However, the problem with switching off completely or for too long is that it becomes very hard to switch back on! The first couple of weeks in September are bound to be a shock to the system. That’s only natural and to be expected. Teachers feel this as much as students. 

    You will feel shattered but if you’ve tried to keep your brain in gear and at least partially active during the break, you will find the transition back to term time much easier to deal with.

    Have a quick recap and read through of what you did last year

    Nobody is advocating working solidly throughout the summer, but it does make sense to spend a bit of time recapping what you did last year – especially if you are in-between Year 10 and 11 or Year 12 and 13. 

    You’ll be surprised how reassuring it can be and how it puts you in the right frame of mind. It will also make you feel more confident about the year ahead.

    It’s just about refreshing your memory. This is never a bad thing. Similarly, it’s worth spending a some time revising what you did last year. Remember, revision should never just be left to when you have exams coming up. Revise a little, a lot – and as you go through topics, not just for tests.

    Get yourself prepared

    From making sure your uniform still fits to getting hold of any books you need, getting prepared for new term can take many forms. Get your school bag ready and buy all the stationery and equipment you need in good time.

    Getting back into the routine of term time is one of the most difficult things about the start of a new school year, but if you leave it to the day you start back… ‘difficult’ becomes ‘virtually impossible.’

    Try going to bed at a sensible time at least a few days before the new term and get back into the habit of getting up early(ish) too. 

    Tidy your room so it can be an effective working space from Day One.

    As we said earlier, the new term will be a shock to the system.

    The trick is to make sure it’s not too much of a shock!

  4. What to expect on results day

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    After all the hard work and pressure is done – all the revision and all those exams – the wait begins. It can be a long and anxious wait for many, but results day will come around soon enough.

    So, what can you expect on results day?

    Results day for GCSE students

    Results day is a stressful time for parents and students alike but as the old saying goes: there’s strength in numbers. Students normally go into school together on the day to collect their results. You will be given an exam slip with all your grades on it. It also includes a breakdown of your marks alongside each grade. This means that you can see how far off you are from a particular grade.

    If you are disappointed or surprised about a grade in a subject and it’s lower than expected, you can request a remark. There is a fee for this although the school will normally cover the cost. It’s best to talk your teachers about any possible remarks as they have a better understanding of grade boundaries and how the marking process works.

    Bear in mind that remarks can go up or down so you could potentially end up with a grade lower than the one you were first given. This is why it’s best to trust your teachers on this one!

    There will be teachers in school on the day to discuss any questions you have and to offer advice about whether you should change your A level options. For example, if you have under-performed in a subject you were hoping to study at a higher level.

    Remember, nothing – remarks or post-16 options – must be decided there and then on the day. Seek advice, talk to your teachers, and chat things through with your parents too. Don’t rush into any decisions.

    Results Days for A Level students

    For most A level students, the priority on results day is to find out whether they have had their university offer confirmed. You find this out before you receive your actual results. You can log on the UCAS website – as early as 6.00am.

    If your results have met the requirements of your university offer, you will see ‘Unconditional’. This means you have got your university place! Unfortunately, if it reads ‘Unsuccessful’ it means that you have missed out. You might also see ‘Unconditional Changed Course’ (UCC). This means that you have missed your original offer, but the university is prepared to give you a place on a different course.

    In terms of finding out your A level results; most exam boards now release results online early in the morning. Your school/college will have given you log in details to use. You can also still go into school later in the morning to collect your results.

    If you are left disappointed with your results, there are a couple of key things to bear in mind. Firstly, remember that universities only receive overall grades, not the breakdown of marks. This means that if you were only a few marks away from achieving a grade that would have meant you would have met your offer, it’s often worth contacting the university to see if they will reconsider. 

    Finally, remember that all is not lost – the Clearing process begins on results day. This is the chance to look to look for a university place if you don’t already have one. 

    If you missed out with your grades, there’s still an excellent chance that you will still get a university place through clearing.

  5. Why the summer holidays are important for students and teachers

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    Well, it’s that time of year again. The summer holidays are upon us, and this means that the same old perennial questions will be asked again: Why are the summer holidays so long? Wouldn’t it be better if the summer break was shortened?

    On the face of it, there appear to be several potential benefits of a shorter summer holiday for students, parents, and teachers.

    Benefits of a shorter summer break

    the summer learning gap is a factor that has been extensively researched. studies show – particularly in the transition from year 6 to year 7 (and between years 7 and 8) – that a learning gap does exist. students lose some of the skills and knowledge that they have developed during the previous academic year. the argument is that, with a shorter break, the gap would be reduced.

    what’s more, with the disparity between the attainment of poorer, disadvantaged pupils and their better-off classmates remaining a stubborn problem, there is concern that the long summer break only widens the gap.

    and then there are the practicalities of the summer break. family life was very different when the long summer break was first introduced all those years ago. most mums played the role of the traditional housewife – while the dads went out to work. this meant that the summer holidays weren’t logistically challenging at all – just a lot of hard work for the mums left at home trying to entertain the kids for six long weeks!

    but with many – if not most – families now having two working parents, the issue of summer childcare can be a real challenge. a reduced summer break would certainly be less of a headache for working parents, that’s for sure.

    Drawbacks of a shorter summer break

    However, a shorter summer break would not be without drawbacks. The vast majority of teachers in primary and secondary schools are against the idea of a shorter summer holiday. This is mainly because by the end of the academic year most teachers are burned out and desperately in need of a chance to switch off and recharge their batteries. 

    The same could be said to be true of students too – especially for Year 6 students who have just faced the pressure of the SATs exams, and GCSE students who face intense pressure for the best part of two years.

    The pace of modern school and family life is fast. The long summer holiday gives families the opportunity to spend quality time together. It also gives young people the chance to explore interests outside of school and develop their independence.

    The bottom line is this… 

    In all honesty, the way the current school year is designed probably isn’t the best way to support student or staff wellbeing. It probably isn’t that well matched to modern family life – and it probably doesn’t do all it could to reduce inequality.

    However, the alternatives to the long summer holidays would require a dramatic, root and branch overhaul of the entireschool system, the curriculum and the way students are assessed.

    As there doesn’t seem much appetite for or likelihood of such a change, the long summer holiday looks set to stay.

    Therefore, the summer holidays are a much-needed chance for students and teachers to relax and recharge; to slow down; and to look after their physical and mental health.

    And that’s why the summer holidays are so important for students and teachers.

  6. Why it’s impossible to tutor your own kids

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    In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis – and coming so soon after the covid pandemic which dented most people’s finances in one way or another – it’s only natural for families to be looking at cutting costs and trying to tighten the purse strings a bit.

    It’s why many parents may be experiencing a particular dilemma right now. It’s clear that your child could do with some extra help with their schoolwork – especially to prepare them for their exams. A private tutor would certainly help – but what about the expense? 

    I know… I’ve got A Levels in those subjects… Why don’t I do the tutoring myself?

    The downside of the DIY approach

    The first reason why you shouldn’t tutor your own kids yourself is to do with the downside of the DIY approach…

    Now, of course, you might be reading this blog right now and consider yourself to be a DIY whizz – and if that’s the case, we salute you!

    However, back in the real world, many of us mere mortals have looked at a slightly botched DIY job that we have just completed in the home and tasted the sour taste of the downside of the DIY approach ourselves.

    You see, that’s why the professionals exist!

    Yes, you might have saved some money – but the job has ended up taking you longer, caused you untold stress, and doesn’t look as good as it would’ve done if you’d employed the services of a professional.

    Well, the same is true of tutoring.

    Most tutors are either undergraduates who are still in – or have recently gone through – the education system and the exams that your child is facing right now; or they are qualified teachers who have years of experience in the classroom and of exams.

    The ‘insider knowledge’ that a tutor can bring to the table is one of the main reasons why you should not tutor your own kids but leave it to the professionals instead.

    A parent is too close to their own children to tutor them

    The second main reason why it’s impossible to tutor your own kids is that the close relationship between a parent and child can create a very challenging educational environment.

    Teaching your own children brings a lot of emotional weight with it. And it works both ways too. Although nobody knows their kids better than their parents, it’s still likely that a child – when they get things wrong – will take comments from parents as personal criticisms and slights; even though all the parent is trying to do is to help them get right what they got wrong.

    In a nutshell, it just throws too many complications into the mix. And that is never a recipe for success.

    The bottom line is this: even if you are a trained teacher, you may find it challenging to teach your own children.

    Don’t Do it Yourself: Call on the Professionals

    A parent can do a lot to support a child who is struggling academically, but seeking external help is often the best thing to do.

    A private tutor is a fresh face and brings a fresh pair of eyes to the situation. They will know the academic content that your child is struggling with inside-out, and intuitively know how best to support them.

    Call on the professionals now and talk to the TutorRight team today!

  7. The Benefits Of Online Tuition

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    One of the positives to come out of the covid pandemic is that the whole world now knows more about the benefits of online working and online learning.

    The technology was already there, of course, but it took a desperate situation to emerge to really force people into having to use it. But its legacy is a positive one. In the workplace, it has opened people’s eyes to the benefits of home and hybrid working. So much so, that it has been genuinely transformational to people’s lives.

    Similarly, within education, online learning has the power to be equally game-changing. During the pandemic, schools were pretty much thrown headfirst into the deep end into the idea of online lessons. Naturally, as a result, its results and success were variable in schools across the country – but the potential benefits for the future are already clear and are beginning to be explored.

    In some schools, teachers have begun to record lessons or to create specific online content that students can access in their own time. This could be especially useful for students who have missed lessons through illness, etcetera. Furthermore, ‘Snow Days’ will probably now become a thing of the past and be consigned to history…

    And when it comes to private tuition, there are several benefits to doing it online rather than face-to-face. 

    Online tutoring gives you more flexibility

    The most obvious benefit of online tuition is the flexibility it offers. There is no need to factor in travel time. As most face-to-face tuition takes place after school, rush hour traffic can be a significant factor. Re-scheduling, when it’s needed, becomes a lot easier when tuition takes place online.

    Without the need for travelling, it’s easier (for tutors and students) to find time for lessons. This can be particularly useful in the run-up to exams where extra sessions might be needed.

    Technology is great for learning

    Online tutoring makes it easier to share documents, files, videos, and links that could be useful for learning. Online storage clouds mean that potentially vast amounts of resources can be shared during or after lessons between a tutor and a student – without the need to print reams of paper – and who’s got a photocopier in their living room anyway?

    Not only that, using online whiteboards and the array of online tools that are available can really help to engage students, particularly those who are visual learners.

    Furthermore, without really knowing it, online tuition will help to build students’ IT skills. Communicating through chat platforms and video conferencing tools will be a permanent fixture of the future workplace. Developing confidence with such tools will help students in the job market in years to come.

    A more relaxed environment

    Online tuition is a little bit different from face-to-face tuition and very different from traditional learning in the classroom. The change in pace and style can be a real advantage for students and can be great for those who lack confidence.

    At the end of the day, online tuition is not for everyone. Certainly, it can be harder to build a rapport between tutor and student online than if the learning was face-to face. Equally though, there are plenty of benefits and advantages to online tuition – and it is the perfect option for many students.

    If you want to find out more about online tuition, get in touch with the TutorRight team.

  8. Why are GCSEs important? 

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    With the GCSE exam season now well underway for another year, it’s worth taking a moment to think about why GCSEs are important.

    GCSEs are essentially the centrepiece of the UK’s education system. They’ve been around for a long time too. First introduced in 1987 – replacing O-Levels – they have taken various forms, from 100% coursework to virtually no coursework at all. The latest major change involved changing the grading system from A*-G to 9-1.

    Ironically, the latest version of GCSEs – introduced in 2017 actually have more in common with the old O-Level exams than their predecessor GCSEs.  O-Levels were the first public examinations introduced in the UK after the Second World War.

    The principle of standardised tests taken at the age of 16 at the end of two years of study has changed little in decades. There are many arguments around whether they are the best way to assess students’ ability.

    As an aside, Finland repeatedly comes out on top when global school education systems are ranked. In Finland, there are no standardised tests at all for any year group – except for one single test called the National Matriculation Exam. This can be taken at the end of high school, but it is entirely voluntary. Children don’t even start school until the age of seven!

    Despite all this, there seems little chance of our well-established system changing in the UK. 

    So, what are the implications of doing well or doing poorly in GCSEs?

    GCSEs are seen as the benchmark – both for students and schools. Students often need 5 passes at GCSE (Grade 4 or above, including English and Maths) to progress to sixth form or college – especially if students want to study Level 3 qualifications, such as A-Levels or T-Levels. 

    And just as young people are judged by how they do against these measurements, so are schools. The number of pupils that get 5 GCSE passes including English and Maths is one of the key measurements that determines School League Tables.

    GCSEs can also affect the subjects you are able to study in further education. For example, most schools and colleges will require a student to have studied a subject at GCSE before being allowed to study it at A Level. Often, they will also set a minimum grade you need to get at GCSE for that subject. This is mostly true for traditional academic subjects.

    However, it’s also worth knowing that there are many A-Level subjects that either don’t have a GCSE – or at least most schools don’t offer these subjects. If this is the case, colleges normally look at performance in Maths and English GCSEs.

    Universities and other higher education providers also look at GCSE grades. Again, it is typical that they set a minimum requirement for Maths and English GCSE grades – and for the subject a student wants to go on to study.

    Final thoughts

    There’s no point trying to ignore it – GCSEs are important. But failure in them is never the end of the world. There are always opportunities to retake GCSEs and there are now a wealth of other options at further education level and beyond. There is a big wide world out there that doesn’t necessarily revolve around GCSEs.

  9. Is university the right choice for me?

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    One of the most difficult questions that young people must get their heads around these days is definitely: Is university the right choice for me?

    In many ways, it used to be so straightforward… 

    If you had the academic ability, you would follow the traditional route: you left school and went to college or sixth form; from there you went on to university and then you started your career. 

    Simple.

    But times change and there are now many more potential routes open to school leavers.

    So, which way should you turn?

    Why go to university?

    The first part of figuring out the answer to the question of whether university is the right choice for you is to think carefully about why you are thinking of going in the first place.

    University is still by far the most popular choice for school and college leavers. And with so much of a focus on higher education, it can feel like it’s the only route open to you.

    However, it really, really isn’t.

    And if you’re thinking of going to university simply because that’s what everybody else seems to be doing or because most of your friends are, think again!

    What other options are there?

    Well, the most obvious alternative to university is an apprenticeship.

    Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training in a wide range of highly skilled job roles. From engineering to agriculture – and pretty much everything in-between – there’s a very good chance that there’s something out there for you.

    You’ll come out of it with a foundation degree or higher but the main difference between apprenticeships and uni is that you’ll get real training in the workplace alongside your studying – and you get paid for it too.

    Some industries and sectors also offer school leaver training programmes. These are sometimes designed by big companies looking to train up new recruits. Again, you can study – either for a degree or specific professional qualifications that are directly related to the area of work.

    If all this appeals to you, it could well be a better choice for you than going to university.

    Good reasons to go to university

    However, you shouldn’t feel like we are trying to talk you out of going to university. There are several good reasons why it still could be the best option for you.

    For example, if you already know what career path you want to take, university could be the right track. Lawyers, doctors and teachers and similar jobs typically require you to have a degree. So, university is the logical next step to take from school or college.

    Statistically, university tends to lead to higher-paid jobs. This comes down to the difference between ‘professional’ jobs – the ones that typically follow on from university – and ‘non-professional’ jobs. As a rough guide, professionals tend to start on around £7,000 more per year than non-professionals.

    In fact, the earnings gap over a lifetime can be as much as £321,000!

    Passion for a subject

    Another good reason to go to university could be if you have a real passion in a subject. If you love a subject and learning in general, you’ll love university!

    You can plan for your future career at the same time as well, of course. Many graduates get involved in volunteering or take on an internship, or another kind of work experience placement.

    However, it’s worth remembering that there’s no guarantee of a job once you’ve finished your degree. This is especially true if you haven’t really thought about what you’d like to do after the course has finished when you choose your degree subject.

    Many sectors still offer ‘graduate level’ jobs for university places but the competition for places is extremely competitive.

    Is the student debt worth it?

    You’ve probably heard about student debt. If you go to university, you’ll be taking on a lot of debt because students take out loans to pay for tuition fees and living costs, such as rent. 

    As most universities charge in the region of £9,000 a year for tuition fees. That means that over a 3-year course, you’re looking at around £27k for the tuition fees alone.

    In 2021/22 the average student debt in England after finishing a degree was £45,150.

    You shouldn’t necessarily let this put you off though. You are given plenty of time to pay off your loans and the amount you pay is determined by the amount you earn after you have left university.

    But it does mean that just drifting through a degree course without knowing what you want to do at the end of it probably isn’t particularly wise!

    Final tips

    At the end of the day, only you can answer the question: Is university the right choice for me?

    Whether your answer is Yes, Maybe, or Definitely Not, it really doesn’t matter as long as you have made the right decision for you.

    The question needs to be given a lot of thought. 

    Consider where you are aiming to get to and whether a degree will help you get there.

    Think carefully about whether you really want to study for another 3 years and if you need to take on the student debt.

    Most of all, weigh up all the pros and cons of all the different options open to you.

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