Sunday, 28 October 2012

To tutor or not to tutor, that is the question!

When speaking to a parent with a child in year 5 this week about 11+ preparation it occurred to me other parents might have similar dilemmas. Is my child capable of passing? When to start preparation? Is tutoring necessary and where do I find one? Should I arrange weekly lessons throughout this year, or book an intensive course later? What can I do at home? Where can I find resources relevant to the specific nature of the Bucks test?

Grammar schools afford a fantastic opportunity for a challenging, academic education for the right child. For the wrong child, they can knock confidence and self-esteem. Ask yourself if your child scrapes through the 11+, after hours of extra tutoring, will they struggle with the academic rigour once there, and what perception will they develop of their ability, if placed in bottom sets?

A realistic assessment of their capabilities is a good place to start. Tutoring centres such as Flying Start Tuition or Maple Education, offer a free assessment. As a no obligation, pre-cursor to your child studying with them, they will give experienced, honest advice regarding your child's chances of passing, recommend how much support they need and what form this should take. Local tutor details can be found on our website.

There are many resources both online and in printed form. Before buying, check they are verbal reasoning based and suitable for the specifics of Bucks. Vocabulary is vital, so encourage your child to read. Performing under time pressure is a key challenge which needs practice to ensure they have a go at all questions.

For information about our services or to read more free advice about education, visit our website

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Managing Worries Surrounding Bucks 11 Plus Results

Families with a child in year 6 will now be biting their finger nails awaiting 11+ results on the 30th November 2012. Even though all may appear calm at home, playground banter and nerves is inevitable, as well as worrying about the test outcome, its effect on their future schooling and their desire to please you. 

Keep the 11+ in context. Retaining perspective is vital. Talk openly with your child about how they are feeling. Reassure them that effort is as important as results and you will be proud of their efforts, no matter what the outcome. If you have promised a special treat for success, consider if they might also receive a reward for significant effort since success may be hard to define, when the end result –grammar school place allocation, is out of your hands.

Talk up your Plan B school, so they know you will make sure they have educational opportunities to reach their true potential. Every school has good points to highlight, so research your local school carefully. Ask parents with children at the school to share its strengths. Be prepared with strategies you will put in place to monitor their education carefully and explain that you have plans if they need extra support or access to a whole range of sporting and musical opportunities via local clubs, if these are not offered at your local school. 

Even if it causes you to panic inside, your child must not know. They must believe they have no need to worry and that you will make sure everything turns out okay in the end.

To read more articles or for advice on choosing a school, higher education or career planning, visit our website

Friday, 19 October 2012

Understanding your child's school report

Evaluating your child's school report can sometimes be difficult. Grading systems reflecting effort and attainment differ from school to school. Teachers' comments often appear a bit politically correct or vague, so you are left trying to decipher what has perhaps been implied, but has not been said.

Read accompanying notes carefully to understand what grades or scores mean and where this places your child 's attainment against peer or national averages.

Review alongside previous report. Identify subject strengths, improved areas or weak points.

If parents are separated, request 2 copies so both feel informed and can praise, support and encourage.

Sit down with your child to discuss the report. Praise where they have excelled or made progress. Ask why they feel these areas are a strength. Do they find the teacher engaging, the subject interesting or the work easy? Do they feel challenged? If not, follow up with their tutor about the possibility of moving set or extension work?

Where they have not done so well, focus on the effort grade first. If there is room for improvement, discuss why they are not so engaged with this subject and how they might become more so. Are they easily distracted by peers? Can you support their learning at home or take them on outings to inspire? If you can motivate towards better effort grades, attainment should look after itself!

If scoring well for effort, but not high attaining, discuss why? Ask the school what extra support might be available for their learning in these areas going forward.

Communication is key. Dialogue between parent, child and school on a regular basis, should keep them on track. Never forget the motivational value of praise!

For more advice about education visit our website.