The Learning Cauldron offers a range of one-to-one English and modern language tuition services for all ages:
To help clarify some of the benefits of individual tuition, I thought it would be useful to bust a few of the myths about tutors!
Why might my child benefit from tutoring?
I can only speak from my own experience on this, but over the past 10 years I have tutored well over 100 pupils in English and modern languages from a wide variety of schools in Kinross, Perth, Crieff, Livingston, Cupar, Dundee and Edinburgh – some of them state schools and some private – and only rarely has there been any issue with the quality of teaching that pupils were receiving at their school. Quite the contrary, in fact – excellent resources had been provided by the schools and the pupils were being well taught in class.
So why did they decide to get a tutor? Simply because they and their parents appreciated that learning one-to-one, or in very small groups, with a tutor, offers a very different type of learning experience from a classroom situation.
How is tutoring different from classroom teaching?
For a start, it allows a student to raise questions that relate specifically to areas of the subject that they personally find challenging or to areas which particularly interest them and which they would like to explore in more depth than a classroom situation permits.
Classroom teachers already have a heavy timetable and spend many hours of their own time, unpaid, marking homework assignments outside school. This means that much as many teachers would welcome the opportunity to work with pupils individually, there are simply not enough hours in a school day for them to spend half an hour or more per week, or even per month, individually with each of their pupils.
The idea that because someone has a degree in a subject means they’ll be able to tutor is a common misconception. It’s easy to assume that if someone has a degree in, say, French, surely that means they can tutor National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher French. However, in-depth knowledge of a subject is not – on its own – sufficient to make someone a suitable tutor.
So what should I look for in a tutor?
Firstly, a tutor needs to be someone the pupil feels they can work with, and who is able to present a subject in a way that a school-aged learner will understand.
Secondly, given that the syllabus for the NQ/SQA exams has changed fairly regularly over the past decade, it’s essential that tutors keep up with these changes to ensure they are preparing pupils for the specific challenges of the current exams.
For instance, scientific subjects may require specific terminology to be mentioned in answers or particular calculation methods to be used in order to secure marks, and these may well differ from the terminology or methods used 10 or 20 years ago. Likewise, in the case of English, the SQA specifies the works of Scottish literature to be studied, so a tutor would need to be familiar with these and with the types of essay and RUAE questions that are likely to appear in the current SQA exam papers.
Finally, for ultimate peace of mind, if you don’t know the tutor very well personally, it would be wise to enquire whether he or she has PVG scheme membership through Disclosure Scotland.
Who can benefit from one-to-one tuition?
Pupils with dyslexia or information processing problems. Students who have dyslexia or any type of information processing difficulty (and bear in mind that even very able students can have these difficulties) often find it stressful trying to keep up with note-taking in a classroom situation.
Pupils with dyslexic traits can benefit immensely from being able to go over certain topics at a slower pace. A tutor who appreciates their specific issues can help them catch up with missed notes or go over areas of the exam syllabus they find challenging.
Pupils who excel at all three sciences but know that their English is not as strong and that they require 5 As to have a chance of securing a place on a medical, dentistry or veterinary degree course.
Pupils who find it hard to keep up in class simply because Maths, English, Chemistry or German is not a personal strength, and who welcome the opportunity to consolidate new information such as formulae, literary techniques, chemical reactions or verb tenses at a slightly slower pace.
Pupils who are concerned that they might not make the grade required in a particular Higher or Advanced Higher subject to access their chosen university course.
Pupils who are lacking in confidence in a subject, and whose confidence could be boosted by spending just a few intensive sessions going over areas that are worrying them.
Pupils of all abilities who are reluctant or disengaged learners and need encouragement to study. Engaging a tutor is one way for parents to get another adult to monitor performance and give them instant feedback on their child’s progress. Moreover, hopefully a fresh teaching approach in a different setting, away from the classroom environment, can change an unenthusiastic student’s attitude to learning.