Is tutoring too cheap?

The national recommended rate for one-to-one tuition is £30 per hour. This is what I charge to everybody. But is this too cheap?

cropped-hat-image.jpgA few quick searches on the internet reveal the following average figures for what other professionals charge for their services per hour. Here are a few of them:

Solicitor £100
Car mechanic £74
Chiropractor £65
Counsellor £50
Plumber £45
Personal trainer £35
One-to-one tutor £30
Driving instructor £25
Gardener £20
Cleaner £10

I will leave it to you to put a value on education from an experienced, qualified professional. Is tuition for your children more or less valuable than the other services on this list?

As a general point, I would argue that education professionals are greatly undervalued in our society (not in some other countries though, I may note). Teachers work long hours and are generally poorly rewarded. Most have been to university for three, four or five years and have then started in the profession at the bottom and had to work their way up.

I respect everyone on this list and can hardly blame them for trying to make as much money as possible. But what price education?

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Never too late to learn!

writingIt is never too late to learn! I am launching a new service aimed at adults who might be available for tuition during the daytime.

Have you always wanted to complete a GCSE in English Language or Literature? Have you experienced problems in basic Mathematics and would like to re-visit the subject now you are a bit more mature? Or were you disappointed with your first grade, and would like to try to improve it?

Do you lack confidence in basic Mathematics, or have always struggled with basic English?

I am offering daytime tuition to adults in English or Mathematics. You might want to work towards a qualification. You might want to do it just for fun. I already teach children at primary and secondary level in the evenings – now I am looking to offer the same service to grown-ups during the day. There is no age limit! Anyone who is keen to learn is welcome to come along.

I can design a course specific to your needs. For instance, if you wanted to improve your written English, I could plan a series of sessions looking at spelling, punctuation and grammar. We could work on descriptive or persuasive writing.

mathsIf you were interested in analysing poetry, we could look at part of the GCSE English Literature programme and work through some fantastic poems, and how to answer exam-level questions. You might want to do this just for your own interest, or to work towards a qualification. Here are a few possible ideas:

Working towards GCSE Mathematics
Working towards GCSE English Language and/or Literature
Basic Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar for adults
Basic Mathematics for adults
Relationships poetry (part of the GCSE course)
Conflict poetry (part of the GCSE course)
Music theory (up to Grade Five)

The above would be taught on a one-to-one basis, but could also be taught if you had a small group (please enquire about details).

What does it cost?

My basic fee for one-to-one tuition is £30 per hour. If you would prefer a 45-minute intensive lesson, that would be £22.50. Usually, I offer lessons once a week, though some people prefer fortnightly. (These are the standard national charges for tuition by graduates). Group lessons would be open to negotiation.

Please contact me on 07753 357251 or email me for further information.

Interesting blogs about reading

gift-booksI recently read an article in The Guardian called the Top 10 best books bloggers. You can read it by following the link. The article is a guide to some of the best bloggers around who obsessively read and review children’s fiction.

I’m not just talking about Roald Dahl here – though his work is certainly an inspiration for many of the children I have taught. At primary level, I found the most popular authors (amongst authors) were:

Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson, Jeremy Strong, Enid Blyton, J K Rowling and Rick Riordan.

These are all excellent authors to get children started, particularly with books which are part of series. However, enthusiastic readers will soon by asking: What else can I read? I liked that author, which other authors can I read like that?

Bookshelves-007

The list of bloggers found by The Guardian provides plenty of inspiration. For instance, Kirsty, who writes The Overflowing Library, has read and reviewed over 200 books in 2014 (and she works as a history teacher as well!)

Another one of interest is The Book Zone for Boys, written by Darren who says it is his mission to find boy-friendly books since Harry Potter burst onto the scene.

Have a look at some of them, and tell me your favourite! Or why not start your own blog about books and share it with others.

GCSE English: How I can help

Improving in English is a gradual thing. That’s why it is best to begin private tuition as soon as cropped-hat-image.jpgpossible. If your child is encountering any difficulties in Year 7 and 8, I would recommend that you intervene as early as you can and consider private tuition.

A great deal can be achieved in a one-to-one weekly session. My approach would be to work through the appropriate level of exam-style questions to diagnose any areas of weakness your child may be experiencing. I would then design sessions to work on these weaknesses. Some work would be necessary from your child between sessions but I would aim to keep this to a minimum, because of the volume of homework which schools set.

Whatever your areas of concern, it is absolutely vital that your child reads regularly. This is the single most important key to unlocking development in writing both in English Language and English Literature. I strongly recommend that your child reads at least twice a day. There are many helpful websites which can guide your child’s choice of their next book.

If you think I can help, please fill in the contact form on the front of this website.

By the way, I have an A-level in English and specialised in English during my Education degree at the University of Northampton. I gained a First Class (Honours) degree.

11-plus: How I can help

11+ Essentials Comprehensive Book 1 frontWarwickshire is unusual in retaining the 11-plus examination to determine entry to its grammar schools. In the Rugby area, many parents and children will choose the 11-plus as a means to gaining entry to either Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School, Rugby High School or the grammar stream of Ashlawn School.

Most children who choose to sit the exam will do so in the September of each year. It is not an easy set of tests and I would strongly recommend even the most able pupils to practise carefully beforehand.

The reason for this is that, even though a child may be very able and working at Level 5 in maths and English (or beyond), the types of questions in the 11-plus will be very unfamiliar to them. The child needs to be exposed to these questions on a regular basis, and have an adult or elder brother or sister on hand to discuss strategies and compare answers.

I would suggest that preparation should begin about a year before the 11-plus is actually taken. It doesn’t have to be anything heavy, but a handful of questions tackled each night would be a good habit to get into. Children should be encouraged to become familiar with the style of the question, and, after a while, they will come to recognise them and be able to apply strategies used before.

As a Personal Tutor, I am available to provide support to children who wish to take the 11-plus. It is a question of maximising their skills, and ensuring they do justice to their own abilities. I cannot promise miracles, but I can promise that they will be well prepared for the tests, and will recognise the type of questions they are likely to face.

If your child is thinking of taking the 11-plus in September 2015, then this would be a good time now to begin sessions to help them through what is a very challenging time in their lives. Please contact me if I can help you.

Read more about the 11-plus in Warwickshire.

New Year’s resolutions

As 2015 begins, why not turn over a new leaf and learn a new skill?

Several people have said to me that they might be looking for music tuition in the New Year. This does not surprise me. What better time is there to start learning and developing a new skill?

Why not set aside half an hour a week to learn to play the piano, the guitar, or singing with the ukulele? Of course you will also have to set aside time at home each week to practise, and I would strongly recommend you do so twice a day. You will then find that you are learning and applying the skills you have acquired in our one-to-one sessions.

Can anybody learn a new instrument? I strongly believe they can, whatever their age or previous experience. It is simply a question of working hard at it. I may be able to show you how to play several chords on a guitar. But it is only you who can practise this skill at home every day until it becomes automatic.guitar

Similarly with the piano. I can show you how to play a simple tune with both hands. I can comment on your first attempt and give you helpful suggestions. But it is only you who can practise this at home and be proud of what you have achieved when you play the same tune for me again next week.

I look forward to hearing from you if you think you might be interested. Please fill in the contact form on the front page, or call my mobile number which is also listed on the front. Good luck in 2015!

Answering a GCSE English question

The question is: Write an entry for your blog about your favourite time of year. (16 marks)

Aah summer. I just can’t wait. Imagine those long, warm evenings sitting on the boundary watching a game of cricket gently unfold. Shouts. Laughter. The occasional moment of excitement. My son grabs a catch, an appeal is turned down: but it’s not really about the game. It’s about the feeling. Somehow, worries melt away and the drudge of work becomes a faint glimmer, outshone by the brilliance of sunshine and blue skies. Calm descends and, as the evening light eventually fades, even the darkness cannot overcome the simple joy of summer.

The sense of enjoyment continues: perhaps there are television highlights of the Test Match to watch. Maybe there is the chance to catch a game live, as long as the weather holds. Best of all, though, is the playing – taking on my son.

We haul the wickets to the rugger field and set up our mini-game. Real ball, real bat – and, as the young terror turns teenager, so the pace of the ball quickens. Some I see, some I don’t, but the days of letting him win or offering up steepling, but simple, catches are long gone. This is a battle to the death, a matter of survival. It’s either him or me: and these days, much to my emerging pride, it is almost always him.

What a privilege to witness his growing bravado, his genuine pace and his towering, angry strikes when facing my throw-downs. How much longer will I be competent enough to even stand up to the bombardment of vicious deliveries which he subjects me to?

It seems like long ago now, when summer nights meant knockabout matches in the back garden. Endless searches for missing tennis balls saw us groping through trampled foliage, poking among harsh branches in our beech hedge, or constructing increasingly ambitious structures with picnic chairs and brooms to reach over to next door.

Almost imperceptibly, something changed.

His shots were suddenly hitting the middle of the bat. I was having to dive this way and that not to catch the ball – but to avoid it! Thrilling drives were banging into windows and prompting shouts from within. The shed was cleared in one hit, the roof was reached: and the only target left was to strike a ball clean over the entire house.

I miss those days. I miss pretending to be famous players. I miss the comradeship and mock anger when we blamed each other for losing the ball. But I know everything changes. One summer is never like another. We grow older together. We can hang on to the past only in our recollections. We can comfort each other with the thought that next summer could be the best ever.

It will be the best ever.