Being better: And how we’ve cracked it

by | Jan 28, 2019 | Exams, Front page posts, Organisation, Parents, Teach, Uncategorized

Yes we are better than our competition and proud of it too. And it’s easy to see why…

A child started with us this week and he brought us his book from his previous tutor agency  (a competitor of ours). These finds are like gold dust to us as we get to sneak a look at our competition. And it was absolutely fascinating to nose through (shh!).

The content was ok. Dull, but with nothing too controversial. But there was a key difference between us and them.

Our work is beautifully organised.

a tidy approach

All our club members have an A4 maths and an A4 English exercise book. Year 5s have a ring-binder file too with labelled dividers inside. Each piece of new work in the books is trimmed, stuck in carefully and dated. The files have separate sections for each subject and new sheets go on top of last time’s, so they are easy to find.

Our lessons are fast-paced – we get an awful lot done in the hour that we have – and there is no downtime factored in for finding lost bits of paper in files or books.

respect for children’s work

When I was a new teacher my headteacher/mentor was passionate about respect for children’s work. No doodling or scribbling should be evident on any exercise book – and we teachers dreaded accidentally leaving a tea mug on a display.

This was drummed into me from the beginning, so you will find our children’s books and files are immaculate, with neat margins and carefully marked work.

careful planning

The Kent Test, ISEB Pre-test and all the other individual schools that we prepare children for, have a precise and demanding curriculum at the heart of their examination process. For our students to rise to the challenge, we have studied the detail over many years.

Yes we have a full grasp of the content, but we have also tracked subtle changes in the style of each paper and the way questions are worded.

In order to communicate so much information in a year of one-hour lessons, we have broken each subject down into parts. Each part is assessed (using our knowledge of how children learn, and how they have responded to our teaching in previous years) and divided up into sections. These sections are timetabled carefully in a meaningful way across the year.

Post-timetabling we have added little extras – a special number revision here, or a 3D shape conversation there, a handful of episodes of ‘line kung-fu’ (for line vocab) and an extra session on apostrophes and plurals. These are squeezed carefully into the programme so that they appear a natural fit. Without that detailed breakdown so many of these little extras would be lost.

enabling our students

And if children are going to manage our programme and go into their exam feeling empowered, they need to feel in control. When the recycling is overflowing at home and the table is covered in old cereal bowls and crusts, I don’t feel I can work until I fix it. Once all is calm and tidy I’m back in control and get started. Chaos on the outside is reflected in how you feel on the inside – so we avoid throwing random sheets and tasks at our club members.

Years of hard work and attention to detail have enabled us to present an efficient and organised programme.