If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself (Henry Ford).

When parents get in touch they are sometimes anxious about whether to go for 1-2-1 tutoring or to join our club programme where the children are taught in small groups of six. Well this is an easy question to answer as I am a passionate believer in the team approach to learning. And here are my reasons why:

  • It is much more fun in a club

Most of our children don’t know each other when they first come in the door. Friendships build quickly over the weeks and each club develops its own unique vibe. Mocks begin in February half term and it is great to see all the giggling and chatting that goes on between the papers. Relationships begin in the clubs and often continue at grammar school as we have bunches of children going to all the local schools and bumping in to each other again. This positive bonding experience could never happen in a 1-2-1 tutor session as there isn’t anyone there to team up with. Just a quiet chat, silence and the ticking of the clock on the wall…

  • Sharing the experience takes the pressure off

The 11+ exam is a big challenge. It is one of those rites of passage that children have to go through alone. On the day of the test they will sit alone, open the paper alone and mark those multiple-choice boxes with no reassuring adult in the background. But when they’ve trained in a club they know all their friends are going through that same experience, with the exact same papers at the exact same time. As there is such a broad curriculum now – comprehension, punctuation, spelling, maths and three different types of reasoning – they learn to recognise their own strengths and weaknesses. They have a good idea of how they fit comfortably in to their academic year group and that other children have strengths and weaknesses too. Ultimately they recognise that they deserve to be there and are less intimidated by the scratch of fast-moving pencils around them.

  • Academic achievement and preparation

The groups are tiny – comprising of just six students. Our teachers are trained to deal with classes of 30 and find these small numbers an absolute breeze. We’ve tested having more students in the room but found that it did dilute the experience. Six was just right. As teachers we have to be on our toes – all planning is formalised and our record-keeping spreadsheets are fantastic. In fact we are just testing some state-of-the-art software that will lift our records to an even higher level. Every single detail of your child’s achievement is logged and fed back to you. Because we are a company with a great reputation to uphold, we are top-of-our-game with planning and record-keeping in a way that 1-2-1 teachers don’t need to be. Bright children enjoy the fast pace and don’t need constant 1-2-1 attention. We do offer a bit of individual tuition though – if children join us mid-year and have missed some content, or if they have a sudden wobble and need a bit of reassurance, or sometimes for mock-exam feedback. But this is an extra string to our bow that most children won’t need.

The whole teamwork thing doesn’t just work for the children. Recently I have joined with a couple of exciting local businesswomen to meet monthly and formally mentor each other. Through these sessions we have pinned down and developed our strategy documents, set long-, mid- and short-term goals and inspired each other to be the best we can be. It feels like a very modern and exciting way to work.