Senior School News

External Tutoring – Needed or Not?

We are becoming increasingly concerned with the level of external tutoring some of our Senior School students are engaging with outside of school hours. Whilst there are occasions where a tutor may be useful, this should be the exception rather than the norm. There is sometimes a perception that tutoring is beneficial, however, it can be detrimental to academic outcomes, the ability to develop independent life-long study skills and can negatively impact on well-being.

Issues related to tutoring include:

  • Sometimes struggling with learning can be a good thing, helping children develop resilience and perseverance.Students with these skills are more likely to be successful later on in life and less likely to suffer from mental health issues. Persevering with difficult concepts, as well as making and learning from mistakes are important parts of
    learning.
  • Lack of engagement in class – if students don’t understand a concept or idea in class, they may not see the need to wrestle with it during the lesson with the support of the teacher as they will do this with their tutor. Developing the understanding in class and using time outside of the lesson to review concepts covered in class, complete wider reading and tackle practice questions / problems is a more efficient use of time and better approach to learning, likely to result in improved academic outcomes.
  • Teaching ahead of time – if work is covered prior to the lesson, students sometimes ‘switch off’ in class, thinking they know a topic, rather than using lesson time to gain a deeper understanding. In subjects, such as mathematics, students may be able to complete a skill taught by their tutor, but don’t necessarily develop the deeper understanding of why and how techniques work.
  • Some tutors may teach or reinforce bad habits, or they may not have an in-depth knowledge of the curriculum or examination syllabus the students are following.
  • Children can become over-reliant on tutoring at the expense of becoming independent with their learning. Short-term advantages are often outweighed by the long-term impact this may have on their academic outcomes in external examinations.
  • Tutoring takes time and for some students goes through until late each evening, impacting on the amount of sleep they get each night. There is a strong correlation between sleep and higher academic outcomes. Sometimes less is more.
  • Tutoring may take place at the expense of extra-curricular activities – research shows that there is a strong link between exercise / participation in non-academic activities and higher academic outcomes. If students are happy and relaxed they learn more effectively.

If your child is struggling or needs some additional support with a subject area, the first person they need to speak with is their subject teacher. The subject teacher knows your child well and is best placed to help them with their learning.

Support may include the teacher helping them to understand a key concept by re-explaining it in a slightly different way; providing additional materials, examples and questions to help them practice / gain confidence with the concepts; or providing them with additional support via subject specific ‘clinics’. Teachers will make the time to support your child with their learning beyond the scheduled lessons, working with students to overcome difficulties, whilst helping them to develop independence with their learning. We are also further engaging our learning support team to work with the teachers to help strengthen the way we help students with their learning.

In addition to the ‘speak to the subject teacher first’ strategy, we expect parents to attend student led conferences so we can ensure that we are all aligned in our support for students when they face difficulties with their learning. Additionally, we run a range of parent workshops throughout the year which we encourage you to attend – these provide in insight into how learners learn and ways they can be better supported with their learning.

If you want to further explore the issues outlined in this Lion’s Roar article I would be more than happy to discuss them with you.

Next week is Week B.

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