Steps to success
Record figures for exam results suggest that today’s youth are smarter, more conscientious and focused than their predecessors. Yet, a decade into the new millennium disparity still remains at the heart of educational attainment amongst school children. This further stresses the need for educational systems to evolve in their delivery of effective teaching practices and programmes within schools. The recent DSCF white paper on building a 21st Century school system goes a long way in highlighting the steps required to bring about this change, emphasising above all the need for a holistic approach.
Meeting the societal requirements and bridging the gap between high and low achievers will be a gradual and continual process. However, sustaining that change effectively and efficiently poses its own challenges and dilemmas. The onus lies upon key players in education at all levels, public and private, to provide pupils with the support they need in order to set the wheels of change in motion.
The new Pupil Guarantee in the government’s white paper has proposed that each child should have a personal tutor, recognising the value of personalised support. The government’s plans to provide extra tuition for struggling students are welcomed even though this is to be piloted only in Maths and English.
Once pupils are directed on the right path they are more likely to follow it and most need just an extra push in the right direction that will hopefully rub off onto other areas. However, teachers in schools are faced with students of mixed abilities, making it difficult to teach the class at the level that everyone can benefit from. For the personalisation of learning to be effective, it needs to be accompanied by smaller numbers or groups of similar ability. Lower parental aspirations have also been seen to correlate with lower achievement. Although teachers can play a role in tackling these low aspirations, with an already burdening workload it is questionable whether teachers will have the time to also provide advice within a mentorship capacity.
Socioeconomic factors and low parental aspirations also affect the distribution of tuition services. However, private personal tuition plays an important, if unseen, role in helping some students to achieve exam success and has the potential to play a much greater role. In many respects, it is better to supply pupils with a wellequipped, fresh and motivated tutor rather than an exhausted teacher who has already worked a full day. This is particularly important when the aim of the tuition is to get students back on track and on par with their peers.
A model consistently used by ourselves is the incorporation of study skills, aptitude and mentoring within our academic tuition sessions. During a typical session the tutor provides the academic help required to boost performance whilst incorporating a different study technique every lesson to build on the student’s repertoire of skills. They also provide mentorship, guidance, motivation, and career advice within the lesson.
The tutoring business is a fairly unregulated profession. Concerns are also raised amongst many about the competency of tutors and there is no doubt that they must be carefully selected. We are working on an Association of Tutors as an umbrella organisation to address the issues with qualifications and competency, and also to provide tutors with further training opportunities to deliver the different elements desired of a 21st Century tutor.
Life’s successes hinge on good academic qualifications, strong social abilities and a set of key and transferable skills. These factors build confidence for an independent life after school through instilling lifelong learning strategies and the strong discipline necessary for self-sufficient study. The logistics of how tuition services on the ground could play a greater role in achieving these aspirations may entail local collaborations between schools and tutorial agencies or a more centralised association of tutors that is held accountable for its success or failures. Budgets for schools and their technological enhancements must also improve and as many teachers as possible must be lured back to teaching with a real increase in pay incentives and support. The transformation of schools to meet the white paper’s challenges and to realise the potential of all children to succeed through achievement and discipline remains critical.
As featured in Central Govenment Public Sector Review
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