As we enter a new year, spare a thought for those pupils preparing for their GCSEs. 'The most recent significant change is the complete restructuring of the A level system', says Fleet Tutors' Managing Director, Mylène Curtis. 'Until very recently, young people took four AS levels – but they are taking fewer now and we predict this will dwindle more quickly in the coming years.
Universities have relied on AS levels to have a concrete set of grades to make conditional offers, which means that GCSEs are being seen as so much more important. Whilst some young people will thrive in a linear exam, many will not. ‘It just creates more pressure and a higher stakes situation’. It’s certainly one of the many reasons that tutoring in the UK has exploded in recent times.
Is another down to the fact that schools are just not cutting it? ‘Absolutely not’, Curtis states. ‘Tutoring is different from classroom teaching. You can have the best classroom teacher in the world, but if they are working with a class of 20, you just cannot provide personalised attention in that classroom to the same degree as you would in a one to one tuition situation. There are some circumstances where only individual tuition is going to make the difference'.
‘We actually work with many schools across the country providing group revision and one to one help’, Curtis continues, showing how a relationship has flourished. ‘I think a lot has changed in attitudes towards private tuition. Increasingly, schools are referring young people to us. We believe very much in openly communicating with schools as much as possible, working with them rather than in isolation’.
Fleet Tutors offer a whole manner of services, covering tuition of all age groups and covering a vast range of subjects. It’s clear that young people today have a helping hand wherever they need it along their educational journey – but this surely leads to the problem of ‘over tutoring’ them. ‘I totally agree’, Curtis responds.
‘I was one of the founders of the Tutors’ Association and in that role we have developed a set of standards, which of course Fleet Tutors has adopted. One of those standards, and a part of the professional conduct for tutors, is to not over tutor. Ultimately there will come a point when a child shouldn’t need a tutor any more’.
‘Wellbeing is fundamental to our approach’, Curtis adds. ‘People are very much aware of wellbeing now, but we have always talked about relieving anxiety, improving support and improving performance in a supportive way. A young person may be intimidated in a classroom, shy or afraid to speak up, but with a good tutor they are able to offer up different answers, to experiment , and that will give them more confidence when they get back into the classroom’.
There remain big plans post-40th anniversary, which includes running more education programmes for private clients as well as working with more schools and councils across the country. For Curtis, the thrill of the job hasn’t diminished; ‘I love to see transformations. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see a child who has a D grade go on to get an A grade’.
Interview - Mylène Curtis, Managing Director, Fleet Tutors
Words by - Mark Kebble, Editor, School Report
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