10 December 2009

Southwark given £1.2 million for one to one tuition for local school children: a teacher tells us more...

The Government’s one to one tuition initiative is something that Labour should be proud of – it’s a really simple policy that will transform the learning of those who are struggling with English and Maths and I think it will ultimately benefit all the other children they learn with.

This week Southwark was awarded £1.2million to help fund one to one tuition for local 7 to 16 year olds who are most in need. The scheme was originally piloted back in January and has been a huge success.

To help convince you I asked my Mum to tell me a bit more about the scheme. She was was a state primary school teacher for over 30 years until she retired two years ago. She’s recently gone back to work a couple of hours a week as a one to one tutor. She’s passionate about teaching and has a real insight into this subject. Here's what she told me:

I've helped children with maths and literacy. The selected children are given extra tuition for an hour per week for 10 weeks, this hour takes place out of school time so parents need to give permission and possibly meet their child after the lesson. There is a form for the parent to sign after each lesson. I've not been part of the selection process but the children I've had are those who, with extra help, would hope to gain a "comfortable" Level 4 in the May KS2 SATS.

Before I start the set of 10 lessons, I speak with the class teacher and get their thoughts on the help needed. I also speak to the pupils and they say what they feel would be useful. I’m also given the level that the child gained in their most recent assessment. Starting from what the teacher and pupil have said, I then plan the lessons.

For literacy, I may start with a word game e.g. making up sentences with alliteration. This might be followed by spelling practice if that is needed or work on starting sentences in a variety of ways or making up complex sentences, in fact anything that should improve their written work. I then have a main focus which will be a particular genre of writing e.g. writing a persuasive leaflet. During the writing process the child discusses his/her work and we improve and correct it together.

For Maths I might start with a mental starter e.g. doubling or multiplying by 10 or some work on times tables. Next I'll have a main activity - addition and subtraction word problems, fraction or percentages. We'll finish with another mental activity.

The initiative is good because:
1. The pupil is having the tuition he/she needs. If they are struggling to understand decimal fractions, then that’s what they will get help with (though obviously not for the 10 lessons).
2. In a one to one situation the child can ask for help and not be worried by comments other pupils may make.
3. If a parent meets the child after the tuition you can discuss concerns immediately.

Some recent initiatives have been designed in such a way that non-teachers can give instruction, a set programme is followed. I think that one to one tuition should be planned for an individual pupil so it is probably best given by a qualified teacher.

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