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Notebook Tutors News
We have been very busy recently, with a large number of new clients wanting tuition during the holidays and even more wanting to start tuition in January! We are enjoying getting to know our new clients and assisting them at this highly pressurised time of year. Many of our pupils are undertaking the 11+ and 13+ examinations and so our tutors are working very hard to get them to the highest possible standard in time for the exams.
We are also preparing for the launch of our fantastic new logo, and a new page on our website which will give lots more detail about the subjects we cover and the types of tuition that we are able to provide. Those should both be appearing in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for them!
We hope everyone has a fantastic and restful holiday break.
Featured Tutor: Milly Reilly
Notebook Tutors is doing a new series: Featured Tutor! This will showcase just a few of our many excellent tutors and demonstrate why they are so passionate about tutoring, and why we love them!
Milly has just recently graduated from a Masters degree in Contemporary Literature from Kings College London; prior to her Masters Milly studied English Literature at the University of York and was awarded a First. In her A-Levels she achieved A* in English, Philosophy and History, and at GCSE she got 10 A* and 1 A. For Notebook Tutors, Milly specialises in tutoring English at all levels and also English as a Foreign Language.
Why do you like teaching?
I enjoy getting to know the students: I like that I can play a part in enabling a student’s progress, and that I can observe how their confidence and creativity develops. Probably my favourite thing about teaching is when a student surprises me with their ideas, offering an interpretation of a poem, or a passage from a novel, that prompts me to look at it in a slightly different way.
What is your teaching style?
I have a friendly, encouraging teaching style, as I like to make the student feel comfortable and confident when expressing their ideas. Depending on the students’ requirements and how long the lesson is, we will usually begin looking at a literary text, exploring specific devices or themes that the writer has used. After discussing the text, we will go on to do a practical exercise, which will range from comprehension questions to creative writing.
Tell us your best teaching moment.
My best teaching moment was being told by the father of a student that his daughter had told him how much of a positive difference my teaching had made to her English lessons in school.
What are your interests outside of teaching?
Outside of teaching, I enjoy reading, creative writing, music concerts, and socialising with friends and family.
Look out for our next Featured Tutor soon!
Notebook Tutors at Queen’s Park Day!
We had a great time talking to parents and students in Queen’s Park, in North-West London, for the annual Queen’s Park Day event.
Tens of thousands of people turned out to enjoy spectacular Autumn weather. The fair was incredibly vibrant, heaving with families on a day out. A vast range of stalls offered everything from a portable boxing ring to a giant hog roast! We enjoyed the freshly pressed apple juice and loved chatting to other local businesses.
For our stall we brought a large assortment of absolutely essential paraphernalia, from huge numbers of multi-coloured balloons to a Giant Connect Four to thousands of fun stickers saying ‘Too Cool For School’ that were a huge hit with many of the kids who came to talk to us.
It was great to see some old friends, and even better to have a chat with enormous numbers of kids and parents interested in tutoring and just generally to have a ball! We ‘deliberately’ lost dozens of games of Giant Connect Four and gave away highly valued balloons as prizes.
We also really valued the event as it gave us more insight into local schools and the concerns and priorities of local parents and students. We’re looking forward to Queen’s Park Day 2016!
Have a look at the Queen’s Park Day website gallery for more photos here: Photo Gallery
Check out the picture of some of the team in all our gear!
Advice on the New 11+ Exam
Next year, as you all know, the 11+ exam is changing and many educators are predicting that there will be a significant number of children who will do poorly on these exams. What can be done? We wanted to help give some advice to parents of children who will be doing the 11+ exam this coming year. We have spoken to various teachers and tutors who work in teaching this exam and have come up with the following advice to give to your children:
Verbal Reasoning Section:
Verbal Reasoning can be tricky as a wide range of skills are tested, from logic problems to number equations. Here are some ways to focus your preparation:
1. Read the question carefully. This is crucial: answer what the question is actually asking, not what you expect.
2. Learn vocabulary. Though this is also important for the English questions, it can be central to Verbal Reasoning. A difficult word may trip you up, but it is a simple aspect to improve: always look in a dictionary any unfamiliar words that you may come across. Getting into this habit is a sure way to gain marks!
3. Think outside the box. After reading the question closely, the answer may still be not what you first expect, so look carefully over all the possible answers.
4. Focus on the relevant information. Questions may try to distract you with unrelated details. Try to recognise this and concentrate on the main parts.
5. Read the question very carefully. If you have been reading carefully, you might have seen this tip already!
Non-Verbal Reasoning Section
In contrast to Verbal Reasoning, Non-Verbal Reasoning focuses on conceptual thinking. Everything is visual and there are fewer words. Here are some tips to guide your practice:
1. Don’t rush! Take your time to work out what is being asked. Trying to visualise the question can be helpful.
2. Think carefully. Conceptual questions can vary a lot in complexity. Take care if the question requires multiples steps to obtain the answer.
3. Look closely. The difference between correct and incorrect can be very small.
4. Deduce exactly what is being asked. When confronting a new question type ensure that you understand it. Likewise, be wary of similar question types: a rotated shape is different from a reflected one!
5. Focus on relevant differences. Work out what varies the answer choices and how they relate to the question.
Tips for English Comprehension
Skills learnt in your English lessons can be invaluable to this section. Here are a few tips to make the most of your time:
1.Read the text. Twice. When checking your answers, it may even be worth reading it all the way through a third time!
2.Read the question. After reading the text so closely, treat the questions similarly.
3.Learn vocabulary. An unfamiliar word can obscure the meaning of the whole text. Widen your knowledge by looking up new words you find in a dictionary, or asking someone else.
4.Practice whenever and wherever you can. Reading a story? Or a bit of history? Ask yourself questions that are similar to those that will come up. Challenge yourself!
5.Revise. What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor? How is a story narrated in the first person? Make sure that you know these!
Good luck to anyone tackling the 11+ exam this year!
News in the Tutoring Community
Notebook Tutors attended an interesting conference yesterday about issues affecting the tutoring community.
There was a strong sentiment that direct tutor listings will not replace the traditional work of tutoring agencies. Parents realise the value that agencies provide: good agencies have experienced tutors on their books, and they know the educational system very well and can therefore give sound advice to parents on what and who would be the best fit for their child. Also, good agencies will have checked the tutor’s references in order to have a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. By contrast, although direct tutor listings may seem simpler, they have more potential pitfalls as parents do not have the security of the background checks required by an agency. For example, we require all tutors to have an Enhanced DBS check; we interview every tutor; and we contact references as well. This means that we can be confident of the quality of our tutors. With direct tutor listings, either parents have to do without these checks, or they must do them themselves, which can be laborious and inefficient.
The conference also considered the future of exams in the UK. There was consensus that as a country we are moving more and more towards the American model of one exam at the end of a learning programme, rather than modular exams throughout the year – witness the abolishing of the AS-level exam for example. We also expect that the number of different exams as well as exam boards will decline over the next 5 years as the education system focuses on fewer, higher-quality qualifications.
We enjoyed meeting other stakeholders in the tutoring community and thinking about how best to serve our clients and our tutors, and how to continue to adapt to the changing world of education in the UK.
"I would like to thank you for sending us a wonderful tutor. Anna has been absolutely excellent with my son Alex (9 years old). She has been professional, punctual and has really awoken his interest in both English and Maths. It is wonderful to see Alex’s confidence increasing."
- Mr G, Fulham
"Both Alex and Oliver were fantastic in helping our daughter prepare for her Maths and Chemistry GCSEs. I would not hesitate to recommend Notebook Tutors to anyone."
- Mrs L, Hampstead
"Sam is a calm and encouraging tutor, which is precisely what my son needs to increase his confidence in Maths, a subject which has always made him panic in the past. Thank you."
- Mr A, Highgate
"My 7 year old daughter has loved her lessons with Emily. She thought it was so much fun, although Emily managed to cover maths, reading, and comprehension during that one and a half hours. Emily has a natural ability to engage with children, and she is a kind and supportive tutor. We are looking forward to many more lessons with her."
- Mrs M, South Kensington
"Both tutors are very good, reliable, and punctual. They have motivated my son (11) who needed help in English Comprehension and my daughter (9) who needed some support and confidence in Maths. I thoroughly recommend both of them. "
- Mrs W, Notting Hill
"As you know Friday was our last day of Mandarin tutoring with Jane and I just wanted to say how lovely she is - she has a natural gift for teaching and inspiring confidence. Simon has really benefited from having her as a tutor, not only in his Mandarin but also in improving his work ethic and positive outlook."
- Mrs A, Pimlico
"Notebook Tutors has been a godsend for us. The tutors we have had from them are friendly, professional, very intelligent and extremely capable but most importantly they know exactly how to teach children in a way that engages them and develops their potential to the max. i would recommend them highly to any parent considering tuition. "
- Mrs P, Victoria
"We have used Notebook Tutors for 11+ and 13+. The quality and matching of tutors to our requirements has been outstanding, resulting in places at top secondary schools. The service offered is professional, efficient, and personal. Marilyn is a star!"