Poor PISA results – is after school tuition the way forward?

As schools, education establishments and the UK Government ruminate over the UK’s rankings in the recent PISA results, there is now a debate gathering pace amongst parents, specialists and teachers about the pressure we place children under today.

Is academic achievement the be all and end all? Is a global ranking of countries in terms of who is better at education the right thing to do? What does it all mean at the end of the day?

A Growing ‘Business’

In recent years, there has been an increase in centres offering extra tuition on a wide variety of subjects but more often than not core subjects such as maths, English and science. Whilst some applaud these extra tuition centres, others worry about their impact.

But, there are people who advocate these after-school extra tuition organisations, seeing them as providers of an invaluable service they can help several students:

Getting over the ‘stumbling blocks’

It is a well-known fact that within the curriculum, some students will hit ‘stumbling blocks’. For some subjects, such as Maths, the need for a C grade or higher is important. Higher education and further education institutes insist on a higher grade for core subjects such as Maths, as well as a high level of functioning numeracy. In this sense, with parents willing to invest time, money and effort, the use of an extra tuition centre is a great way to dip in and out of, as and when needed.

Different setting + different approaches = different results?

Following the old adage, ‘do the same thing and you will get the same results’, having a different person can make all the difference in how key concepts are explained – and understood. Working on a one-to-one basis or in a small group setting, can also make a huge difference in how students can work out how key ideas can be applied. Maths is a subject many children say they ‘can’t do’, hence extra tuition in a different setting and taught using slightly different methods can see confidence soar.

Increasing equality

With research from the University of London suggesting that one-to-one and extra tuition can decrease the gap of inequality, maybe it is time to look again at both the public-funded and private sector of extra tuition.

With many lamenting the UK’s poor performance in the latest PISA results, and many after school activities provided tending to be of a sporting, arts or cultural nature, many parents are looking for additional help when it comes to overcoming hurdles – from lack of confidence to lack of ‘grades’.

Get it right!

The benefits of using after school tuition are many, especially when used appropriately:

  • Higher quality providers use only qualified teaching staff to deliver sessions whereas some other may not use people qualified to teach, although they may be heavily qualified in the subject
  • Engaging tutors may be able to get more across in a short space of time in either a one-to-one or small group session, especially if the tutor has no previous history with the child; many students see it as a fresh start
  • Fresh faces make all the difference to learning, whether it is a concept covered in school or a new topic

Whichever side of the fence you fall on there is no doubt that the key to success in education is engaging the learner in the process of learning.  This can be within the school setting as well as within an after school setting.

Maybe, it is time to re-examine after school tuition?

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