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Alex Dyer discusses the PISA tests live on the BBC News

December 20, 2013

Alex Dyer discusses the PISA tests live on the BBC News

According to a report by the BBC and the results from the latest Pisa tests, the UK is falling behind global rivals in international tests taken by 15 year olds, failing to make the top 20 in maths, reading and science, and currently being ranked 26 in the world!

The Pisa tests (Programme for International Student Assessment) have become widely recognised as the most influential rankings in international education, testing up to 500,000 15 year old pupils in maths, reading and science in 65 countries.

Here’s a video of Alex Dyer speaking live on the BBC last month:

Why UK children are academically falling behind other nations

Why UK children are academically falling behind other nations

Tutor House was recently asked to do an interview live on the BBC. Alex was asked a number of questions relating to the latest PISA results and how they’re relevant to our educational standards.

Why is the UK lagging behind other countries around the world? And why is Asia paving the way to academic success?

Is short, Asian countries, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan place huge importance on education, learning and tuition. Students spend hours of additional time, outside of school, being privately tutored. Passing exams and going to university is the most important thing. Teachers and tutors are well respected in Asia, they’re idolised and looked up to. That’s not really the case in the UK. Yes parents require tutors for they’re children, and 1 in 4 children are tutored at some stage in their lives in the UK. However, it’s the time and effort that non-western students spend on their education and studies. In some Asian countries children spend up to 5 hours a day studying, most 16 year olds in the UK, that would be per week.

You can read more here.

How to effectively deal with Cyberbullying

November 19, 2013

How to effectively deal with CyberBullying

To support #AntiBullyingWeek, the London-based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its own tips and advice on how to effectively deal with CyberBullying, and what parents and teachers should look out for when dealing with a suspected victim.

What is CyberBullying?

With the rise of technology it no longer means that bullying is limited to playgrounds, street corners and classrooms anymore. With all out access to smart phones, social networking sites and online forums bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere and anytime without stepping outside of the home.

The BBC reported that over a fifth of children have witnessed a classmate or friend being bullied online. They also recently covered a story of one child’s experience with CyberBullying. Although turning a negative into a positive, the teenager now helps others overcome their online bullies.

The effects of CyberBullying are devastating and can make children feel hurt, angry, helpless, isolated and even, in extreme cases, feel suicidal. Online bullying can even be more harrowing than face-to-face bullying because:

1. CyberBullying can be anonymous. Bullies feel that by using online channels to target victims they’re less likely to get caught and as a consequence the bullying can be more severe.

2. CyberBullying can be done anywhere, anytime and by anyone. As if face-to-face bullying in school playgrounds, classrooms or street corners wasn’t enough, now victims can be targeted within the sanctity of their own homes. It can seem like there’s no escape from the taunting and humiliation.

3. CyberBullying can be social. With social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, CyberBullying can now be witnessed by potentially thousands of people. What’s worse is that these provocative messages and taunts stay up for all to see way beyond just a few words in the playground.

How to deal with CyberBullying:

If online bullies have targeted you, it’s so important not to respond to any messages written to or about you. Responding will often make the situation worse, and can fuel the bullies to spur on and continue their verbal assault.

Just as importantly, you should never seek revenge on a CyberBully or sink to their level. This will put you in the wrong, and will only make the problem worse, and could even result in legal consequences for the both of you.

Instead, here are some ideas for how you should handle the matter:

1. Report the threats, taunting and harm to someone you trust. What may seem like casual bullying to you may actually turn out to be offensive or be deemed as dangerous. In which case, the police may need to be involved. In more and more circumstances, the police have to become involved in cases of severe online bullying.

2. Prevent all communication with the CyberBully. Block their E-Mail address, mobile phone number and delete them from all your social media accounts. The key here is to remove all avenues in which the bully can communicate with you online. Bullies are cowards, especially online, and if you remove their direct lines of communication with you, they will hopefully give up and stop the abuse.

3. Save all the evidence. Keep all abusive messages or screenshots of all instances of bullying, and then report them to a trusted adult or someone that you feel can help you. If the bullying is left unreported, that gives the bully the opportunity to continue and usually become more aggressive.

4. Keep Going! Unfortunately bullying is rarely limited to just a couple of incidents. Bullies are often as relentless as they come, but as long as you keep reporting them, gathering evidence and limit their communication with you, even the most relentless bully will give up.

5. Unplug from technology. In this day and age that statement sounds crazy right? How else could you possibly know what Grandma had for dinner on Tuesday? Well, unplugging yourself from technology for a couple of weeks allows you to live your life away from the sometimes-harsh cyber world.

Always Remember:

Every case of bullying is different, and there’s no foolproof solution for preventing or stopping bullying that suits everyone. However, all victims of bullying whether it’s face-to-face or online should always remember the following things:

1. Get Help. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone on this one. Bullying is a disgraceful act of cruelty, and is not tolerated under any circumstances. You can always talk to a parent, teacher, brother, sister or any trusted adult.

2. It’s not your fault. Never be ashamed of who you are, and never blame yourself for what’s happening to you. It doesn’t matter what a CyberBully says, they’re the ones with the problem – not you!

3. Try to forget about it. We understand that it’s not as easy as that, sure. But the more time you spend with your friends and family doing the things that you enjoy, the easier it will be for you to manage.

4. Life will get better. No matter how low a CyberBully has made you feel, just remember that it won’t last forever and life will get better. For every bully out there, there are ten wonderful people who treat you for who you are – you just need to find them!

5. You’re not alone. Whilst every case of bullying is personal and effects different people in different ways, just remember that there’s always someone out there you can talk to who understands and has been through similar experiences as you.

How to spot if your child or friend is being bullied:

No matter how painful it is, children often suffer in silence without sharing their horrible experiences with friends, family of trusted adults like teachers and councillors.

Whilst parents should monitor the online activities of their children in some way, it’s important to remember not to punish a child that’s been a victim of CyberBullying. Watch out for these signs, and reach out to your friend / child if you recognise any of the following:

1. Withdraws from family, friends and all activities they previously enjoyed.

2. Refuses to go or skips school and avoids going to extracurricular group activities.

3. Becomes angry, aggressive or inexplicably sad or distressed.

4. Increased levels of anxiety and upset.

5. Lower school grades or increases absences from school.

It’s increasingly becoming more important to recognise the implications of CyberBullying and to prevent it before it does lasting serious damage to young people.

Stay safe with technology and encourage your children to effectively refuse and prevent CyberBullying in all cases. Prevent the problem before it starts or grows by blocking communications with online bullies and speaking with the bully’s parents.

How to Choose the Perfect Private Tutor

November 13, 2013

How to Choose the Perfect Private Tutor

Education is an integral part of the development of child and with private tuition on the rise in the UK, the London based private tutoring agency Tutor House has come up with its top tips on how to choose the perfect private tutor.

Tutor House’s director, Alex Dyer said, “Getting a child’s educational development right has never been more critical, with tough and highly competitive entrance exams for the best schools and stringent entry requirements for the top Universities.”

Where to find Private Tutors:

Upon deciding that your child would benefit from additional educational support, one of the first questions that you’ll ask yourself is where to look for qualified, experienced and high quality private tutors.

In a recent poll by Tutor House, 51% of parents said that they’d use search engines to find a private tutor whilst 32% said that they’d trust a personal referral and 17% suggested they’d use other means such as going through schools and local advertisements.

What to ask:

1. Is the tutor qualified?

One of the most important questions to ask is whether or not the tutor has a degree in the subject they are teaching. Do they have the appropriate knowledge and experience of the curriculum your child is studying at school?

Currently the industry isn’t currently regulated, which means that almost anyone can advertise himself or herself as a private tutor. Most agencies like Tutor House do not take on tutors without a degree in their chosen subject and a full CRB check.

Don’t be afraid to ask for recent client referrals!

2. What are your child’s needs?

Poor exam results aren’t always a reflection on a child’s intelligence or ability. Extra support in more general aspects of education such as exam technique, organisational skills, how to write an essay, time management etc. can positively influence exam results in addition to subject tuition.

Speak to your child and their teachers about their strengths and weaknesses to see how additional tuition can be put to best use.

3. Is the tutor CRB checked?

Private tutors should be able to produce a recent CRB certificate, and you should ask to see it before contracting that tutor, even if found through a word of mouth referral, and especially if the tutor is freelance.

When Tutor House asked its parents, 90% suggested that the industry should be regulated with 95% supporting the notion that tutors should be CRB checked.

4. How will your child get on with the tutor?

Being a great teacher is more than just experience, qualifications and subject knowledge. The best private tutors are the ones that build a friendly relationship with children by engaging with them, improving their confidence, focus and motivation to learn.

5. How experienced is the tutor?

Years of experience doesn’t necessarily mean that a private tutor will provide a better service. However, on the whole, the more years of experience a tutor has, the better they will be.

For example, all of Tutor House’s private tutors have at least 3 years teaching experience in schools, a degree in their chosen subject and have an up to date CRB certificate.

How much should you pay?

Tutoring fees are often dependent on location but as a guide, a highly qualified and experienced private tutor will cost slightly more. Tutoring agencies start from as little as £25 per hour and go up to £120 per hour, although at average is £40 per hour.

Alex Dyer goes on to say, “At Tutor House, we feel that the industry needs some form of regulation, and because of that we only employ private tutors that have a degree in their subject, a recent CRB certificate and have at least 3 years teaching experience in schools.”

“Private tutoring is not a cheap service, and can be a financial stretch for a lot of families in the UK. With that in mind, it’s imperative to ensure that the level of service we provide is the best for each and every child and parent that comes to us.”

Tutor House employs the services of over 300 private tutors, offering a variety of disciplines, from PE to physics, tennis to IT, with specific tuition offered for Common Entrance and senior school examinations, GCSE and A levels.


How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14

October 15, 2013

How to write the perfect personal statement in 2013/14

Just like a sales pitch, a student’s personal statement is one of the main contributing factors of getting into your desired University.

Remember, you will be one out of thousands of other prospectus University students all pitching their own case for getting into University, so whatever you end up writing needs to be great.

Instead of sitting down and slogging out page after page of nothingness, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind before you start:

1. A personal statement should be no longer than 4,000 characters in length

2. Always start with a bang. Write a ‘wow’ sentence draw in the reader’s interest

3. Use consistent, professional and neat formatting, and don’t exceed 47 lines (make sure you double check this when uploading your statement on to the UCAS website)

4. Divide the overall content into four main sections:

– Why you want to study the chosen course at that particular University

– What you’ve done to date (or in the near future) that’s relevant to the course

– Your work experience and the key skills you’ve picked up

– All other activities that could make you stand out as well rounded person

5. Write with passion and interest. Writing a personal statement isn’t just something you ‘have’ to do. It’s your chance to really get across why you want to go into further education.

6. Make sure the whole statement is100% free of grammatical errors.

7. Listen to the advice from your teachers and parents – they’ve all done it before!

8. Be 100% honest and genuine. Even the smallest of white lies could prevent you from gaining a placement if found to be untrue!

9. Write it from the heart. Show the reader how much you really want this. (But don’t be cheesy)

10. This is your one chance to really sell yourself!

Writing your personal statement


Word document open, line spacing set to 1.5, easy to read Sans Serif font and intimidating blank screen in front of you; it’s time to draw attention to your case with a ‘wow’ opening sentence.

Along with the conclusion, your opening sentence is arguably the most important one you’ll write. It should set the tone for the rest of your personal statement and draw the reader’s interest in. A division of around 40% of the personal statement should be devoted to why you want to study the chosen course. Ensure that your opening sentence / paragraph introduces your reasons and is suitably backed up by the inspirations behind them.

A good example of an opening sentence may be; “Reading Professor Stephen Hawking’s `A brief history of time’ first awakened my interest in natural sciences, and in particular, physics”.

Try to avoid writing generic sentences and phrases such as ‘I am passionate about leaning’ and ‘I am very hard working’. In truth these types of statements really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, they can sound cheesy and most importantly, they waste precious words!

Always write from the heart and be credible. If it’s not obvious, you need to sit down and really work out why you have chosen this degree. Did you read a book, see a TV programme or do some work experience? Maybe you’ve always been interested in this degree and it’s been a lifelong passion? Once you’ve got to grips with why you want to spend 3 – 4 years studying your degree, present your reasons concisely, personalise what you say and relate your reasons to your past experiences.

You should always avoid making throwaway comments like ‘Because my dad’s a doctor’, or ‘it was the one thing I could think of that interested me’. As you write, demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the course and make sure what you write supports your decision to study it.

Previous Academic Experience

This section of your personal statement should inform the reader what you have been doing with your life to date that’s relevant to your chosen course. If you don’t like reading vast chunks of text then a law degree probably isn’t for you.

Similarly if you can’t cope well under pressure then medicine or journalism may not be your bag after all. If you get to this part of your personal statement and find yourself questioning why you even chose your course in the first place, it might be worthwhile to stop writing and go back to the drawing board.

But let’s assume you’ve got this far and are still enthusing about your chosen course; note down what aspects of your life including your studies, hobbies, work and leisure experiences are relevant to the course. For example, if you’re applying for Economics, mention the positives of taking Mathematics as an additional A level. Mention work experience that is relevant, such as shadowing an accountant, working in a corporate environment.

Similarly, producing a student newsletter is relevant to being a journalist, so extract which aspects of those experiences are directly relevant and explain them.

The important thing here is to really get a grasp on what’s impressive and relevant to your course, and then make sure you include it. Modesty will get you nowhere when writing a personal statement – sell yourself!

Extra Curricular Experience

In this section, you’ll have to draw in non-specific work experience and all other academic achievements such as DoE qualifications and instrument grades. It doesn’t matter how long ago or how briefly you worked or trained to get that skill, what’s important is how you bring it into the statement.

For example, if you didn’t complete the DofE award but you achieved parts of it, then mention it. There no need to lie, but don’t overlook the team-building skills of a weekend yomping the dales, or the commercial skills of working pricing goods and operating the tills in a charity shop.

Final Section – Conclusion

The last section is where you bring in other aspects of your personality to create a picture of a well-rounded, interesting person; (even if you’re rough round the edges and/or boring!).

Rack your brains and note down the times you were in the school play, or performed on stage, or played a sport for the year or the school. If your achievements transcend this, for example, you played hockey for the county, then best to upgrade that to paragraph three.

Make sure you give examples of hobbies that make you a more interesting person than the guy who plays on his PlayStation 3 all day, and then relate them back to your university aspirations. Playing football in a team develops team building, helping organise the social side of a sports club demonstrates organisational and social skills.

Finally, think the closing sentence is the second most important one to the opening sentence. Draw together the experiences, skills and knowledge you’ve presented with a concluding statement, such as “I’m a well rounded and motivated person, who will thrive in a university environment.”

Then check, check and re-check that what you say is relevant, well presented, grammatically correct and is delivered with passion and enthusiasm. Editing and re-editing is even more important than drafting those 2,000 characters in the first place.

Common Entrance preparation for Parents, which London Schools should you apply for?

September 24, 2013

Common Entrance preparation for Parents, which London Schools should you apply for?

Tutor House Common Entrance information for Parents

The Entrance Exam Process

Parents should check the open days for the schools that they wish to apply to and endeavour to visit the schools and listen to the Head teachers talk. This will enable them to get a good overview and a feel for the school, and help them decide if this place would suit their childs’ personality and academic ability. (We offer an individualised service for parents who would like the expert advice of one of our experienced tutors).

Most schools have a selection procedure that can be very competitive. Many of the North London Public Schools work within remit of the North London Consortium. The schools have been conveniently divided into TWO groups. Your child only needs to sit ONE exam for each group of schools. The results are then passed onto all the schools that you have applied for within that group.

Group 1:

Francis Holland (Clarence Gate), Francis Holland (Graham Terrace), Heathfield School, Notting Hill & Ealing High School, Queen’s College, St Albans High School, St Helen’s School, South Hampstead High School.

Entrance Examinations for Group 1 Schools : Friday 18 January 2013

Group 2:

Channing School, City of London School for Girls, More House, North London Collegiate School, Northwood College, Queen’s Gate School, St James’ Senior Girls’ School, The Godolphin and Latymer School.

Entrance Examinations for Group 2 Schools: Friday 11 January 2013

Parents should register with the school within each Group at which they would like their child to sit the exam.

Schools not listed above have their own entrance exams and dates. Please ask your chosen school for details. Tutor House will of course provide full coaching and mentoring for all selective schools. Most schools test to National Curriculum Level 5+ including: St Pauls, Haberdashers Aske’s school for Boys and Haberdashers Aske’s School for Girls. Tutors will ensure that they are up to date and fully familiarised with the entrance examination expectations of your chosen school.

What your child will be tested on:

Entrance exams for all of the Group 1 and Group 2 schools usually consist of:

• An English Paper
• A Maths Paper
• A Non- Verbal Reasoning Paper

Your child’s achievement will be ranked and children will be invited for interview accordingly.

Tutor House tutors are all very familiar with the assessment processes. We aim to ensure that all the core contents for Maths and English are well covered to National Curriculum Level 5+


Our tutors will ensure that pupils are able to work independently and can rise to new challenges that will stretch them academically. We aim to build on and further develop skills that allow your child to:

• Read and show understanding of selected pieces of text, either fiction or non fiction.
• Demonstrate that they can analyse the text
• Express themselves clearly, precisely and eloquently on paper
• Write creatively
• Respond to open questions in a thoughtful manner
• Display a good grasp of grammar, spelling, punctuation and appropriate style suited to varying tasks.

In the entrance exam test pupils will be given a passage to read and comprehension based questions. Our tutors will aim to give pupils opportunities to develop their skills in this area in order to write creatively and expand their vocabulary.


The entrance will test pupils secure knowledge and understanding of mathematics concepts. Our tutors will prepare pupils for Level 5+. It is important that pupils are given opportunities to work under exam conditions and Tutor House will provide ample opportunities for your child to demonstrate their newly acquired skills and potential under test conditions. Since most pupils will opt to be taught in larger groups as opposed to 1:1, they will benefit from competition with peers who are also prepared for the entrance exam.
The following concepts will be taught:

Number Place Value
Properties of numbers
Positive and Negative Integers
Decimals and Percentages
Calculations Pencil and Paper proceduresEstimations/Approximations
Solving Problems Using appropriate operations to solve problems

Shape and Size
Shapes, Lines and Angles
Perimeter and area

Non-Verbal reasoning tests

Non Verbal reasoning tests require recognition of similarities, analogies, patterns in unfamiliar designs- which can include series completion, codes and analogies. These tests indicate a pupil’s ability to understand and assimilate new information independently of their language skills. They indicate the potential ability of a child and are used widely by selective schools, as they tend to be highly reliable in indicating the future academic results that your child is likely to achieve.

There is of course no set syllabus for NVR tests however our experiences show that the more a child is exposed to the wide range of these tests the better their score in entrance exams.

Tutor House will use a range of NVR material to familiarise your child and to remove their fear.
Tutors will go through the questions ad provide detailed reasoning so that the child gradually moves away from dependant learning to mastering the techniques. Weekly testing will help rank your child within the group so that they understand how they are doing in comparison to their peers and what more they need to do to improve.

Verbal reasoning

There are a few schools that will also test your child’s verbal reasoning ability. The larger your child’s vocabulary the better they will do in these tests. Tutor House will support your child in developing their verbal reasoning skills as for NVR tests (see above) should the school of your choice have be using this form of testing.

Common Entrance Exams

Many schools use CE exams set by the Independent Schools Examination Board. Your chosen school will tell you if they use these exams. If this is the case you may access all the information about the syllabuses for each subject on thee ISEB website: www.iseb.co.uk

Tutor House tutors are well placed and highly experienced to provide tuition for your child to excel in these exams.


Once your child has been successful in the exam they will be invited for an interview, schools may interview:

• Individually
• In Groups or in pairs
• With parents, or without parents.

Tutor House offers a ‘preparation for interview’ session and further information will be provided on request.

Support for Parents

Tutor House recognise and are fully aware that making applications for selective schools can be a very traumatising period for parents. We aim to simplify this process for you as much as possible.

All parents will have a one to one meeting with one of our highly experienced directors. During this meeting we will be able to build up a good picture of your specific needs and give you the support you need.

We will also have an open morning for parents and offer opportunities for you to mingle with other parents should you wish.

We recognise that some parents want to be in a position to support their child in the assignments we set for homework but often they don’t know how to. A technique in the teaching of maths, English and science (for Common Entrance Exams) has most probably moved on since you were last involved in education. We offer 1:1 support for parents to help you to keep up to date with what your child is learning, both for the entrance examinations and in school- up to GCSE level.

Our classes will include access to online assessment material, showing parents how to mark homework and monitor progress.

It is important of course that parents help their child to manage this stressful period so that they do not let nerves get the better of them on examination day. We offer your support in dealing with this.
Please ask the Directors for further details

Your Childs’ Success is our Success and we strongly believe that parents are an integral part of this process. Tutor House will provide additional support and information to all parents, we’re friendly, just get in contact with us.

The private tutoring boom, what’s all the fuss about?

September 17, 2013

The private tutoring boom, what’s all the fuss about?

Check out Alex Dyer discussing why private tutoring is on the rise and why schools and colleges should work with tutoring companies, to achieve the best results for children.


How Twitter Can Help Students To Write A Paper

September 16, 2013

How Twitter Can Help Students To Write A Paper

Being a student, you perfectly know that the process of study is impossible to imagine without writing different academic papers, essays, thesis, dissertations, etc. We all understand, that very often some help is needed to write this paper good and in time; so, there is nothing surprising with the fact, that all students use not only books, but the Internet as well in order to make their paper look and sound perfect.

Do you know that you can use Twitter to help you with writing a paper? This micro blog can be really useful for those students who want to write a really good piece of work, and there are a big number of ways how it can be used. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Don’t be shy to ask

Internet users are always happy to help. That is why if you have some question concerning your paper (a topic, a plan, some sources, and so on), you can always ask Twitter users to help you here. We think that 140 characters will me more than enough to ask a question. And don’t be shy to ask your followers to re-tweet your post.

Follow people who can help you

Many experts of different fields are registered on Twitter as well. Do you have anyone whose works you admire? You can contact this person via Twitter and check some of his thoughts or works, that will help you with writing your own paper.

Check your sources

When you write a paper, you need a list or sources to mention in the end. If you are not sure which or them are good and representative enough, you can always share them with a Twitter community and ask people what they think of them.

Find some stories that fit your topic

Use keywords to find the latest news concerning the topic of your paper. What happens in the field you write about? Check media outlets and search for any fresh information that can be used in your paper.

Check libraries

There is no need to visit libraries today if you have no time for that. Most of them have Twitter accounts already, so, you may follow them and ask to find books or other info on the topic of your paper or essay to help you write it.

Discussions are your best helper

Every day hundreds of people discuss something on Twitter. Join the topic that are interesting for you and that fit the topic of your paper best. People may give you a lot of useful information on that, and you will not have to search for it in books or magazines. The main thing is to listen to those ones who knows what they say exactly.

Find useful links

Millions of links to different blogs and websites are posted on Twitter every day, so, you can easily find the ones needed. Twitter will help you find extra sources that can be used for your paper’s list of literature, and where you can find some ideas for your paper writing.

As you can see, who looks – will always find. When you write a paper, different tools are good enough to help you hear, and even a social network can be used wisely.

Written and submitted by a young blogger Alex Strike, who works on essayallstars.com and is always ready to help students reach their academic goals.

Where can you retake Pre-u exam in London?

August 28, 2013

Where can you retake Pre-u exam in London?

Contact Tutor House today for:

Exam entry for all Pre-U subjects.

To speak to an Pre-U adviser on what to do next.

To enter for November and June retakes in London.

To book a fantastic and highly experienced tutor of Pre-u.