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How does the International Baccalaureate (I.B) work?

September 12, 2012

International Baccalaureate

An increasing number of private and grammar schools are now offering the IB programme. Students undertaking the IB need to have strong subject knowledge in humanities and sciences.

Private tutoring can help identify and boost students weaknesses. At tutor house we can help with Essay writing, Languages, Social and Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Contact tutor house for assistance.

The IB Curriculum:

Students choose from one subject from each of the six compulsory groups. In addition the IB programme includes Extended essay writing (in-depth essay of one of the subjects the student has chosen) Theory of knowledge (students reflect on the nature of knowledge by examining areas including perception, emotion and artistic and historical aspects) and Creativity, action and service (completing tasks outside of the classroom.)

The six groups are:

Group 1: Studies in Lauguage and Literature

Group 2: Lauguage acquisition

Group 3: Indiviuals and societies

Group 4: Experimaental science

Group 5: Mathematics and computer science

Group 6: The arts

N.B- The sixth subject chosen by students may be a arts subject (group 6) or another subject from group 1-5.

Pre-U

The Cambridge Pre-U course helps prepare students for university. The course has become popular in recent times as an alternative to A-Levels. The Pre-U course follows on from IGCSE and Cambridge Secondary 2 qualifications.
The Pre-U course is available in 27 subjects, students choose from three.

Tutors at tutor house have experience in teaching Pre-U and can help all students via private tuition and support.

Pre-U courses at tutor house

Home Schooling

At tutor house we provide short and long-term home schooling. We listen to the student’s requirement and devise a programme most suited to them. This can include private tuition, one-one supports, special educational support and residential tuition, both in the U.K and abroad.

Contact tutor house for more information.

What makes the best tutor?

September 6, 2012

What makes ‘the best’ tutor?

1. CRB and security checks – It’s very important for tutors to be CRB checked. It’s best to hire a tutor through a company, as they should hold tutors CRB certificates and reference for tutors. Make sure you ask when speaking with the company.

2. Private tutor experience and knowledge – The tutor should ideally have a minimum of two years tutoring experience. Ideally they are teachers from local schools or colleges. A PGCE is preferable but certainly not compulsory, many teachers work for 20 years not having a PGCE but they are fantastic tutors and sometimes are more flexible and understanding than qualified peers.

3. Knowledge of exams and boards- All tutors should have an in-depth knowledge of exam structure, typical questions and key word answers. In addition it’s important that tutors understand the differences between exam boards, often there are big differences. For example A-Level psychology AQA board covered many different topics and is assessed via essay exam questions and short answers, whereas OCR psychology is based on case studies and answers to questions are completely different.

4. Recourses, exam papers and mark schemes – It’s paramount that tutors have sufficient exam past papers, mark schemes and key words and phases that answer questions. An important role that tutors should play, which some schools almost disregard is concentrating on past exam papers. You wouldn’t sit your driving test without any lessons! Same thing applies here, exam papers are so important.

5. Feedback and update on progress- Tutors should ideally give the student feedback once a week and the parents once every other week. This helps to set goals and make sure student complete homework. It also helps to keep parents abreast of what tutors and children are achieving in the lessons.

6. Fun and rapport- This is one of the most important tips. Education can, as we know be boring, tutors must be enthusiastic and really enjoy what they teach! They just gel well with the children and work closely with them. A tutor must be engaging and keen to help.

7. Working with a company – The best advice here is that tutors should really work for a tutoring company. Why? Well for piece of mind really, tutors will have to be CRB checked and you have someone else to talk to in times of trouble. Also the tutoring company that you decided to use should be helpful and provide additional tutoring services. There should be someone else on the end of the phone or email.

8. Exam techniques and study skills – A tutor and indeed a tutoring company should help children with additional study skills and educational support. This can be anything from folder organization and devising a homework diary to helping dyslexic children realize their potential by providing techniques that can really help them use their strengths.

Help with writing a personal statement for UCAS

September 4, 2012

Hi everyone,

First off, if you haven’t seen it, check out our Huffington Post blog.

The blog advises students on the basics of UCAS applications and personal statements.

In addition, tutor house has educational advisers who can help you with personal statements, university choices, advice on which course to take and why and also the UCAS application process itself.

If you would like more advice or guidance on anything to do with University, UCAS or personal statements, please contact us.

How to write the Perfect personal statement.

September 3, 2012

A personal statement is a sales pitch for a university place. The clues are; `sales’ = sell yourself and `pitch’ = set your stall at their door. Remember, you’ll be up against thousands of others who are also pitching their case to the universities, so whatever you write needs to be good.

Before you begin the pitch, there are a few basics to bear in mind:

A personal statement should be no more than 4,000 characters long:

• It should be typed with 1.5 line spaces
• Always start with a `wow’ sentence to draw in the reader
• Divide the content into four main sections
• Why you want to study the chosen course
• What you’ve done to date that’s relevant to the course
• What key skills have you picked up through work experience
• What other activities make you a more rounded person
• Mention what inspired you to choose the course
• Write from the heart
• Ensure it’s free from grammatical errors
• Be 100% honest and genuine
• Make it attention grabbing
• Show it to as many people as possible, including parents and teachers
• Sell yourself!

You’ve got the line spacing set to 1.5 and an intimidating blank screen in front of you; it’s time to draw attention to your case.

The opening sentence is arguably the most important one you’ll write. It will set the tone for the rest of your pitch and draw the reader in. Around 40% of the Personal Statement should be devoted to why you want to study the chosen course, so make sure the opening sentence introduces your reasons and is backed up by the inspirations behind them.
A good example of opening sentences might be “Since working in a nursery for my Silver DofE award my interest in Child Psychology has really grown” or “Reading Professor Stephen Hawking’s `A brief history of time’ first awakened my interest in natural sciences, and in particular, physics”.

Ensure you write from the heart and are credible and attention grabbing, sit down and really work out why you have chosen this degree. As yourself, did you read a book or see a TV programme that inspired you? Did you read about a particularly inspirational person who works in the same field? Have you always been interested in this degree? Then present your reasons clearly and concisely, personalise what you say and relate your reasons to your experiences and your source of inspiration.

Definitely avoid making statements such as `Because my dad’s a doctor’, or `It was the one thing I could think of that interested me’.
As you write, show a good understanding of the course and make sure what you write supports your decision to study it.
The next section of the Personal Statement, around 30%, should inform the reader what you have done to date that is relevant to the course. If you’ve no interest in animals and their welfare, you probably shouldn’t be applying to become a vet. If you dislike loud music or wearing headphones, then music technology may not be the right course for you. So if you get to this part of the statement and start questioning what what’s led you to this course, then maybe it’s time to stop writing and go back to the drawing board.

But if you’ve got this far and are still enthusing about your choice of course, then note down what aspects of your studies, your work and your 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, mucking out stables is relevant to being a vet and producing a student newsletter is relevant to being a journalist, so extract which aspects of those experiences are directly relevant and explain them.

Section three draws in non-specific work experience and other academic achievements, such as DofE. However briefly you worked or trained to acquire a relevant skill, note it down and 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.

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 not. 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 organizational 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 4,000 characters in the first place.

Huffington post blog

Private tuition for A Level re-sit exams in London

September 1, 2012

Hello everyone,

Welcome to Tutor House, the home of private tutoring in London. We are running short retake courses this year for pupils looking to re-sit specific units in their chosen A Levels. The A-Levels can be sat in the January exams. Tuition for these retakes is conducted on a weekly bases in the students own home, tutors travel to you. Usually 5 hours private tuition a week will suffice, but more lessons are often asked for, especially around Christmas holidays and the exam period in January.

Tutor House offers retakes in all A-Level subjects, but specifically Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology and Economics.

Learn more about Short retake courses at tutor house

GCSE results today: Have they been tampered? Goal posts moved? Or is it just a coincidence?

August 23, 2012

GCSE results today: Have they been tampered? Goal posts moved? Or is it just a coincidence?

A spokesman from the Department for Education said, “It’s right that minimum expectations of schools should continue to rise.” In addition Michael Gove, the Education Secretary has said in the past that he wants to abolish GCSE’s and introduce ‘explicitly harder’ O-Levels.

Tampering 1 – Coincidence 0.

Around 650,000 teenagers throughout Britain will have opened their GCSE results this morning. Usually some will be in shock, this year however, most may well be in shock. Results have fallen for the first time in 23 years! That is significant. Many teachers, especially English teachers have voiced their concerns that the exams were marked far too harshly leaving pupils a grade or so short of what they were predicted. Simply, the powers that be have significantly increased the grade boundaries.

Goal posts moving 1 – Coincidence 0.

The counter argument is of course that GCSE exams are easier, take a question from a Physical Education paper, ‘which is not an invasion game? Football, Netball, Hockey, Tennis?’ I teach P.E as well as Psychology, but that question is a bit ridiculous. That is more or less giving marks away. However, (I’m not sitting on the fence) P.E is regarded as a soft subject whereas Mathematics and English are not, so you wouldn’t expect to see questions like that in ‘academic’ subjects.

For schools these results have serious consequences; some face closure, others takeover whilst others could be turned into academies. This seems harsh seeing as the government has, as the scores above show, augmented the grade boundaries. For the first time this year schools have been ‘forced’ to ensure that 40% of pupils gain five ‘good’ grades, including high grades in English and Mathematics. That is a big ask, up from 35% last year!

For teacher these results also have potential detrimental consequences; at best a change in the head of school and perhaps new management appointments but at worst searching for a new job. It’s difficult; obviously teachers want to put faith in their Schools, their pupil’s and the Government but with this drop, this shifting of the goal posts how can they? Let’s not forget what Gove said back in July this year, “teachers are born, not made.” That I’m afraid is what teachers are up against. In other words ‘you failed this year, you will next.’
What do you think? As a teacher of 7 years I’m a bit angry, a bit confused really. Teachers seem to be working harder than ever. Working towards days like today, only to feel upset and unsure what the next step will be! Confidence is a huge thing; I personally don’t have a lot in Gove.

For pupils getting their results today the first thing I would say is don’t be disheartened. Why? Well firstly the boundaries have moved, yes and yes you’re a grade shy of what you thought you would get, but so is the whole country! The boundaries go down for every single student. If you were on the B/C boundary and you received a C, so did the next person so don’t worry. On paper is doesn’t look fantastic, but schools and colleges will be a little more lenient this year, well they should be.
You will now need to focus on your A-Level choices following your GCSE results; you need to look forwards onto University and beyond.

I saw a great tweet today: “To the 640,000 sixteen-year-olds who have just had their GCSE results tampered with by Michael Gove: use your votes wisely in 2015.”

I hope everyone achieved the grades they wanted today.

Which A-Levels to choose after you’ve received your GCSE results?

August 21, 2012

Well there are a few factors to consider before making your choices.

First off, which qualifications are you going to undertake? There are three main choices:

• A-Levels
• Pre-U (Pre – University)
• I.B (International Baccalaureate)

A-Levels are the most common. They’re more flexible than Pre-U, you can re-sit them twice in a year. There are two sittings for A-Levels, January and June. That means that if they don’t go according to plan first time, you can always retake them. In fact you can sit an A Level unit as many times as you want, although the government is looking to stop this. (You’ve still got a few years!) A-Levels are said to be slightly easier than the Pre-U or I.B qualifications. There is not as much content as you focus on your three chosen specific subjects.

The Pre-U exams are sat at the end of the two-year study period, meaning that you only have one shot! You have to sit the whole course again from day one should you fail! So, while the Pre-U is in no way as flexible as A-Levels they are better regarded. Introduced in 2009 the Pre-U qualification is very popular among leading Schools and Colleges throughout the country, e.g Oundle and Charterhouse. In addition universities now consider Pre-U to be ‘above’ A-Levels, they believe Pre-U is a tougher qualification, thus rating it higher than A-Levels. However, this is not universal, most Universities require points for entry. (120 –A, 100-B, 80-C, 60-D and 40-E.)
Although Pre-U is considered harder than A-Level and more in-depth, many good Universities accept it.

Garry Linker certainly does not like the Pre-U structure!
(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1305427/George-Lineker-fails-university-dad-Gary-insists-school-blame.html)

I.B. The I.B is as it sounds, worldwide and international. You can sit the I.B anywhere really and all universities accept it for entry into University. The Diploma Programme for 16-19 year olds takes your depth and knowledge on a range of subject’s to a new level. Over the course of the two-year programme students study six subjects chosen from six groups, write an extended essay, follow a theory of knowledge course and take part in creativity, action and service.

Once you’ve decided on one of those options, there is then the matter of which subjects to choose?
What do you want to do at University? That’s not an easy decision to make. There are so many choices. You can do a joint honors degree (two subjects) a degree in Law, Medicine, Psychology, English or how to be Lady Gaga. (Well, not yet, but I’m betting 2014!)
Another factor to consider is what specific subjects do Universities require for entry? Obvious ones like Medicine require Biology and Chemistry, not so obvious is Mathematics as a pre-requisite for some Psychology courses. You really should take the time to have a look at the course structure and entry requirements.
Finally, although it’s not easy you really need to undertake a subject that you enjoy, that you have a passion for, which really excites you.

My advice here would be to speak to an educational adviser, who can go away and work out the best options for you.

Best of luck for Thursday everyone.

http://tutorhouse.co.uk

I didn’t achieve the A-Level results I wanted, so what are my options now?

August 18, 2012

Well, first of all what ever happens don’t worry or panic (Many people will!)
I would say that these are your best options- all are creditworthy and all will help you to succeed in the future:

Go through clearing, do a short retake course, go on a gap year or become an olympic handballer?!

1) Clearing – how does clearning work? As soon as you have your results call your first and second choice Universities and see what they say. Make sure you sell yourself, make sure you put up a fight. Little things help, mention your sporting acheivments, mention work experience you’ve done, mention jobs you’ve had as every little helps. This year with fees putting off up to 10% of University applicants, you’ll have more of a chance than the last few years. If this fails, go onto the UCAS website, click clearing and type in your chosen degree and have a look at what is on offer at Universities throughout the country.
You must make sure you do this on A-Level results day, 16th August 2012. Phonelines will be manic, so be patient, also have access to the internet to check on-line. Students always want to check on line but if you call you can sell yourself and chat with someone about your options. Don’t just go for the easy option!

2) A Short Retake Course – these courses are seriously intense, so you have to hit the ground running. You’ll have to sit exams every week and revise every day, it’s hard but worth it in the long run. The ideal goal would be to sit a short retake course, sit your exams in January and then have some time off before University next year. Results for the January sitting come out at the beginning of March 2013, so if all goes well your then ‘free.’
You can undertake these short ‘crammer’ style courses over a 4 or 8-month period. Colleges and tutoring companies can support you. Private tuition is of course a very good option, as this will allow you to focus on specific problem areas on a one-one basis. Private tutoring always achieves the best results. Financially it makes sense as well. I would suggest at least 20 hours private tuition before your exams, perhaps even book block sessions every week. Make sure tutors are CRB checked and have tutoring experience!
Make sure you highlight modules/units that you didn’t do too well in; you may not need to re-sit every unit again! ☺ Also, take the time to work out your UMS score, which can be found on your results certificate.

3) Gap Year – as fun as it sounds do not sit on a beach in Thailand sipping cocktails! We would all love to do that and if you’ve retaken some exams and passed, then yes go and sit on that beach and have one for me! However, there are so many amazing, positive and influential gap year options that you can do whatever you want your career to be.
What helps a C.V and a personal statement? (For UCAS)
Well, there are many options, sometimes too many. Make sure you do something worth-while for example teach English in a school in Sri Lanka, help regenerate a conversation area in South America or work in a hospital in India. The sky is the limit. Look around and check out a firm’s credentials and how they operate. Remember have fun and be social, but think about what you want to achieve in the long run as well.

4) Olympic Handball – I’ll get back to you ASAP on this one. One question to ask- are you over 6”2? If so, best of luck!

Good luck with whichever choice you make. ☺

 

Why go on a gap year?

Why Go on a Gap Year?

Well first off, a ‘gap year’ is too long. There is no need to go away for a whole year. If you do, you must do something productive! A gap year is a fantastic opportunity to work somewhere unusual or inspiring. It’s really Important to grab this chance while you can. The options available to you are vast and sometimes confusing.

I would suggest this, do something worthwhile, if only for a month or so. Work in a school in Sri Lanka for example teaching English to young children. You get to interact with the local community, teach, organise activities and absorb the culture. It really is an inspiriting opportunity. You can’t to that on a ‘standard gap year’ travelling up the east coast of Australia. Other countries I would suggest are India and Nepal. You can work in conservation areas, work in schools or even shadow doctors in local hospitals.
Working is an absolute must in my opinion, of course working in a bar is fine, but it’s these more obscure and valuable gap years that you really must do.

The major benefit of these sorts of gap years is that they look fantastic on your C.V and at this stage, more importantly, your personal statement for UCAS. Universities love the fact that you’ve worked hard and set yourself goals. Also, even with a drop in university applicants, the competition for places is still fierce. The next person may have achieved ABB at A-Level, but if you’ve been teaching in Sri Lanka for 2 months and they’ve been on the PlayStation, you’re basically in they’re not!

The great thing is that the choices are endless; just make sure you take the time to way up all your options. Quite often students will need to retake exams, although initially when you get your results you’ll be upset, don’t, see it as a great chance to achieve something amazing. Re-sit your exams in January and then go away for 4-5 months. What a fantastic year. I would do anything to be there!

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