The culture of tutoring
The culture of tutoring has grown substantially over the years in London, driven in part by league tables and in some cases the highly competitive nature of entrance examinations. Tutoring in London is more than a culture; it is also now a huge business opportunity where there is big money to be made.
In London there is a wonderful range of schools to choose from, and there will be the right school out there for every child. Tutoring, however, puts unnecessary pressure upon a child at a time when he or she should be enjoying those precious years of childhood, learning through play, enjoying sport or music or hobbies which are essential components of childhood. With the ever increasing concerns over mental health in young people, it is imperative that schools are united in their message that intensive tutoring can be detrimental to a child’s wellbeing, as well as learning patterns. Far too often when the tutoring is removed post examination, the scaffolding for learning falls apart. It is therefore worth asking the question: if I need to tutor my child to get into this school, is it really the right school for my child?
Parents need to understand the selection process of a school and how selective it is. A highly selective school should produce excellent results. A school with a more diverse intake will produce just as impressive results but these will be measured more by the value added by the school, rather than a ranking system that does not take into account a child’s ability on entry. Look beyond the league table statistics, which do not tell the full story, and choose a school which is right for your child. After all we are talking about children, not numbers, and you know your child best. Children develop at different rates, at different times, but they will succeed if they are given the right educational environment in which to thrive, where they have the breathing space to be themselves. A happy child will be a successful one so have faith in your child, prepare him or her for senior school entry but resist the temptation to do what you hear others may be doing and jump away from the tutoring bandwagon.
At Sydenham High School we tell prospective parents that tutoring has no place in our entrance procedures. We look at the whole child, interviewing every girl, setting an entrance examination which reflects the curriculum of state and independent feeders. For us it is always girls first and so we look at every girl’s strengths, at what she can do, recognising and drawing out her potential and her capacity to grow, prosper and succeed in our aspirational setting.