Preparing for the 11+ is nerve-wracking, especially for those who wish to enter grammar schools.
Independent and grammar schools have limited places, and thousands of students will have to compete with each other to fill the places.
This is the reason why personal tutors are in high-demand in the market. Agencies and private tutors all promise the same thing: to give children the best chances of passing the 11 plus entrance exam.
But because of the ever-increasing number of tutors and tutoring companies, picking the best 11 plus tutor becomes a rather tricky task.
So how do you choose the best 11 plus tutor? How much does it cost? And is it even worth it? These questions will be answered in this blog post. Read on.
Types of Tutor
It’s worth noting that there are different types of 11 plus tutor. The sort you pick will depend on the availability in your area, and of course, your own preferences according to your child’s needs.
- Independent tutors work locally and tutor children on a one-on-one setting or in small groups. The teaching session is usually held in the child’s home. Independent tutors are often qualified teachers who are on a career break or have retired already. Some are students.
- Online tutoring is usually on online messaging platforms such as Skype or any other telecommunications applications. This is the best option for pupils to be tutored remotely.
- Tutoring centres are companies or agencies that employ several tutors. They can be locally-based and usually teach children in groups. Some prefer tutoring centres over private tutors because they build a small classroom atmosphere, so the environment is less intense for children.
How to find an 11+ tutor
So how do you actually find the best 11 plus tutor? A good place to start is by contacting The Tutors’ Association. This professional organisation is connected to hundreds of credible freelance tutors and tutorial companies, although some of them work in London only.
Another way to find the best 11 plus tutor is by asking your friends, family, and parents of Year 7 children who have successfully passed the 11 plus exams. We could all agree… word of mouth recommendation is still the best way to find the best person for the job.
The best tutors (whether independent or agency) are usually the ones who are experienced and knowledgeable.
If you can’t find a locally available tutor, you may want to consider online tutoring. Online tutors are unlimited by location, but of course, you’d want to select a tutor who is immersed in the UK system.
Well-respected tutoring companies will always pick credible and reputable tutors. They will also monitor the tutors’ professional success and progress. Tutorial companies should ensure all in-house tutors have a DBS check. So when looking for tutoring companies, look for members of The Tutors’ Association (TTA).
If you prefer hiring independent tutors, make sure to ask for their DBS checks and references.
It doesn’t hurt to ask the school you intend to apply to about how best you can prepare your child for the 11 plus exam. You can ask the school for sample 11 plus exam papers, or you can get it from their official website (if available).
A credible tutoring company usually has excellent sources to stimulate the child’s interest in learning all the while preparing him or her for the 11 plus exam.
Sample exam papers will give you a good idea whether the standards of the school is within your child’s reach. Practice is important, and tutors can help your child develop a technique so they can enhance their memory, thinking ability, and reasoning.
Choosing a tutor
There is no independent accreditation or rating system for tutors. So you may need to interview them, get as much information about them, take up references, and get recommendations to ensure you’d pick the best 11 plus tutor.
But most importantly, you need to ensure that your child feels right with the person once the session starts.
Here are other factors to consider when selecting an 11 plus tutor.
Knowing the tutor’s experience at getting children into grammar schools is really important. Check whether the tutor or tutoring company has experience in coaching students in all of the elements of the tests.
If the 11 plus exam format has changed in your area, make sure the tutor knows about the latest changes.
But don’t close your doors to new tutors that may have more dynamic and interesting approach to children compared to matured tutors that have traditional coaching methods.
Again, tutors don’t have rating systems, and they don’t need formal qualifications, but you’d feel more comfortable if yours have them.
For example, if reading and comprehension is your child’s weak point, you might want to select a tutor that’s good at reading and can help your child to improve his comprehension.
- Pass rates
Ask the tutor what percentage of his/her students have passed the 11 plus exam over the past few years. It’s best to get references from other parents whose children have been tutored by your potential tutor.
Do you want your child to engage in a one-on-one tutor? Or do you want him/her to get involved in a small group? How often do you want your child to be tutored? It’s important to align your child’s needs with the tutor’s method of teaching.
- Location and cost
This may seem like a small factor to be concerned about, but these are important considerations, especially if you will be committing to a long-term tutoring programme. For example, single mums who don’t drive would prefer tutors who are willing to come to their house.
And of course, select a tutor that fits your budget. Again, not all expensive tutors are the best. Look for a tutor that prices reasonably.
Does the tutor know the selection process in your area?
It’s easy to assume that a tutor in your area or county knows the requirements of 11 plus, but sadly, that’s not always the case. You can find out what the tests will consist of by contacting the school or your Local Authority.
Does the tutor have relevant qualifications?
A credible tutor has teaching certificates or other academic certificates. Not all tutors are trained teachers, but anyone teaching a child should have a good academic history or background. Also, a tutor should have completed a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check within the last 5 years. He or she should be willing to show you their clearance form.
A recent CRB check is really important, especially if your child is going to have a one-on-one session with the tutor. Do not accept any excuses.
But just because a tutor has a CRB check doesn’t mean you have to necessarily pick them. If you don’t (or your child) feel comfortable about their attitude toward your child (on their first meet or any time later on), you should look for another tutor immediately.
You should pick a tutor that knows how to handle your child. For example, if you wish to interview the tutor before hiring him, you may want to ask about how he handles students and what he does to make learning fun.
You may also ask about what his techniques in dealing with bored and uninterested students.
What is the cost?
Independent tutors usually charge £17 to £25 per hour for individual tuition.
The cost varies depending on your area and the tutor’s popularity and experience. In-demand tutors can charge as high as £80+ per hour. Group tutoring is generally priced two-thirds the price of private sessions. Meanwhile, online tutors usually charge £15 per hour.
Most tutoring centres charge a monthly fee, which can vary between £50 and £120 per month, usually for two sessions per week.
Remember, charges vary among tutors. But just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best one. Some tutors will ask for payment on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, while others ask for large amounts in advance.
If a tutor asks you for full payment in advance, you should consider it very carefully before shelling out cash. If your child does not get on with his tutor, or it becomes clear that your child does not have the potential to qualify the 11 plus exam, you will just lose a huge amount of money.
Will the tutor suit your child?
One of the most important factors in selecting an 11 plus tutor is to consider how they will get on with your kid. Some parents like traditional and mature tutors with broad experience, while others prefer young and dynamic tutors who can motivate their kid.
You must also carefully consider whether you prefer a female or male tutor for your child. In regards to tutoring centres, consider if you want your child to see the same person for every session.
Before committing to a tutor, it’s best to have your child meet them. A couple of trial sessions is a great way to see how’d the tutor and your child get along. Remember, trial sessions may or may not be free. Seeing your child with the tutor is the best way to see if they are best for each other.
Hiring a tutor for your child gives them a sufficient advantage over others. If your child is at prep school yet, getting a tutor is probably unnecessary.
Most prep school students hate it anyway. However, if your child is at a state primary, it makes sense to find a good, experienced tutor who will make sure that your kid is equipped when competing against those who are also prepped for the 11 plus exams.
The tutor can help your child focus in areas that they find difficult. 11 plus exams are usually consists of English (comprehension and creative writing), Mathematics (numerical reasoning and standard math problems), verbal reasoning, and non-verbal reasoning.
If in any way your child struggles in one or more of these areas, a tutor can surely help.
What feedback will they give you, and how often?
Regular feedback is vital. It lets you see your child’s real progress and chances of succeeding the 11 plus exam. It will also help you plan your child’s school options accordingly.
A good tutor will not sugarcoat his feedback and will be frank with you at all times. They may tell you if your child is likely or unlikely to pass.
If it becomes clear that your child needs extra work to pass the 11 plus exam the tutor should explain that to you.
They may also suggest that the will not coach your child any further. It’s fair to think that the tutor is protecting their pass-rate by doing that. But a good tutor should not be more concerned about their pass rate.
It’s likely that they do not wish for you to spend more money unnecessarily or give you or the child false hope about their chances of passing the 11 plus exam.
A good tutor will help you make the decision to stop tutoring and will help you manage your child’s emotions about it.
In case your child isn’t equipped yet to ace the 11 plus exam, you should always have a Plan B.
Monitor your child’s progress
When you’ve already chosen a tutor, you will need to ensure that your child is making great improvements with them. It’s not so much to ask for a report after every six or seven sessions.
You may also want to talk to the tutor about the test scores of your child — whether they’re improving or plummeting.
Speak to the tutor and ask them about the areas that your child struggles with. You should also try to listen to some tutoring sessions as well. You’ll be the judge of whether your child is learning and participating.
I cant afford a tutor, what do I do?
For a lot of parents, it’s very expensive to hire a one to one tutor, especially when you consider all the other expenses of having a child. This is one of the reasons that we developed KidSmart.
Our app is aimed at helping children prepare for their 11+ in just 20 minutes a day. Our app even has on-demand tutors within the app, so if your child gets stuck they can get real feedback from tutors.
This may be a more cost effective approach for parents who can’t afford weekly tuition sessions.