Success Stories

For most students private tuition is a little extra help and may result in an improvement in their grade. Here are three examples of students for whom private tuition worked particularly well.

Eton Scholarship

In July 2006, I was asked to give tuition in maths and science to a boy, with a view to his obtaining an Eton King's Scholarship, which was the only way he could obtain entry to Eton College. Although his maths was good, there were gaps in his science knowledge owing to him having changed schools several times in the past. I recommended a suitable textbook so that he could catch up on science. For much of the summer holidays we had 3-hour lessons on four days a week. He was also receiving tuition in other subjects. Intensive tuition continued during school half-terms and holidays, and, in May 2007, this boy took the scholarship exam. After the maths paper, the father ask me for an emergency lesson as he wanted to ascertain whether to start applying for other schools. From the boy's recollection of the paper and my comments, the father decided that his son had messed up two "easy" questions and he should start looking at other schools.

When the results came out, later that month, it emerged that the boy was the number one King's Scholar, having come top in both maths and science.

A* at GCSE

In February 2012, I was contacted by the mother of a boy who had taken GCSE Maths a year early (in June 2011) and had obtained a grade A. He was to retake the exam in March with the intention of obtaining an A*. I was happy to take on the tutoring work but explained that there was no guarantee of an A*. The boy only had four lessons but purchased himself a revision guide aimed at the A/A* level. He worked through this from cover to cover, asking for help with the questions that he had difficulty with. He obtained an A*.

School Entry at 11+

In September 2011, a mother contacted me as she had been advised by her daughter's primary school to obtain a maths tutor in order to prepare her daughter for entrance into a selective secondary school at 11+. I recommended a suitable textbook and we had weekly lessons throughout the autumn term with a few additional ones before the school assessments early in 2012. The girl obtained entrance into the school and tuition continued as the girl was taking the Maths Key Stage 2 exam at level 6. I have occasionally helped this girl since maths is not her favourite subject, although she can do well in it.

At the Other End of the Spectrum

I cannot remember the exact year but, shortly before the AS level exam in Physics, I was contacted by a mother telling me how badly her daughter had been taught at school and asking if she could arrange tuition for her daughter. A lesson was scheduled where, unfortunately, the mother was not present. I found that the girl had forgotten fundamental concepts such as work, power and energy, material that she would have studied at GCSE. Her teachers could not really be blamed for this. I expected a follow-up phone call from the mother but this never came. Presumably I was regarded in the same light as the girl's school teachers.

Summary

Private tuition, by itself, will probably not make a lot of difference. Note that, in all three success stories, the student had purchased an additional book enabling them to study in their own time. I tend to take comments blaming the teacher with a pinch of salt. Rarely are they justified and when they are I would usually find out anyway. In my opinion, private tuition is worth about half a grade. This may not seem a lot but it can be the difference between success and failure.