For an amusing account of the trials and tribulations of a private tutor, why not take a look at the link below? The column appears regularly in the Daily Telegraph and although obviously written to entertain and amuse it does contain insights useful for both parents of tutees and tutors. This particular article is rather sad, concentrating as it does on lack of parental encouragement. Many of this tutor’s pupils come from extremely privileged and moneyed backgrounds and he makes the point that all the lessons in the world can not substitute for parental support and encouragement.
We live in such a competitive world where the difference between an A and an A* can be crucial at university entrance. We all want our children to work hard and achieve and it’s sometimes easy to get the balance wrong.
My pupils are so savvy about all things technical (many’s the time one of them has helped me out with some computer glitch) that I’m often surprised how little they make use of all the help that is available online. There are several excellent revision sites around that are geared up for the needs of GCSE. English as a subject is particularly well served (I’ll deal with French and Latin in another post).
BBC Bitesize is a good solid site for English revision – particularly for those doing AQA exams. Unfortunately last time I visited it hadn’t updated to the new anthology Moon on the Tides nor to the format of the new syllabus. It does still feature good, straightforward analysis of some of the literature texts such as Inspector Calls and To kill a Mocking Bird. My main criticism would be that at times it is slightly simplistic – aimed at a B/C grade rather than an A*.
Another site that I have found useful over the years is Andrew Moore’s which goes into more detail than Bitesize and covers a wide variety of texts. It was excellent on the old AQA anthology (especially the poetry) but hasn’t been updated. The site is also excellent for A level English Language with a lengthy section covering this.
A site I have just discovered is www.helpmewithenglish.co.uk which does feature the new AQA anthology – although this section is still under construction and not all poems are yet covered. Mr W, the site author, gives some very good advice on improving your writing skills and improving your grade. His section on the importance of drafting and editing is first-rate.
Several sites offer critical analysis of texts – Sparks Notes is one that is often useful.
BUT and it is an important but – all these sites are aids to be used wisely and sparingly – cut and paste amounts to plagiarism or cheating as we used to call it!
There is no substitute for a personal response in your own words.