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GCSE English - priorities?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by CathySupply, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    Hi, I'm hoping that someone with more experience can help me with this - I'd be very grateful for any thoughts at all! I'm a primary teacher (27 years' experience) and have recently started giving private tuition in English and Maths (KS 1 and 2). Because my first degree is in English I decided to take on students up to GCSE for English.
    My concern is that I have a student who began lessons with me the week before he took his November English Language paper. He got the expected E as we heard last week. He will be retaking it in June and his parents are relying on me to get him up to a C. I have told them I can't guarantee anything without the boy's co-operation. He lacks confidence and application but more importantly there are huge, howling gaps in his basic grasp of English! The parents (and their son) are nice people and I don't think they expect miracles, but I really don't want to let any of them down. My dilemma is: how far do I dedicate the lessons (three hours a week) to basic spelling, grammar and so on, and how far do I go top-down from past papers? My instinct is to try a balance of both. His father wants me to do past papers under exam conditions but is this a good use of my rather expensive time? I really want to do my best here but am not the most confident person in the world.

  2. Lesson 1: Spelling & Grammar
    Lesson 2: Style of writing & Sentence structure
    Lesson 3: Task of answering maybe 2-3 high mark questions from the paper, and then in depth feedback and supportive teaching. Straight after they have been done, mark them together.

    3-4 weeks before the exam - full paper tests. He wont achieve anything by getting another E, it will just shatter his confidence. Give him little tasks that he can achieve to build his confidence and then keep moving the bar up just slightly.
  3. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    Thank you so much for that very helpful and prompt reply! That sounds exactly right and kind of vindicates much of what I've been doing so far. However, it hadn't occurred to me to mark them together which I think is a very good idea indeed. I quite agree about the confidence issue. His dad is a lovely chap but I think feels guilty about letting things get so bad - so he is telling me to bully his 'lazy' son. I hadn't expected to meet quite so many vulnerable and insecure parents! Wouldn't it be easy to exploit them?!
    I'm off to use your blueprint now in planning the next lesson. He actually has 2 x 1 1/2 hour lessons a week but I can adapt your suggestions easily enough. Again, many thanks!
  4. Good luck, I hope it all goes well :)
  5. I've only just noticed how my post came out! What happened to my paragraphs and bullet points?

    :( Sorry it looks messy.
  6. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    LOL! No, really, it was terrific. In fact I've just written a letter to the young man's parents outlining 'my' wonderful plan for the next few months. So I owe you [​IMG]
  7. Don't mention it, we're all here to support each other!
  8. CathySupply

    CathySupply New commenter

    It's great, isn't it? I've found the supply teacher forum handy too. Tutoring and supply must be among the loneliest jobs (but a lot better than doing full-time - shudder). Not that I'm complaining! I just love doing this.

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