11 Plus Tuition Centres
What are 11 Plus Exam Tuition Centres?
Tuition Groups are run by tuition companies and by individuals. Please note that none of the tutors need by law to have a teaching qualification but in some respects this doesn’t matter (many Independent School teachers and University Professors do not have teaching qualifications either- qualifications are only required for state school teachers).
Tuition Groups operate differently from Private Tutors, work is not personalised and tutors cannot deal with individual weaknesses in the same way as Private Tutors. Tuition Groups normally involve 6-10 or at the very outside 12 pupils being taught in a group. They normally are all going for the same exam and so cover the same materials.
What are the costs of Tuition Centres?
Costs range from £12 per hour to £25 per hour. Costs are not always comparable because in some cases Tutors will take children for two hours and use one hour for the children to work (and the tutor to mark) and one hour of instruction and in other cases children will have a straight hour of tuition and marking will be done at another time. If you are comparing tutor groups make sure you understand:
- What the hourly cost is
- How many hours per week will be actual tutition
- How and when work is marked
- How feedback on progress is delivered.
- What extra costs there are for online question banks or materials. These can range from between £200 and £500 and are often non-refundable and need to be paid upfront.
- What the tie-in periods are (e.g. one month notice or not possible to stop once started).
Typically a Tuition Group will work out somewhere around half the price of a Private Tutor but the level of individual teaching time and personal feedback will also be reduced.
Who will suit 11 Plus Tuition Centres?
Tuition Groups appeal to all sorts of parents and children. Children are often motivated by going to the sessions with their peer group and the involvement of a third party often helps children be more motivated and diligent than they might be at home.
Tuition Groups are also good for those children with ‘top table syndrome’. Some children who have been marked out for great things and put on the top table in their school don’t realise until they come to a tuition group that actually they are not head and shoulders above everyone. The process of finding some other children who are quicker or make fewer mistakes or who are more advanced helps children with ‘top table syndrome’ to re-double their efforts.
Parents with little time may like the idea of tuition groups and in a way because the job of the tutor is to teach what needs to be known and hand out the right level of homework they can be great time saving operations. Parents don’t need to become 11 Plus experts themselves and they know their children will be covering the right work at the right time.
Tuition Groups tend to also suit families where concentration would be difficult in the home ( oo many screens, too many siblings, too much noise etc.).
Advantages of 11 Plus Tuition Centres
- Cheaper than a Private Tutor
- Children benefit from the involvement of a third party and don’t want to let them down.
- Children benefit from competing with their peers.
- Should cover the syllabus for the school that you are trying for.
- Should use the correct materials to give your child the best chance.
Disadvantages of 11 Plus Tuition Centres
- Not as tailored as a Private Tutor
- Won’t be the opportunity to get as much feedback as with a Private Tutor
- Sometimes standards do vary
- Added cost of materials
- Parents will still need to manage reading everyday (otherwise it is pointless getting involved).
- Parents will still need to manage their child doing about two hours of homework per week.
- It isn’t a stand-alone solution that allows parents to write a cheque and then get their child to the right school. Children will only have a good chance if their parents know what is going on and can help and encourage them at home. Parental involvement is even more important with tuition groups than is with Private Tutors.
Questions to ask of a Tuition Centre running 11 Plus tutor groups
- What are the costs per week
- What are costs of any add ons.
- What is the tie-in period if any.
- Can they judge at the outset what our chances are likely to be.
- What time slots are available.
- What refunds might be available if you have to miss slots due to family holidays etc.
- How the work will fit with the exams your child is actually going to take.
- Which materials they use (most tuition groups use bought in materials so don’t be surprised if your child is working from a book which is available elsewhere).
Tuition Centres and published results
While it appears to make sense to believe that choosing a Tuition Centre with great results (eg “ We have a 89% success rate), we have reached the conclusion that making a decision based on published results should at all times be avoided, here’s why:
- Schools vary in terms of competition. For instance very competitive schools like Colchester Royal Grammar School or QE Boys in London might have 2000+ applicants for less than 200 places. In such cases it is unlikely that if a Tuition Centre is not filtering pupils before they take them that their results will sound impressive. Tuition Centres in such areas would be doing well to be able to report success rates of over 20% without selecting only the best pupils before they start. In an area like Buckinghamshire however where there is much fuller provision of places and the top 25% of pupils get a place you would expect results of 80%+ to be achievable without prior selection.
- Some Tuition Centres, when they do an assessment, only take children who are in the very bright zone already. They don’t do this to massage their figures deliberately but instead perhaps because they want to have a uniform group of advanced children and don’t want to have to work with children who are behind or need to catch up. In these Tuition Centres results could easily be near 80%/90% in a less competitive area but that would be more reflective of the ability of the children than the tuition they receive.
- In the worst cases unfortunately we do hear of children who are assessed and taken on and are then thrown out when results towards the end look uncertain. We believe these practices shouldn’t go on because some of those children who are thrown out might well be able to get a place with the right help. Most tuition centres are reputable and don’t do this sort of thing but it is as well to ask.
It is easy to be sold on success rates and we don’t think tuition centres will stop using them but our advice would be to treat these with caution.
Tuition Centres for 11 Plus preparation can be useful, but like every form of preparation type they do have their drawbacks and won’t be right for everyone.
For some children they will be better than a Private Tutor for others they will not work as well as using a guided 11 Plus Course or doing the work yourself with books might have done.
The fact that tuition groups costs more than a guided course or books doesn’t mean that it is necessarily better than other routes.
But for some children and families Tuition Groups will be perfect and will give their child a really good shot at getting a place at the selective school of their choice. Going into it with your eyes open and asking the right questions will help you make the right decision.