English Tutors UK

English Tutors in the UK

The tutoring industry in the UK is booming.  There are many private tutors, tuition centres and after school clubs offering practice in English and Maths throughout the whole of the UK.  In 2013, the tuition industry will continue to grow.

In Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, we have some fantastic schools but a great deal of controversy still reigns in our education system and many parents continue to seek out private tuition to ensure that their children achieve the best education and exam results possible.  Children are receiving extra tuition from as early as Year One (if not earlier) and especially in High School.  Some children do fall behind in school and extra tuition can quickly bring students up to the level of their peers.  However, it is not only children who struggle who attend private tuition as many parents wish children to be stretched to achieve the best possible results whether that be 11+, entrance exam, GCSE, SCE or Higher/A-Level results.

Find an English Tutor in the UK

If you make the decision to find a private tutor in 2013 then why should you choose a Kip McGrath Education Centre?  Well, we have over 200 centres in the UK which are run and taught by qualified teachers.  English and maths are our core subjects but many centres offer other additional subjects.  Our qualified teachers offer a FREE educational assessment for every child and create an individual lesson plan for every child based on their own individual learning needs.  As qualified teachers, we know the local school curriculum and what is needed by every child to reach their full acadmic potential.

Are English Tutors Qualified to Teach English?

KIP MCGRATH-LW.The site of the former Birgitte, 41 King Street.-We may harp on about this but a tutor does not need to be a qualified English teacher to tutor English according to UK laws.  When you employ an English tutor please ensure that you take out references and speak to previous students.  Ask to see credentials and results.  At Kip McGrath Tuition Centres, we are qualified and experienced teachers, have taught in local schools and understand the school curriculum.

National Tuition Centres

There are a few large, national tuition centres who offer maths and English tuition like Kip McGrath.  Don’t be fooled.  Kip McGrath are not the same and cannot be compared.  These centres are not in the main run by teachers and rely on worksheets and computer exercises that parents sometimes have to mark themselves.  When choosing a tutor to teach your child it is important that parents do their own homework and know the facts.




Americanisms – 50 of your most noted Examples

I came across this article from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14201796 about the 50 most hated “Americanisms” and I have to say this is something that irritates me somewhat.I have a very close friend who uses the phrase “24/7” every time we meet.  I have no idea why but that particular phrase really annoys me.  I also watch America’s Next Top Model (only because my daughter loves it and it is something we watch together).  That’s my story anyway!  I hate the way they use the word critique as a verb instead of criticise.  I understand from reading online elsewhere that this is becoming acceptable but to me it just sounds wrong.

Due to the amount of American TV we all watch I suppose this is inevitable. I know that the English language is continuing to evolve as it has over  hundreds of years with the influence of other languages so I suppose I am just being a bit of a snob here.

Anyway, please read the list and let me know if there are any Americanisms that annoy you.

Blog written by Kirsty McHugh, Scotland Administrator at Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland

The Apprentice Final 2011 – What does this say about our education system?

TV’s brightest and best but they know next to nothing

So The Apprentice is now finally over and Tom is the winner.  This is the candidate, along with fellow competitor Helen who in the previous fast food task thought that Byron wrote at the same time as Shakespeare and that Christopher Columbus was British and discovered the potato!  The other two candidates were no better.  They named their Mexican Restaurant Caraca’s.  This would have been an apt name if the restaurant in fact was Venezuelan and not Mexican.

I came across this article by Virginia Blackburn, Daily Express Columnist who was obviously as shocked as me at the total lack of the candidates’ knowledge of history, geography and culture.  As a teacher, I was very interested to read her comments about the “debasing of this country’s education system”


Blackburn states that perhaps it would be better if we had an education system where the academic elite are filtered into a separate system so they are not held back by less academic and those who disrupt learning in class.  She believes we can then tailor the teaching and learning to suit all.  Firstly, society would not tolerate this and secondly the government would never fund it. Also, that is exactly what the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland is meant to do.

It is a well known fact that individuals with a disposable income have the choice to employ tutors or send their children to private school if they feel this would help but those without such financial means can’t.  She also states that poor parenting is adding to our problems in schools.  She uses personal experience saying that our society is too child-centric where we let them set their own agenda and that schools bow to the pressure and bullying tactics of parents, stating that this attitude means that children disrupt classes, attack teachers and sue the school over trivial matters, such as being able to wear corn rows (a hairstyle).

However, we have laws that mean schools must involve parents in their child’s education and that children have a voice too.  It is difficult for schools to find a happy medium.  I have had parents demand that I move their child to the ‘top reading group’ or skip a whole section of reading books to push them on.  The child in question was a good technical reader but had poor comprehension skills and a distinct lack of understanding regarding what they were reading.  I tested the child to back up my professional judgement but despite this the Head Teacher demanded I move the child anyway.  I stuck to my guns because I wanted to do what was best for the child and gave the parents advice on how  they could support their child’s reading at home.  I was told by the parents that “they didn’t have time to read with them and that was what school was for”.

The writer points out that life is competitive and children should learn skills they need and told why they need to learn them.  This is an excellent point.  I am always totally honest with my classes and explain why they need to learn certain skills or about certain things, because without a purpose they see no point in it whatsoever.  Also they need to learn that they may not enjoy everything school has to offer but they owe it to themselves to try their very best at everything. The class teacher should be adapting tasks to suit all the children in the class and teaching the necessary skills.  One child in my P6 class used to play up every time I introduced a new maths concept basically because he perceived himself to be the ‘cool kid’ and did not want to look stupid or unintelligent to his class mates.  I had to come up with strategies to counteract this or he would literally wreck the classroom.  As all teachers know, some children have learning difficulties they have to overcome such as retention and it’s the teacher’s job to work with the child to do this.  Due to budget cuts, larger class sizes and the growing array of learning difficulties children have, this is extremely difficult for teachers.

An important point in the article is that despite large class sizes in Hong Kong discipline problems are zero.  Disruptive children are excluded immediately and their families feel deep shame with the result being such problems are extremely rare.  Over the years I have become acutely aware of the escalating behaviour problems within schools.  I am currently doing supply teaching in the primary sector for two local authorities.  Recently I have been in several schools where I have had to work hard to control behaviour which has seriously affected the teaching and learning.  I had a class of 13 children and could not believe the level of poor and disruptive behaviour from 8 of the children.  In addition, their skill levels for maths and English made me weep.  This is simply not good enough for our future generation and I worry about their future.

I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that the wheels of education turn extremely slowly.

The Curriculum of Excellence was born in 2004 with working groups and lots of excitement and discussion.  It is now 2011 and primary schools are struggling with some aspects of it and it is just taking off in our high schools with no one any the wiser on how the secondary exam system will work.

Thank you to our guest blogger, Angela Mitchell, one of our qualified teachers who runs the Kip McGrath Cambuslang/Burnside Tuition Centre .  If you would like to comment, please feel free to do so below.

Cambuslang Tutors, Angela MitchellFollow Kip McGrath Education Centres Cambuslang on Facebook.

What kind of learner is your child?

Understanding your learning style can help you to learn your spellings!

This article was blogged about by a colleague of mine in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and I thought I would share.  To read the original blog go to http://kipmcgrathlisburn.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/what-kind-of-learner-are-you/

Learning to spell can be very difficult for some people.  Time, patience and practice all help!  There are many ways of practising spellings and what works for one person might not work as well for another.    Many children rely heavily on one strategy to learn their weekly spellings as a list and use them in their own writing.  Some children learn effectively in this way, but for many children one way of learning is not enough because they memorise words for the test and then forget them later or struggle to learn the words in the first place.  Most people will find that a multi-sensory method works best, i.e. using senses like eyes, ears, voice and hands.

Look at the following learning styles and see if you recognise your own or the one that best describes your child.

Visual learners:

  • Neat and orderly
  • Speak quickly
  • Are good long range planners
  • Good spellers and can see words in their minds
  • Remember what was seen, rather than heard
  • Are not distracted by noise
  • May forget verbal instructions unless written down
  • Are strong fast readers
  • Would rather read than be read to
  • Doodle during conversations
  • Forget to relay verbal messages to others

Auditory learners:

  • Learn by listening and remember what was     discussed rather than seen
  • Talk to themselves while working
  • Are easily distracted by noise
  • Find writing difficult, but are better at telling
  • Move their lips and pronounce the words as they read
  • Enjoy reading aloud and listening
  • Are talkative, love discussions and go into lengthy descriptions
  • Can spell better out loud than in writing

Kinaesthetic learners:

  • Learn by manipulating and doing
  • Want to act things out
  • Speak slowly
  • Touch people to get their attention
  • Stand close when talking to someone
  • Are physically orientated and move a lot, gesture a lot
  • Memorise by walking and seeing
  • Can’t remember geography unless they’ve actually been there
  • Use action words
  • May have messy handwriting
  • Like involved games

It is highly likely that the majority of children will exhibit some aspects of more than one learning style.  However, if you feel that your child shows a particular learning style, try the activities in the appropriate section below.  If no one style is obvious, try a few activities from each section and see which is most successful.

Suggested activities for the different learning styles:

Visual learners will want to learn by:

  • Looking at words and noticing patterns
  • Saying or repeating words
  • Listening to syllables
  • Copying or tracing words
  • Look Say Cover Write and Check words
  • Writing a word in the air using a finger or a wand
  • Writing a word on your back
  • Writing in large felt tip pens
  • Posting notes around the house
  • How many words can you find in this word?
  • Flash cards of spellings

Auditory learners will want to learn by:

  • Speaking aloud or saying it strangely e.g. weather becomes we-at-her
  • Singing spellings
  • Breaking words down in parts
  • Recording their spellings onto tape
  • Rhythms and tapping to spellings
  • Follow me – you say it, they say it
  • Saying spellings as a ‘rap’

Kinaesthetic learners will want to learn by:

  • Writing in sand or sugar
  • Feeling you spell the words on their backs
  • Making words with pipe cleaners
  • Making words with play dough or clay
  • Visualising letters as picture clues that link into a story
  • Mnemonic – make a silly sentence/draw pictures e.g. SAID becomes:  Sad  Ants  In  Dustbins
  • Writing using different colours

Whatever you choose to do, learning spellings can seem a boring process when it requires so much effort from a child.  Make it as much FUN as possible by using a variety of materials and activities.

By Clare Rimmer, Centre Director, Kip McGrath Education Centre – Lisburn

Does your Child Need a Maths or EnglishTutor?

Does your child need a Tutor?

I was recently invited to write an article for The Nursery and School Guide Magazine (Glasgow and Edinburgh) on how parents should find a suitable tutor for their child in English and/or Maths.  As a former Deputy Head Teacher with 40 years of teaching experience, I hope parents will find this article helpful in making their decision.

Milestones in Early Years

All parents would like their children to be the best they can be. When our children are toddlers, there are ‘milestones’ in child development at every age. These ‘milestones’ can reassure parents that all is well or trigger warning signs that there may be a problem, in which case they may seek out specialist assessment for reassurance.

Every child is unique and will grow at their own pace.  Many children who do not reach ‘milestones’ in certain areas will eventually catch up and go on to flourish.  However these ‘milestones’ in early child development are a useful tool for parents to follow as it identifies easily their children’s progress and gives parents the tools to react to their children’s needs.

Milestones in School?

When a child reaches school age there aren’t clearly defined ‘milestones’ and we have to rely on parents’ evenings and our intuition as parents to discover how our children are performing.

So how do you you know when your child isn’t performing as well as they could?  Obviously Parents Evenings will give you an idea but this only happens twice in an academic year.  In Scotland, we used to have national assessments in English and maths every year and this was a good indication of how quickly our children were reaching each level.  However, since the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence in 2010, assessments will now only be taken at the end of Primary 4 and Primary 7.

How do parents gauge therefore what level their children are performing in reading, spelling English, writing and maths?  You may be told that your child is coping well ‘at his/her level’ in class, but what level is that?  Is your child doing well in English or maths in the lower group in class but others in the class are months ahead?   Are you content with that or would like to see your child move up a group or even two?

Reasons you may wish to consider a tutor.

Primary School Children

Use your intuition as a parent.

  • Does your child struggle with homework and make a fuss about it?
  • Is your child anxious before a test?
  • Does your child complain that they are not as clever as other children in class?
  • Is your child shy and lack confidence
  • Is your child bored and not being stretched to reach their full potential?
  • Do you think that your child should be performing better?

Secondary School Children

Talk to your child.  At this age, they should be able to tell you about how they are coping at school. Are they struggling with a particular subject?  Do they feel that they are falling behind and need lessons to catch up?  Do they know how to study for exams and know the techniques involved passing exams?  This has to be started earlier rather than later.  There is no point in hiring a tutor a month before an exam.

 Entrance Exams

If you are trying to gain entry to a school and your child will sit an entrance exam, it is important to engage a tutor well in advance to prepare.

What to do Next

Once you have decided you want to consider employing a tutor, how do you decide what option is best?  You can ask other parents and the school for recommendations.  You can search in the phone book and on the internet under tutoring.  You have the option of hiring a private tutor who may come to your house (or your child goes to theirs) or your child can attend a tutoring Centre like Kip McGrath Education Centres.  So how do you know which option is best for your child?

Private Tutor

A Private tutor may be an option where your child is shy or easily distracted and you feel that learning in the home would suit the child on a one to one basis.  If you employ a private tutor these are some tips to follow:

  • Recommendations from school or other parents are good
  • Check credentials and qualifications – Is the tutor fully qualified and a member of the General Teaching Council?
  • Ask to see their enhanced Disclosure Certificate.  Make sure your child is in safe hands
  • Do you like and trust the tutor?
  • Is your tutor a good teacher?  Like teaching, tutoring is a professional skill.  It is not resources that will help your child. It is the way a qualified teacher uses these to help your child.
  • Have they fully assessed your child’s ability and understand the key areas where tuition is needed?  (An assessment should be free and take at least 30 minutes)  It is not enough to take a school report to assess a child’s ability.  What assessment tools is the tutor using to prepare an appropriate lesson plan?
  • Does your child feel comfortable with the tutor?
  • What resources will the tutor use?
  • Ask for regular feedback from the tutor and child.

Tuition at Learning Centres

Why choose a Centre as opposed to private tuition?

  • In a centre, children gain a sense of purpose from children around them
  • The tutor does not hover over them but allows some independent work whilst at the same time being there for support.
  • Students more quickly become independent learners if shown what to do and then to be given space to do it on their own.
  • Learning Centres have valuable teaching resources readily at hand.
  • Students feel less isolated and provide motivation for each other in a group situation

Kip McGrath Education Centres throughout the UK are owned and run by fully qualified teachers, members of the General Teaching Council and must hold full, enhanced disclosures. It is always important to check that the tutors are qualified teachers.

About Kip McGrath Education centres

Kip McGrath has a 36 year history and an international reputation as a trusted and innovative deliverer of quality supplementary education.

Kip McGrath Education Centres provide tutorial assistance in reading, spelling, comprehension, English and maths, to students who are having difficulty with their school work or just want to do better. This is done in a positive learning environment through the use of proven teaching methods and programmes and is delivered by qualified and experienced teachers.

The tutoring programmes are designed to give students the motivation to succeed.  Progress is at the students’ own pace so they are never overwhelmed.  Students try when they attend because achievement is there for them all.  This achievement is not only rewarding but it is fun.

From the moment students walk into a Kip McGrath centre there are clear messages given to them; ‘this is a place where I can learn and this is a place where it is fun to learn.’

The unique Kip Maths and English programmes help students overcome learning obstacles by giving them a much needed boost of confidence.  We provide a caring environment that makes learning fund again.  The Kip Expert Programmes are designed to challenge young minds in a supportive environment that gets the very best from them in a fun and stimulating way.

In Scotland, Kip McGrath offer tuition in the following subjects:

  • English
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Maths
  • Intermediate/Standard Grade English and Maths
  • Higher English and Maths

Why choose Kip McGrath Education Centres Scotland?

Margaret Carmichael, a former Principal Teacher at Paisley Grammar, introduced Kip McGrath Education Centres to Scotland in 1999.  Connect with Margaret Carmichael, Kip McGrath on LinkedIn. There are now 28 centres in Scotland.  Every centre is owned and run by fully qualified teachers who share my love of teaching and rejoice in the dramatic results of our students by using the Kip McGrath method of teaching combined with the Scottish Curriculum.

Following a detailed assessment (free and without obligation), results will be discussed in full with the parent. If there appears to be an issue with English and/or maths, and you wish to enrol your child with Kip McGrath, our teachers will prepare an individual programme of learning designed to concentrate on areas of weakness.  Students attend the centres each week for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  The classes are split into 20 minute sessions which will include individual teaching, written and computer work.  Kip McGrath Tutors will provide regular feedback on your child’s progress.

To arrange a FREE educational assessment with your local Kip McGrath centre, use the postcode search tool on the main website at www.kipmcgrath.co.uk  The main website will also provide you with full details of the Kip McGrath maths and English Tutoring Programmes, including parent testimonials.  Alternatively, click on the centre link on the right hand side of our blog to go straight to your local centre.

Margaret Carmichael, Scottish Kip McGrath Master since 1999

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Curriculum For Excellence – A Parent’s View

This is the first article submitted by a parent of students at one of our Kip McGrath Tutoring Centres. We hope that other parents will also contribute to our blog about their experiences at Kip McGrath.  Having read our previous blog about Curriculum For Excellence, this parent wanted to add his own experience and we are very grateful to him for taking the time to write such a blog.

Curriculum For Excellence – My Views as a Parent

I am a parent of two children both at high school, one a third year student and the second a first year student.  My older child is preparing for standard grade exams next year and will see very little change in teaching practice as a result of the Curriculum For Excellence (CfE), the new curriculum being introduced to Scottish schools.  In contrast my youngest child will be in the first group of children in the school who will see teaching practices, and eventually even the exam system, change as a result of CfE.

When both my children were at primary school my wife and I were well aware of how the new curriculum was impacting on Primary teaching.  At its core the CfE aims to develop four learning capacities, to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a
confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor.  The curriculum aims to ensure that all children and young people develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need if they are to flourish in life, learning and work, now and in the future.  Full details of the CfE can be found on Learning and Teaching Scotland’s web site: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/understandingthecurriculum/whatiscurriculumforexcellence/index.asp

The new curriculum seemed to make sense at the Primary level and I was happy with how it was taken forward by my children’s’ Primary school.  But now that my youngest child is encountering CfE at high school there are a few issues that I think we parents need to think about.  Last week my wife and I attended a briefing session at our children’s school to hear about how the school was going to take CfE forward.

Having listened to what the head teacher had to say there are two major issues that cause me to think hard about what my youngest child will experience in the years ahead. Firstly the CfE gives the school much more flexibility in how it teaches and designs lessons in the school, not a bad thing in it’s own right I think.  Secondly to develop the four capacities there will be more teaching of subjects such as Maths across many subject areas to show children the practical applications of Maths and to reinforce Mathematical concepts, this is known as cross curricular teaching.

If I take the first issue highlighted by the head teacher, the degree of flexibility in teaching that is now being introduced.  Having spoken to some teachers (including my sister in law) many are concerned, not with the flexibility and freedom that they are getting, they welcome that, but the speed at which this is being pursued and the limited guidance they have received to date on how to design lessons and teaching.  Some teachers say they are confused about what it is they are now being expected to do in lessons and that it will take some time to iron out such issues.

My concern is that during this transitional phase the stability of the previous system is being lost and my child will not be exposed to a new degree of certainty until teachers are more comfortable with the CfE.  At primary level I was less concerned with this as my children did not face the prospect of exams, which is obviously not the case now.  We all know that stability is a key aspect in helping all children succeed in education.  Turmoil, confusion, change (even when it is for the better) can undermine a child’s efforts to learn. I know that the teachers in my children’s school will be working hard to reduce the prospect of instability undermining the hard work of the children.  But the simple fact of transition, as CfE is brought into all aspects of teaching and learning in the school, makes me more anxious as a parent.

The second issue that I thought about following thepresentation by the head teacher was the way core subjects, such as Maths and English, will be taught across the curriculum and not just in the Maths or English class.  Again I think this is a useful development and should help some children realise how important Maths and English is in both their learning and also in the real world.  My concern is more about the implications that this might have on how Maths and English themselves are taught than how my child will encounter Maths in other subject areas.

I might be something of a traditionalist here but my worry is that Maths and English teachers may look for more ‘exciting’ ways to teach their subject and sacrifice the core learning in lessons as a result.  All good teachers balance core learning(teaching concepts and ‘rules’ within the topic) while seeking to engage children in the subject to deepen their understanding of it.  I hope that the introduction of the CfE does not result in teachers focusing more on the engaging element, to try and makethe topic more appealing to children and in so doing sacrifice the core underlying learning, especially with more challenging topics and concepts.  Good teachers should make lessons interesting for children but they also need to get children to realise that some topics also require hard word, hard thinking and lots of effort in order to really grasp things.  This is the less glamorous side to teaching but critically important if children are to succeed.

Overall I think the introduction of the CfE will be good for Scottish children.  It should help more children learn better and fulfil their potential.  My concerns relate more to the transitional phase that my younger child will experience and the impact that this will have on how teachers ‘teach’ as they come to terms with the new curriculum and itsimplications for teaching practice.

All change, even good change, can lead to periods of instability as things move from one approach or system to a new one.  Change in the education of children raises important issues that as parents we will all be thinking about.  This means that as a parent I will be searching for means to keep some stability in my children’s learning environment as they experience change in their school and their classrooms in the years ahead.  I personally think that Kip McGrath will be important for my younger child in particular but will also remain important for my older child who will not be affected by the CfE directly.  Kip will provide some stability while the school makes the changes it needs to make to implement the CfE.  As the CfE is further implemented in my children’s school I also wish to see Kip’s approach evolve to support what my children will be learning and how they are being taught.  In the meantime I am happy that Kip McGrath and its teaching staff will be one pillar of stability as my children experience change in their learning environment.

Comment by Kip McGrath

These concerns are often raised by parents when bringing their child to Kip McGrath for an initial assessment.  Most parents (and some teachers) are still a little confused about how Curriculum For Excellence will affect their children’s education.  This particular parent has taken the time to talk to his school and other teachers and we would stress that these opinions are his alone.

If you have any concerns about your child’s education and would like to talk to one of our teachers or arrange a Free assessment, please go to www.kipmcgrath.co.uk to find your local centre.

How to help your child achieve their full potential in all aspects of life.

Praise Your Child’s Efforts

I read an interesting article the other day, written by Matthew Syed, a former table tennis champion, about how we can possibly hold our children back with the words we use and set them up for failure in the future both academically and personally.

We’ve all heard a phrase like”my daughter is not very good at maths or sports – she takes after her mother!”  People assume that talent is all about genetics and parents can unintentionally influence their childrens’ achievements by repeating this type of phrase to spare a child’s feelings if they struggle in a particular area and praise their children highly on achievements and results.

However, there has been lots of research into this subject (see link below) and it shows that every child has the potential to excel in all areas whether it be Maths, English, Science, Sports, Arts etc regardless of genetics.  The brain has the capacity to learn and excel at anything, as long as the effort is put in and encouragement given in the right way.

We need to remove the mindset in children that they have talent for certain things like sport but are not academically gifted.  This is not necessarily true – every child has the potential to be an academic given the correct teaching methods and putting in the effort.  It is very important that a child has the correct mindset and realises that effort will bring them to the top in any field, not ‘talent’.

My view as a Parent

As a parent I quickly became aware of the value of commenting on behaviour as this was something my children viewed as changeable.  They knew I was angry with the negative behaviour and I praised their effort for trying hard to change it.  Something as simple as teaching them to ride their bikes meant commenting on how hard they were trying and with practise/effort they could achieve their goal of no stabalisers. Shouting to remind my oldest about a previously learned skill, such as timing it right to put both feet down after breaking, saved her from smashing head first into a tree in the park, then praising her for working hard on this –  previously she fell off every timed she braked and nearly killed off a few cats in the process!

My view as a Teacher

As a teacher, you have to get to know the children you work with and build up a relationship with them.  However, the last thing you want is for them to perform a task just to receive praise from their teacher.  Praise can either be a bond or barrier.

Allan McLean, ‘The Motivated School’ (2010) talks about contaminated praise where a teacher gives praise with the add on of ‘but I wish you could do that all the time’ or ‘why can’t you always..’  McLean states that praise should be relevant, specific and immediate.  Praise for effort encourages children to concentrate on their learning as opposed to showing off their ability.  It teaches values and builds confidence and much research points to the fact that it is related to self-esteem.  It is important to be confident in your ability to deal with difficulties and to know you will progress if you work hard and use the correct approaches, especially when the going gets tough. Confidence in ability is only useful when pupils are doing well, therefore, praise for effort changes their mindset to cope when they come up against a challenge.

This links with Carol Dweck’s research where she states that praising effort and not talent encourages children to view challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats.  Hers and McLean’s research impacts on our beliefs about talent and influences the way we respond and think.  We need to promote the view that IQ is not fixed and the brain is like a muscle – the more we exercise it the more it grows and our skills expand with practise.

My experience at Kip McGrath Education Centres

The foregoing is at the heart of the Kip philosophy and the materials we use.  As tutors we have to remind ourselves the impact words have and can either hold back or encourage an individual.  The materials provide students with skills practise and as they move through the programmes they can experience first hand how their efforts reap rewards.

For example, I have a young student who is dyslexic.  The computer programmes use a multi sensory approach where he hears, sees, touches and responds.  The written materials provide practise and the tutor teaches the skills and approaches to use when meeting new challenges.  He told me he hated language work in school but after coming to Kip for a while he now likes to read books and enjoys sitting in the library corner at school.  He knows he finds reading challenging but now has the confidence to use his skills and knowledge about language to tackle words when reading.  His mindset has changed.  He views himself as a reader and believes if he works hard and keeps practising his skills will expand.  He no longer believes he can’t read because he is not as clever as the other children in his class but is something he can work hard on.  His mum told me today that his class teacher can’t believe the difference in his attitude.  He contributes in class, asks for help and is determined to succeed.  He still has many challenges to face but with the support of his tutor, the Kip materials and praise targeted to his effort he has the capacity to deal with the learning challenges he faces.

Getting it Right

As a person I am not saying I am perfect.  It has taken me years and lots of courses, assignments and analysing my behaviour to make sure the impact I have on children/students I teach is a positive one.  Sometimes I get it wrong and feel like kicking myself but self-reflection is a great tool to put you on the path to getting it right.

Angela Mitchell (right) runs the Kip McGrath Education Centres in Cambuslang together with Lesley McAteer (both fully qualified teachers).  To contact us, please click on the photo to take you to our main website or call us on 0141 646 2314.

Sources and useful links for this Blog




Curriculum For Excellence in Scotland – What do you think?

We currently have 28 Kip McGrath Education Centres in Scotland.  Every Centre Director is a qualified Teacher and we only employ tutors in Maths and English who are fully qualified, members of the General Teaching Council Scotland and hold enhanced disclosures.

Although we follow the proven Kip McGrath method of teaching, we also closely follow the Scottish Curriculum. Many of of our tutors still teach in schools as their daytime job and some are retired teachers and Head Teachers.  We feel it is important to keep up to date with the Scottish Curriculum and to this end we are all about to undertake refresher training on “Curriculum for Excellence” in Scotland which was introduced in 2010.

This is a link for parents and teachers alike to the main “Curriculum For Excellence Website” which should answer any questions you may have. http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/understandingthecurriculum/whatiscurriculumforexcellence/index.asp

We also stumbled across this Forum on TES Scotland which highlights teachers’ views on CFE.  Please note you may need to be a teacher and sign up with TES to view.


We would be interested to hear from parents and teachers alike in Scotland on how Curriculum For Excellence is working  for you and what difference this is making to your teaching methods and the results you attain.  Perhaps you could complete our poll?

Facebook – What age would you Let your Child Set up an Account?

My Personal Assistant, Kirsty, has an eight year old daughter who recently asked if she could set up a Facebook account because “loads of my friends are on it”.  Having looked into this, she was astounded to find 6 children (friends and family) under the age of 11 who were regularly using Facebook, including the daughter of one of her closest friends.  Her friend in fact doesn’t use Facebook and has no idea what her daughter may be doing online.

Facebook’s official policy is that children under the age of 13 cannot become a member although it is very easy to add a false date of birth – no checks are made.  Interestingly, we have just come across this link from the BBC discussing the same question http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13129150

We wanted to ask parents the question “What age would you let your child have a Facebook account”?  To this end, we would be interested in finding out your opinion by taking part in our poll below:

If you have any concerns about your child’s safety online or need to refresh your own knowledge in order to keep up, the link below is an excellent source of information.

Educational Benefits of Chess

Educational Benefits of Chess

In a recent piece of research reviewed by Scottish International Chess Master Craig Pritchett on the educational benefits of learning to play chess, it was concluded that “chess coaching in Primary 4 curriculum class time linked to the development of out-of-hours clubs helped improve pupils’ behaviour and social skills and that, taken together, impacts on reading, spelling and comprehension made a difference to learning”.

The Aberdeen Chess in Schools project started in 2001 and involved seven primary schools with over 300 pupils participating. This was expanded to include other schools and funding was secured until 2006.

Aberdeen Council appointed a full-time Chess Development Officer and the initial aims of the project were to:

  • establish after school chess clubs;
  •  develop teaching materials to encourage parents to become chess coaches;
  •  organise family chess evenings;
  • organise tournaments and one to one coaching;
  •  involve parents in the classroom, developing one to one chess for learning difficulties and behavioural problems and develop a mentoring scheme.

The project came under the scrutiny of HM Inspectorate of Education. They reported that the Chess project addressed the literacy and numeracy needs of young people.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen’s Rowan Group conducted quantitative assessment in comprehension, reading, spelling, vocabulary, numeracy and social adjustment.

The research found that there were positive benefits to comprehension and numeracy skills, and children who played chess developed self-regulated learning and problem solving skills through such study and play. Chess helped teach children how to learn. It created a desire to learn and the ‘will to use knowledge’.

Frank Park (B.Ed; B.Sc (Hons); M.I. Biol)  is a fully qualified teacher and is Centre Director of Kip McGrath Education Centres, Kilmarnock and Ayr. Frank launched the Kilmarnock centre in  2003   and took over the Ayr centre in January 2011.  All of our tutors in Maths and English are fully qualified teachers.

Although I love to teach and thrive on the results that my students attain, my other interests are astronomy and chess.  To this end, I have invited all Ayr and Prestwick Primary Schools to enter  a pupil in a chess tournament being organised by the Kip McGrath Ayr Centre, please contact Frank Park for details at frank.park@btinternet.com. The tournament is limited to the 16 schools in Ayr and Prestwick due to the size of my premises, however I would hope to organise something similar for the other South Ayrshire schools if this tournament proves a success.

Link to Chess Scotland

Go to our main Ayr website at Kip McGrath Education centres for Maths and English Tuition and a whole lot more.

Please  Like our Ayr Kip McGrath Facebook Page

SQA announcent – Higher grade D now a Pass!!

Amazing Change in SQA policy for Higher Grade Passes
In today’s edition of Scottish Daily Mail (6th April 2011) it was reported by  Graham Grant, Home Affairs Editor on the front page that the SQA have implemented an extraordinary change of policy regarding the pass rate for Scottish Highers.
A Grade C or above has been the official pass rate for years.  Under the new guidelines, students who ‘fail’ the Higher with a D will be classed as having passed and receive the same credit as those achieving a C or above.  Amazingly, this has to be backdated to 2004 and all students who attained a D will receive a replacement exam certificate.
Dr Gill Stewart, Director of qualifications at the SQA is quoted as saying “changing how a D is seen will give a fuller and more accurate picture of attainment”.  The SQA admitted that “the changes reflected the fact that, regardless of grade, each candidate completed the same number of learning hours but that employers, colleges and universities would still use grades to gauge candidates’ mastery of a subject”.
As qualified teachers, this is something that I am sure we at Kip McGrath will be debating about over the coming weeks.  I would be interested to know what others thought about this.
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