Kim is the Area Advisor and tutor manager for Northamptonshire. Kim is passionate about education, with an expertise and background in teaching English. She continues to tutor English herself alongside running this business. Her expertise is English language and literature for GCSE and Key stages 3,4 and 5.
English can be really liked by some students and really disliked by others, but we know it’s a really important subject at school and for life!
We thought we would ask Kim some questions about her experiences as an English teacher/tutor and some of tips for parents and students if you feeling a bit stuck..
You have taught English in schools and as a tutor – what do you enjoy most about this?
What I love about both is the interactions with the students. I like a laugh and a giggle with them and I like to learn from them too. Studying can be intense, as can teaching, so being able to see students out of a classroom can sometimes make all the difference. Having said this, being in a classroom is great because you can display examples of great work in there and give students something to be proud of.
English is loved by some students and disliked by others. What would you say to the students who dislike it and feel disheartened?
I reassure them and explain that they may never like it, but I can help teach them not to be afraid of it by showing them all they need to do do get that elusive ‘5’ which is the new ‘C’ grade. English isn’t just about reading books and writing stories. It’s about making things enjoyable. My classroom has been set up as a crime scene with police tape, forensic suits, ‘blood’ splashed everywhere followed by a game of Cluedo to explore Detective Fiction. The tables have been pushed back and it has become a stage for an interactive performance of Macbeth. We’ve learned the ‘Thriller’ dance routine as an introduction to the horror genre. We’ve made a whole magazine from scratch which has covered writing to inform, persuade, advise, entertain and inform. Before they know it, they like English more than they thought they did!
It feels like curriculum is changing all the time – is English really that important?
Whilst students may say “when am I ever going to need Macbeth” or ‘What’s the point in punctuation, the words are still the same”, they need to understand the English isn’t just about articulating what you know. The real skill is about how well they articulate what they know. That’s what employers are looking for and that’s really the point of English. We just choose to do it by using a range of materials available to us and expose students to a broad spectrum of things that they may not look at of their own accord. They might even enjoy it!
If I’m a parent concerned that my child is struggling with English ; how could extra tuition benefit my child?
Reassurance. One to one support is good for students who may not speak out when they don’t understand something. It can also give them that extra push which could mean the difference between a C and a D, because as we all know, a C grade opens more doors. It may be that a student is closing with a teacher or for whatever reason just doesn’t reach their full potential in the classroom. A different face, a different place and a different way of explaining something might be all it takes to make a difference. All Home-School Tutoring tutors are all fully qualified to offer this support, and fully reference and DBS checked for parental peace of mind too. There may be cheaper tutors out there, but you do get what you pay for in some instances.
Do you have a great success story about a previous student/tutee you have taught? What progress did you see?
One of my favourite success stories is about a girl who could no longer be taught in her school setting for various reasons but was still on the school roll. Myself and a colleague who does Maths were asked if we could basically teach her the whole English Literature/Language and Maths for her GCSE. We were her sole educators. I don’t think she was really expected to do particularly well but we managed to get a C in both subjects and she went on to college. She was a bit of a terror, you might say, but in a different place with different people on a one-to-one basis, she was a delight. Bright, funny, a good worker – all of which her teachers had hardly seen.
If I’m a parent and I have no idea how to support my child with their English – is there anything I can do to help?
Well, there are a number of things:
The obvious one might be to get a tutor! Students think their parents know nothing and refuse to let them help, so a fresh face might mean the student is more willing to behave and give things a go.
Don’t pressure them or get cross with them as it’ll negatively reinforce their dislike of the subject – simply encourage them.
With the little ones, pick some words that you know they know, and identify them on signs and posters; reading doesn’t have to be from a book!
For older ones approaching GCSE you could have a look at the exam board website where you’ll find past papers with their mark schemes and the examiner’s report.
The examiner’s report can be more useful than the mark scheme because it explains which type of questions past students did well on and how they did it. The mark scheme can be a bit to ‘jargon-ish’ for a non teacher!
If you think your child would benefit from some patient and supportive tuition in English or in any other subject, please do get in touch with your local HST Area Advsior who would be delighted to chat with you for initial advice and to listen to your tutoring needs. Please go to www.homeschooltutoring.co.uk/locations/ to contact the Home-School Tutoring business in your area.
We look forward to hearing from you!