Tutor view: The Education Hotel

Tutoring children in destinations as far flung as Dubai, Qatar and China for the 11-plus, Education Hotel has always taught online. Children love using the online whiteboard, says director Jemma Zoe Smith.

The Education Hotel has around 40 tutors, each with a subject or test specialism. “I have a real passion for the 11-plus exams,” adds Smith, who gained entrance to Chelmsford County High School for Girls via the 11-plus.

Top tips for maths: Maths skills all build upon one another, so make sure that the key skills are there before even starting to look at 11-plus specifics. Make sure that your child knows how to work with operations (plus, minus, divide and multiply), make sure that they know their multiplication tables, that they know how to turn word equations into maths, break down questions into multiple parts and that they have a solid understanding of shape, space and measure. Only once the foundations are strong should you start to look at 11-plus content.

Top tips for English: Read, read, read – anything and everything. Read letters, newspapers, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, poems, song lyrics – read it all! Ask questions about what your child is reading – can they describe the main character? Where is the setting? What do they think the word ‘befuddled’ means? Also, a good grasp of literary techniques and being able to spot these in literature is useful. For example, many advertisements use alliteration or rhetorical questions.

Top tips for verbal/non-verbal reasoning: Make the learning fun – lots of word games for verbal reasoning. One we like to run is “hidden word” – where everyone has to get their new word into a sentence without anyone else noticing. Also, Bananagrams for spelling. The letter game (where you pick a letter and everyone has to describe an object using that letter) is also good – for example, using ‘b’ to describe an apple tree may lead to the word beautiful, bitter, bright green, bountiful.

For non-verbal have a technique for each “type” of question. Having these techniques helps children to feel more in control when it comes to doing non-verbal. Also, as the exam gets nearer you will need to be timing the questions. These two exams are tight on time. Having the right technique will help children finish and have time to check.

Are you now offering online tutoring? We have always offered online tuition. We tutor children one-to-one from all over the world including from Dubai, Qatar and China. Our tutors love tutoring online and we use a video conferencing software (like Zoom or Skype) plus an online whiteboard. 

How are children responding to online tutoring? Our children love using the online whiteboard – our younger children like drawing a picture as a reward and our older students like the ability to be able to download the notes after they are done. It is interactive and easy to use. For 11-plus we put questions on the whiteboard and tutors can see students working and correct them as they go along. Alongside the whiteboard, our tutors talk with the students via video conferencing software (Skype or Zoom) so that we can see them just the same as being in person. 

When should a child start preparing for the eleven-plus? Year 4 should be all about preparation – get the foundations in place. Then from year 5 focus on 11-plus specifically.

How many hours a week does a child need to study? This is totally dependent on the child – some are very focussed – others need little breaks built in. Most of our children take one or two hours a week during year 4 and 5, which increases as they get nearer to the exams.

If a student is starting late to this process, they typically take more intensive sessions with our tutors. Sometimes this is a week, or weekend during which the student and tutor work for several hours together covering large amounts of material at a time. Little and often is preferred however!

Best materials to use: We like to tailor our material to a child – featuring their interest in some of our comprehension tasks, their names in some of our math word-based problems. However, we pull material from Bond, Schofield and Sims, Peter Robson, Galore park and others.

We have also just started working with myschoolboxes.com – which is offering a subscription box for 11-plus students. The box has daily tasks, practice papers, 11-plus books, fun treats, stationery, treats, stickers and more! From September, a full year’s subscription of revision and 11-plus support will be available.

Schools tutored for: I’ve been a tutor for eight years and some of my tutors for over 20 years. We have covered a lot of schools between us!

We focus on competitive UK schools at 7-plus, 11-plus, 13-plus and 16-plus entry. Over the last year we have had acceptances to Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Eton, Harrow, John Lyon School, Queen Elizabeth’s School, St Mary’s School Ascot, Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Merchant Taylors’ Prep, Wycombe Abbey, The Latymer School, St Paul’s Girls’ School, Magdalen College School and more.

Price of tuition per hour: £55 for one-to-one tuition online.

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