“I never put a limit on a child because each year there is always someone that surprises me and parents thank me for this because they would have never originally considered a top school for their child,” says tutor Danielle Baron.
Top tips for maths: Maths is all about short-cuts, patterns and formulas. Follow this and you will go far. I use this principle when teaching children to help them to break down the answers. It’s amazing how children comment that the questions were so much easier than they thought when we follow this process. Usually mathematics questions look harder than they are once you know the tips and tricks! ‘If in doubt, draw it out’. I also loosely use the Singapore maths bar model and adapt it for my students’ learning.
Top tips for English: Aim for more than the student will need and approach it with variety. This is my advice and it has worked so far. I have some top-secret literary features and techniques that I teach when I tutor my students and make sure that they go into the exam a cut above the rest.
Top tips for verbal/non-verbal reasoning: Get to know all the possible types of questions that will come up and the sub questions within them. Keep practising! For non-verbal, as a general rule, eliminate the different components one by one, starting with the most obvious. The net and 3D shape questions can be the trickiest for some children. Make it as kinaesthetic as possible to begin with. I have purchased a magnetic net that children can use to help to solve the net questions. For verbal reasoning, I find that vocabulary development is key to answering many of the types of questions. Purchase 11-plus vocabulary flash cards and books. Source a useful 11-plus reading list to help your child. Audio books are also a great resource.
Are you now offering online tutoring? It was an aim of mine to venture into the realms of online tuition at the start of the year and then lockdown came so I was thrust in at the deep end and had to swim and learn fast! A successful tutor has to adapt. I was very cynical about online tuition beforehand and I think therefore why I hesitated for so long. But I realise that it can be so effective with the right planning and the right tutor. I have gone wild and purchased all the top technology to enhance it, but students don’t need to do the same. All they need is a computer, and if they would like, a graphics pad. I recommend the Huion make. Some students who were once face-to-face have stayed online and I have met so many new people online that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to. I have taught people from Cyprus, America, Singapore and the north of England.
From September I am also starting an ongoing online group English course every Saturday at 9am. This will be cheaper than my usual rate and have unlimited numbers.
I still love to also tutor face-to-face.
How are children responding? This is the important question out of all of them. My students respond extremely well. Confidence abounds! They receive pastoral care and at the same time they know I have extremely high expectations for them and they develop the same mentality for themselves and want to do well. They feel comfortable whether face-to-face or online and this aids optimum learning. I have some students who literally cannot wait to do their homework and will also do extra!
When should a child start preparing for the 11-plus? This varies depending on the age, ability of the child and the school that they are aiming for. As a general rule, I would advise the start of year 4 for grammar schools and start of year 5 for independent schools. This is why my assessments are so important because I pinpoint the baseline starting point, which determines the plan of action for each child. The younger ones have a smaller window of time if they are going for 7-plus or 8-plus and it really depends on their level of maturity and focus.
How many hours a week does a child need to study? Children have their own timetables and I advise to personalise it to their own routine. Mental health comes first! I always give homework and give extra when needed, such as in the holidays, but I always work with schools regarding the teaching methods and the amount of extra hours that a child can do while ensuring leisure time and well-being. I promote growth mindset and my high success rate proves that this is the right approach.
Best materials to use? I use a variety of materials and this is the key to success. It doesn’t matter what school a child is aiming for because each year they can throw something new out of the bag and the child needs to be prepared for that. Bond is always a great starting point. Then there are other schemes such as Schofield and Sims, CGP, First Pass The Post and Exam Papers Plus. Children need to be exposed to all types of questions and schemes no matter what school they are applying for so that they have a versatile approach to the exams. I also design my own materials for my teaching and mocks. This is based on years of experience and for now I only share these with my current students, but I may consider publishing them one day.
Schools tutored for: All the top schools:
- St. Paul’s
- King’s College
- The Lady Eleanor Holles School (I used to work there as a teacher)
- St. George’s
- Guildford High
- Surbiton High
- Hampton Prep
- Hampton Senior School
- Tiffin Boys’ and Girls’
- Kingston Grammar School
- Henrietta Barnett
- Wallington Grammar School
- City of London Freemen’s School
- Buckinghamshire grammar schools
- Wilson’s School
- Nonsuch High School
- Reigate Grammar
- Royal Grammar School
- Queen Elizabeth’s School
- Wimbledon High
- Sir William Perkins
- Milbourne Lodge
- Radnor House
- Wycombe Abbey
- St. Catherine’s Bramley
- St. Catherine’s Twickenham
- The Mall
- Reading Blue Coats
- Bute House
How easy/hard are these to get into? They vary in terms of how hard they are to get in to. Some grammar schools have thousands of applicants, but it also depends on the calibre of the cohort of students as well as the pass rate that each school has. My approach is to take each child as far as they can go. I never put a limit on a child because each year there is always someone that surprises me and parents thank me for this because they would have never originally considered a top school for their child and suddenly they are spoilt for choice.
How long have you been a tutor? I have been a tutor for ten years, and while I was a teacher and assistant headteacher, but in the last four years I have been tutoring full-time. It has really taken off and I know the exam system like the back of my hand. Passion and love of the job is what you need to get you through each yearly cycle because it is not easy most of the time. There is a lot of background work that goes on in addition to the contact time teaching. It takes 100 percent commitment, dedication and determination to help each and every child.
Price of tuition per hour: £100. At the end of the day, it’s not about the cost, but the value. I am there as a coach and mentor as well as a tutor. I work with the parents and children as a team. It’s about the final outcome, which is priceless.