I have been providing 1:1 professional tutoring services now since 2018, and in all those years my pattern of support has been the same: Help GCSE maths students for their November resits and then come in in January to help students prepare for their May exams. This is the usual pattern of behaviour in a normal world, and after 18 months of run-of-the-mill standard teaching.
But this is no longer a normal world, and in teaching terms, won't be for several years.
Since the pandemic started in March 2020, followed by a full nationwide lockdown and schools and colleges resumed in September 2020, followed again by another national lockdown in January 2021, I have seen a repeated pattern of behaviour again and again, from several different students in several different schools across the country.
It's like all of September - December didn't happen at all.
Each student I have spoken to has no memory of any material delivered between these months. From a teaching point of view, assuming 12 weeks of teaching, at 4 hours a week (for A level) this accounts to a loss of 48 hours of teaching time.
The next question is how long will it take to catch up?
There are two ways to approach this:
The most straightforward way is to reteach the lessons in their entirety, which means you are looking at 48 hours of support at a minimum of 48 hours.
The other approach is to take a 'flipped learning' style (also known as 'Socratic Method'), where the student will go away and prepare the material, and then come to the lesson with questions. However, this will still take about 48 hours to catch up.
I am currently employing both tutorial styles for students, with varying degrees of success. I am finding that I am swapping between the two according to the topic being covered and the needs of the individual student.
What I am also finding though is that, even with 2 hours of tuition support, it is almost impossible to catch students up, as invariably they will have questions about the material that is currently being delivered, as it will usually build on material taught in the first few months. I have been catching up students since January, and at 2 hours a week it will take me 24 weeks (or 6 months) to catch students up.
This pattern of behaviour is also seen in students who have studied GCSE Computing, as I have seen students coming in to the A level assuming that their GCSE knowledge will suffice as the material looks similar, but quickly come unstuck when the level of detail studied is in greater detail than expected. Certainly programming tasks that might have taken several weeks at GCSE will be covered at A level in one or two hours.
There has been a much-touted 'Summer School Catch Up Programme of Study' for students, however seems to be aimed at 7 - 11 and 11 - 16 students and not 16 - 19 students. Basically, this has failed to include A level and Level 3 BTEC students, as well as students retaking GCSE Maths and English, so it looks like the only approach here is going to be private 1:1 support.
In conclusion, if you find that your son or daughter is struggling, don't be alarmed they are not alone. However, should you be thinking about 1:1 support for your child to help them catch up, I hope this article has given you some idea into the challenges that both the student and tutor will face.
However, if you do decide to go down the 1:1 support route, I cannot stress enough that the earlier help is given, the better chances of success, and certainly getting one or two weeks of help in the summer will go a long way to helping your son or daughter prepare for Summer 2021
(C) TheComputingTutor 2021