I do private tutoring for children and young people who live in the Medway Towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham
In Maths and Science (or Physics, Chemistry and Biology as separate subjects) to
I also tutor children Y3 to Y6 in Maths and English and general subjects, but there is an important Note about this at the end of this Page which I would urge parents of children in these Years to read if they are contemplating private tuition for them, from me or from any tutor.I also help adults, both young and mature, with maths, science, English and IT for vocational and trade exams - please e-mail me for further information about this.
Sessions are usually one hour, and usually once a week. All tutoring is normally one-to-one, except when parents have specifically asked me to teach two students at a time, for example twins or two friends in the same Class at school. I do all the teaching myself and I have no connection with the fully commercial Balmoral Road Tutors who provide group teaching in a building quite near.
I only take students who can speak and understand English reasonably well because I have no training or qualification in teaching English as a foreign language; however if a member of your family or a friend is having problems with learning English as a foreign language please e-mail me with your telephone number and I will try to help you find a suitable tutor.
Because I do voluntary work at a local Junior School and help with the children at the Church I attend I have a Full Disclosure check by the Criminal Records Bureau which is the organisation which investigates the background of people who work with children.
I live in Central Gillingham and I choose not to own a car, so I tutor only students who come to my house. This has two good educational advantages.
I usually tutor in the dining room, where there is a large table, suitable for left- and right-handed students. This is separated from the living room by an arch. My wife always stayed in the living room when I had a school-age student, and since she died I prefer it if a parent or other adult or older sibling stays with such a student. There is no reason why other siblings should not also stay, provided they are quiet, and I am quite happy to provide a table so they can do homework.
For the reasons why I do not own a car please click here
I am usually quite happy to tutor students who are being home-educated or have been suspended or excluded from school, but only after I have met them and their families and talked things through with them. However I have only very limited facilities for experimental work in science, and I cannot always help students with their science course-work.
Students at Primary School do not need to bring a pocket calculator; students at Secondary School really do need their own (scientific) calculator and should always try to bring it with them - it is important that whenever possible you always use the same calculator so that you become completely familiar with its use, but if you do forget yours you can of course always use one of mine during the lesson. I provide all other books and materials.
Every lesson is tailored to the needs of each individual student at that particular moment in time, and often that will be to help with a particular problem the student has had at school rather than the lesson I had prepared - sadly today many young people are often afraid to tell their teacher they do not understand something because they think their teacher or their classmates might laugh at them. I am always willing to listen and to explain. Some explanations which I know young people are finding difficult are on my Web Site, just go to Maths Stuff or Science Stuff. These Pages are free to use for all young people not only my students so please do encourage your children to look at them even if I am not their tutor.
Here is some background information about myself.
When I came down from University I went into industry and then into computer consultancy, but later retrained as a teacher. I was a teacher of maths, IT, science and general subjects for more than twenty years, until I took early retirement following heart surgery. Since then I have been doing voluntary work (on Ancient Egypt and Control Technology) at a local Primary School, and also private tutoring.
My wife and I were married for forty years, and we have three children, all married and with children of their own.
You can read about my family and other interests on other Pages of my Web Site: click on the hieroglyph for the Eye of Horus at the top of this Page or the Adoring Man at the bottom to get to the Main Index. By now you should have realised that Ancient Egypt is one of my interests!
To make further enquiries about my tutoring please e-mail me with your address or telephone number and I will contact you to answer any questions and if you wish to take things further to arrange an informal meeting. (You will understand that many people think it unwise to put personal addresses or telephone numbers on non-commercial web sites.)
I do not think it is ever a good idea for children Y2 and below who are already attending school to be privately tutored as well unless they have been professionally diagnosed as having a specific learning difficulty and their tutor is professionally qualified to teach children of this age with this condition, and I am not under any circumstances prepared to tutor children below Y3. If you believe the school is failing your child take it up with the school or change your child’s school; if you cannot do this contact your MP.
I think that if children in Y3 are having problems, either because they are falling behind or because they are not being sufficiently challenged and stimulated, the first course of action is for parents to raise the matter with their school. I am quite happy to tutor Y3 children but I do need to know why parents are thinking private tutoring might help their child after they have done this.
Children in Years 4 and 5 may sometimes benefit from extra help, either because they are falling behind and losing self-confidence or because they are not being sufficiently challenged. However in Kent and Medway the situation is very much complicated by the 11+.
Kent and Medway each have some selective schools (Grammar Schools), selecting children for them for entry at the beginning of Year 7 on the basis of a test (commonly called the 11+) taken in the first two weeks of Year 6, immediately after the long school summer holiday. In what follows I refer to all non-selective schools as High Schools although that is not the title they all use.
Some of my students have attended independent schools or have been home educated, but most have attended maintained Primary, Grammar or High Schools.For reasons described in Appendix 1 I do not for one moment consider that the 11+ test in its present form is a satisfactory way of determining whether a child should go to a Grammar School or a High School. Going one stage further, I consider that it is very unusual for a child to do well enough in the 11+ to be offered place at a Grammar School without having been helped to prepare for it outside the normal Primary School day. I am quite happy to help students who I consider will thrive at a Grammar School prepare for the 11+ as a part but only a part of preparing them for their Secondary School, but I am totally unwilling to coach, to the exclusion of all else, the children of parents who think that their children’s lives will be ruined for ever if they do not “pass” the 11+.
This coaching is in any case often worse than useless: children of parents who have made them spend several hours a day every day for the whole of August practising for the 11+ are not necessarily the children who will benefit most from Grammar School, and many such children simply cannot cope there. But many local Grammar Schools provide no pastoral or other support for such children, and I spend much of my time with some of my Year 7 and Year 8 children at Grammar School picking up the pieces and restoring their self-confidence and self-esteem.
Of course there are many people who make a very nice living thank you by advertising coaching for the 11+, (usually starting in Y3 but abandoning some children before the end of Y5 to boost their success rate) but I am not one of them.
By this time children in Kent and Medway will know whether they will be going to a Grammar School or a High School. The emphasis is on providing them with the skills, including learning skills, which they will need at their new school, rebuilding their self-confidence and self-esteem if this is necessary after their 11+ results, and ensuring that they will do really well in their SATs.
It is my experience that able children who are doing well at their Primary School continue to do well at their Secondary School whether it is a Grammar School or a High School. All my Secondary School students tell me that Grammar School students are not better behaved or less likely to disrupt lessons than High School children, it is just that, whatever type of school (even Public School!) they attend, students of higher ability can misbehave and disrupt lessons in more sophisticated ways than those of lower ability. Selection itself is not an issue with me, what concerns me greatly is that I do not for one moment believe that the particular test used by Kent and Medway, or its timing, or the conditions under which the children take it, is in any way a satisfactory method of deciding whether a child should attend a Grammar School or a High School, and Grammar School, High School and Primary School Head Teachers have repeatedly said this. It requires skills, particularly in algebra, which are not taught before Year 6, the skills which are examined are not those which they will need in their first years at secondary school, many of the skills which are needed to cope at Grammar School are not examined, many of the words to be found in questions involving word searches are not in the vocabulary of most children of this age, not even in their Primary School English dictionaries, the way some of the questions are to be answered so that they can be marked by computer is quite alien to children of this age, the way the papers are laid out and printed disadvantages left-handed children, the conditions under which the test is taken are very stressful, the timing of the test discriminates against working and single parents, and so on.
©Barry Gray July 2019