We thought our first blog post should tell you a bit more about us and what we do. Nothing illustrated this more that something wonderful that happened before we took a break for the Christmas holidays. As ex-classroom teachers ourselves, we like to take an active part in the whole process from meeting the tutors and the families we work with and ensuring that we have put the best support in place. We even do some of the tutoring ourselves as we feel it’s important to utilise the skills we’ve built up over a number of years in education.
This particular session was pretty special. It is probably everyone in education’s dream that a child that they have worked with will celebrate some success and that they will get to hear about it. More often than not though, we work with a child for a short time in their life and then never hear from them again. It’s just part of the process and something you come to accept. However, recently we got the opportunity to visit a child, a year after our support ended, and see for ourselves how the work we had done meant that this child’s life chances had been changed dramatically for the better.
With a recent diagnosis of autism and a genuine fear of maths, this student was refusing to go into maths lessons at primary school and became easily distressed when she was in the classroom. Despite a supportive teacher and a lot of effort on the school’s part to accommodate her, she was still unable to access the lesson and this was causing her even more anxiety. We assigned one of our more experienced tutors to work with her. We needed someone with a strong background in working with SEN students and with primary experience.
Although her parent’s main concern was that she felt happier about maths in general and that she made progress, there was no denying that now she was in Year 6 there would be SATs test looming in the distance like a huge mathematical monster she would be incredibly fearful to face. She needed careful handling and a lot of patience, whilst she wrestled together all the fragments of knowledge she had into a whole picture that she could make sense of.
Her parents were amazingly supportive. They were always discreetly present during the tuition sessions and this put her at ease in the early days where the one-to-one lessons could be challenging. What tuition did for her, that classroom teaching couldn’t, was provide her with the opportunity to express her feelings about trying to learn abstract concepts and demand answers to ALL of the questions that she needed answering. It worked. Over time she began to complete homework that previously was a battle to get her to focus on, she showed confidence with her maths ability and became willing to take risks with her learning.
The student did exceptionally well in her SATs tests and became known as ‘The Algebra Queen’ for conquering this particular topic. This happened because she was lucky enough to receive the individualised education she needed. Consequently, we were delighted when we were called back to do some revision with her for her Year 7 end of year maths test. We felt privileged to have been given an opportunity to visit a student, one year on, and it was so pleasing to see how confident she has become.