I have two confessions to make….. I didn’t see this programme….. because I was tutoring children

There, got it out of my system.

Reading the headlines, the blog posts and tweets I think it’s important to make a distinction between the job I do and other tuition providers.

Firstly, not all tutors are qualified teachers. Why does it matter? Two huge reasons.

1) A teacher is qualified to teach children, yes it’s important to state that, it’s obvious but the obvious gets overlooked. I have attained the pre-requisite criteria that the Government as set that identifies me as someone that can educate our children. I am approaching 20 years as a teacher, 12 in state secondary schools and 8 in the Tuition Centre. That’s a huge amount of experience of working with children, on top of the 4 years devoted to studying, learning and qualifying to become a teacher. That’s quite a big commitment in this modern society, a commitment to doing the very best that I can to teach children. That word again, teach, not hot house, cram, force……

A teacher wants to do the best for their charges, a passion for teaching children is what draws people into the profession, it’s not a job, it’s a career. A teacher realises that the process of education is important in itself, to learn, to succeed, to fail, to practise, to gain confidence are all part of a process.

An unqualified person calling themselves a tutor cannot replicate this. The system can take over.

I remember the advice I got from a grisly, aged Welsh PE teacher from my first big block of teaching practice in Harlington over 20 years ago. I arrived on day 1 with my folder of lesson plans for inspection and was greeted with the words “Remember you’re teaching my children not your plans” In those 8 words he summed up teaching for me, the child was more important than the system, more important than the curriculum.

2) In schools we are ingrained with the concept of “in loco parentis” My Latin is sketchy, last lesson was in 1980, but essentially school teachers have the assumed responsibility of the child’s parent in school. That’s a heck of a concept, that we care for their health, safety and well being. It’s hard to move out of schools and in to private tuition and lose this ethos. The care of the child’s wellbeing is paramount. When I assess a child when their parent has chosen to seek additional support for their child’s learning I tell parents that I have two clients; the parent(s) and the child. I remind them that the most important client is the child. I know it works, here posted earlier today is a comment from a mum who has just been through the assessment and first lesson.

Nathan last night asked if he could go to Kip Mcgrath Monday and Wednesdays in future. He is obviously enjoying his learning with you and compared it to his rugby and cubs, hobbies he also does.

I am really pleased to have found you actually and you came recommended. I believe Nathan relates very well to your quiet and gentle approach.

A big thank you to you for being who you are and helping so many children.

Yes there are those parents who want unrealistic miracles, miracles in unrealistic time frames, pressurising their children. As a teacher I’ve seen it, seen the impact on children, and have the experience and skills to explain to a parent why it won’t work, why they must change their attitude. Yes I’ve lost a few bill payers over the years, but my work has to be right for the primary client; the child.

However they are in the minority, the majority of parents who seek support for their children aren’t “pushy parents” “yummy mummies” or “tiger mums” or whatever phrase is in vogue. The majority are just “parents” A parent is someone who cares for their children, is wanting the best for them, seeking support when their child struggles, to give them a boost of confidence, to give them an opportunity that they didn’t have as a child, parents like Estelle, glad that someone sees their child as an individual, not as a part of the system.

One more example…. as this show was aired I was working with 5 secondary school pupils, ranging from Year7 to Year 11. One has been with us boosting her confidence in maths. She’s Year 11, successful (but has found it hard to believe and understand, but getting there!), top sets in Grammar school. Tonight she wanted me to look over an English essay she was prepping for. Half way through the session she mentioned her previous essay had only gained 19/20 and she wanted to know how to get the extra mark to gain perfection. We stopped teaching English and it became a mentoring session,discussing thoughts and feelings of striving for absolute perfection and the anxiety it was causing for her. Dad is one of the few parents who stays (just easier, not worried) A tutor would have continued to tutor (to show parent that money was being earned) a teacher realised that the process of education was now important. At the end, Dad’s comment…. “that was just what was needed, thanks”

A pushy parent? No, just a parent.