In this blog, we talk to Jacqueline (one of our most experienced online school entrance tutors) about how she prepares children for school entrance exams online and the platforms she finds work best.
Jacqueline studied at Oxford, and has since taught for almost two decades, working at some of the leading Private schools in the country. She now works full-time as a tutor, mainly preparing children for entrance exams to schools in London and across the UK. She spends about half of her teaching time teaching online, and very kindly gave up some of her time to talk us through how she teaches online.
Jacqueline adopts a stripped-back approach to online tuition. In her opinion, the most important thing for any lesson is a stable video connection. She said she has tried all the online platforms she could find, and always had the same issue: the call would drop out at some point, meaning the student would become disengaged, and the parent would ultimately be unimpressed.
Her solution to this is simple. She conducts all her video calls either in WhatsApp or Facetime. Whilst we don’t advocate this approach for all students, there is definitely some merit in always prioritising a stable video call. She said she has never had an issue with either WhatsApp or Facetime dropping the video call over many hours of online tuition.
Jacqueline continues this stripped back approach to how she teaches. She likes to email parents PDF worksheets and exam papers ahead of lessons, and ask them to print them off for students to work through during the class. This keeps parents involved, and keeps the students working on pen and paper, which is of course how they are mostly assessed at the various schools they’ll be sitting at (excluding pre-tests).
Jacqueline follows up lessons by forwarding key vocabluary and other content to parents, and uploading this to Google Drive. She stores all content in a specially made folder for that student. She either has them complete homework in Google Docs, then save it in this folder, or by doing it on a printed version and uploaded by the parent. For the latter, she emails the homework directly to the parent, has them print it and give to the student. She then asks the parents to either scan their work or to take a photo and send it back to her via email.
Jacqueline applies the printing and scanning approach to her assessment of their written work, in particular the past exam papers so important to school entrance preparation. She prints off completed exam papers and then marks them as the school examiner might. (She is very well placed to do this, having been taught at several top schools and having helped mark papers of incoming students there previously!). These papers are then scanned again and sent back to parents for them to view and analyse.
Jacqueline’s no-nonsense approach makes a lot of sense, particularly for her more traditional teaching style and the younger students she is teaching online. By using very stable video calling platforms like WhatsApp and Facetime she is ensuring that her video calls are very likely to work perfectly. She is not asking parents to install extra software, increasing the ease of access to her lessons.
The traditional approach to written work keeps students on track for their 11+ and CE written exams. Keeping all the work neatly organised in a folder on Google Drive means students and parents have a clear record of what has been done. The feedback system (particularly around exam marking) provided keeps parents very well informed around both the expected standards and current position of their child.
Thanks for your time, Jacqueline!