In this blog, professional tutor Sobia outlines the benefits of having an all-round tutor who can teach all subjects tested at 11+ and 13+ level.
Finding the right tutor for your child can be a difficult process. There are many variables to take into consideration, including, for example; subject knowledge, ability to explain concepts clearly, an in-depth knowledge of the school entrance process and good rapport with the student. Something that must also be considered is whether to work with one or two tutors to cover the different areas being tested.
Some parents will opt for two different tutors, one for English and Verbal Reasoning and another for Maths and Non-verbal reasoning. While this is possibly a more sensible option for 16+ and beyond, the benefits of having the same tutor for all four areas are quite considerable – if you can find such a tutor of course!
The argument of a subject specialist having a very in-depth knowledge of their subject and therefore being in a position to bring more expertise to the question at hand makes some sense. It applies more in the case of a Maths specialist trying to cover English though, because an in-depth reading of a text, even at 11+ or 13+ level can benefit from a wider knowledge of literary techniques by the tutor. On the other hand, a very specialist knowledge of Maths may not be applicable to an 11+ or 13+ paper. Having taught both, I can say that this certainly seems to be the case!
The tutor who is a Literature specialist will have an astounding breadth and depth of knowledge in terms of texts, text types, techniques, structuring answers and applying writing techniques. However, if they also have excellent A levels in Maths and related subjects (e.g. Physics) and have also studied some Maths as part of their degree subjects, then it is very likely that they will be able to deal highly competently with the Maths and Logic required for 11+ and 13+ Maths.
I am both a Science and Literature specialist, but I also cover Maths at 11+ and 13+ and this also includes scholarship level 13+ Maths. Having studied Sciences with some element of Maths all the way through university, I have never really lost touch with Maths, and I find the logic of pure Maths to be highly enjoyable.
More importantly though, you will find that the four areas are sometimes mixed together in many papers and online tests. Often, “verbal reasoning” papers may contain some element of Maths, for example in number grids and number sequences. This is because verbal reasoning tests logical ability. Additionally, in some papers like “general reasoning” and “analytical reasoning” (which occur more at 16+) the elements of Maths and Language based reasoning can be combined. Therefore you may need a tutor who can understand and explain both aspects to a student.
There are also practical and logistical reasons why a tutor who is able to cover both Maths and English can be invaluable for your child. They can find the right balance between all four areas, and keep a close eye on your child’s progress, across the board. They will have an overview of your child’s learning and attainment in the four areas and can adjust the amount of each tutored, according to the level of progress.
For example, if your child is speeding ahead in English and Non-Verbal Reasoning, they can simply increase the level of Maths and Verbal Reasoning (or whatever combination is appropriate). This adjustment is much harder to calibrate when you have two different tutors for the subject areas. Also, the rapport built up with one tutor, who understands all the aspects of a child’s learning and can help them with different areas as and when required, is a bonus.
Personally, if I were seeking a tutor for my child, I would be far happier with someone I had evidence of being able to cover all the different areas for 11+ and 13+ (for example in the form of testimonials, recommendations and previous qualifications) , and I would also recommend this to anybody who asked for my honest opinion.
In the end though, it is your choice which option you feel more comfortable with. Hopefully this article will provide you with some information and perspectives that will make the choice somewhat easier for you.