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Stories from the frontline of education
A monthly series of articles that take an in-depth look at education in the UK and around the world. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and are not necessarily shared by Hampstead Village Tutors
As someone who has worked in theatre, read English Literature at University and has a life-long passion for the arts, I’m also drawn to the way in which private tuition can inspire and develop creativity in students. It is often lamented that subjects like drama and creative writing are being squeezed out of the results-driven education system, but tuition can provide a space where students young and old can nurture their imagination and their talents. It’s well known that many people at the top of the creative industries started young - often because they had the right connections within their family to show them the ropes. It’s inspiring to think that a teenager could learn the basics of film-making, for example, in a couple of sessions with a tutor - and he or she might then go on to make a string of short films, and later become the Andrea Arnold or Steve McQueen of the next generation. The way in which teenagers can prepare themselves to face the ever-more competitive jobs market is another topic we hope to explore here.
HVT is driven by the educational needs of an increasingly global society. These days, people are constantly moving around the world to study or to work. There’s a huge learning challenge in adapting to a new language, culture or mode of thinking. We have recently introduced a cultural consultancy service, offering bespoke tuition and mentoring for newcomers to London, who need to develop their spoken English and also get to grips with other aspects of English society, culture and business. We really believe that it’s crucial to understand and connect with different cultures in order to succeed in the modern world - and we envisage that future Bulletin articles will explore key aspects of the school and university systems abroad to provide a broader frame of reference for our discussions of education.
Working in this field, it is important to keep up with the news - from changes in policy and syllabi, to developments in technology, to league table results. It’s also essential for tutors and teachers to find ways to share their tips, ideas, approaches and experiences - so that they too can grow and improve. And it’s always good to engage in the ongoing debates about schools and universities. State or private? Mixed or single-sex? To tutor or not to tutor? What does Oxbridge look for in a student? We hope The Bulletin will become a go-to place for our tutors, clients and students to learn about learning.
Victoria Smith is Tuition Agent and Co-Founder of Hampstead Village Tutors
Introducing The Bulletin
At HVT, we’re not just interested in private tuition, we’re fascinated by the increasingly varied landscape of education: by the wide range of approaches to schooling in the UK and abroad, by the pressures and challenges faced by students and teachers, by diverse pedagogical practices, by the ever-shifting governmental policies for education, and by the core questions of what, how and why people learn.
That’s why we’ve included ‘The Bulletin’ on the new Hampstead Village Tutors site. Each month, we will post a column by an inspiring contributor - whether they are a teacher, tutor, professor, journalist, parent or student - exploring their thoughts on a particular aspect of education.
Whilst developing our new website, we have talked continually about the value of private tuition in the modern world and the ways in which education is changing. Of course, it has been widely reported in the media that a huge number of parents are engaging private tutors to work with their children. The last figures, courtesy of an Ipsos Mori Poll for The Sutton Trust, stated that 24% of all young people receive private tuition, and that figure rises to 40% in London. Many reasons have been suggested for the tutoring boom: the increasingly competitive admissions processes at independent schools, an atmosphere of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, a growing number of foreign students aiming to study in the UK, or the large number of parents who work such long hours that they simply can’t spare the time to assist their children with difficult topics and revision. Whatever the reasons, tutoring certainly proves to be an effective means of education in most cases; I have seen my own students, and those taught by my colleagues, make tremendous leaps forward. The main benefit is the personal, one-to-one approach. Lessons can be tailored to suit the pupil’s precise needs, and a focus can be placed on building the student’s confidence as well as their academic knowledge.
However, one of the key things we have discovered at HVT is that tuition is not purely about preparing for exams. It’s about connecting people who want to expand their knowledge in a wide range of ways - be it learning how to use Photoshop, taking lessons in public speaking, pursuing an interest in oil painting or discussing contemporary literature. Whatever you want to learn, there is someone out there who can teach you. We’re interested in the notion that tuition can be for adults, as well as for youngsters, and can be used to fill in those frustrating gaps in skills or understanding that we all meet in day-to-day life - creating a powerful network of knowledge. Adult learning is a theme that no doubt we will return to in future Bulletin posts.
Hampstead Village Tutors Ltd
35d Fitzjohn's Avenue
London NW3 5JY
T + 44 20 3535 0835
F + 44 20 7000 1331