Childhood development: 3 ways your child can benefit from our tutoring services

childhood development

Since our establishment, we have had parents pop us a few direct messages on our social media channels and schools emailing us a few testimonials, expressing children’s overall improvement. “My child seems more confident since joining the Academy”. “She is always eager to ask questions now”. Childhood development within an educational space should go beyond just achieving good grades. Yes, these are important, but have you considered your child’s confidence, interpersonal skills and problem-solving abilities in the long term? Spark Academy focuses on the importance of holistic childhood development together with the grades. Here are 3 ways your child can benefit from our tutoring services:

1.    They will have a supportive structure

Oftentimes, children are nervous to raise their hand, assuming that what they are unsure of makes them wrong. Support does not mean spoon-feeding our students with answers. We have created a culture where our students approach us with what they need help with most. What they learn is the ability to be assertive themselves in who they are, play to their identified strengths, and feel comfortable with how they do things differently. Our classrooms numbers are kept to a minimum, allowing more one-on-one opportunity between the tutor and the student.

2.    Their interactive abilities are challenged positively

Our peer-to-peer engagement approach allows for our students to interact with each other, building friendships within the classes. The differences each student has are challenged in a way that encourages them to learn from one another, working as a team for solutions to the tasks we assign. It is one thing to sit in front of a computer or go through the same schoolwork, which eventually becomes redundant. Our students break off into group to create projects and build models together, bringing their communication, listening, and problem-solving skills to the fore.

3.    We use an individualised approach

Children who are well-guided in their formative years become well-rounded adults who see their worth than being more than just their grades. Ultimately, no two children go down the same path or possess the same academic strength and this is the beauty of individuality. Our qualified tutors are up to date with the current schooling curriculum and specialise in childhood development methods that stem from areas where skills are identified within the child. We then approach the tuition sessions based on what will encourage your child to perform at their optimal best. We further encourage individual thinking through self-study packs, which are available for them to complete even during holiday periods.

 

We also offer homework help, so that they are not continuously frustrated at doing work they are not comfortable with completing alone. We know that this lessens the stress for parents too! If you want to see who our tutors are, visit our team page of fun, qualified tutors. If you are ready to start with us, book a free trial so you and your child can experience Spark Academy first-hand. Not sure yet? Book a free consultation. This gives you a better understanding of how we can truly help your child.

Teacher Talk: Lively Literature

This week’s Teacher Talk is all about literature – specifically thinking about our Year 7 classes, who have just finished a topic on A Christmas Carol.

 

 

Why study A Christmas Carol?

 

Charles Dickens is one of the most well-known writers in English Literature and A Christmas Carol is one of his most famous works. The novella is chosen by many schools as a GCSE text to study in Year 10 and 11, which makes it a perfect choice for our Year 7s. Not only does studying the book at Spark help them to understand the content ready to study it further in future, but it also gives the students a great chance to start analysing nineteenth-century literature. Language was a little bit different in the 1800s, which many students find tough at first. However, after a few weeks all of our Year 7s were making leaps and bounds in understanding the novella!

Our classes took a tour of everything important about the novel. This included the plot, the characters, the context and how to start answering an exam-style question…

One of the most interesting areas we looked at was context. Our groups really enjoyed learning about the little differences between how we live and how people lived in the 19th century. In particular, we had lots of discussions on how the treatment of the poor then was very different to now – and all agreed we’d rather live in our time then theirs!

 

Creative Character Discussion

 

Another fascinating part of A Christmas Carol is the characters. All of our students studied the main characters in the novel. These included Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the three Ghosts.

One class, taught by Charlotte, decided they were going to take on the role of teacher themselves. The students were each given one character from A Christmas Carol and were given the task to create a mind map discussing their characters attributes.

 

 

They then created their mind map on the board, whilst teaching the rest of the class facts about their character. The class then made notes on these facts and began to build up a better understanding of the characters in the text.

 

 

Each student then had a range of characters that they understand in excellent detail. They also demonstrated their higher level thinking skills. They were able to understand, condense and re-explain information to their fellow students.
This kind of activity is fantastic to get students reading, analysing and pushing to develop their understanding of a text. Characters are a very significant part of any literature; our students proved to be experts in analysing them!

Teacher Talk: Understanding Literature

This week’s Teacher Talk is from our English teachers. Literature is an important aspect of studying English, but for many students reading something written almost 100 years ago can be a little off-putting. Our teachers share some of their ideas for bringing great novels to life in tuition.

 

Why do we study literature at Spark?

 

Literature isn’t just important because it’s on the GCSE curriculum. Reading is a way of thinking about the world in a different way. This can be especially important when thinking about history. Many of the novels studied in schools are chosen because of their important place within history and Animal Farm is no exception.

 

 

Why Animal Farm?

 

Most of our Year 9 students had never heard of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. That is, until we started studying it at the beginning of January. Now they not only know what happens during the novella, but they’ve also started to understand the difference between communism, socialism and capitalism. They’ve explored the impact of propaganda and thought critically about their own political ideas. And of course they’ve sharpened their analytical and writing skills!

 

How does studying a novel work at Spark?

 

As we teach our students once a week for English, we aren’t able to read through the whole text in class. What we can do though, is look at important extracts that demonstrate the key themes and characters.

We started our study of Animal Farm by exploring the key themes and how they are presented in the text.

 

 

We looked at context and the main characters involved in the novel.

 

Students did their own research into some of the key terms at home before we looked at more detailed context together.

 

It was important for the students to understand how the characters in Animal Farm parallel the real-life politicians during the Russian Revolution.

Most recently we looked at the use of propaganda in the novel. We used this as an opportunity to consider how each of us would run a farm. Our student wrote a speech and created a poster campaign to showcase their ideas.

Students peer-marked each others speeches to think about their use of persuasive techniques. They also check spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 

Some tables worked as a group to share ideas on their slogan and logo, before creating their own poster.

 

Slogans and main campaign points definitely stand out here!

 

Lots of colour helps the campaign points stand out on this poster. You can see where another student has peer-marked this speech in purple pen.

 

We try to make our lessons engaging and interactive for our students. By introducing creativity and asking our students to question their own ideas, we encourage them not only to explore the text we’re studying but to examine it place in their lives. Showcasing your plan for running ‘Animal Farm’ is a good way of understanding how the themes and characters in the novel realistically relate to your own life.

 

Are you interested in reading Animal Farm? You can read it online here.

Parent Perspectives: Raves in our Reviews

In this week’s Parent Perspectives post, we thought we’d look somewhere a little different than usual. Many parents have been rating and posting reviews for Spark Academy for years – it’s time we celebrated their views!

 

Where can you rate and review?

 

Spark’s Facebook page is a perfect place for anyone looking to give us a rating or write a review. In fact, many parents have been doing just that! You might also know that we recently launched our Spark Forum. This is another amazing place where you can review or leave comments for the Spark team. You can even give us suggestions on how we could make Spark even better.

 

 

So now you know where you can go to rate, review and rave about us…

 

What sort of things have our parents been saying?

 

The first fantastic point we noticed when we looked at our Facebook reviews is that we have an amazing 5 star rating! This rating is averaged out over the years since our first Facebook review, which just goes to show that Spark is providing the same high quality tuition it has since opening.

 

 

Here are some highlights from our favourite reviews. It was tricky to choose from some many wonderful comments from our parents!

 

My boys will be joining this great teaching academy soon in January 2018. They will be working to their school level […] Spark Academy is far better – classroom based and a more professional set up.

P. S.

We strive to provide excellent tuition to support our students in their education, so it is always wonderful to hear that parents can see and appreciate everything we are doing!

 

The support has been priceless […] A designated time to study is key in getting excellent results. I knew I needed a great tutor service and was so pleased when Spark was recommended to me by a friend.

N. W.

Recommendations are another fantastic way so many of our parents review Spark. It’s great to hear that from their perspective, we’re so good they just can’t wait to tell others!

 

It’s clear to see the passion you have to teach and the desire to make every child a winner. I can’t fault anything you guys do. My kids love coming to Spark and they’re making great progress.

B. P.

Our small class sizes are key to our ability to make every child feel successful and vital to our lessons. And we’re always glad to hear our students enjoy coming to Spark!

 

How can you get involved?

 

If you’re a parent and you want to share your perspective on Spark, there are lots of ways to get involved. You can use our Facebook page, our Spark Forum, or you can comment on this post with your reviews!

What are Mital’s Top Ten Tips for Success?

Spark Academy’s founder Mital Thanki is obviously very successful. Otherwise Spark wouldn’t be doing so well! Earlier this year, Mital wrote an article for The Eastern Eye about her ‘Top Ten Tips for Success’. We thank the Eastern Eye for letting us use some of her ideas to share with you today!

 

1. Turn Big Dreams into Goals!

 

 

All good businesses start with an idea. Then a lot of thought and planning is needed to turn your big dream into reality. This is only possible when you set goals for yourself and plan on how you are going to get there. By breaking your big dreams into small goals, you can structure your plan and help to form your strategy for the future.

 

2. Turn your Passion into Profession

 

Don’t let money be your only driving factor. Confucius said

 

Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life

 

This is a motto I live by. If you are passionate about your work, you will continue to work at it even through the hard times. Eventually, your drive, passion and enthusiasm will be noticed. It’s people who recognise the importance of loving what you do who achieve the most success.

3. Believe in your Ideas and Go with your Gut

 

It’s essential that you trust your instincts. This is how you will take your business from strength to strength. At Spark Academy, we shout out about all of our successes – big and small! It’s important to me that our parents and students know what our vision is and how close we are to achieving it.

 

4. Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices

 

Owning your own business, yet challenging. Successful people will sacrifice personal and social time to build their business. You might need to be prepared to sacrifice your financial stability, your work-life balance and your comfort. However, you should remember that after a few years your hard work will really start to pay off.

 

5. Learn from Failures and Never Give Up

 

Making mistakes is an important lesson that gives you an opportunity to start again with more experience. Failing is just one step on the road to meeting your challenges head on. Don’t let struggles put you off your goals. Instead, think of it like a learning opportunity – it creates stepping stones on the way to greatness.

 

6. Be the Best in Your Field

 

Dedicate a part of your working time to your own professional development. Take time out to network, study the competition, attend courses and conferences. If you talk about the hot topics in your field, you will enhance your credibility and get yourself noticed. Spark Academy is the proud winner of several local and national awards – this is an indication of how dedicate we are to being the best.

 

7. Look after Your Team

 

Unless you are the only one working in your business, your team is the most important piece of your organisation. Have fun and develop a culture of compassion and love for one another. Celebrate small wins and encourage friendships. This helps to create a positive environment to work and thrive.

 

8. Maintain Discipline

 

Planning your daily tasks is essential when trying to kick-start or grow a venture. You must invest time into this and make it work for you. Know yourself and work when you are most productive. Remain committed to a timetable and maintain your routine.

 

9. Listen to Your Body

 

It’s important to know your signs of burn-out. When you are running on empty, feeling anxious or overwhelmed, remind yourself that you’re human. You’re not a machine! Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat well. Try meditating or keep a hobby to help recharge you after a difficult week.

 

10. Keep Your Vision Alive

 

Your vision is what you will build all of your success around. Take time to write a clear vision statement. Create a vision board filled with pictures, quotes and key words that highlight your ideas. The work you do needs to reflect your vision. You can help yourself achieve this by surrounding yourself by people who contribute to your success. Never lose faith and just keep going!

The Spark: Christmas, Calendars and Charity

Tuesday is news-day and this week’s edition of The Spark is here to introduce Spark Academy’s charity work.

Christmas, Calendars and Charity

Spark Academy founder Mital Thanki has always hoped that one day she will be able to take the education offered at Spark to children with little or no access to education. Moreover, a charity consciousness is at the heart of Spark Academy. It is unsurprising then that as the Spark team has grown, so has the desire to do more charity work in Leicester.

 

 

Will all of Spark Academy be involved?

 

All of the staff at Spark Academy will be doing their part in charity work over the course of the year. Nicola Hey, Head of Science, has picked up the role of Charity Coordinator. This is because charity work is close to Nic’s heart. This is as she has raised money for various different charities in the past.

 

Nic before a sponsored abseil in Derby.

 

Spark Academy also hopes that their students will get involved as much as possible. It is clear the almost 400 students will be able to make a big difference in their community and beyond. However, the Spark community is not just the staff and students. Nic and the rest of the Spark team look forward to parents joining in too.

 

What charities will Spark Academy be supporting?

 

The Spark team have voted to support Rainbows Hospice over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year. Rainbows cares for children with a limited life expectancy and supports their families at a very difficult time. You can find out more about the work Rainbows do and how to support them by clicking the link above.

 

 

However, Spark Academy will still support other charities and causes wherever possible. If you know of charity events you think the Spark team and community should get involved with, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Charity at Christmas

 

Spark Academy’s first big charity event is the Christmas jumper week from Monday 11th-Friday 15th December 2017. During this week, staff will be wearing Christmas jumpers or fancy dress all week and are urging students to do the same. This is all to raise money to support Gem 106’s Mission Christmas. You can read more about the charity by visiting their website.

Mission Christmas is to support families in the East Midlands who live in poverty. There are lots of children in the East Midlands who will not have any presents to open on Christmas Day. All of the money raised by Spark Academy during this week will go to Mission Christmas to support these families and to make Christmas brighter for children in poverty. If you would like to take part, we just ask that you bring a small donation with you to your tuition session.

If you would prefer to support Spark’s charity efforts in a different way, we are also collecting donations for a ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’ in aid of the Y. The Y supports homeless teenagers and young people. Necessities like deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes make up the ‘Reverse Advent Calendar’. Most people take these items for granted. However, they are a huge help and often a huge cost for young people who are homeless. You can see more information about the Y and the type of donations that can help here.

 

 

Spark Academy will be promoting and supporting these charities throughout December.

Headteacher Talk: What Can Finland Teach Us About Education?

As we approach the end of the month, it’s time to hear from our Headteacher Gemma. She has been thinking about what we at Spark can learn about education from others. That could be schools, other professionals, and even other countries…

 

What makes Finland’s education system different?

 

Finland’s educational system underwent reforms about 40 years ago. Since then, they have consistently come at the top end of the world rankings for education. It is only recently, however, that they have been making waves in the world of education. With comparisons being made to our own educational system in the UK, are there lessons to be learned?

In Finland, a child starts school in the year that they turn 7 and remain in compulsory education for 9 years. This basic education is provided within a single structure, there is no divide between primary and secondary education. It is only in the last 3 years of their education that students are taught by subject specialists. There are no National tests for students in Finland. Instead, teachers are responsible for all assessment. There is just one exam at the end of the 9 years of study that will be the same for all students.  This is in stark contrast to our own system in the UK. Here, students as young as 6 will be entered for testing. There results measure the progress of the students throughout the whole of their academic journey.

 

 

So what about the ethos?

 

One task of education in Finland is to develop a student’s ability to self-assess, to support the growth of self-knowledge and study skills and to help make student’s aware of their own progress.  This is something very close to our hearts at Spark.  We commit to supporting our students, not only in their study and learning of specific content, but also in developing their independence and resilience in learning.

It is not only the students that are the focus of education in Finland, teachers have a very different experience than many in the UK. Teachers in Finland are held in the same esteem as lawyers and doctors. They are seen as the keys to quality education. As a result, they spend 2 hours a week on their own professional development. As you are probably aware, teachers in the UK are also currently in the news, but for very different reasons. More teachers are leaving the profession than are joining, with much of this down to workload and pressures from league tables (something which is absent in Finland).

 

 

Why is the Finnish system important to us?

 

At Spark, we too, believe that our teachers are the key to a student’s success. They are responsible for producing our bespoke resources and assessments. This allows them to concentrate on how they deliver the lesson in the best possible way for their students to learn. It is also important for us to allow for professional development. Our teachers continually look at teaching strategies and research other areas in education.

Looking at the Finnish system has drawn comparisons with our own ethos here at Spark. However, only time will tell if our schools will follow a similar path…

 

Student Thought: Different and Varied Learning

This week’s Student Thoughts are from members of the Oadby Year 5 class. Their ideas and comments help us to shape our lessons and develop the way we teach Maths and English.

 

What do you like about Spark?

 

We always ask our students what they enjoy about lessons at Spark Academy. Without student enjoyment, Spark would be the same as all other tuition providers.

Rohan Upple told us that his favourite part of both Maths and English is

 

that it is fun

 

Rohan (right) and fellow student Ariyan (left) working together.

 

At Spark, we strongly believe that making our lessons fun is key to helping our students learn. This is especially important as we are very aware that our students have spent all day learning, so by ensuring our lessons are enjoyable we can help our students stay focused.

Another student, Amelia Suleman, told us that

 

I enjoy learning different things in maths such as percentages. I enjoy learning different things in English such as spellings and comprehension.

 

The varied nature of our lessons and our coverage of the whole curriculum means that every week at Spark is different. This is obviously something our students also enjoy!

 

Amelia working hard to create sentences using the progressive tense.

Why did you choose Spark?

 

Amelia told us that she

 

looked at Kumon before Spark and I picked Spark because they follow the school curriculum

 

We strongly feel that following the national curriculum is the best way to support our students at school. It is clear that our students feel the same way!

Parent Perspectives: Learning is ‘made fun’

This week it’s time for another parent perspective post. The support and feedback from our parents is invaluable, so we like to showcase you wherever we can. We have caught up with Mrs Upple, whose son Rohan is in Year 5, to find out how she feels about Spark Academy and the fun Rohan is having in our lessons.

Rohan started studying English and Maths at Spark in September of this year. He joined a Year 5 group which was small at first, but is now growing to include a variety of students. All of the students in his class are individuals growing in confidence with the support of our teachers and each other. It’s a pleasure to teach a group that are so willing to help each other in every way they can! As teachers, we strive to create learning environments which are collaborative and friendly, so it is great to see that Rohan experiences this in his class.

 

Mrs Upple told us that she looked for tuition for Rohan as she felt he

 

needed support

 

in his literacy and numeracy. For his teachers, it is clear that the extra support he receives at Spark is developing Rohan’s confidence and his ability. He is growing keen to answer questions in lesson and is often correct when he does.

 

Why Spark?

 

 

It’s often helpful for us to know why our students and parents chose Spark Academy to be their tuition provider, and Mrs Upple’s reasons were similar to those of many of our other parents. She told us that her cousin recommended Spark to her. After Rohan’s trial she felt she didn’t need to look anywhere else. Recommendations like this are just one way that our parents show their support for Spark and we feel very honoured to say that Mrs Upple would recommend us herself. We’re glad that the hard work and effort our teachers put in to every lesson does not go unnoticed!

 

What does Rohan like most about Spark?

 

Rohan

 

enjoys English as it is made fun

 

Our students come to us after a full school day and we understand that they are often tired. That’s why we try to make our lessons fun wherever possible. We find that the more our students enjoy coming to Spark, the more they learn. It’s fantastic to hear that Rohan enjoys learning from us as much as we enjoy teaching him!

Mrs Upple told us that she is very happy with the

 

good teachers

 

who work at Spark. As a tuition service, we value our teachers very highly. It’s good to know that the quality teaching provided in both Maths and English is valued by our parents just as highly.

We’d like to offer a big thank you to Mrs Upple for all of her kind words. We also hope Rohan continues to find Spark useful, educational and enjoyable.

The Spark: Top Sparkie’s Super Award Nomination

Tuesday is News-day and this edition of the Spark reports on another fantastic award nomination for Spark’s founder Mital Thanki.

Top Sparkie’s Super Award Nomination

Spark Academy’s owner and founder Mital Thanki has been nominated for Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year at the Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017.

The Awards

 

The Natwest Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017 is a national business award. These awards have been running for five years and recently expanded to hosting ceremonies in five cities: Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and London.

The Awards

 

acknowledge[] the hard work and inspiring stories of British entrepreneurs and businesses in Great Britain.

 

A regional award won by Mital Thanki

There are many categories, including Small Business Entrepreneur, Start-Up Entrepreneur and Young Entrepreneur of the Year among many others. A panel of experts choose the winner for each category from thousands of worthy applicants.

 

The Nomination

 

Mital has been nominated for Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year. This is a category that celebrates businesses that Natwest describes as

 

key mobilisers

 

due to the influence that these businesses can have on the industry they belong to. The Natwest Awards class a small business as one with fewer than fifty employees. The Awards also want to reward and celebrate those who dedicate their lives to the success of their business.

Another award received Mital and Spark Academy in 2017

Mital expertly manages Spark Academy’s ten employees. Furthermore, she oversees all areas of the company and is part of everything that Spark does. Her dedication to the company and its management is one of the reasons she has been nominated for this award. There are six nominees in total, which means that Mital has some fierce competition for the award.

 

Who are the other nominees?

 

The other nominees include: Adam Chapman, from Allvalves Online Limited; Amy Cunningham, from The Strings Club Limited; Emma Adams, from the Brit Pop Shop; Kasim Choudhary, from ThinkFest; and Matthew Innis, from Fitnniss. All of these nominees work incredibly hard since they have been able to build their businesses to be so successful.

These nominees come from a wide variety of small businesses. The Awards have over one thousand entries for each category, so it is clear that every nominee truly deserves to be in the running for this award. Moreover, it is infamously difficult to run a small business and each nominee is doing fantastic work.

A regional award won by Mital Thanki.

When are the Awards?

 

The Awards ceremony in Birmingham will take place on Thursday 16th November. Mital will be travelling there to enjoy the evening, as well as the nail-biting wait to discover whether she has won her category. In addition, the Spark Academy team will be waiting anxiously to hear the news all evening.

Mital said

I feel honoured to be a shortlist amongst so many brilliant entrepreneurs. I wish everyone the best for the night!