Exam prep stress? Here’s how to combat it

maths and science tutor

Is it too early to prepare for exams? Of course not. In fact, the earlier you start, the more time you have to focus on things that concern you by asking for extra help to iron out those creases. If you are a little pressed for time, no worries. What matters is that you are using whatever time you have left to make a difference to the exam preparation. We have included tips on how to combat exam prep stress, including prioritising your subjects and getting an English, maths and science tutor.

Ensure you have all the exam information you need

Once you are sure of things such as date, time and venue, you will have one less thing to be stressed about on exam day. Go a step further by ensuring that you also know what section of your work to prepare for. Nothing can cause extreme anxiety like studying the wrong thing and showing up to your exam not knowing any of the work.

Prioritise your subjects

There are subjects you are really good at, and some that need you to spend a little more time trying to gain a better understanding. Those that need the most attention should be at the top of your priority list. This does not mean the subjects at the bottom do not need your attention; however, these are ones you could do well in with less time invested towards them. You will also be able to get through this work faster. To figure out which subjects should be your top priority, list all your subject and add a number, from 1 to 10, next to each one with 1 being the subject you are least comfortable and 10 being the subject you do really well in.

Make a revision timetable ahead of your exam date

Timetables are there to keep you accountable and on track – don’t set any unrealistic expectations for yourself. If you know that you struggle to stay focused due to lack of sleep, don’t set a study schedule that will leave you with 3 hours of sleep. An unrealistic timetable will eventually demotivate you, resulting in you possibly falling behind schedule. Here is what you should include in your revision timetable:

  • List of things you will do each day
  • Actual time allocations
  • Regular breaks
  • Time to read through the day’s work
  • Study goals for the day
  • Regular commitments, such as sport and extra classes
  • When to complete past papers

It is also okay to revisit your timetable as you progress through the work. If you dedicated 5 days for your English work and you understand it in 3 days, use the 2 days to revise another subject. This will help you make the most of your time rather than sit through repetitive sections.

Consider getting help from an English, maths and science tutor

The one-fits-all approach to teaching methods may be the concept you are struggling to grasp. English, maths and science are subjects that may require that you get an individualised approach to the work. At Spark, we focus on the overall development of the student so that they are equipped with the knowledge to solve their English, maths and science work, even when their tutor is not there. Our science lesson structure places emphasis on understanding theory.

Avoid other stressed students

You may think that your stress will bring you together to reach common ground, but the result could be the complete opposite. They could be worried about things that are not an issue to you, however, you will begin to stress about how they could be right. Remember, your strengths are not the same so try to focus on what is beneficial to you.

 

Bonus points

  • Take realistic breaks. Don’t use these to do any other schoolwork.
  • Split your study time into bite-size sessions. You can use a timing method such as the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Get active. Sitting in one place the whole day can cause you to become lethargic. Go for walks regularly.
  • Use your phone, but not for social media. Your phone has many capabilities and tools to make studying easier
  • Stay away from caffeine and maintain a healthy diet.

 

Tutoring centres offer many benefits, which include building confidence and accountability. Spark Academy’s tutoring classes are small so that each student is assisted and engages through peer learning. If you are looking for an English, maths and science tutor, get in touch.

British Science Week

What is British Science week? 

British Science Week is run by the British Science Association. It is a 10 day celebration of science starting on 8th March – 17th MarchEvery year there is a theme, with the theme this year being ‘Journeys’. 

 

Journey into Space 

This year, on 20th July, we will mark 30 years since the first moon landings. This is probably still the most famous of all journeys in science.  

The first man to take a step on the moon, Neil Armstrong, said it was ‘one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind’. This could not be more true! Not only is the journey to the moon in itself a huge feat, space travel has also left us with some items you may not be able to live without. Due to the extremely hostile environment of space, there are many problems when making the journey there and back safely. As a result, there are many inventions that have offered solutions to these problems. Some of them even find their way into our own lives. 

Real life examples of space technology 

 

Memory Foam: was first developed in 1966 and was initially used in seats to protect astronauts from the effects of G-Force. 

 

Baby formula: many commercially available baby formulas contain nutritional enrichment ingredients which were originally intended for long-duration space travel. 

 

Camera phones: Despite their ever-changing looks, 1/3 of all camera phones use the same technology that was developed in the 1990s. It was created to solve the problem of having a camera small enough to fit on spacecraft, with scientific quality. 

 

Nike Air trainers: came into being thanks to suit construction technology developed by NASA. 

Next time you take a journey, think about the science behind that journey and how it may have just given us something that we now couldn’t live without. 

Celebrating Pupil Progress

As our parents will know, at Spark Academy we have just finished completing our Spring term assessments. Although we see progress every lesson when we see our students, we understand that it’s important for students and parents to see progress in test scores too – both at Spark and at school.

We have been very proud of our students this term. Across the board we have seen improvement from last term in every class – and some of our students have absolutely outdone themselves!

 

Which students have progressed the most?

 

While all of our students have progressed, it’s always nice to celebrate a few individuals or classes. Spark Ideas would like to say a big congratulations to:

 

 

Radhika (Year 5 at Belgrave)

 

Radhika has worked very hard since joining Spark in the Autumn term. She has progressed fantastically well in her sentence writing and understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as making big strides in her Maths work. Her determination to succeed is definitely paying off!

 

 

Maya-Diyaa (Year 4 at Belgrave)

 

Maya-Diya has made great strides in her spelling and reading comprehension since she joined Spark. Her hard work has been supporting her both at Spark and at school – keep it up!

 

Eshaan (Year 3 at Oadby)

 

Eshaan never fails to be positive during his lessons at Spark and has worked exceptionally hard to improve his own understanding of literacy and numeracy. Eshaan’s hard work has been noticed both here and at school – his teacher has been impressed by his improved number skills and his understanding of similes!

 

Our Entire Year 4 Oadby Class

 

Yes, the whole class! This group of students have worked consistently throughout this term to improve their understanding. In English specifically, every student made a significant improvement from last term – before Christmas most were finding spelling, punctuation and grammar difficult, but through dedication the whole class has come on in leaps and bounds. Well done Year 4!

 

Adnan (Year 10 Oadby)

 

Adnan is an individual who is totally determined to succeed in his GCSEs next year. He consistently puts in 100% every week and in every homework, which is helping his progression enormously. In his tests at school, Adnan has already improved by almost two full grades since October. Congratualations Adnan and keep it up!

 

Rahul (Year 11 Belgrave)

 

Rahul is a student who has really sat up and took notice this term – he has begun working hard in lessons and submitting homework every week, which has made a big difference to his work. He is progressing well and on his way towards achieving his target grades when he sits his exams in a few weeks.

 

Congratulations to all of our pupils who have made progress this term – we look forward to celebrating you again soon!

Who was February’s Student of the Month?

We are a few days into March now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate February’s Student of the Month! It’s hard for us to choose just one student each month as all of our students consistently work hard to improve in lessons.

Nic, our Head of Science at Spark, nominated this month’s winner.

 

What did Nic have to say?

 

 

Nic choose this particular student for a variety of different reasons…

At the Belgrave site, this person has consistently

Grown in confidence within science

 

and has started to

 

challenge the information given and ask questions in and around the topics being covered to broaden her knowledge.

 

It might seem like challenging what you are told is a negative, but for our budding scientists it is the potential beginning of a glittering scientific career in the future. At Spark we encourage learners to push their knowledge. They often achieve this through questioning the facts they are presented with. What, why and how are our students’ tickets to great futures!

Another reason Nic nominated this student is

 

for consistently out performing her peers with her homework.

 

As you know, at Spark we set weekly homework to help improve our learners understanding and depth of knowledge. The month’s Student of the Month has a great attitude towards her homework. She commits to gaining the most out of her homework each week.

 

So who is our Student of the Month?

 

Congratulations to Year 9 pupil Maysha Hoque on her win this month! Maysha studies at the Belgrave site and also attends lessons for English and Maths. Hopefully her can-do attitude will be infectious in all of her lessons! We have no doubt that she will continue to be just as fantastic a student in her lessons to come.

 

 

Congratulations Maysha!

What are the benefits of Group Tuition?

Whenever it comes to tuition, it always boils down to two methods of studying: either in a group, or in a one-to-one scenario. At Spark Academy, we are all very strong advocates of group study, and this blog post will give you some of the reasons why we think group learning is the best!

 

Year 3 students at the Belgrave branch writing stories using cue cards they created themselves.

 

Avoiding Boredom and Learning Faster

 

Studying by yourself, especially for long periods of time, can and will become boring! This is especially true if it is a topic or a subject that you are unsure about the first place. It’s easy to become distracted when you have questions that need answering.

 

By joining group tuition, you can blow the boredom away. Because of the social factor of group study, you can always find someone to support you if begin to struggle with something. At Spark, tutors teach through the content during the lesson so students are more confident approaching tasks.

 

A little bit of silliness at the end of lesson just goes to show our students really do form good relationships with each other and their teachers.

 

In general, students that work in groups learn faster than students that work on their own. This is because of the collaborative factors involved in group tuition. For instance, if there is a topic you cannot get your head around, there might be someone else who understands it straightaway. Whilst studying in a group, rather than wasting time, you can simply get the answer by simply asking someone else. If someone struggles with a topic that you understand, you might be able to help your fellow student as well!

Group tuition allows you to find new study techniques. Your tutors can help you see different ways of revising and remembering key information. These can help you in your own revision and at school.

 

Gaining new perspectives

 

In one-to-one tuition, you will only view your revision material from one perspective: yours!

Whereas this is not necessarily a problem, you might just need a fresh perspective to help you learn the material more thoroughly. Particularly in subjects like English Literature, talking about different interpretations and idea can hep you dive deeper into a text and have more to say in your exams.

 

Year 7s prepare to teach each other about the characters in A Christmas Carol and share their ideas.

 

By being in a study group, you notice a wide variety of viewpoints on the same subject. This could help you see the position from another’s points of view, therefore developing your critical thinking skills while helping you study.

By comparing notes and methods with others, you can patch up the gaps in your knowledge a lot faster than doing it on your own. One the flip side, you can help others fix their misunderstandings and help them learn better techniques as well.

 

Holistic Benefits of Group Tuition

 

One hidden benefit that no-one really talks about is that group tuition is a way to help build confidence and social skills as well as supporting students academically. Many of the students who come to Spark are shy and feel lost in a class of 30. By studying topics in a small group, our students build their confidence to a higher level. We often find students become more willing to join in and offer ideas during their group tuition and this new-found confidence translates to school as well.

A Year 6 class at our Oadby branch, based in Manor High School. The school offered Year 6 up until 2017 and thought Spark’s SATs preparation was top notch.

Group tuition at Spark Academy

 

The staff at Spark Academy practise what we preach! We believe group tuition is best way for students to gain the support they need for their school work, as the benefits are not just academic.

So, let’s see what group work can do for you, we’re just a phone call away!

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!

Who was November’s Top Sparkie?

 

As you know, at Spark we like to celebrate one member of staff each month for going above and beyond to help the whole team. This month’s Top Sparkie is no different…

 

Why did we vote for this month’s Top Sparkie?

 

Before we reveal who this month’s winner was… Let’s have a look at some of the lovely things the rest of the team had to say.

 

helpful, patient and kind

 

helpful and always cheers everyone up by making us smile

 

This month’s employee of the month is valued for lots of reasons. These reasons aren’t just for the work they do but for the contribution they make to the morale and motivation of the whole Spark team.

 

But who actually won?

 

This month’s winner came from Spark’s admin department. She:

 

truly is the Chief Happiness Officer!

 

and one of the other reasons given for nominated her was for her

 

always being positive and working longer than necessary in the evening

 

This staff member works hard every day to help parents and students with any questions they have. This month has been no exception, even though the admin department has had a lot of changes. Most of you know that this month Spark welcomed Barbara to the team. Our Top Sparkie has worked through

 

lots of admin changes this month and she has worked hard to keep everything running smoothly

 

And the winner is…

 

The Spark team nominated our fantastic admin assistant Nidhi Rana as our Employee of the Month for October! Her continuous devotion to her role and hard work has not gone unnoticed. Nidhi is one of the keystones of Spark, holding lots of pieces in place to keep the whole business running successfully. And she does it all with a smile and a positive attitude!

 

 

Keep up the good work Nidhi!

 

 

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…

 

The Spark: November’s Newest Sparkie

 

Tuesday is news-day at Spark Academy. This week’s article introduces Spark Academy’s newest member, Barbara Herbert.

November’s Newest Sparkie

The Growing Team

 

In October 2017, it became apparent that the usual influx of new students at the beginning of a new term was still going strong. Founder Mital Thanki and the rest of the team were thrilled by the interest of so many students. However, the demand on Spark Academy’s administration team continued to increase. It quickly became clear that the admin team needed to grow at the same rate as Spark’s student base.

Mital decided to hire another admin assistant. Therefore, in November Spark welcomed a new member of the team. Barbara Herbert joined Spark Academy from a school-based background.

 

Barbara (top left) in her first outing with the Spark Academy team before starting officially a few weeks later.

 

Background in Education

 

Barbara has worked in education for over ten years in various roles. Her roles began in the science department, where she worked as a Senior Science Technician for six years. More recently, Barbara also worked as an Inclusion Officer for four years. This involved running an alternative classroom for students with various emotional, physical and behavioural needs.

Barbara has previously worked closely with pupil premium students and vulnerable students. She supported these students with struggles in their school and home lives. Barbara told The Spark that her role as an Inclusion Officer included

 

raising students’ confidence by working closely with each individual.

 

What can Spark Academy offer Barbara?

 

Barbara chose to join Spark Academy to focus on education in a different way. She hopes to support students in their educational journey and in moving to the next chapter of their lives.

 

I enjoy working with the Spark team. Everyone is very friendly and they made me feel welcome. I am looking forward to my journey with Spark and to watch it grow and develop into something very special.