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.

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.

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!

Headteacher Talk: What is the Power of Positivity?

This month’s Headteacher Talk is all about positive thinking. Now that we’re approaching exam season, it’s easy for students to become dissuaded and let negative thinking take over. Let’s have a look at what Gemma has to say about the importance of keeping positive.

 

The power of positivity.

 

A couple of weeks ago, a few Year 13 Biologists were talking about tests they had had or were going to have. During their discussions, they were saying to each other that they were going to stay positive and hope it goes well.

This led onto a discussion about the power of positive thinking.  We all found some way in which we had thought we couldn’t do something and so gave up. My own personal experience at present is running. I couldn’t run. I hated it. But I have signed up for a 10km run in April and so have been training. I found it hard and thought I’d never be able to complete 2km let alone 10! However, I turned a corner when I actually started to believe that I could do it. Training is still hard, but I’m making progress and seeing results each week.

 

So, is there any truth in this?

 

Well, research suggests there is. A negative thought can create fear. When we are fearful we concentrate solely on that fear. This is useful in life threatening situations, as you need to concentrate on that one thing to survive. But passing an exam isn’t a life-threatening situation. Even if it seems like it is!

Now let’s think about positive emotions, like joy and happiness.  These allow you to open up to lots of possibilities, rather than focus on one area. Being positive about a situation allows you to be more productive. The more productive you can be the more successful at achieving your goals you will be.

 

So, how do you remain positive in the midst of revision or completing a 10km run?

 

  1. Believe it or not, smiling improves your whole mood. Try it!
  2. Start saying, ‘I can’ instead of I can’t. Or ‘I will be able to’ instead of ‘I’ll never be able to.’
  3. Celebrate your success. No matter how small the gain is, all gains are positive.
  4. Be kind to yourself. If you take a knock, don’t dwell on it and focus only on the negative. Brush yourself off and get back on to the road of success.
  5. Everyone knows that they do not function when tired and grumpy. Being tired encourages negative thinking. So get your rest!

 

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!

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!

Headteacher Talk: What Does Success Mean to You?

March is just beginning and the year is ticking on towards exam season for many pupils at Spark. It’s time to hear what our Headteacher Gemma has to say about success and it’s role in your life!

 

ever doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams. – Hillary Clinton

 

Success.

 

What does success look like to you? For me, it is a measure of achievement. If I set myself a goal, no matter how big or small, and I’ve reached it, then I say that I have been successful.

There is still plenty of time left of this academic year to end it with success. Although we only publicly recognise the successes and hard work of one student a month, it is clear that so many of our students are working hard to make sure they have achieved their goals at the end of the school year.

 

I never dreamed about success. I worked for it. – Estee Lauder

 

 

One of my favourite  scientists, Charles Darwin is quoted as saying

 

‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’

 

 

For me, I think this is a powerful thought. Okay, so he was talking about species becoming adaptive to their environments in order to survive. However, it can be applied to anything in life. For example, if you don’t get a great score in a test or a mock exam, what are you going to change about your preparations to ensure you do better next time?

 

This is emphasised by a quote from Winston Churchill,

 

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

 

 

So if you get knocked down, or you experience a set back, you will only see success if you pick yourself up and try again. Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them!

 

So, what are you going to do to make a success of your goals? I leave you with this final quote,

 

A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. – Colin Powell

 

Student Thought: No Stuffy SATs Prep at Spark

When we think of students preparing for exams, most of us think of GCSEs. We even posted about Spark’s GCSE preparation here but they aren’t the only students in an important year. Our Year 6s are in full SATs swing now and enjoying the support that Spark offers in the run up to their exams.

It’s not just in our own after school lessons that we offer SATs support. Over the past two years Spark has been supporting schools with their preparation – you can read all about our successes here.

 

What do the Year 6s study at Spark?

 

Like all of our Year groups, the Year 6s follow the national curriculum. For them, this includes the content that they will be tested on in May and exam skills practise. They will be tested on numeracy and numerical reasoning for Maths and spelling, punctuation, grammar and comprehension in English. This is exactly what they spend their time at Spark studying.

 

What do the Year 6s have to say about Spark?

 

Rhea told us that she enjoys

 

learning interesting things

 

to support her SATs preparation. Mohammed said that at Spark

 

they go over stuff that school doesn’t […] and adapt lessons to your learning

 

which goes to show the dedication that the Spark teachers put in to making sure that SATs preparation is relevant to each class and each individual student.

Many of the students commented on how much they enjoyed the lessons each week because of

 

a variety of activities

 

SATs related games and because they

 

enjoy how the teachers teach

 

Of course, much of the preparation for SATs involves exam-style questions and practise papers, but we’ll thrilled to hear how much our students enjoy our lessons!

 

Is Spark the best place for SATs prep?

 

Over half of the students we asked told us that they didn’t look anywhere else for tuition. We thought that was a big compliment! The others told us that they chose Spark over other providers because

 

it gave me better education

 

and

 

it stood out from the rest

 

which is always fantastic to hear.

 

Are there any places left for Year 6?

 

Now that we’re so close, our classes are filling up quickly. There are a few spots left across our two sites but you will need to be quick; book your free trial today!

 

 

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.