Helen, Andrea and Claire - Thank You

 My heart is full of gratitude. I am grateful that my son made it to his GCSE Maths Paper 2 this morning without melting down. I am grateful that he will go through this right of passage, these fifteen exams, scary as they have been, that will show him that he can do hard things. And I am grateful to his tutors Helen Osmond, Andrea Gadsbey and Dr Claire Wilsher for helping him to feel prepared and, to a certain extent, in control.

GCSEs are overwhelming. There’s so much material to cover. They are a test of stamina. Of breadth of knowledge and exam technique. Don’t get me wrong. I am very grateful for my education, and the education of my children. But the learning process has left a lot to be desired.

Disrupted schooling, partly by COVID but also by poor classroom management and culture, left this particular child with a really bad school experience. So when, at the beginning of this school year, I decided to supplement his education with three tutors, I felt I was doing the only thing I could.

To be honest, it wasn’t always easy to pay for these extra lessons. At times, the tutors kindly allowed us to move to fortnightly classes with work set in between. I had to help him manage his schedule, since remembering to show up for each session wasn’t straightforward for him either. Eventually, we created a WhatsApp group for each subject, where I could nudge him about work or timings, and supervise the progress whilst encouraging him to take the lead.

Our eldest son never went through this. He was in Year 11 during Covid, and so he received teacher assessed grades. This was not terrible for him, since he had been a steady presence in the classroom since Year 7. The teachers judged him fairly, and with the exception of Chemistry, which he had to retake so he could do the A Level, he was absolutely fine.

But this, our second son, would not have fared so well. With 33% attendance, the teachers would have said that they just didn’t have enough information to go on. They would have struggled to give him even a passing grade. He is academically very able, but the classroom has been crushing him for years. And about eighteen months ago, he just couldn’t any more. It sounds dramatic, but the mind of a teenager is dramatic. I should know. I live with them. My husband and I are outnumbered. Which is why I am so grateful to the tutors who support us. 

Helen (maths), Andrea (English) and Claire (science) have really ‘got’ my son this year. They joke with him about Star Wars, Doctor Who and his favourite jumper (black, with pink flamingos). They have seen him develop over the year. In fact, they have supported that development. Watching my son interact with these wonderful people, friends of mine through Qualified Tutor, who I trust and whose approach to education aligns with my own, has been the highlight of his schooling so far. There has been a seriousness, a commitment from these tutors, to holding his hand and helping him to feel confident and able to take on the challenge of a GCSE exam. They have reassured, they have encouraged and they have challenged him to have a go. This is all I could ask for.

He just texted me to say that the exam was finished. That he didn’t think it had gone that well, but it was done and now there’s only five more to go. For me, this is fine. My son doesn’t need top grades. He needs to build resilience, to know that a challenge doesn’t have to break him, and to know that there are people who are willing to help. For this, and so much more, I am grateful to Helen, to Andrea and to Claire. May all your students thrive.