e I have been helping children become better learners through the power of Kip McGrath and it’s philosophy. Every child is different and every child needs a unique approach to learning. We encourage children to work things out for themselves but in a way which doesn’t overwhelm them. In every lesson your child will learn something new, or re-learn it but with the guidance of the teacher. We teach like they do in school so as not to confuse children, and we know why a child is struggling.
Here are some other reasons why Kip McGrath works and how it is different to other forms of tuition.
We Only Employ Qualified Teachers
You won’t see university or college students teaching your child here. Not only are our teachers qualified, but they are experienced too. The average age of our current teaching staff is 36 years, but if I include one of our summer school staff then it goes up to 41. We have 6 teachers at the moment and they all have other jobs as well teaching at Kip McGrath. All of them can teach at Primary level and then we have specialist teachers in English, Maths and 11 plus. The average years of teaching experience my staff have is 18 years.
Some Statistics About Our Reading Programme
We have many children who come to us for help with reading. The Kip McGrath reading programme has over 40 levels and we use this with children who are falling behind with their reading. To date the biggest improvement in reading age that we have seen is 2 years and 6 months in just 1 term. The reading programme doesn’t just teach a child to read, it helps with reading fluency and comprehension too.
We Don’t Sit Down During A Lesson
A good teacher rarely sits down during a lesson. In an average lesson a teacher can take up to 3750 steps. This is because they are moving from one student to the next, marking work, explaining things, giving out the next piece of work or simply just teaching. They have to see the students work, talk to them, encourage them and make sure they are doing it properly. Anybody can give out worksheets, or follow a lesson plan, but only a teacher can teach.
How We Teach Maths
The way you and I learnt Maths at school is completely different to how it is taught now. As a teacher, even I find it hard to keep up with all the new methods. Also, every school has their own policy on how Maths should be taught. So at Kip McGrath we make sure that your child is taught how they learn at school. The good news is that many schools host open evenings for parents to come in to the school and learn how to teach their child at home using the correct method. Take advantage of these classes if your child’s school offers them.
We have over 600 Maths worksheets to teach from, covering the topics outlined in the national curriculum. Our Maths programme starts from very simple number recognition activities suitable for age 4 and goes all the way up to beyond GCSE. We use worksheets in conjunction with our Maths computer programmes and Maths books. Our Maths programme on it’s own is not enough. In conjunction with this we always use past papers for pupils in year 6 and year 11 and we teach children how to revise maths.
The Times tables Competition!!!
Our most popular programme is the “Timed tables” programme. It’s simple. All you have to do is get as many correct in 30 seconds and our most competitive kids like to challenge each other. Kip McGrath run a worldwide Times tables challenge too where children from centres all over the world compete with each other.
Who Comes To Kip McGrath?
Since we started in 2004 we have noticed an evolution in the profile of the students who attend. We have more 4 year olds coming and our Get Ready For School and Little Learners programmes are ideal for meeting their needs. There are growing numbers of children preparing for the 11 plus, a particularly specialised area that we have expertise in. Student attendance is more long-term now with the average student attending for 2 years. A typical student is average or above average in ability, and needs that extra push but we also have students who are having difficulties and need professional tuition to help them.
Does your child get full marks in weekly spelling tests but makes mistakes on simple words when writing? Our spelling programme teaches spellings in a way which will help your child. We have over 100 spelling worksheets which we use to help children learn spelling of new words, learn spelling rules and to learn how to use the words in their writing. Our spelling programme covers phonics too, which ties in nicely with the national curriculum.
Mr Kip McGrath Lives Upstairs
When I started Kip McGrath, many parents and children thought that I was Kip and that I lived at the centre. I used to tell the kids that Mr Kip McGrath looked like Father Christmas and he lived upstairs but only came downstairs when someone was naughty. So many of them believed me.
Our Photocopier is Called Marley!!!
We ran out of space within 2 years of opening and luckily found a premises twice the size just next door. Our centre has 4 teaching areas, a reception area, 2 toilets and a small kitchen. We also have 3 photocopiers – all of them have nicknames and my favourite is called “Marley” because he’s always “Jamming” – get it?
Last week one of my students asked me to be an “audience” to help practice her speaking and listening exam. All I had to do was to listen to her speech, but I couldn’t just sit there could I? I had to intervene and give her some practical tips.
So while it’s all fresh in my mind, I want to share some of the things that worked for her. At the end of the article I have a link to my free speaking and listening cheat sheet to help you assess how good your presentation is. I have adapted it so that it is user friendly and anybody can use it. You don’t have to be a GCSE English student to use it either.
Know what you are going to say and in what order. Have a clear logical order for your speech so that it all fits together and flows smoothly. This means that you need to think carefully about linking your points – a bit like newsreaders do as they swap from newsreading – weather forecast – newsreading. They have to think of ways of making the transition effortless.
Dont’ try to memorise your whole speech. If you do this, you will sound like a robot and your speech won’t sound natural. If you forget some of your speech you will be fiddling around with your notes to find the bits you forgot and this won’t look good to the examiner. You will lose eye contact and end up panicking. Why don’t you have have memory prompts to jog your memory or questions to get you talking. Keep the prompts and questions simple.
Practice the speech in front of a person rather than in front of a mirror. A mirror can’t talk back to you, and it won’t tell you if your speech is boring. Look for signs of boredom from your audience (yawning and day-dreaming) and find ways of engaging the audience. The mirror will make you aware of your body language and facial expressions but these could change if you are in front of an examiner.
Listen to a recording of your speech. This will tell you how fast you talk, whether your speech is clear, whether you hesitate too much, whether you sound like a robot, whether you say “um” and “err” or “so” too much, whether your voice is shaky, whether you sound confident and if you know your speech well enough. Record your speech, and use this cheat sheet to grade your speech.
My teenage son reads every day but given the choice, he would rather read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” over and over again. It seems as if reading is work for him so he chooses easy books to read instead. Nothing wrong with that but this article got me thinking and worrying. It highlights that teenagers are selecting “easier reads” when choosing books rather than more challenging classics. As a consequence they are seriously struggling with English.
I’ve noticed a lack of quality reading in my students too. Read more, read every day, read challenging books, read, read, read…This is a mantra I teach my students to help them become competent readers and writers. You can tell if a child is a keen reader from their writing. Reading helps with imagination and flare and children are more aware of literary devices. Children who don’t read enough often have writing which is “wooden” and doesn’t flow. There is a lack of vivid vocabulary, poor sentence structure and it fails to keep the reader interested.
So to encourage my students to read, I have introduced an extended reading programme at my centre for all pupils on our english programmes. This is a list of recommended authors and their books which are literary classics. All the authors on the list have won prizes for their books and are likely to be used by schools on their reading lists. Children aim to read at least 6 books a year and after each book they have to do an extended writing task. This could be something as simple as summarising the book or ceating an alternative book cover. The idea is that it makes the student think deeply about the book. The activities also tie in with the national curriculum and provide an oppportunity to do a longer piece of writing.
The reading lists are for year 1 to year 9 and roughly arranged according to the reading age. Just let your child choose the book they want to read.
The summer reading challenge is a scheme happening in libraries all over the country and is designed to encourage children to read over the long summer break. It has been proven that children actually fall back academically during the 6 week break and one of the easiest ways of keeping on top of things is to get children reading.
Children taking part in it are encouragement to complete it by getting rewards and stickers. They have to read 6 or more books to complete the challenge. Parents love the scheme as a visit to the library is a free day out and it is educational. I think that without the challenge, the libraries would be dead!
So every year on the first day of the summer holidays I take the kids to the library to take part in the summer reading challenge and I have been doing this not just with my own kids but nephews, nieces and friends’ children as well. That’s the joys of being a teacher; everyone wants you to take their children to the library because you should know what you are doing.
I’ve picked up a few good ideas along the way, and you can use all or some of these as you wish.
1. Have a List of Authors
I have a list of authors who are either recommended authors for texts used in schools or who have won prizes for their books. This ensures that your children reading quality works and not just nonsense.
2. Don’t Pick The First Book You See.
Take your time at the library and pick more books than you need. Then go through each book and choose the best ones. Teach your child how to choose a good book by reading the summary on the back cover or by reading the first page. If they like the first page, they should like the rest.
3. Read The Books Your Child Reads.
This is especially effective to get reluctant readers to talk about their books and take more interest. They will begin to see that books can entertain just like movies. When I was at the library there was little girl returning her books, and the librarian asked her about every book even though she had not read them herself. When I asked the librarian why she had done that, she said that it made the children choose more books and come back and tell her all about them.
4. Write About The Books.
After reading you could get your child to write a review or simply just to score it out of 10. You can write online reviews and add it onto the book list on the summer reading challenge website too.
I will be posting some other written tasks you can do after reading a book on this blog. I will also be posting the list of authors on this blog too. So please join my mailing list if you would like to be notified.
For most children, summer is a time to leave classes and homework behind. While summer is a holiday from school, it does not have to be a holiday from learning. The summer holiday is great for recharging your children’s batteries, because if they are not using the skills and knowledge that was learned in the classroom, they will find themselves lagging behind when school starts up again.Children can lose on average two month’s worth of knowledge over the summer if their brains are not actively engaged in educational activities.
Kip McGrath Luton can offer you the perfect solution to this problem. Our summer school runs Monday to Friday throughout August. Your child can attend one or more 2 hour teaching session per week and complete a small amount of homework. After an initial assessment we can pin-point any areas of weakness that need to be targeted and put together a programme of work designed to focus on these areas and prepare them for the coming school year. This small amount of effort can make a huge difference and mean that your child is ready to learn in the new school year instead of having to spend the first month relearning skills and wasting valuable time.
Who Comes To Kip McGrath Summer School?
✓Children sitting the 11 plus exam ✓ Children who need to catchup in Maths and English ✓ Children who have learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism ✓ Children who lack confidence in their abilities ✓ Children who are not working at the level they are capable of
Monday 3rd August to Friday 28th August
10.00 am to 12.00
If your wish you child to attend our summer school please feel free to call us on 01582 402225 to arrange the initial assessment and discuss in detail your child’s individual needs. Or fill in this contact form and we can arrange a convenient time to call you back.
All our English courses are taught by qualified English specialist teachers and focus on 2 main areas.
Creative Writing Creative writing is something many students find challenging! This module breaks down the elements needed to become more confident in relation to creative writing. Students are encouraged to plan, think about their audience and the tone and style of their writing in order to produce a piece with quality and depth. Special attention is given to detail and description, and the student is shown how to apply their knowledge to all types of writing.
Reading and SPaG (Spelling, punctuation and Grammar) This module helps children to understand the difference between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and the finer points of using an apostrophe and speech marks. A whole range of grammatical activities will enable your child to understand how the English language works. It will also focus on the student’s understanding of a range of texts at an appropriate level, and also to extend their vocabulary. They will be shown how to find the right answers by skimming and scanning, and also how to work out an answer if it is only implied in the text.
At Kip McGrath our aim is to put the fun back in the subject and build confidence in both mental maths and problem solving through clear and simple explanations. The student drives the pace of the lesson so if more revision time is needed there is no pressure to ‘move on’ to the next topic. Maths skills are consolidated by applying knowledge to problem solving questions. We help develop these skills by teaching the student to read the question and extract the maths needed to answer the question effectively.
One of the changes in the 11+ is the timing of exams. These now take place in September rather than October as in the past. To help with maintaining learning and keep brain cells “fresh” during the summer holidays, we will be holding 11+ Intensive Courses. We recommend that your child attends at least 3 days a week during the summer school.
The course will widen the knowledge base of students so that they are equipped to answer the broad and challenging English, Maths and non-verbal questions. They will be taught examination strategies and how to think positively when faced with a question they find daunting. Students will write a mock exam extracted from the new specification.
Picture the scene, you’re helping your child with maths homework and you come across a calculation which you have worked out in your head in seconds, or even worse, a younger sibling has blurted out the answer. However, your child is still sitting there, crunching up their face, trying to think hard about the answer. Maybe your child thinks that the answer should appear by magic in their head? So you wait, and encourage and try not to rush your child as that is when the panic sets in. You’re putting pressure on your child to hurry up, when clearly there’s nothing to hurry up about because that answer is not materialising. In the end your child guesses the answer.
As a teacher I have seen this many times. The child doesn’t actually have the skills and strategies to work out the answer. So they try to think if they have done something like this before and then remember that answer. It doesn’t work of course, as maths is all about application of skills to new situations. Once you teach the methods, the child should be able to use them in any situation.
So this article will try to address the problems that are caused by poor mental maths. How can you help? Does it really matter in this high tech world where we have calculators on our mobile phones?
Children who are weak in maths will also struggle with mental arithmetic. They work things out too slowly, often get the answer wrong and fail to retain important number facts. Weak mental maths skills means that a child will make silly mistakes in their calculations and will struggle to finish the work set. In older children, they rely on the calculator and when you ask them to work it out on paper, they have forgotten how to. So practicing mental maths will help your child in all areas of maths and boost their grades.
Encourage your child to work things out in their head. One of my students was doing the question “7+3”. I know that he can put a number in his head and count on, but when I saw him working it out, he counted 7 fingers, then counted 3 fingers and then added them up. This took him twice as long as it should have. If you want to know more about the “counting on” method, which is used in schools, Topnotchteaching explains it really well.
He was doing this because he lacked confidence and counting out the numbers gave him a sense of security, it was buying him time to get the answer right. Children don’t like mental maths because they have a greater chance of making mistakes, and have nothing to “fall back on”. The only way of getting over this is form a habit of working things out in their head.
Don’t expect a child to learn number facts for the sake of learning them. Times tables, number bonds and knowing the number of grams in a kilogram are all examples of this. These can be learnt, or even crammed for tests, and just as easily forgotten. Maths is like a language. Unless it is used regularly and in different contexts, it will not be remembered. For example, times tables need to be learnt and then used in word problems, applied to fractions, used in division questions and used in everyday life. We use maths in our daily routines, more than we realise. Find the maths in your child’s life and help them realise that maths isn’t just something to be used in the classroom, it is all around us.
Here are some simple strategies to help strengthen mental arithmetic.
The most important skill is to learn times tables. This article gives you some practical ways to teach times tables.
Practice mental maths as a daily routine.
Have a set of questions saved on your phone or your computer or even printed out and fire these at your child. Make it look like a game so that it’s not too overwhelming.
The children I teach, attend once a week for an 80 minute lesson and will get one homework per week. I think that this is enough homework as the purpose of homework is to test the child’s learning and to see what the child can do independently. When I set homework, it needs to satisfy the following criteria:
1. The child needs to be aware of the importance of the homework. They must not see this as some sort of punishment, and they must respect the time and effort I put in to give them the homework.
2. It needs to be linked to the work covered in the lesson, otherwise I will not be able to compare classwork to homework.
3. It needs to be at a level where the child is able to get 80% of the questions correct. Challenging enough to build on learning, yet easy enough to instill confidence in the child.
4. The child should understand the homework before leaving the lesson.
However, some parents want their children to have more homework. When I ask why, they say that it will keep them busy and help them progress much quicker. If a child is given more homework, does that equate to more progress?
When I started teaching, I used to do this. I used to give up to 4 pieces of homework to children upon the request of the parents. Big mistake!
The children would often lose their homework, because they couldn’t look after it properly. They didn’t have the organisation skills needed to keep track of the homework, check that it’s all done, and to make sure it was brought in the following lesson to be marked.
Of the few times it was all brought in, I would spend at least 10 minutes per lesson marking it. I believe in giving instant feedback, so I mark the homework straight away and go through it. Then I used to spend 30 minutes going over all the wrong answers. That’s 40 minutes of the lesson eaten up.
Now I insist on children handing in one good quality piece of work per week. The rules are that it needs to be done neatly, all questions must be completed and if the children want to, they can add things they have learnt. For example if I give a child a homework on the 3 and 4 times tables, what’s to stop them from learning about the 6 times table themselves? Or if I give a child a comprehension exercise, what’s to stop the child from continuing the story covered in the comprehension?
If you really want to keep your children’s brains active during the week, get them reading. Children who read make good learners. What’s your view on homework? Do you think your child gets too little or too much homework? If you are a teacher, what’s your experience of giving out lots of homework to children? I’d love to now.
So you’ve just received your GCSE results and you don’t understand what all the numbers mean? I get many parents calling me on results day trying to get their head around their child’s GCSE results. The grades are easy enough to understand, after all, a C grade is a C grade, and that’s all that matters right?
But what if you didn’t get that grade and want to know exactly how far off you were? Because if you were only 2 marks away from a C grade, it might be worth getting the paper re-marked. Or if you want to re-sit the exam in November, you’ve got a better chance of passing if you close to a C grade.
Most schools in Luton follow the AQA examination board in English, so I will use AQA as an example to explain how you can find out grade boundaries.
UMS POINTS Versus Real Marks
Grade boundaries are the marks needed to achieve a particular grade. For example in the GCSE English Language Foundation paper, there are a maximum 80 marks. If a student gets 56 out of 80, then that’s a grade C. Grade boundaries based on raw marks differ depending on whether the student has done a foundation or higher paper.
If you want to see an example grade boundaries based on raw marks, see this document. The English grade boundaries are on page 8.
However, on your results slip, you will NOT get raw scores. You will get UMS points. So when looking for grade boundaries based on the numbers on your results slip look for UMS points grade boundaries. “The Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) is a way of turning the raw marks achieved in a unit in a particular sitting into a mark that can be used to compare with those achieved in other series.”
Grade boundaries based on UMS scores are published when exam results are out. However, these documents are usually a collection of the grade boundaries of 100’s of exams. Rather than searching these documents page by page, make sure that you know your course code. Open the document, press CTRL F and type in the course code, for example “4707” and it will take you to the results you are looking for.
The UMS grade boundaries for AQA are here. So it’s that simple. One of my students got a UMS score of 104 in one of his English exams (4 points away from a C grade), so he will be re-sitting the exam in November. He doesn’t want to take another year to get his GCSE, especially when he was so close.
If you need to get some help for your GCSE’s, just give us a call. 01582 402225
Are you worried about your child sitting the 11+ exam in September?
Does your child lack confidence/ need to catch up/ forget what they have learnt too easily?
WE CAN HELP
The Kip McGrath Luton South summer school has successfully helped students aged 4 – 16 to:
Bridge the gap when going into a new school year, moving from primary to secondary or nursery to reception
Help children catch up if they have fallen behind at school
Learn how to revise, study and prepare for GCSE exams effectively
Prepare for the Buckinghamshire (and other counties) 11+ exams in September
Build confidence and enjoy learning
Be one step ahead when they start the new school year
When a child starts school in September after a 6 week summer break, teachers have to help them catch up on all the work they have forgotten. Most teachers will tell you that this is called “THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN”. But this can be avoided by enrolling your child on our summer school.
The sessions are in the mornings from 10.00 am, so it still leaves the rest of the day to enjoy the summer. There are only 20 places available, so book now.
A large part of the 11 plus verbal reasoning tests is vocabulary knowledge. And most parents will be familiar with the Bond 11 plus practice books and thousands of online resources you can print out. However, children can get bored and frustrated with doing just these.
So I have compiled a list of 5 minute activities that children can do to practice their verbal reasoning vocabulary. Perfect for children struggling with concentration and to make it more interesting. I regularly create games and short, sharp activities for the children to do at my centre and they don’t even realise that they are studying. So have a go and see for yourself. But if you haven’t got the time or struggle to explain things simply to your child, let us do the work for you. Book your child for a free assessment and let us take care of things.
Children need to know the meanings of the words, their opposites, whether they are nouns, verbs or adjectives, and in some cases the multiple meanings of the words.
First of all you need to have a list of the most commonly used words. You can get them from here.
Make these into flash cards and print them out on card. You can get flashcard templates off the internet, but I like to use Quizlet to make flash cards. It’s so simple. All you do is cut and paste the words into the flash card set wizard and it generates them for you.
Take any set of 10 words and then try the following:
Practicing using the alphabet is essential for verbal reasoning. If a child knows that there are 3 letters between “m” and “p”, then it’s quicker than working it out.
Put the words into alphabetical order.
Put the words in reverse alphabetical order.
To make it more difficult, pick words beginning with the same letter and then put them in alphabetical order.
A synonym is another word with a similar meaning. This may not be possible for all words. When your child first does this, allow them to use a thesaurus (online is acceptable as well) and choose the synonym that they are most familiar with. I taught a child once who was looking up synonyms for the word “rich”. He chose the word “prosperous”, but a week later, he couldn’t tell me what the word “prosperous” meant.
Start of by choosing just one synonym, then build up to maximum 5 per word. As your child gets familiar with the word list, get them to choose synonyms from the word list. For example “oppose” and “contest” are synonyms and both are in the list.
Antonyms are opposites. Again you can allow the use of a thesaurus and as with synonyms, make sure your child knows the meaning of the antonym they choose. Start off with one antonyms and build up to a maximum 5. Try to get your child to choose antonyms from the word list.
Sentence writing helps children to understand the meaning of the word. The sentence must make sense and use the word in he correct way. This is especially so for words with multiple meanings. For example the word “permit” has 2 meanings. The child must write a sentence using both meanings. the sentence must also illustrate the meaning of the word. So writing “I got a permit” is not enough. Writing “I got a permit to go and work in America” is better.
the verbal reasoning type 8 questions requires the child to find hidden words in a sentence. Once your child has written the sentence, see if they find any hidden 4 letter words in it.
Make Smaller Words
For each word, make smaller words from the letters in the word.
Start with making as many 2 letter words as possible
Then build up to making bigger words.
Nouns, Verb or Adjective
Sort the words into either noun verb or adjective. Some of the words may go into more than one category. This is a great exercise for grammar skills. With nouns, you can go further and categorise them into abstract, proper or common nouns.