Kip McGrath Luton Summer School 2015


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.

Courses

English

All our English courses are taught by qualified English specialist teachers and focus on 2 main areas.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Maths

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.

11 Plus

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.

Price List

Number of Days per Week

Price per day

Total

1

£30

£120

2

£29

£232

3

£28

£336

4

£27

£432

5

£26

£520

 FB-AD-504x504PX-BOOST-POST-SUMMER-SCHOOL-V3

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So You Didn’t get a “C” in English and Maths GCSE….


Exam results are out this week, and I’m hoping the 40 or so students I helped this year have achieved the grades they aimed for. I get a lot of calls from panicking parents and students who don’t know what to do when they fail their GCSE English and Maths exams.  It’s not the end of the world.  Here’s a guide to what you should do next if you get a “D” grade or below.

you didn't get a Grade

Most people think of a fail as NOT getting a grade “C” because this is the minimum grade expected of students if they want to go into further education.  In fact, getting that all important “C” in English and Maths is so important that universities can refuse to give you a place even if you’ve got A* s in all your other subjects.

So a lot of students have to re-take their GCSEs.  I have taught students taking their GCSE’s for the first time and those who are re-taking.  Students re-taking their exams face the following problems:

  • Students often have fewer lessons when retaking because they are at college and often have a busy timetable dedicating more time to the new subjects.

  • They are either over-confident and get complacent.  They think they will pass because they’ve done it all before. They have all their other subjects’ work to do as well and tend concentrate on those.

  • They can get too negative and start thinking that they will never pass.  Some get a mental block and continue to fail….

  • Students are very rusty – the last time they did maths or English was at least 3 months ago.

  • Students quite often GET THE SAME GRADE again!

To avoid all of the above, retake the exams as soon as possible and be prepared to do more work!

GCSE ENGLISH RE-SIT

If you do not achieve a “C” grade pass in English language, then you can re-sit the exam in January 2013.  The exam is on 10th January 2013.

As a general guideline, if you got a “D” overall then you can re-sit in January.  Anything lower than that means that you have to repeat the whole year and retake the exam in June next year.  You can re-submit your controlled assessments and speaking and listening assignments from year 11 if they are good.

If you want to re-sit in January then you’d better get your skates on!  I’ve calculated that there are only 18  teaching weeks left.  First you will have re-learn all of the course, then make sure that you know what you need to do to get a “C” grade and finally get in plenty of exam practice.  If you do mock tests and past papers, then these should be marked and graded so that you know where you are going wrong.  You can either mark them yourself or get them marked by a teacher.  If you are re-sitting in June next year then you have more time, but you also have more work to do.

GCSE MATHS RE-SIT

The GCSE Maths re-sits are in November.  There are 2 papers, paper 1 is on 6th November 2012, and paper 2 is on 8th November 2012.  The results will be published in January 2013. There are only 11 teaching weeks left, so don’t waste any time.

It is important that all the main exam topics are covered several times before the exam, but if you are short of time, then prioritise the topics you need to know to pass the exam.  A good way of doing this is by doing a mock test and looking at the results to see what you know and don’t know.  Then work on what you can’t do.

Don’t just revise ‘favourite’ topics – this won’t be enough, something must be changed this time around.

As with GCSE English, get in plenty of exam practice and get used to working under timed conditions.  Always mark the papers or get them marked and monitor how you are improving.

My blog article on understanding your examination results slip will help you to work out how close you were to a C grade.

Nobody wants to retake exams, but if you do find yourself in this situation,  let us help you pass.   Book a free assessment and we will show you the way.

Early Entry GCSE Maths and Pass Rates


Schools used to pick the brightest pupils in the year and allow them to take their GCSE maths exam early. This was called early entry and the pass rate was very good. These students could then take on an additional maths GCSE like statistics. Nowadays, the majority of pupils are sitting early entry GCSE maths whether they have a good chance of passing or not.

This article by the BBC and this paper by the department for education summarise the consequences of this practice. But I want to tell you my story….

Last week, all the students who sat their GCSE Maths in November 2010, got their results. Last week, I had many calls from panicking parents whose year 11’s failed to get that grade C. These now have to re-take their exam in March or in May this year. They will have to revise everything again but this time they will have other subjects to revise as well so the pressure will be much greater.

Having assessed these students, I’ve come to 2 conclusions:

  1. that they should never have been entered for the exam in November in the first place. I assessed a student who got a “U” (ungraded) in the higher paper suggesting that at best he was a low “D” grade at the time of the exam and that he could have done worse because of exam day nerves. The grades possible in the higher paper are “A*” to “D”. If a student gets lower than the pass mark for a “D” then they fail.

  2. that the students have already forgotten some of the maths they studied for the exam. In the majority of cases, the students who told me they got a “D” in the exam for example, got an “E” in my assessment. The student who got a “C” in the exam got a “D” in my assessment.

These students are cramming for exams and are being taught to pass exams and not to learn skills which can be applied to real life or in further education. A good friend of mine who teaches A level Maths at College says that the students who pass the early entry exam, struggle with A level Maths because they have forgotten everything they learnt by the time they start college. He has to spend the first 2 weeks of the A level course going through basic maths skills to make sure that the children are able to cope with A level standard work. I teach A level Chemistry which needs a good foundation in maths. I find that I have to teach skills like being able to work out ratios, re-arranging an algebraic formula and using a calculator. And the same goes for english skills, like comprehension and being able to answer a question so that it makes sense.

It’s an old argument and one that will always exist as long as exams exist. Students take pride in getting their GCSE’s early and they pride themselves in getting more GCSE’s. Schools have a reputation to keep, and league to tables to worry about. Many teachers view pass rates as a reflection of their own teaching. We all have our own agenda. I just wish that parents didn’t have to get dragged into all this!

How To Help Your Child With Place Value and Counting


How To Help Your Child With Place Value and Counting

Knowing how to “count on” in maths is a fundamental skill. This skill is also used when children are working out the next number in a sequence and place value.  Counting is easier when the numbers are written on a number line so start with a number line if you are doing this for the first time with your child.  You can purchase number lines and 100 squares from most good school supplies shops.  Alternatively write out a number line for your child.  Just as important as seeing the numbers is hearing the numbers, so children need to say the numbers as they use them.  In particular this helps children when tackling bigger numbers and fractions. If your child is old enough then you can also get them to write out the number in words.

Counting in Ones

Age 4-5 – choose a number between 10 and 20.  Ask your child to count on from that number.  For example if your child chooses 12, then ask them to count on another 2 numbers.

12, 13,  What are then next 2 numbers?

16, 15, What are the next 2 numbers?

If your child cannot remember the next number, then allow them to use a number line or to write out the numbers.

Age 5-6 –choose a number between 20 and 99.  Repeat as above.  The difficult numbers to count on from are 29, 39, 49, 59, etc

28, 29, What are the next 2 numbers?

58, 59, what are the next 2 numbers?

31, 30, what are the next 2 numbers?

Age 7-8 – choose a number between 100 and 999.  Repeat as above.  The difficult numbers to count on from are 109, 119, etc and 199, 299, 399 etc.

108, 109 what are the next 2 numbers?

398, 399, what are the next 2 numbers?

998, 999, what are the next 2 numbers?

401, 400, what are the next 2 numbers?

Age 9-10 – choose a number between 1000 and 9000.

Age 10-11 – choose any number between 10,000 and 1,000,000

Counting in Multiples

Counting on in multiples of 2 for example can re-enforce times tables and odd and even numbers.  Ask your child to count forward and backward in 2’s from any random number (must be age and ability appropriate so refer to previous paragraph).

Try counting forward and backwards in multiples of 5, 10, 100 and 1000.

Counting in Fractions

Counting can help to address the gap in understanding fractions as numbers in their own right.

Activity 1

Use fractions as a natural part of your vocabulary.  For example you could ask your child to give you 2 halves of an apple.

Activity 2

Cut an apple (or similar) real or drawn into quarters.  Ask your child how many quarters are in the apple.  Count the pieces one quarter, two quarters, three quarters, four quarters and ask your child to write down the fractions. 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/ 4 .  Cut a second apple and ask your child to keep counting the quarters 5/4, 6/4, 7/4, 8/4 and to continue to write the list of fractions.

  • Ask them what is another name for 4 quarters? (1)

  • what is another name for 8 quarters?(2)

  • what is another name for 6 quarters ?(1 2/4 or 1 1/2)

Encourage them to use the apples or drawings to find the answer.

Help your child to draw circles (two or three) on paper and mark them in thirds.

  • Ask them to count in thirds and to write the sequence.

  • Ask them what is another name for 3 thirds? (1)

  • what is another name for 6 thirds?(2)

  • what is another name for 5 thirds? (1 2/3)

Activity 3

First teach your child that:

2 halves = 2/2 = 1 whole

3 thirds = 3/3 = 1 whole

4 quarters = 4/4 = 1 whole

5 fifths = 5/5 = 1 whole

Then we move onto counting.

½, 2/2, 3/2, 4/2,

This says 1 half, 2 halves, 3 halves, four halves.

OR

½, 1, 1½, 2,

Half, 1, one and a half, two.

Once your child can count backwards and forwards in halves then try other fractions.

Visualisation is essential so encourage the use of real things to chop up into fractions and drawings.

How to Teach Halving


HALVING SHAPES

Before teaching a child to halve a number, make sure that they can halve a shape.   Most children find it easy to halve a shape and don’t realise that halving means the same as splitting into 2 equal parts. So before teaching your child how to halve a number, please make sure that they have understood the following common misconceptions:

1.  When you half a shape, you must make sure that it is split in the middle.  This teaches the child that halving must be fair and that both halves must look the same.

2.  There is more than one way to half a shape.  Ask your child to halve a rectangle or square in as many ways as possible.  This should include diagonally as well.

3.  Draw and inaccurately half some shapes so that some are split unequally, some are split into three or more pieces.  then ask your child to find out if they have been halved.

HALVING NUMBERS

There are many ways to explain the term of “half of”; sharing equally between 2 people, counting in 2’s, dividing by 2, opposite of doubling and splitting down the middle.

Different ways of working out half of a (2)

Therefore, there are a variety of ways of teaching halving.  Choose a method that your child finds easy, and stick to it.  Once they are confident with that method, try to teach a different way of halving.

I always start off teaching a child how to share equally.  I usually use counters and draw 2 smiley faces on a whiteboard or piece of paper representing me and the child.  The child has to share the counters between the smiley faces.  Sometimes you have to teach a child “one for you, one for me” and once they have learnt this they find it quite easy.  Make sure that once all the counters have been shared between the 2 smiley faces, that they have been shared equally.  the child needs to check every time. “How many do you have and how many do I have” seems to work well.  What if the counters have not been shared equally?  The child can repeat again or if they have caught on, they will be able to move some counters around to make the distribution fair.  I use this method for up to 24 counters.

For numbers larger than 24, using counters can be time-consuming and often ends up with the child miscounting.  By now the child should know half of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 without working them out. So I break down larger numbers into manageable chunks, and then ask the child to share equally between 2 smiley faces.

Example 1:  Draw 2 smiley faces.  Half of 30 = 10+10+10 Draw three 10’s in circles at the side as in diagram below.

How To half 30
How to half 30

Then share as in the diagram below, the smiley faces will get 10 each and then, there will be 10 left which will have to be split into 5’s.  So each person gets 15.

Halving 30
How to halve 30

The same method can be used for bigger numbers and it’s easy and simple.

half of 34 = 10+10+10+4

half of 50 = 10+10+10+10+10

Do try this with your children and let me know if it works.

4 Games to Help With Verbal Reasoning


If you are helping your child prepare for the 11+ verbal reasoning tests, then try the following games to put in a bit of fun into your schedule.  Your child won’t even realise that they are learning skills to pass the 11+ exam.

1. Challenging crosswords – give children exposure to lots of words and therefore can improve spellings.  They encourage children to use dictionaries and encyclopaedia’s but with the added benefit of being fun.  You can play online here.

2. Suduko is a number puzzle game that children as young as 5 can do.  For younger children you can make up grids similar to these.  Sudoku improves analytical thinking in children, it teaches them elimination and logical thinking.

3. Scrabble – increases the vocabulary of a child. It teaches spelling skills to children.  It enhances the mathematical skills in a child and shows us how adding one new letter can change a word or the entire meaning of a word.  It helps develop critical thinking and teaches problem solving skills.  It helps in developing an improved memory and concentration.  Here’s a great website for playing Scrabble online.

I use scrabble tiles to help children with anagram type questions.  Start with giving the child just 3 tiles (one must be a vowel) and ask to make as many words as possible.  Then move up to 4 tiles and so on.  Children need to be taught how to work out new words in a systematic way rather than just randomly putting the letters in order to see if they make sense.  This skill of doing things logically and in sequence is a fundamental skill for verbal reasoning questions.

4. Chess – Chess is one of the best games that will make children  think of different strategies to achieve victory.  It improves concentration and memory and teaches children how to solve problems.  Research has shown that it significantly improve mathematical ability.  Please read this article for more benefits.

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.

Tens and Units: An Easy Game to Teach Place Value


This game is great for teaching young children to count in 10’s and units. I have used this game in teaching and the children love it. I have kept it simple by sticking to 10’s and 1’s, but you can use larger coins if you want and adapt according to the ability of the child.

Suitable for age 5 and above. You will need:

  • 2 players – 2 children, or one adult, one child

  • At least 10, 10p coins, real or plastic

  • At least 10, 1p coins

  • Pencil and paper

  • A small bag or container to place the coins

How To Play

Put all the coins in the bag and take turns to take out a random number of coins. Count the coins and write down the amount. Replace the coins in the bag. Let the other player have a go and compare the amounts. The player with the most money wins the round. Continue for as many rounds as you like, but I recommend 10 at least.

It Takes 66 Days to Form a Habit


During the long summer break, I decided to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning whether I need it or not. And since I have been doing this daily for the last 2 months, it has become a part of my routine. In fact if I forget, then I feel as if something is missing; it bugs me.

Experts say that on average it takes 66 days to form a habit, if the new habit/behaviour is repeated every day. The length of time depends on the habit, the person and how consistent the person is. Also, if it takes longer to form a habit, then it will be stronger.

The same rules apply when forming learning habits in children (and adults).  Some of the learning habits that we encourage our literacy students to adopt are:

  • to plan a piece of written work before writing it

  • to check their work for mistakes

  • to remember to start sentences with capital letters and end with full stops

  • to remember to use quotes correctly and to explain them.  This is called the PQE technique in English (point quote explain)

  • to underline keywords in exam questions

  • to read every day

  • to brainstorm words and ideas for used in a story

And some of the learning habits we teach our numeracy students are:

  • to show working out when doing a maths question

  • to touch every single object when counting

  • to write out the formula they are going to use

  • to search for patterns in maths calculations

  • to set out calculations in the correct way

These learning habits cannot always be acquired in the classroom because there isn’t enough opportunity for repetition.  Planning is taught, but maybe only for a week and then the school teacher would move onto a new topic.  To create a habit you need to repeat the behaviour in the same situation. It is important that something about the setting where you perform the behaviour is consistent so that it can cue the behaviour.  Eventually the behaviour will becomes automatic and then the child can apply it in other situations.  So a child may punctuate correctly at Kip McGrath, but not necessarily remember to do so at school.  This would happen once the behaviour has become automatic and the child does so without thinking.

So be patient with children, when they are trying to learn a new skill.  New habits do not stop the old habits from existing; they just have to become stronger influences on behaviour.

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference    ………………………Aristotle

When Private Tuition Is Not Enough


I did an assessment on a year 12 pupil yesterday (age 17), who will be sitting her GCSE Maths in 9 teaching week’s time. She wanted to get a C grade, but when I tested her, she was working at a low E grade.

She was also re-taking her GCSE and got an F the first time round. That meant that she had only improved by 1 grade since starting her course 7 months ago and that’s with approximately 4 hours of maths per week at college. So it’s not difficult to do the numbers here. It’s plain and simple that 9 weeks of tuition (an 80 minute session per week) is not going to get her that C! In fact it would be nothing short of a miracle if she did. And that’s exactly what I told her.

From all my years of teaching experience, I have learnt that to pass maths you need to

  1. Learn the different methods of working out maths problems

  2. Memorise formulas

  3. Practice using these methods and formulas

  4. Go over past exam questions

Revision and learning is like building a wall. One brick at a time is laid and cemented together to make a wall. But if those bricks are not solid enough or the cement hasn’t had time to set, then the wall will be weak and inevitably break. So don’t leave your revision to the last minute or think that having a few extra lessons is going to be enough to pass your exams. It takes hard work, organisation and dtermination!

Tackling Times Tables


One of the biggest issues facing our pupils at Kip when they join us, is the common problem that they do not know their times tables. Lots of work goes on in primary classrooms to address ways of learning tables, but I’ve got to say, that the old-fashioned way of learning them by heart seems to bring the best results.
We always try to incorporate 10 minutes of Timed Tables into a lesson.  The purpose is to get as many random times tables correct in one minute as possible.   The pupils love the competitive edge to learning their tables, and this has a positive effect on their maths knowledge and problem solving skills.

One of our siters centres has written a great article on this topic.  You can view it here.