Friday, 9 November 2012

Helping your child succeed at GCSE: A parents view

In any career path, good qualifications are becoming more and more important for successful entry and for progression. It is understandable, therefore, that most parents want the best possible education for their children, but they may perceive the education system now as a very different beast to what they experienced as students themselves.

In my day, the classroom was neatly arranged with desks (full of exercise and text books) in rows, the teacher had a system of blackboards on which chalk was used to write, and the only variation was the occasional wheeling-in of a TV for an educational service programme from the BBC. The students remained in the same classroom and the teachers moved from classroom to classroom through the school day. What a haven of peace (or maybe tedium?)!

Compared to my day, the classroom is unrecognisable. There are tables in various configurations, there are lockers, there are visual displays over the walls, there is an interactive, computer-driven whiteboard, there are plain whiteboards, there are a host of creative tools and resources – all conceived to help teachers deliver varied lessons that engage the modern student. As well as classrooms, science laboratories, food technology kitchens, design and technology workshops and art rooms, there are now state-of-the-art computer suites to utilise the best that is available in teaching and learning resources, either computer-based or online in the cloud. Students are so information-savvy these days, we parents struggle to keep up!

All of this has not happened by accident, although it can be agreed that not much of it was foreseen even a few years ago. What has evolved is in response to the changing influences that children are facing every day of their lives. Multi-channel television, video games, handheld consoles, desktop, laptop and tablet computers, smart phones – these have all contributed to a revolution in lifestyles that has led to information supply overload. Link this to an improved standard of living where foreign travel is easy and relatively cheap, cultural differences are more understood and have more impact, and opportunities to utilise free time are more varied and available than ever before. It is hardly a surprise that the structure of teaching and learning has been forced to adapt.

So, in all of this (r)evolution, what can we as parents do to support our children? Teachers in today’s educational system expect parents to be a partner in the teaching and learning process. Well, it is not a bad idea to consider all the possible resources that can feed and nurture the learning process. Different students have different learning styles – so give them options to find the way that best suits them. Different students have different attention spans – so give them the option to control the quantity and frequency of material they need to digest. Different students respond differently to the way their class teacher presents the subject – so give them an alternative resource to complement this. But where can all this be found in the bewildering array of websites, chatrooms and other sources? One thing is certain, there is not an infinite supply of time or money to enable us to try everything. So, be a cautious consumer, and consider what will be an economically effective tool. Many will turn to private tuition, but this soon becomes an expensive option with hourly rates typically in the £30 to £60 range. Some will scour the web to locate reasonable-quality, free resources such as BBC’s Bitesize Revision. But will these be accessible to the reluctant student? Some will put it all off until exam time and engage with a total immersion (and expensive) revision course.

How can LearnersCloud help?

LearnersCloud GCSE Revision Videos & Apps
GCSE Tutor Videos & Apps
At LearnersCloud, we have attempted to put together a cost-effective resource that complements the classroom learning space, yet allows the student to proceed at his or her pace and in the areas where he or she is weak and feels the need to consolidate their learning. And using the latest technological options means the student is more likely to find the offering accessible, enjoyable and effective. Parents are an important contributor in the process, since by showing an interest and sharing time with the student, there will be a greater commitment all round to getting those excellent qualifications. And consider the costs and the downside – doing nothing may not be the sensible option, but believing that spending a lot gives the best outcome is also not necessarily the case.

Find out more about GCSE revision videos and apps from LearnersCloud

Start a free 24-hour trial

Written by Dennis Nesbitt, QA Consultant