The educational landscape has shifted significantly in 2020, with online schooling and tuition becoming the norm. This has worked well for many and has highlighted the benefits, for some families, of a more flexible approach to schooling.
For a long time, I have worked as a residential tutor with children who are either home-schooled during term-time or receiving extra tuition during the holidays. Whether due to the pupil’s particular needs, complicated family schedules or simply down to personal preference, many children spend time being educated at home or while travelling rather than attending a formal institution full-time. The experience of working with a dedicated, residential tutor can be extremely positive and the results can be profound.
For many families, residential tuition provides an excellent solution when travelling abroad; a way of keeping their children’s development on track and in line with the rigorous standards at most British schools. Such was my first residential placement as a fairly new tutor several years ago, when I accompanied a family to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The two children had been attending prestigious London prep schools and the family wished to keep up with and expand upon the curriculum, enabling a seamless transition on their return. The trip was a great success; the children delighted in having their lessons tailored to their interests and abilities and made fantastic progress across the board.
Since then, I have been fortunate enough to join numerous families on their travels across Europe, Asia and the USA. Some, like my pupils in Kazakhstan, were temporarily missing school; many others were preparing for exams or an imminent move to the UK. In these cases, residential tuition can be of great help in order to work on language proficiency and revise key skills and subjects. Likewise, many families take advantage of the summer holidays to ensure that their children keep up with their learning over the long break and return to school in September having filled any gaps and feeling ready for the year ahead. Despite the understandable reluctance of some pupils to have tuition during their holidays, most quickly come to appreciate the regular routine and to enjoy the one-on-one attention of a skilled, motivating tutor.
One of the most unique advantages of residential tuition is having the scope to study and develop topics far beyond the school curriculum. My home-schooled students have often embarked on exciting assignments, frequently informed by the location. Favourite projects have included studying marine life whilst in French Polynesia, American History whilst in Washington, D.C, volcanoes whilst in Asia and the Great Fire of London whilst stopping off in the UK. This cross-curricular approach to research and learning is of huge benefit, and great enjoyment, to a young student. They learn to notice and appreciate their environment and collaborate on an extended piece of work, working alongside an enthusiastic and knowledgeable mentor.
In the UK, we are fortunate in that most schools recognise the benefits of such ‘time out.’ Unlike in many countries, where each school year has to be passed in order to progress, British schools are usually happy to accommodate requests for a term or even a year to be missed in order for a pupil to follow a programme of enrichment. A residential tutor, or team of tutors, can help to optimise that time and ensure an outstanding experience for the family. As for the tutor, it is always rewarding to see the growth and transformation, both academic and personal, that can result from a successful trip.