And so another Results Day has been and gone. This is the point at which some educational establishments will begin calculating and publishing grade percentages. But I will not be doing that. Not because there is anything wrong in doing so. And not because I am not incredibly proud of my students and not because I have anything to hide. Indeed, some of my students have achieved exceptional results, including two A Level students who have secured A*s across the board. The reason I will not broadcast grades in this way is that they are only ever part of the story, and I do not want to let this get in the way of the main work I do with students.
Indeed, one of my proudest moments as a teacher was when my class all achieved Ds. Now this may seem a bizarre thing to be proud of – but makes a bit more sense when you realise these students came to me on G grades. Over the two year course, they improved by three grades and their progression scores were the highest in the school. Grade summaries cannot always show where a student has come from and do not show the whole picture. Likewise, I have been working with students whose experiences of education have been highly traumatic, and some have had to leave mainstream school. Grades cannot tell these kinds of narratives and reflect how momentous an achievement it is to secure a Grade Five. They have gone from feeling that education is a closed door to them suddenly having prospects or opportunities.
Another key area of English tuition is about developing confidence and self-belief – invaluable skills that again cannot be measured effectively by grades alone. The breakthroughs in tuition can be grade-related, but they can also be the first time that a student completes a piece of work independently, without my scaffolding and intervention, and has an extended piece of writing of which they can be proud. Or the day when they genuinely get so excited about the creative writing piece they are producing that they begin to bounce up and down in front of the computer screen. Or sometimes it is the day when they want to share what they have been reading with you, or ask for a book recommendation. Often a sign of a breakthrough in tutoring sessions is when a quieter student begins to ask me questions or to cover a particular topic – showing that they are feeling relaxed enough with me as the tutor to start directing the learning themselves.
It is absolutely right and fair to celebrate students’ success academically, but the tutoring process is about far more than just getting some numbers and letters on a piece of paper. One day the grades that were the centre of their universe will seem less and less important, as they move on to pastures new. However, the skills that their teachers and tutors cultivate in them as a teenager, during their most vulnerable and formative years, are what will remain. And this is equally worth celebrating.
Bright Sky Tutoring offers secondary English tuition for both one to one and small groups. If you would like to find out more about how your child can flourish with Bright Sky Tutoring, get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org.