A Testimonial by Jon McKnight, Author and Journalist
As a school governor and a parent who, like any other, wants the best for my child, I agonised for some time over the best sort of support I could give my daughter to help her pass the 11+.
I bought the parents’ guides, considered online tuition, and spoke to numerous people who’d been there before, including several professional educators.
We parents don’t take these decisions lightly.
The overwhelming consensus was that while tuition shouldn’t be necessary in an ideal world (and was unheard-of when I took my own 11+ more than 40 years ago), it’s effectively standard practice today.
So while it might be virtuous to give our children no advantages and let them take their chances in the highly-competitive world of the 11+, that would only work if everyone else did the same.
Which is why Government Ministers and others who would like all pupils to have the same chance in life will still shift Heaven and Earth – or even move home – to get their children into what they believe to be the “best” schools.
For though it might be socially responsible to send your bright child to the local sink school to help improve the quality of its intake, I’ve yet to meet, or hear of, a parent who would put idealogy before their child’s future.
That’s why I decided to give my daughter tuition for the 11+ – and why I thank my lucky stars that she had Matt Bower as a tutor.
She’s just sailed through the 11+ and risen 73 places between the mock and the actual exam – a superb result that reflects a year of hard work but would not have been achieved without the support, encouragement and expertise of Matt Bower.
He teaches in very small groups and makes learning challenging and fun. Unusually, perhaps, I’ve sat in on almost all of his lessons through the year, and I can report that any parent would be delighted to see how enthusiastic and comfortable the children are with his style of teaching.
He fills them with confidence, uses praise where appropriate, and improves their understanding by asking them to explain concepts to the rest of the group.
And he teaches through the school holidays, believing that it’s vital to keep up the momentum that’s usually lost between the end of one term and the beginning of the next.
The atmosphere in the tuition room Mr Bower has installed in his garden is warm, supportive and professional – and never once in the entire year did my daughter show the slightest reluctance to go to her 11+ tuition, even though many of her friends were out enjoying themselves instead.
I’m not easily pleased (ask my wife!) and I’ve even written a book about complaining, so when I say I couldn’t fault a single thing Mr Bower did or said in all the time he taught my daughter, I mean it.
If Matt Bower doubled his prices, his tuition would still be excellent value, and parents would still be queueing to get their children into his 11+ classes.
He was recommended to me, privately, by a head teacher, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I echo that recommendation, and hope that many other children will have the benefit of his tuition before they sit the 11+.