How to book an exam as a private candidate

If you decide to resit an exam, you may need to register as a private candidate. Here’s what you’ll need to do, where you can sit the exam, and how much it’s likely to cost.

What is a private candidate?

Private candidates cover a wide range of students. Broadly speaking, it describes anyone who wants to take a formal qualification but isn’t necessarily studying full-time at school or college. For example, it can include students who:

  • Have chosen to resit an exam.
  • Are home-schooled or self-taught.
  • Are learning part-time as a hobby but want a formal qualification (such as language learners).

If you decide to sit either GCSEs or A-Levels as a private candidate, it’s up to you to make the arrangements.

When can private candidates sit GCSEs and A-Levels?

Timetables are set nationally, so you’ll sit exams at the same time as other students, even if you’re a private candidate. Dates can also vary depending on the subject and the exam board.

Generally, GCSEs and A-Levels take place in the summer, around May and June, while IGCSEs can also be taken in January. GCSE exam resits can be taken in the autumn (typically November). This year (2021) some A-level resits are also taking place but usually, these will need to be taken the following summer . 

You should aim to book exams six months before you want to take them. If you miss the six-month window, you may still be able to apply but it will be at the exam board’s discretion and there could be extra admin fees. So, if you’re looking to take a summer exam, you’ll need to make the arrangements in January or February. Autumn resits usually have a shorter deadline for applications and you’ll need to make sure you’re registered by September or October. You can check specific exam board timetables at Edexcel, AQA, and Cambridge Assessment International.

Where can private candidates take exams?

As a private candidate, you can sit GCSEs and A-Levels at schools and colleges that are already entering their students into exams.

To find schools and colleges in your area, you can contact your local authority. Exam boards also update their websites with lists of institutions that cover their syllabus (take a look at Edexcel, AQA and Cambridge Assessment International). Bear in mind that schools set their own policies on private candidates so you’ll need to check with them first rather than assuming you can sit an exam there.  

How much does it cost to sit exams as a private candidate?

Prices vary considerably and usually include the cost of the exam and an admin fee. You should budget for around the £100 mark for GCSEs, but A-Levels can cost more so it’s well worth comparing different exam boards and their costs.

All money goes directly to the exam board and not the school or college you sit the exam at.

Registering as a private candidate

If you’ve found somewhere to sit your exam as a private candidate, the next step is to register with them and submit your entry. To do that, you’ll need to provide:

  • Your name and date of birth (as it is on your birth certificate, passport or photo driving licence).
  • Contact details.
  • The specific code for the exam you want to sit (you can get this from your tutor or online course provider).
  • Your unique candidate identifier (UCI) which you can find on any previous exam paperwork or qualifications.
  • Payment fee for the exam.

How and when do private candidates get results?

If you’re taking resits, results are available mid-January. For summer exams, results are given in the middle of August.

Your result will be sent to the exam centre which you can collect in person or get by email, but processes will depend on the awarding body, so it’s important to double check what you need to do.

Preparing for exams

Whether you’re resitting an exam or taking formal qualifications for the first time, exams can be daunting.

For some tips on getting ready, take a look at our guides on preparing for your English GCSE and A-Levels and taking resits. Plus, don’t forget, if you need a little help reaching your full potential, contact us about one to one or group tuition. We offer both online and face to face teaching for GCSEs and A-Levels.  


Should You Resit Your Exams or Not?

should I resit my exams?

Deciding whether or not to resit your exams can be a tough call, but for many students it’s the right decision that puts them confidently back on the path they set out on.

If you’re not quite sure what to do, here are some points to consider that can help you make an informed decision.

Do you have to resit exams?

You’re under no obligation to resit any of your exams except for maths and English, but this will also depend on whether you’re a full-time or part-time student and the grade you got.

For example, if you’re a full-time student that achieved a level 3 in maths or English and want to continue your education at school or college, you’ll need to resit the exam. If you got a level 3 but are studying part-time, you can take a functional skills qualification instead.

Anyone with a level  2 (or below) also has the option of taking a functional skills qualification, instead of resitting the GCSE.

What exams can you resit?

Ofqual – the exam regulator, has announced exam boards must offer resits in all GCSE and A-Level subjects. Exams will take place as usual but with the same COVID reduction in content as for the Assessments this summer . A-Level resits will be held in October and GCSEs in November and December.

Exam boards only have to offer some subjects for AS-Level resits. These are: biology, chemistry, physics, maths and further maths. However, examining boards do have the option of offering more subjects but this will be at their discretion. AS-Level retakes will also take place in October.

Grades for resit exams will also be awarded based on just the exam (no coursework) with the exception of art and design.   

How and where do you resit exams?

You should be able to resit your exams at school or college – but you’ll need to check this with your teachers and it might be June resit exams only.

Alternatively, you can resit exams as a private candidate although there is a fee associated with this, depending on the exam centre you use. You can find a list of exam centres from your teacher, local council or by checking with the exam board itself.

Every exam centre is responsible for setting its own fees, so it’s a really good idea to compare in order to get the best price as they can vary significantly. As a rough guide, you should expect to budget around £100 per GCSE (plus any admin fees) and around £175 for A-Levels, although these can cost several hundreds [AE1] of pounds more.

What’s the best way to prepare for resit exams?

The decision to resit your exams can be a difficult one but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. In some ways, the opportunity to take a formal exam can boost your confidence by reinforcing what you know. This can also help reset your approach as to what you do next, especially after such a fragmented school year.

If you decide to go ahead and resit certain exams, it’s a good idea to plan your revision and start studying as soon as possible. Remember that it’s also not about just focusing on knowledge gaps, it’s about going over everything so you can see how topics within a subject fit together.

At The Community Schools, we offer a GCSE resit course that can help you plan, focus and study. We also provide one-to-one tutoring if you feel you need extra support. Alternatively, if you just need a quick brush up, take a look at our free resources which includes links to past papers and revision ideas.

If you’d like to explore our courses or tutoring options, don’t hesitate to contact us, call us on 07747 037441 or drop us an email at: claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk.

Links:

Ofqual confirms autumn assessment arrangements – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Corbettmaths – Videos, worksheets, 5-a-day and much more  – I wonder if this is needed. It is not mentioned in the blog and is on the resources page.


Results 2021 and the way forward

a level results 2021

As students all around the country will know, Results Day 2021 will be a little different. Instead of traditional assessments, your teacher will have provided you with a TAG (teacher assessed grade).

Tuesday 10th August for AS and A Level and Thursday 12th August for GCSE

The grade you’re awarded will have been signed off by two teachers – one of them being the subject lead. The TAG awarded will be based on a wide range of evidence taken from tests, assessments and work completed during your course. Schools will also have rigorously reviewed and moderated your results to ensure they’re fair and an accurate reflection of your hard work.

Samples of student work have also been sent to exam boards to check that schools have moderated work to the standards set. Plus, as a final precaution, grades will be compared with historic results to ensure they are broadly in line with previous marks according to each exam centre.

With all this in mind, the grade you receive for each subject shouldn’t be too unexpected, but here’s what you can do if it’s not quite the result you were hoping for.

What happens if I am unhappy with my results?

If you open your results, and they aren’t what you’d hoped, don’t worry, you still have a number of options.

If you’re really unhappy with the grade you’ve been given, speak to your subject teacher or your head of sixth form – you can find out more about what to do to appeal your grade in our previous blog.

If the grades you get aren’t quite what you need for sixth form or university, don’t assume you won’t be able to continue down the path you originally set out. Instead, call them to discuss your options and then think about next steps.

You can also resit your exams – Ofqual (the exam watchdog) has already announced that in addition to the usual Maths and English GCSE resit exams it will be possible to resit AS, A level and GCSE exams  in most subjects. Resits usually take place in October and November and this year, they’re expected to follow the usual exam format with the same adaptations in place as for the Summer Assessments .  

If you decide to resit your exams, remember that for many students, it can be a really positive experience. Not only does it reinforce the knowledge you’ve learned, it demonstrates your commitment to achieving your goals and shows you aren’t afraid to work hard.

How can I prepare for my resit exams?

The first step is to check that your school or college will enter you for the resit, which needs to be done by September. If they won’t but you want to, you’ll need to sit the exam as a private candidate.

Resitting as a private candidate does come with a cost but you should be able to find a list of your local exam centres, which you can then clarify costs with. If you don’t know where to start, your teacher should be able to help, or you can check exam centres with your local council. You can even check with the exam board itself.

Preparing for resits can be doubly nerve-wracking but preparation is the key to ensuring you do the very best you can. If you think you need extra help in certain subjects, The Community Schools provides a dedicated GCSE exam resit course which focuses on both the subject you’ve chosen to retake, as well as exam technique.

Our popular summer school is another option. This takes place in the last two weeks of August and is ideal for filling in knowledge gaps or just for getting a good grip on topics before term starts again.

You can also sign up for one-to-one tutoring (either online or face-to-face) to really hone your exam skills and subject knowledge. To explore all your options, send us a message using our contact form, call us on 07747 037441 or drop us an email at claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk.

How students can catch up on missed school time

A recent report from LSE and the University of Exeter, reveals that students throughout the UK have lost a third of their school learning time. This is even when home learning is taken into account.

Missed school lessons have been compounded by frequent disruption too. The need to self-isolate or close bubbles has simply meant extra pressure for schools, teachers and students to deal with.

Here, we take a look at why it’s so important for students to catch up on what they missed and what can be done about it.

Why is it important to make up for lost school time?

For many parents and students, the novelty of missing school very quickly wore off. It’s not just a place for book learning. It’s a chance to be with friends, play sport and try new activities. The fact that students have not enjoyed all the rich variation that school provides. This means they’re missing out on a lot more than knowledge about maths, English and science – it’s all the social aspects too.

It’s a problem that leading educational think tank, the Education Policy Institute has picked up on. According to their Executive Chairman, David Laws: ‘Children have fallen behind in their learning with the worst disruption to learning since the Second World War’.

Hegoes on to add that ‘If this pandemic is not to scar this generation of young people the country needs to put in place an ambitious education recovery plan, based on sound evidence and sufficient funding. If we fail to make good the lost learning, there will be significant adverse implications for skills, earnings, economic growth and social mobility’.

It’s a devastating statement and highlights just how crucial school is to our children’s development and long-term outcomes.

How can students catch up?

Covid catch-up funding has been allocated to all schools. But (as has been documented in the press) it’s not sufficient to deal with the complexity of needs.

The Centre for Economic Performance analysed the effects of learning loss and various ideas suggested to help students catch up, included:

  • Extending the school day with a particular focus on social and sporting activities as well as pastoral care and support.
  • Giving some students the chance to repeat the school year.
  • Providing summer wellbeing programmes offering support from qualified mental health workers.

Another suggestion includes incentivising our most talented teachers to work in the most challenging areas. However, this does have practical limitations. Additional funding has also been allocated to allow schools to explore tutoring options within the National Tutoring Programme. This would provide groups of up to three students and give them the benefit of (predominantly) online tuition.  

While these are all good ideas, they rely on schools to accommodate and implement changes that aren’t always reasonable or possible. Even the idea of online learning – while good in theory, do children really want to spend more time learning digitally? Not only is it tiring, students learn best when they feel secure, and this can be better encouraged if learning is face to face.

Solutions from The Community Schools

At The Community Schools, we’ve been proactively supporting Suffolk schools in helping students catch up on missed school time. We’re proud to have worked with King Edward VI and the Sybil Andrews Academy in Bury St Edmunds, as well as Stowmarket High School.

We provide additional help in a range of school subjects including maths, science, English, French, German and Spanish. All our tutors have classroom experience and are up to date with their subject curriculums. Most importantly, we want to help children thrive educationally and enable them to meet their full potential.

For more information or to enrol in our summer school which starts 16 August, contact us on 07747 037441 or complete a registration form.

Year 11 Students’ Free Time

Traditionally, Year 11 and Year 13 students have enjoyed a much-deserved long summer holiday after the hard work of exams and assessments. For numerous British teenagers it’s a rite of passage that bridges the gap between formal and higher or further education.

However, in early June, the head of Ofsted announced that schools should continue teaching Year 11 and Year 13 until the end of the school year. This ‘extra time’ it is argued should be spent teaching pupils what they’ve missed due to lockdown. But while school closures have inevitably meant gaps in teaching, now, more than ever students deserve their summer of freedom.


Why students deserve their rite of passage

The urge to keep students in schools to continue their learning might come from a place of care and concern, but it puts pupils and schools in a tough position. This year’s grades will be determined by teacher assessment grades (TAGs) which places a huge burden of administration on teachers. Not only that, schools haven’t been given any national assessment model to follow and have been subjected to exam board indecision. Even if schools were to stay open to GCSE students, it’s unlikely teachers would have any time to actually teach.


It’s also important to put the effects of the pandemic into perspective. Young people throughout the country have endured a unique event that has taken away more than just their education. It’s taken away many of their freedoms too. With that in mind, and with the easing of restrictions, surely students have earned their 100 days of summer.
How doing nothing can spark joy and inspiration.


Another hugely important point, is that ‘doing nothing’ actually can lead to achieving a lot. This belief comes from the psychological state known as ‘flow’ . It’s essentially the feeling you get when you lose track of time because you’re so absorbed in one particular activity. For flow to be achieved, the activity has to be one you’ve chosen (which can sometimes only happen when you have nothing else to do or worry about – like school).


Various studies show that reaching a state of flow can in turn, increase concentration, self-esteem and performance. Teenagers with ‘high-flow’ are also more likely to experience success at school and enjoy long-term happiness in their social relationships and even careers.


It’s also generally true that less is more when it comes to overall productivity. For example, some of the most productive countries in Europe, actually work less than the EU average . This includes Ireland, Norway, Belgium and Switzerland where working hours are below the European average of 36.2 per week.


In contrast, countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Romania work the most hours (39.7, 39.5, 40.5 hours respectively) yet have some of the lowest productivity levels on the continent. The lesson we can take from this, is that cramming more work in, won’t necessarily equate to effective learning.


As well as the practical reasons for doing nothing, the traditional long summer typically stands out for exactly that reason. It’s a time of completely unstructured free time between academic years which teenagers can spend as they see fit. Whether that’s getting a job, playing video games, sleeping or reading books of their choice, it should be a period of uninterrupted joy before the seriousness of A-levels.


So, whether you’ve officially or unofficially left school for the summer, enjoy what you do, ready to come back refreshed and revitalised in the autumn.


For students who want to get ahead or to prepare for Year 11, our successful summer school programme starts on 16 August; bookings can be made online. Alternatively, for more information or to discuss any specific needs, call us on 07747 037441 or drop us a note using our contact form.

Exams in 2021 – how will I be assessed?

GCSE and A level exams in 2021

Information for students studying GCSEs and A levels in 2021

It’s been a tumultuous couple of years for schools and in particular anyone taking exams. If that includes you, you’ll be well aware that there are no formal exams this year, and your work will be marked using teacher assessment grades (TAGs) instead. Here’s how it works and what that means for you.

What is a teacher assessment grade (TAG)?

Although formal GCSE and A-Levels have been cancelled, chances are, you’ve had to sit mocks or mini classed-based tests and submit coursework for the subjects you’re doing. Your teachers will assess the work and tests you’ve completed and use those results to give you a TAG. Teachers must also let you know what work is being used as evidence.

The government hasn’t set any specific assessment model and it’s up to schools to determine how they will carry out the process of awarding TAGs. However, exam boards have issued guidance and outlined grade descriptions in addition to providing example answers. With that in mind, teachers and schools know what’s expected and must provide robust evidence for the GCSE and A-Level grades they award.

It does of course mean a significant increase in teacher workload, not just because of marking more tests and coursework, but because of all the extra admin too.  

All schools will already have submitted their grades as the cut off was 18 June. Results day for A-Levels will be 10 August 2021, and 12 August 2021 for GCSEs.

How secure will my exam grades be?

Teachers are under a huge amount of pressure this year – perhaps more so than last year, as scrutiny will now be on the outcomes of TAGs. Teachers will also have spent painstaking hours factoring in all the evidence to make sure their assessment grades reflect your work.

Bear in mind that because there is no prescribed method of assessment, nothing is standardised between schools or between different parts of the country. In some ways that’s a positive as teachers will be able to use any work that’s been marked to help them in their decision.

The media has also reported that teacher led assessments could lead to slightly inflated grades. Partly because your teachers will look for the best in everything you’ve done and also due to the sheer amount of pressure and administration around the task.

If you’re worried about grade security, the reality is, no system of exam grading is 100% secure. Under the current circumstances, teacher assessment grades represent the fairest method of marking for all students. Even pre-Covid, the system played to the talents of some but not of everyone. After all, not everyone performs well in formal exams either through nerves or simply because they slept badly the night before. Plus, with multiple exam boards, there’s no standardised set of questions and grades can vary depending on the individual mark scheme and the exam marker.

Can I appeal my exam grades?

Yes, if you’re not happy with your mark, you can challenge the result after you receive them. You should be clear about the grounds of appeal and why you think you’ve received the wrong grade.

To make an appeal, you’ll need to speak to your school in the first instance and ask for a review. This will be an internal process done by your school or college. They’ll check for mistakes and consider the points you’ve raised in your appeal.

If you’re not happy with your school’s review, you can take your appeal to the exam board who will review your case. Don’t forget that your mark can be revised up or down or stay the same and any decision by the examining board will be final.

It’s also vital to know that when you lodge an appeal, you cannot withdraw it. Another key point is that if your exam grade is lowered on appeal, you cannot revert back to the previous, higher grade.

If you want to appeal your A-Level grades, you must do this by the 16 August using the priority appeals route. Other appeals are classed as non-priority appeals and you have until 3 September to make one.

You can find out more about the TAG process and what to do if you want to appeal at these websites:

Looking forward

The pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives. We extend real sympathy to all students, parents and teachers who are all doing their very best to make this system work fairly, in what is an impossible and unprecedented situation for us all.

Remember that if you decide to re-sit any of your exams in the autumn and need a little extra coaching in the run up, we can help. At The Community Schools, we offer a range of tutoring options – online, face to face and summer courses too.

All our tutors have classroom experience and have the knowledge and skills to tailor sessions that enable you to fulfil your potential. For more information about what we offer, here are some frequently asked questions or why not call us on 07747 037441 or send us a message using our contact form.

Back to School – How Tutoring Can Help

school tutoring during covid

How online and face to face back to school tutoring can support your child now schools have reopened

With children engaged in home education for almost a year, none of us can say for certain what the effect of missing so much learning in a formal educational setting will be.

For parents worried about the consequences, The Community Schools has put in place a robust and comprehensive online tutoring programme. Here’s how enrolling in sessions can support your child when schools reopen.

Regain confidence

Confidence is a huge part of learning at school. But after months of missing friends, peers and formal teaching, it’s natural that some of that confidence will be lost.

Our tutoring sessions can help rebuild that confidence in stages by encouraging children to get back into the habit of asking questions, volunteering information and linking ideas.

Expertise from classroom experienced teachers

All our teachers have classroom experience with many of us still working in education. This gives our tutors a genuine understanding of the issues and difficulties that students face if they’re struggling with a subject.

Our experience doesn’t just help us address students’ academic needs, we’re able to provide a supportive and motivating environment that will encourage their learning and development.

Reinforce school syllabus

Now that children have started back at school, our online support can help reinforce the topics they cover in lessons. Reviewing what’s being taught at schools enables children to learn at their own pace as they learn to adjust back into formal education.

Our qualified tutors can also provide the expertise needed to quickly identify and plug knowledge gaps.

One to one support

Most importantly, we can offer one to one support. This committed approach has multiple benefits, helping your child rebuild confidence and re-develop good learning habits. Focused support also means lessons can be tailored to suit individual learning styles.

Individual support provides a more relaxed environment. This can encourage children to ask questions that they might not be comfortable asking in a larger peer group. There’s also the opportunity to give more feedback as tutors are focused on your child and can provide the encouragement they need to thrive.

Support for parents

It’s been a tough time for parents as well as students, but dedicated tutoring can take the pressure off everyone. Knowing that your child has the support they need as they re-enter the classroom can help make that transition as smooth as possible.

We cover a range of subjects from key stage two all the way up to A-levels so no matter what level your child is at, our tutors have the skills to help.

Online Back to school Tutoring Options

We offer a variety of support packages so that your child can get the tuition they need in a way that suits them. Choose from dedicated one to one support; shared tutoring; or our online classroom which follows your child’s current school syllabus.

Face to Face Back to school Tutoring Options

From Monday 12th April we will be resuming our face to face tutoring sessions, subject to current Government Guidance, and with Covid Safe Measures in place. Our face to face tutoring will be available as follows:

Bury St Edmunds Learning Centre – Week days (4.00pm to 8.30pm) and Saturday mornings 9.30-12.30

Ipswich Learning Centre –Thursdays (4.00pm to 7.00pm)

Stowmarket Learning Centre –Wednesdays (6.00pm to 8.00pm)

Helping every child reach their potential

To find out more about the online back to school tutoring programmes available, take a look at the courses we have on offer. You can also find out how we’re supporting local schools in helping their students reach their full potential in addition to feedback from some of our wonderful students and parents.

For details, you can call us on 07747 037441 or email us at: claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk.

Boost Your Grades Over The Easter Holidays

Why You Should Consider Taking an Easter Grade Booster Revision Course

During our successful Easter Grade Booster Revision Courses we offer students just the correct amount of support from experienced and successful classroom teachers.

Running from Monday 29th March to Saturday 10th April, we give students the knowledge and confidence to prepare and face their GCSE or A Level assessments in the summer term.

What parents and students say about our courses?

Here are just some of the reasons students and parents highly recommend our Grade Booster Revision Courses

  • They are not one-size-fits-all crammer courses, and:
  • They are personalised Exam Revision tutoring sessions and have a focus on the Key topics and Skills required for success, and:
  • The tutoring team is made up of friendly, enthusiastic and experienced tutors, and:
  • We ensure small informal groups of similar ability
  • We offer lots of encouragement – just what you, the student, needs at this crucial time

Easter Face to Face Grade Booster Courses

We run Face to Face courses for GCSE and A Level Students. These take place at our Bury St Edmunds Learning Centre, ASK House, 2 Northgate Ave, IP32 6BB

  • Single three hour sessions
  • Morning and Afternoon sessions are available.
  • We never have more than four students of similar ability in a group
  • Many subjects available
  • Both GCSE and Year 12 and Year 13 A Level Grade Boosters available
  • The tutoring is tailored to the needs of each individual student.
  • Cost is £70 per GCSE session, and this is discounted to three sessions for £150
  • Cost is £100 per A Level session, and this is discounted to three sessions for £240

Easter Online Grade Booster Courses

And if you are looking for online support, we also run an Easter Online Grade Booster Courses for GCSE students:

  • 3 day courses
  • Morning and Afternoon courses available
  • Free online trial/consultation with the tutor
  • Course content is created around the needs of the students, with a focus on the key topics and skills required for success.
  • We never have more than six students of similar ability in a group
  • Many GCSE subjects available
  • Cost is £100 for the course of 6.75 hours of tutoring

Daily programme

  • As a student, you engage in two 60 minute shared lessons. This takes place with the tutor via our digital classroom* and:
  • A set of consolidation questions is set by the tutor for the students to work on. This is individual to you, and:
  • As a student you receive a 15 minute personal 1-2-1 tutorial. This is to both celebrate your achievements and to help you focus on key areas for development

To find out more contact Claire on 07747 037441 or email: claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk

Total Privacy

*  Please note that we assure you complete anonymity for students during our Grade Booster Revision Online Courses, and our digital classroom is designed so that students are unable to see or hear each other, only the tutor can see you.

If you are worried about being with other students, or if you are shy or feel worried about speaking aloud, we can reassure you that your work and words will be completely private to you. 

Support home learning during lockdown with online tutoring

How online tutoring from The Community Schools can support learning at home during the lockdown

2021 has started in a way that none of us would have wanted, and another lockdown brings with it the challenge of parents supporting their child’s learning. Not only does this place demands on access to digital resources, for many parents they are also having to manage this alongside working themselves.

Despite the fact that many schools have worked hard to put remote learning in place, home schooling can be tough for both students and parents. There is a plethora of free online resources which means a wealth of knowledge is at our fingertips, but it’s often difficult to sift through or know what’s valuable. With that in mind, The Community Schools is offering a four-week course tailored to your child’s learning – either as standalone support or alongside school courses; here’s how we can help you.

Emotional support for students and parents

As it stands, we simply don’t know when schools will reopen. That ongoing uncertainty can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions as you juggle work. For children, that uncertainty can be especially hard as they miss friends and regular peer interaction.

Support on a 1-1 basis, or in small online groups, means The Community Schools can offer children an element of educational normality. Sessions aren’t just valuable for helping pupils gain knowledge, they can provide certainty, routine and much needed emotional support. 

Sharing the workload

If you’re a parent that’s also working from home, the burden of responsibility can feel overwhelming. Online tutoring can help relieve that pressure as you can be confident that courses are designed to support and encourage your child to keep learning even through these unprecedented times.

Structure and focus

Our online courses follow a four-week programme which is designed to engage your child either alongside their current schoolwork or as standalone tuition.

Sessions are run on a 1-1 basis or you can opt for shared tutoring where time is divided between two students. Programmes cover key topics and will consolidate learning with homework.

Crucially, all our tutors are classroom experienced teachers who understand first-hand the challenges of keeping students interested and motivated during lockdown. Not only does this mean we are well placed to successfully deliver learning modules, but we can also help students build their confidence.

Our experience also means we can help identify and plug in any knowledge gaps quickly so that children stay on top of their learning.   

Keeping the love of learning alive

One of the biggest drawbacks of missing class-based teaching during lockdown, is the affect it has on children’s love of learning.

We know that children are naturally inquisitive but being away from friends and the routine of formal learning can stifle that. Having support in place can help keep children motivated and interested in learning and so maintaining that all important curiosity.

All our courses are running on a rolling basis so students can join at any time. For more details about what we offer, take a look at our online tutoring support. To enrol or to discuss any specific needs, please contact Claire on 07747 037441 or email claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk.

Tips for revising for your mock exams over the Christmas holidays

Revising is hard enough at the best of times. But when you have to revise over the Christmas holidays it can be even tougher. Taking the time to plan and study now, can minimise the stress and worry in the run up to GCSEs. Here are some of our top tips to help you revise successfully.

Plan your time

Christmas may be a time when the family come together to put up the Christmas tree, wrap presents or spend time cosying up on the sofa with a film. Clearly, it’s important that you join in with the festive activities, but it’s important to plan your revision time too. Setting out a timetable by subject will ensure you spend equal amounts of time on each one. An it will ensure you have time to have some Christmas fun too.

Not having a timetable means you run the risk of neglecting subjects you either don’t like or find a bit trickier. As your mocks get closer, that can lead to cramming which research shows is not an effective way to revise. Digesting regular nuggets of information little and often cements what we learn which makes for better long-term retention.

Find a way that works for you

With so much going on at Christmas time, it’s easy to get distracted, so in planning your time for revision it’s also important to revise in a way that works best for you. Remember that revision methods that work for your friends and classmates might not work for you. Whether you use flash cards, written notes, books or online videos and resources, don’t be afraid to stick to a method that suits you.

While sticking to a tried and tested method is key, it’s also important to mix it up. Using the same method over and over, can become stale and it could lead you to simply switch off. For example, if you write notes, see if you can present the key points or arguments in a spider diagram as well.

Remove Christmas distractions and be prepared

Christmas food smells amazing! Whether it’s mince pies or sausage rolls, it can be all too tempting to make additional visits to the kitchen to see what’s cooking. Whether it is the smells or sounds around your home that distract you at Christmas time, try to find a way to minimise distractions.

Make it clear to your family members that you will be studying, share your planner with them, and explain to them how they can help you during these times. If you have a busy household and don’t have your own space, ask family members to agree to ‘quiet time’ which can give you a distraction free setting. And for you, put phones away and hide email and social media notifications if you have access to them on a laptop or PC.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have everything you need to hand. As basic as that sounds, having working pens, sharpened pencils, a ruler, rubber and calculator can save you time and reduce the risk of being distracted. If you don’t have a desk, keep what you need in a box or bag.

Past papers

The best way to test your knowledge and highlight gaps, is to answer past papers which your teacher should be able to provide. 

When you go through a past paper, stick to the time limit you’d have in an exam. This will quickly highlight whether you can finish the exam in the allotted time giving you a chance to do something about it if you can’t. For example, if you’re struggling to recall certain points, you may need to spend more time revising those areas.

Check mark schemes

When you answer past papers, check your answers using the mark scheme. This will show you what examiners are looking for in an answer.

Looking at past papers together with their mark schemes can also help clarify the types of questions being asked. Sometimes, the key to the answer is simply understanding what it is you need to do. This could be discussing an issue or demonstrating your knowledge with examples.

Take regular breaks

Spending all day revising won’t make the information stick any more than doing a couple of hours every day. Spacing out your revision and giving yourself regular breaks will not only keep you motivated but will give your mind a break. Maybe reward yourself with a mince pie, or time out watching your favourite Christmas movie, when you have achieved the study goal you have set yourself!

When you plan your time, be sure to include time off. Otherwise, you could end up even more stressed and resentful which won’t help you in the long run.

Get the help you need over the Christmas holidays

If you need some extra guidance, The Community Schools can help. We recognise that 2020 has taken some unprecedented turns but we’re dedicated to helping every student reach their full potential.

Our GCSE revision sessions will take place in every school holiday. This gives you the opportunity to brush up on your knowledge at a time that is right for you. Our sessions are available online. You can be confident that our virtual classrooms have been designed to ensure maximum privacy. And for those looking for face to face tutoring, we offer small group sessions at our Bury St Edmunds Learning Centre

For more information about the tuition we offer, complete our online registration form. Claire will contact you to discuss your needs and get you booked onto a course that is right for you.

Succeeding through Covid

claire meadows-smith online tutoring

A message from our Principal, Claire Meadows-Smith on how tutoring through Covid is helping children to progress and succeed.

The Community Schools has been supporting students for more than 10 years. It has always been my very real privilege to work with so many fantastic students and tutors. And never more so than during this most unpredictable of years.

Our Tutors

The tutors at The Community Schools have been nothing short of fantastic. They have been willing to take up the new challenge of online tutoring with very little notice. Our students have been brilliant in their willingness to have a go. They did did this whilst everything as they knew it was changing by the minute. Meanwhile, our truly lovely parents have been supportive. They have been tolerant of our initial mishaps, as we rapidly learnt through experience how to best deliver the once novel and now routine online tutoring.

Tutoring Online

Online tutoring is not for everyone, nor should it be. However, there are many who prefer the online learning environment and much good has resulted from our enforced changes. Many of us have been placed outside of our comfort zone and have learnt new skills and ways in which to improve our tutoring. We are now able to provide high quality Community Schools tutoring to students outside of Suffolk. This has been achieved with the help of our own Suffolk students with tutoring expertise from beyond the borders of Suffolk – who knew they existed! A number of our families have found that the online tutoring services have helped to ease their complex family logistics.

Throughout the Summer Holidays the Community Schools, through using a new system of shared online lessons and 1-1 tutorials, were able to support over 50 students to prepare for school with the “Start Back in September” courses after a long break from the classroom.

Face to Face Tutoring

When the new September term arrived the Community Schools offer of Face to Face or Online gave our parents and students more choice. It was interesting to note that the split between them was about 50-50. We really were delighted to be able to tutor Face to Face again. This has been achieved in the knowledge that the Covid Secure Measures we put in place would keep our students and tutors safe. We were equally thrilled to continue to tutor so many students online.

Covid 19 Lockdown

The more recent Covid lockdown has shown our ability to take tutoring sessions online continues to provide the flexibility needed. If a tutor or a student has to self-isolate our blended approach of Face to Face or Online enables us to make sure that no student misses out on their learning.

As we move through this unpredictable year we have increased provision of our Grade Booster Revision Courses. These are now offered across all school holidays focussing on preparation for Mock exams which might ultimately prove to be the final assessable work for exam grades.

It is our passion and vocation to provide the tutoring support necessary for all of our students. This ensures they are able to enjoy their studies, gain confidence and reach their full potential.

We really do appreciate the trust that parents place in us. If you would like to find out more about how we could help your child, please do email me.

Claire Meadows-Smith                                                                                                            25th Nov 2020

Christmas Grade Booster Revision Courses

Why You Should Consider Taking a Christmas Grade Booster Revision Course

During our successful Christmas Grade Booster Revision Courses we offer students just the correct amount of support from experienced and successful classroom teachers.

Running from 27th to 30th December, we give students the knowledge and confidence to prepare and face their GCSE or A Level Mock exams in January.

What parents and students say about our courses?

Here are just some of the reasons students and parents highly recommend our Grade Booster Revision Courses

  • They are not one-size-fits-all crammer courses, and:
  • They are personalised Exam Revision tutoring sessions and have a focus on the Key topics and Skills required for success, and:
  • The tutoring team is made up of friendly, enthusiastic and experienced tutors, and:
  • We ensure small informal groups of similar ability
  • We offer lots of encouragement – just what you, the student, needs at this crucial time

Christmas Face to Face Grade Booster Courses

We run Face to Face courses for GCSE and A Level Students. These take place at our Bury St Edmunds Learning Centre, ASK House, 2 Northgate Ave, IP32 6BB

  • Single three hour sessions
  • Morning and Afternoon sessions are available.
  • We never have more than four students of similar ability in a group
  • Many subjects available
  • Both GCSE and Year 12 and Year 13 A Level Grade Boosters available
  • The tutoring is tailored to the needs of each individual student.
  • Cost is £70 per GCSE session, and this is discounted to three sessions for £150
  • Cost is £100 per A Level session, and this is discounted to three sessions for £240

Christmas Online Grade Booster Courses

And if you are looking for online support, we also run a Christmas Online Grade Booster Courses for GCSE students:

  • 3 day courses
  • Morning and Afternoon courses available
  • Free online trial/consultation with the tutor
  • Course content is created around the needs of the students, with a focus on the key topics and skills required for success.
  • We never have more than six students of similar ability in a group
  • Many GCSE subjects available
  • Cost is £100 for the course of 6.75 hours of tutoring

Daily programme

  • As a student, you engage in two 60 minute shared lessons. This takes place with the tutor via our digital classroom* and:
  • A set of consolidation questions is set by the tutor for the students to work on. This is individual to you, and:
  • As a student you receive a 15 minute personal 1-2-1 tutorial. This is to both celebrate your achievements and to help you focus on key areas for development

To find out more contact Claire on 07747 037441 or email: claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk, and to book a place, please use this link.

Total Privacy

*  Please note that we assure you complete anonymity for students during our Grade Booster Revision Online Courses, and our digital classroom is designed so that students are unable to see or hear each other, only the tutor can see you.

If you are worried about being with other students, or if you are shy or feel worried about speaking aloud, we can reassure you that your work and words will be completely private to you.