Support home learning 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. 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, 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

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:, 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. 

Top Tips – Get Ready for Your English GCSE and A Level Exams

english exam revision

It’s hard to believe how quickly the school year goes by, and that we’re in the summer term with the GCSE and A level English exams now about to start. The exams are where you’ll show how much you’ve learned and how much you know. So, here are a few tips to remember before and during your exams.

Before the English Exam

Study your class notes. Your teachers have carefully chosen the concepts, themes, and ideas that they centered their teaching around.  As you prepare for your exam, focus on those areas that your teachers felt were important.  Use your notes as a guide.

Prepare for different types of questions.  English exams require careful application of each concept.  Be prepared for questions related to literature or comparing the literature to other selections.  Practise each type of question before the day of your exam.  Surprises are not fun. Practising the types of questions will help you to feel more confident and more certain of your responses.

Look beyond the text

While you are studying, review and research the circumstances surrounding the writing of the works you have learned.  Consider why they were written.  What was going on politically and socially at the time the work was written? How did these influences affect the author? These perspectives go beyond the text to allow a deeper understanding of the impact the work has on our study of literature.

Getting Off To A Good Start

Take time to read the English exam paper. Read your questions very carefully.  Make sure you understand all parts of the question.  If the question asks for your view or opinions, construct it so that you carefully explain your point and support that point with evidence.  Make sure your ideas are clearly stated so someone who does not know you can understand your explanation.

Mark the questions you feel confident in responding and those which you feel will challenge you more. Some students like to start with those questions they feel confident about but don’t spend all your time on these – a half answered paper won’t lead to a pass, even if the questions you have answered are all excellent.

Take time to rest and refresh. Stretch your neck and arms at regular intervals. Focusing on an exam paper can lead to tension, so look after yourself, take water with you and keep hydrated. Wear comfortable clothes. If you are not required to wear school uniform, resist wearing anything tight fitting. Layers are good as you can take off an outer layer if it gets too hot, or put it on if the air conditioning leaves you feeling chilly.

During the Exam

Monitor your time well throughout the exam.  Note how much time you have when you begin each section.  You want to give yourself plenty of time to plan your answers, construct your answers, and read back over to edit before running out of time.

Plan your answers

You are not wasting time if you take a few minutes to plan out how you will construct your responses.  A poorly constructed response is confusing to the reader and may not adequately answer each part of the question.  If the answer is difficult to follow or understand, it will not score well.

Edit carefully

Save enough time at the end to read over your answers completely.  As writers, we sometimes overlook our own mistakes as we draft our responses. Only with careful editing can we find and correct our mistakes. Check your writing for grammatical accuracy, spelling errors, and punctuation errors.  Also ensure that your writing is smooth and easy to read.  Rushing through the writing can lead to messy handwriting that could be misread by a person scoring your exam.

You have worked so hard to prepare for this exam.  Work slowly and carefully.  Be confident in your responses.  Take comfort in knowing that you are well prepared and must now explain your knowledge carefully.

Good luck!

Mock Like You Mean It

Why revising for mock GCSEs is more important than ever

Summer 2020 will go down in history for many reasons – one of them being the cancellation of GCSE and A-Level exams. This sudden and unprecedented decision meant that for lots of students, predicted grades were more important than ever – here’s why they’ll continue to be.

Mocks aren’t always a dress rehearsal

This summer’s cancelled exams meant thousands of students were awarded GCSE and A-Level grades by their schools and colleges instead of being based on exam performance. Although mocks weren’t the be all and end all for determining those grades, there’s no doubt they played a vital role.

For everyone that had spent time revising and preparing, it was validation of their hard work and shows that mocks are more than just a dress rehearsal.

Mocks do matter

Despite the breakthrough of a new vaccine, COVID-19 is still likely to rumble on into next year and with all that uncertainty, who knows how exams will be affected in 2021.

With that in mind, it’s more important than ever to approach your mock GCSEs with intention rather than seeing them as an inconvenient hurdle before the ‘real thing’.

Mocks have always been a chance to check what you do and don’t know. A lot of the time, revising for mocks is the first time you’ll have sat down and really looked at a subject in its entirety.

Being able to see the bigger picture can quickly highlight areas you’re struggling with, giving you enough time to get the help you need.

A chance to refine your revision technique

Mocks are also a great way to sharpen up how you revise so use the run up to them as a way to understand what techniques work for you. Whether you prefer to work alone or in a group, in silence, with music, at night or only in the morning, preparing for mocks can give you valuable insight.

Plus, always remember that what suits you, might be different from friends and classmates.

A way to boost your confidence

It’s so easy to think of exams as obstacles designed to catch you out, but they really aren’t.

Regular tests in class, coursework and mocks are all ways for you to highlight your understanding and an opportunity for you to show off your knowledge.

Mocks are also a chance to work under timed conditions so you can learn how to make the most of the time you’re given. This can also help you learn to cope with the stress of exams.

Prepare for mocks like you mean it

We can’t predict how next year will pan out and whether or not exams will be affected again. That means preparation will be even more important as we head towards mock exams season.

At The Community Schools, we understand how overwhelming the current uncertainties are for both students and parents but we’re here to help.

Our GCSE and A level Grade Booster revision sessions are designed to ensure all our students are given bespoke teaching. As well as tackling individual subjects, classes will also look at revision and exam techniques so that students have the knowledge and skills to fulfil their potential.

Sessions will be taking place throughout every school holiday and details can be found on our Grade Booster Revision Courses page.

To find out more about how we can help, contact Claire on 07747 037441 or email:

Take Care of Yourself Leading Up to Exams

students gathering ahead of their exams

It’s not long now, the date of the exams are near.  You are spending a tremendous time studying.  You’ve got your class notes, you have tutoring with the Community Schools, and those around you are supporting you. However, you must remember to take care of yourself as you continue this journey.

Life can be a bit like a roller coaster.  Before you get to the really fun drop when you can lift your hand in the air and enjoy the ride, there tends to be a long, hard climb.  You are in the climb!  When faced with days of laborious, rigorous studying, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Get enough sleep

You cannot perform well in your exams if you have gone days without adequate sleep. It is understandable that you may not get as much sleep as you like to have, but try to get enough.  Your brain processes information while asleep.  While we tend to think of sleep time as time when our bodies shut down, it doesn’t.  Sleeping after studying really hard can help your brain move information into long term storage.  You will feel refreshed, your brain will be more alert and ready for new information, and the old information will be stored and ready for recall.

Eat good food

Healthy foods such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, help your body be at its best.  Your brain functions much better if you have healthy eating habits.  You are more alert, have more energy, and you are better able to focus on the task at hand.   High carbs and lots of sugar can make you feel sluggish and drowsy. Just as athletes need healthy foods to perform at their best, you do as well.

Move enough

When you spend this much time sitting, you need to get your blood flowing again.  Your brain needs oxygen to work well.  The best way to ensure your brain is getting plenty of oxygen is to exercise.  While you don’t have time for hour long sessions at the gym each day, you can make time for a twenty minute walk.  In fact, if you take a break every hour for just five minutes and walk around the room, your brain will benefit.

Care for your body

Take hot showers and wear clean clothes. This is not about what others think of you – it is about how you feel about yourself.  If you haven’t showered in three days, you will not feel as confident or calm as you need to feel in order to study well.

Take brain breaks in the lead up to your exams

Give your brain some much needed breaks.  Maybe you can carve out two hours to watch a film at the local cinema with friends or family.  You may need a few minutes to play a game with someone or read a good book.  Do something every day that takes your mind off of studying. Your brain needs a chance to focus on something else for a bit.

As you prepare, take care of yourself.  You need to body and brain to be in top shape and ready to perform. So, along with everyone else who is supporting for you, make sure you put in the effort to look after yourself too.

Top Tips – Get Ready for your GCSE & A Level Maths Exam

maths exam revision

As the time approaches to sit your GCSE or A Level Maths exams, there are things you can do to help you feel more confident and relaxed.

You have worked so hard studying the different elements of maths, mastering a wide range of skills and techniques, and your GCSE or A Level Maths exams is the time when you will put all of that hard work into practice and show what have learned.

Before your GCSE or A Level Maths exams

Your teachers have given you a lot of information, examples, and opportunities to practice each area for the maths exam.  Before taking the exam, spend some time reading over your class notes.  You may want to make flashcards of the most important ideas and concepts.  Get a friend or family member to help you study.

Think back to your classes. What skills did your teacher tell you were most important? Keep those skills in mind.  If your teacher told you to focus upon them, studying those skills will help you on the exam.

Familiarise yourself with the types of questions that will appear on the exam.  Look through sample maths exams and study how skills are tested.  Remember the maths exam requires you to apply the concepts and skills, not just identify.

During the GCSE or A Level Maths exams

The maths exam is not comprised of simply answering a question.  You must fully answer the question by working through all of the steps.  You want to get as many points as possible by working out each step very carefully.

Check to see if your answer is reasonable.  When you read back over the question and you answer, your solution should make sense.  For example, if your answer states that a woman is 182 metres tall, you need to check to see what you did incorrectly.

Watch for keywords.  If the question tells you to draw a graph, make sure you draw it neatly.  If the question asks you to calculate, make sure your calculations are clear and easy to follow.

For multi-step questions, break down the process into each step.  Show your work for each step as you work through the problem. Be careful to show your final answer clearly. You can have all of the steps written correctly, but will not receive any points if you don’t also include the correct final answer.


As you begin, you will see the points in brackets that indicate how much each question is worth.  The questions in the beginning may not not as difficult as later ones, and may not take as much time to solve.  Do not spend too much time on each question, but build your confidence by working through these early questions. If the point values are high, this is a good indication that the question is more difficult and may have many steps in order to solve.  Work through it carefully to earn as many points as you can.

If you set a goal to spend about a set time per point value, you will have a some time at the end to recheck your answers.  Make sure you answer as many questions as you can in the time you have.

Take a deep breath, and do your best!  Remember you have worked very hard to get to this point.  Time to show what you know!

Good luck!

Study habits for success

student revising for GCSE and A levels

Burying your head in books for hours on end isn’t always the best way to study and it can leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated – but it doesn’t have to be like that, so here are our top ten study habits for success.

  • Be organised and plan – set yourself a routine for studying. Whether it’s a few hours in the morning or afternoon on certain days or a couple of hours each day, having a timetable gets you into the habit of knuckling down.
  • Take breaks – the biggest mistake some students make is studying too hard. As contradictory as that sounds, there is such a thing as too much work and overloading on information can leave you in a muddle. Keep your mind fresh and take regular breaks even for just a few minutes.
  • Set clear goals – it doesn’t matter what the subject is, set yourself a clear goal for each session. Dividing subjects into bite sized pieces means you can be sure about covering subjects in a clear and logical fashion – increasing the chances of it staying in your memory.
  • Start with what you find hard – tackle tough topics first while your brain is still fresh and focussed. It’s tempting to start with something you find easy but you’re likely to be tired and easily distracted by the time it comes to starting a subject you’re not keen on.
  • Remove distractions – we all study in different ways, some of us like listening to music or the radio while others like complete silence. Regardless of the environment you study best in, make sure it’s distraction free – switch off phones or notifications on your laptop or computer to ensure you’re not tempted to dawdle.
  • Check your notes before you start – before you start, take the time to check your assignment or notes. Even if you’re confident that you know what you need to do, double checking doesn’t hurt and can save you time later on.
  • Review your work – doing the work isn’t quite the same as completing the task. Check your work as you go and review it at the end. Self-assessing flags up any mistakes you might not have spotted at the time and can also highlight areas you may need extra help with.
  • Use memory tools that work for you – from acronyms to making up limericks or songs, memorising information in a fun, catchy or unique way is a great way to retain facts and figures.
  • Have the right equipment – keep pens, sharpened pencils, a calculator or dictionary to hand to avoid disrupting your study session.
  • Ask for help – few people are brilliant at everything so never be afraid to ask for help. A study buddy or group can be a valuable source of support, even more so if you can share knowledge and pick up revision different techniques.

If you find a subject particularly tough and could benefit from a little extra help, contact us to see how we can help. With learning centres in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Stowmarket, and Thetford we offer tuition in a range of subjects either in small groups or in one to one sessions.

As experienced teachers, we understand that everyone learns, studies and revises differently and we use a variety of methods, teaching tools and techniques to ensure that all our students have the chance to reach their full potential.

Find out more about the subjects we teach and how to apply online.

How to Prepare for GCSE or A-Level Maths Exams

maths exam revision

Don’t let the thought of your Maths exams turn you into a quivering wreck

Gearing up for tests is stressful no matter what the subject – particularly if you want to achieve a certain grade. Take a look at our tips on how to prepare for your GCSE or A-Level Maths exams effectively.

  • Practise – it’s true, practise really does make perfect so don’t underestimate how valuable doing some rapid-fire exercises can be. Setting yourself 20 minutes’ worth of questions every day based on the topics you’ve most recently covered in lessons, could make a big difference in your performance and confidence.
  • Past exam papers – familiarising yourself with past papers will give you a good idea of how questions are set out as well as how they’re worded, they’ll also help you identify any weaker areas early on.
  • Time yourself – try answering past papers in the allotted time. Not only will you get used to the time pressure, you’ll be able to see which areas you might need to speed up on.
  • Look at previous GCSE or A-Level Maths exam mark schemes – if you’re doing past papers, ask for the mark scheme too so you can see how points are awarded, this will give you insight into the detail examiners are looking for.

Other things to Consider

  • Challenge yourself – exams are there to test your knowledge so give yourself a challenge. Focussing too much on what you’re really good at, won’t necessarily be enough to make up for the areas you’re not so strong on. So, if you know you’re great at arithmetic but struggle with reasoning papers – it’s worth spending time cementing your understanding.
  • Understand the concepts – maths isn’t just about making things add up and the more you study it, the more you’ll need to ensure you understand the principles and concepts behind formulas or theories. Understanding them fully, means you can apply your knowledge in all sorts of different ways which can help you break down complex or multi-faceted questions.
  • Prepare – review everything you’ve covered ahead of your GCSE or A-Level Maths Exams and break them down into areas then go through each one in turn. This will highlight and help you deal with any gaps in your knowledge.

What else can you do?

  • Use the internet – don’t limit yourself to textbooks or worksheets, there are numerous websites and online revision tools that can help you. If you don’t know where to start, ask your teacher – they should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Know your calculator – calculators come in all shapes and sizes and while it’s easy to assume you know how it works – make sure you do, particularly if yours has specialist maths functions. Knowing how to use the memory function and understanding all the ins and outs can speed up calculations and save you some precious time.
  • Check your work – whenever you’ve set yourself revision or timed exercises, always review what you’ve done. Double check answers and honestly ask yourself how you found it. Being able to address potential problems early on is a key part of good preparation.

Getting help with your Maths exams

Of course, there may be some occasions when you might need a little extra help, and that’s where The Community Schools comes in. Whether you prefer to learn in small groups or one to one sessions, we use a range of techniques and materials to ensure everyone has the opportunity to perform at their best.

How we can help

To find out more about the support we can provide in our learning centres across Suffolk, call us on 07747 037441, email us at, fill out our contact form or apply online.

How to Improve Your Memory for Studying

improve your memory for studying and exam revision

Whether you’re revising for exams or just want to improve what you remember in class, there are lots of ways to boost brainpower and maximise those memory banks, so here are our top ten tips:

1)  Get enough sleep – there’s a reason why parents and teachers go on about getting a good night’s sleep before an exam. Research shows that sleep helps us cement information – which is why some people swear by listening to audio revision notes just as they’re nodding off. Not only that, good sleep means you’re refreshed, alert and ready to focus on the day ahead.

2)  Eat well – it’s all about quality rather than quantity but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional treat. Ultimately, a balanced diet is important for your brain and body, but these foods are thought to be particularly beneficial:

  • Wholegrains which release sugar slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer, this includes things like brown pasta and brown rice.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. If you don’t like fish, linseed and chia seeds are good alternatives.
  • Purple or deep red fruit and veg such as blueberries, grapes, cranberries and red cabbage, which according to American research improves your short-term memory.

3)  Mnemonics – don’t be put off by the spelling (said ni-mon-ik), this simply describes things like rhymes, songs and acronyms that help you remember information. For example, some common mnemonics that many of us have come across include:

  • Richard of York gave battle in vain, to remember the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Never eat shredded wheat, for compass points (north, east, south west).
  • FACE for the notes that sit inside the lines on the treble clef.

Needless to say, you don’t need to use ones that already exist and making up your own might make them easier to remember in the first place.

4)  Simplify – sometimes subjects are just hard to grasp but breaking everything down into bitesize statements or concepts no matter how silly can help. For example, communism vs capitalism in very simple terms could be summed up as: free sweets for all, no sweets for anyone (unless you can pay for them). Clearly the topics are more complex but understanding the basics should inspire you to recall more.

5)  Write it out – writing something out can help fix the idea in your head. Putting what you know on to paper can also lead to spin off ideas that help you expand on the subject. It doesn’t have to be straight text – mind maps, charts and diagrams are other great ways to make something stick in your mind.

6)  Say it out loud – as well as writing it, say it. Canadian research  shows that saying something out loud secures it into our long-term memories.

7)  Condense – when you’re confident about a topic, try condensing it onto a flash card using just bullet points. Each point should jog your memory on a key idea or aspect of that subject.

8)  Teach others – explaining something to someone else who has no knowledge of the subject makes it clear whether or not you really understand it, and if you can’t answer any questions they ask, it’s probably time to hit the books again.

9)  Socialise – when you’re revising or studying, it’s important not to let it take over your life. Taking a break is a good thing – helping you relax and in turn, keeping you fresh and alert.

10) Exercise your brain and body – exercise can help improve your memory so it’s important to keep exercising even if you’re in the middle of revising for exams. But it’s not just your body you need to keep active, while your brain isn’t a muscle, it’ll benefit just as much from a mental workout. Whether you choose crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, learn a new language or take up a musical instrument, challenging yourself is the best way to keep your brain working at peak performance.

Help when you need it

Revising is one thing but if you’re struggling with a certain subject in the first place, it’s crucial to ask for help. At The Community Schools, we offer one to one and small group tuition, and support students as individuals each with a different learning style.

To find out more about how we can help visit click here, or email us at and we’ll come back to you as soon as we can.

How parents of GCSE and A-Level aged sons can help them catch up with the girls

boys and girls

Boys are being outclassed by girls at both school and university, and the gap is widening. Read what Claire Meadows-Smith of The Community Schools has learned in helping over 150 students prepare for exam success

I’ve long been a supporter of helping girls do better in school, particularly in Maths (as this interview with the East Anglian Daily Times shows).

But there’s something I think parents of teenage boys should know… The Economist revealed a scary and surprising fact recently.

In an article titled “The weaker sex”, the writer shared statistics from a recent OECD study.

“Teenage boys are 50% more likely than girls to fail to achieve basic proficiency in any of maths, reading and science.”

What’s more, “youngsters in this group, with nothing to build on or shine at, are prone to drop out of school altogether.”

Why are boys performing worse than girls at school?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

The same OECD study revealed that “the average 15-year-old girl devotes five-and-a-half hours a week to homework, an hour more than the average boy, who spends more time playing video games and trawling the internet.”

To make matters worse, three-quarters of girls read for pleasure, compared with little more than half of boys.

Are girls simply smarter than boys?

Well, despite other gaps in effort – boys turn up late more often – the OECD found that when boys study just one hour extra per week, they reduced the gender gap by 25%.

That’s why the OECD is encouraging parents to steer teenage boys to a different way of thinking where academic achievement is respected.

The truth is, boys already have a tougher time getting the grades they deserve…

“The OECD found that boys did much better in its anonymised tests than in teacher assessments. The gap with girls in reading was a third smaller, and the gap in maths—where boys were already ahead—opened up further. In another finding that suggests a lack of even-handedness among teachers, boys are more likely than girls to be forced to repeat a year, even when they are of equal ability.”

Why is this?

Stephan Vincent-Lancrin of the OECD, published a report in 2008 remarking that when they discovered the extent of feminisation in higher education “they couldn’t believe it.”

The problem for teenage boys is that these troubles don’t end at school. women who go on to university are more likely to graduate than men – and more likely to get better grades.

As a teacher and tutor, none of what The OECD and The Economist says surprises me. Boys really are being left behind the girls.

In fact, it’s become quite the culture.

Of our 158 current students at The Community Schools, 96 are girl and only 62 are boys.

It’s the boys that need the most help, yet even outside regular school hours the girls are extending their advantage.

If you have a teenage son, perhaps you’re wondering what you can do to help?

How you as a parent can help your teenage son

Have you considered extra tutoring in Maths, English, and Science?

As the OECD study shows, even just one extra hour of study at home per week closes the gap on average by 25%. Imagine what 75 minutes of professional, dedicated study would do.

The Community Schools employ 22 experienced tutors who specialise in helping GCSE and A-level students get exam success in Maths, English, and Science.

About The Community Schools’ Private Tutoring Classes

The weekly 75 min tuition sessions at the Community Schools are very supportive of each student as an individual. There is the flexibility to teach each student in a way that best suits them and at a pace that suits.

Students are encouraged to ask as many questions as many times as it takes for them to fully grasp the new concept.

The positive and supportive atmosphere of our sessions enables all student successes to be celebrated. There is no problem about perceived ‘coolness’.

There are immediate classes available in Bury St. Edmunds and Kesgrave.

  • The teaching is structured around each student’s needs
  • No “death by worksheet” or “over-reliance” on software
  • Courses are practical, fun and effective
  • Designed to build up student’s understanding & increase their confidence
  • A focus on improving comprehension skills
  • It will be delivered in blocks of 11 sessions
  • Each session lasts 75mins

For more information, or to book a spot on a course, why not apply online now? (make this link into a button)

If you’d prefer to call first, you can call Claire on 07747 037441. Why not do it now before something else gets in the way?

We also have ‘Grade Booster’ courses available during the holidays. For more information, you can email me at or, call me on 07747 037441.