Extra lessons: Does your child need a tutor?

By Dawn Picken

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Bay parents seeking extra help for their child’s learning have a growing number of tutoring services to consider. But how do you know whether your child needs private tuition, and whether spending money will get results?48 Hours reporter Dawn Picken investigated a range of options including one-on-one tuition; online video tutoring and school-based programmes.
Private learning centre ssuch as Kip McGrath are seeing increasing numbers of students in Rotorua. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Private learning centre ssuch as Kip McGrath are seeing increasing numbers of students in Rotorua. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

VICTORIA CHESBY says her 10-year-old daughter, Izzy, recently got help from a private tutoring firm.

The Year 6 student at St Mary's Catholic School in Rotorua was awarded a one term scholarship to her local Kip McGrath education centre. Her mum says Izzy enjoyed practising fractions and times tables on the centre's computers.

"She was never struggling, she was always just scraping by, though. They have to have the basics, because if they don't have the basics, they aren't going to understand the more complicated problems."

Kip McGrath Rotorua franchise manager Ceri Parr says some children are held back because of time off school for an illness; moving town; travelling, or speaking English as a second language. Other times, she says children may have dyslexia or trouble with numbers. That's when a caregiver might turn to private tuition.

Tahurimai Waiti's nieces and nephews-Clarissa, 8, Alliyah, 13, Sunny, 10, and Steven Rihari, 11-are benefiting from free tuition at In2Learning in Rotorua. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Tahurimai Waiti's nieces and nephews-Clarissa, 8, Alliyah, 13, Sunny, 10, and Steven Rihari, 11-are benefiting from free tuition at In2Learning in Rotorua. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER


"All our tutors are trained and experienced teachers, so we all have the ability to assess and monitor a student's progress."

Tutors use methods including one-to-one teaching, writing in an exercise book, using
whiteboards and interactive games and other concrete materials.

"Every child has an individual learning plan, and we select the best way for each child to learn."

Kip McGrath charges $53 for an 80-minute session. The Rotorua centre has 12 teachers, including secondary teachers for NCEA level maths, English, science, physics and chemistry. They tutor more than 150 preschoolers to Year 13 students each week.


Another national company with independently-owned franchises is
NumberWorks'nWords. Rotorua centre owner Sarah Price employs Year 12 and 13 students as tutors who come recommended by their schools and pass an online training course.

Tutors work with up to four students at once and are monitored by trained teachers.

Sarah started operating the centre last term following a 14-year classroom teaching career in Rotorua.

Her 70 tutoring students range in age from 5 to Year 11 students. She says they seek extra help because they've either tested below National Standards or they're meeting standards and are working to achieve higher grades. She likes seeing students grow in confidence and ability. " . . . that results in an improvement in school quickly.

Their learning is directly transferable to what they are studying at school."

She checks regularly with parents to ensure a child is progressing in the classroom.

"Teachers do an amazing job. But students and parents might feel the need to seek additional help. We provide an optimal learning environment. They receive help as little or as much as they need it and many become independent learners through the help of tuition."

A 60-minute session at NumberWorks'nWords costs $52.

Angela Gunn started operating a tutoring franchise called In2Learning early last year. She says demand has far surpassed expectations-she serves 92 students at her Rotorua centre and another 60 in Tokoroa.

Angela's in the process of converting garage space into learning space in Rotorua.

"I taught at another education provider for quite a few years. I wanted to go down a different route . . . to be able to provide a range of programmes. I don't believe one programme solves everybody's problems."

In2Learning tutors work with a maximum of three students at once. They serve Years 1 to 13. Angela charges $45 per hour and also offers scholarships to a half-dozen students each year.

"I'm not knocking schools, but we have a growing number of students falling below National Standards. They're not eligible for assistance in school because they're not
low enough. If they don't get help, they get further and further behind."

Tahurimai Waiti's four nieces and nephews are getting free tuition at In2Learning, thanks to a pilot programme implemented by a foundation Angela and her husband set up called


The Spirit of Excellence Education Trust. It was set up to assist students from economically disadvantaged families who are working below National Standards.
This year's pilot involves 20 students. Tahurimai says the children, ranging in age from 8 to 13, had been attending a school in the Far North that lacked proper resources.

She says the past year of private tuition at In2Learning has improved the children's confidence in class and given them a love for learning.

"They were kids that were falling through the cracks. They're like sponges now. Prior to coming to me, education wasn't a priority."

Tahurimai says her nieces and nephews tell her tutoring is fun.

"These kids want to go and be a part of that world. And it's awesome."

Free help at school:
School administrators say extra help is available free of charge at school and online.
Rotorua Intermediate deputy principal Hinei Taute tells 48 Hours the school has intervention programmes which include four support people for reading and three staff members for maths help.

She said there was a trend, as students were transitioning into intermediate and high school, that they realised they lacked understanding of literacy and numeracy. Ms Taute says the number one support person is a child's classroom teacher. She says students can access online learning tools, as well as home help.

"I would like to think that parents are first teachers, anyway."

The DP says parents who want private tuition for their children have that option and the school would support it.

"It's not our choice whether they should or shouldn't," she says.

John Paul College operates a free homework centre for students. The school also offers extra help and one-on-one time with teachers.


Rotorua tutors:
- in2learning.co.nz
- kipmcgrath.co.nz
- numberworksnwords.com

*Not an exhaustive survey; list compiled by reporter.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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