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Geoff Ashton

Blogs by Geoff Ashton

Should kids be allowed mobile phones in schools?

Should kids be allowed mobile phones in schools? ​     Wow! That's a very big question relating to a very contentious issue, certainly for us teachers, but also, arguably for parents too. It's also somewhat topical, as I'm sure, like me, you've been unable to escape the 'Momo' hoax that has been doing the rounds over the past couple of weeks.  I don't know about where you live, but round our area, local schools have even been sending letters out to parents warning them of this horrific so-called game that our youngsters are apparently being coerced into playing. Of course, since then, it has been proven to be a total work of fi...888
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Why We Should Encourage the Next Generation of Coders

Why We Should Encourage the Next Generation of Coders   Is coding still a 'thing' in schools?   If you're anything like me, you'll probably be wondering what on earth coding is and why it seems to be so important in children's schooling nowadays?! Only the other day I saw a t-shirt advertised on Instagram (I know, right?! I'm well down with the kids!) and the slogan emblazoned on it read "Code Like A Girl." I'll be honest, after seeing the t-shirt I felt like I needed to perhaps pay a little more attention to what coding actually is and why it seems to be a 'thing' now, all of a sudden! Now you lucky people get to read the condensed...888
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How to Boost Your Income as a Teacher

Boost Your Teaching Income...      Tutoring is a beneficial way of making some extra dosh when we've been subject to so many pay freezes it's like the ice age and is an incredibly rewarding way to supplement your income.  Okay, you're here because you've clicked the title of this article and it's intrigued you, am I right? You've probably just broken up for the Christmas holidays and are already wondering how you're going to pay off that pesky credit card bill that you know you used probably a little too frivolously when it came to ordering everyone's Christmas presents online (because, as teachers, we all know we never ha...888
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How To Create A Totally Awesome Revision Timetable

Revision Timetable: How To Create A Totally Awesome Exam Revision Planner!     (From a GCSE English teacher) Revision Timetable Tricks of the Trade ​  Okay, so you're here because you're trying to revise for an exam, aren't you? Or, maybe you're the parent of a teenager trying to revise and you're at your wits end with it all?! Do not fear! Fret no more! I am here to help you create a totally awesome, free (and very effective) revision timetable that won't stress either of you out!  Now, I'll let you into a secret: revision is not all about spending every waking minute pouring over endless books on each of your G...888
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9 Best Handwriting Tips!

Handwriting Tips
9 Best Handwriting Tips! Handwriting Improvement For Kids ​If you're a parent who winces every time you look through your child's written work, then fear not! I have here the definitive guide for handwriting improvement for kids (and adults too!). Based on 20 years teaching kids how to practise and improve their handwriting, I noticed several common factors that can be fairly easily addressed. So whatever your child's handwriting style, grab my free infographic, jump straight into the handwriting practice and watch carefully which mistakes they are making. With a few tweaks and a guiding hand (no pun intended) your child can have better ...888
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Make Your Child Happy With Reading & Writing!

Make Your Child Happy With Reading & Writing!   -  New research from the NTL (National Literacy Trust) has established a link between literacy activity and good mental health. New research on children's mental health...  Yes, that's right, you read correctly! Reading and writing can actually make your child happy and improve their mental wellbeing. I know, it often feels like a chore encouraging your little one to read, and it only becomes even more challenging when they become teenagers and the worlds of technology and social media seemingly take over. But, new research has shown that it's actually worth persevering with t...888
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How to deal with the ‘Pulled Face’ - a parents’ guide

How to deal with the 'Pulled Face' - a parents' guide   "If the wind changes, your face will stick like that." by my mum. "When your dad comes home he'll give you something to sulk about." by my mum. "You can change that face right now!" by my mum. It cometh... I call on parents everywhere to join hands with me on this one. I'm not sure at what age it starts. I don't even know if it has a gender bias. But at some point through our journey of parenthood, this 'thing' emerged. It's like a creeping 'blob'. A creeping, oozing, growing lump that threatens to eat you all up - but stealthily, you know? It doesn't pounce . It's not a quick ...888
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Tutoring as a Freelancer - what are the tax implications?

Tutoring as a Freelancer - what are the tax implications?   Introduction and Disclaimer:  First of all, I'm not a lawyer, a tax expert, an accountant or in any other profession where you might get legal advice on these matters. I'm simply a teacher-turned-business-owner, who's been asked the same types of questions many, many times over the last 10 years of running Ash Tutors (namely: do private tutors need to pay tax?), so I've decided to answer them in the form of this article. My answers are based on my own 'internet-research' and experience. In no way does this constitute advice or a recommendation. I DO advi...888
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Should I let my child use their device as a tool for learning or is it distracting?

Should I let my child use their device as a tool for learning or is it distracting?   For good? Or for evil?   It's tough, as parents, isn't it? From day one we have a tough deal, navigating our way through parenthood and being constantly bombarded with information on what we 'absolutely should'  and 'absolutely should not'  do with (and for) our children. I'd even go as far as to say parenting is getting harder nowadays, especially compared to when our parents were parents! Controversial statement, I know! (Parents of the older generation had family for advice - that's it. No social media, no forums, no Google.) But I say...888
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When To Get A Primary Maths Tutor For Your Child

When To Get A Primary Maths Tutor For Your Child   Maths can be a difficult subject for a child to understand from the onset. Some children may be slower than others in understanding the many abstract concepts that are used in maths. Hiring a Primary Maths Tutor might be something to consider from an early age so that any issues can be nipped in the bud. There are several signs to look out, or circumstances you may find yourself in which will give you an indication that your child may benefit from a primary maths tutor: 1. When there is little or no parental guidance... Parents have a lot of responsibilities that may overwhelm them leavi...888
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Why Is Private GCSE Tuition Important?

  Why Is Private GCSE Tuition Important? First of all, GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. They are qualification exams taken by most English students at the age of 14 to 16, and tend to be the main yardstick by which many prospective employers judge their future employees. They also form the basis upon which universities select students for their courses.  There are core compulsory subjects that students have to take. These are English, Maths and Science. GCSE students study a lot of subjects, some of which are optional, giving them a wider scope in their education. They also have to incl...888
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Teach Your Child To Read With Phonics - A 5-Step Parents' Guide

Teach Your Child How To Read Using Phonics - A 5-Step Guide For Parents

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION: The 'problem'

PART 1: What is 'phonics'?

PART 2: What does a phonics lesson look like?

 

PART 3: What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

 

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How To Find The Best Private Tutor

 How To Find The Best Private Tutor

 

It'll be easy to find the best tutors, won't it?

 

Oh my goodness! Where do I start?

A few days ago I 'enjoyed' the experience of placing a small task I needed doing for the company on a 'freelance' website.


If you've never used these sites before, you simply place the details of your job, then wait while the bids for the job come rolling in from all over the world along with proposals from interested freelancers.


Within 20 minutes I had around 400 bids from people all vying to do this job.

Talk about overwhelm!


The result was that I didn't choose even one - just way too many choices. Rather than save myself some effort by hoping to pay a freelancer to do the task, I'd actually created one huge headache for myself.

You can get a similar effect when faced with a HUGE menu in a restaurant. How many of us give up on reading it all, and just plump for the tried and tested?


This has become one of the biggest disadvantages of the modern internet era - that of 'TOO MANY DARN CHOICES'!



A similar scenario is what will face any parent hoping to run a quick Google search to land the services of a tutor for their child, and very often this will end in failure, or like my freelancing experience, they will be overwhelmed by choice and simply give up, hoping things improve at school by themselves.


But of course, that's unlikely to happen. So what do I suggest? How does your average (or exceptional!) parent find the BEST PRIVATE TUTOR for their child?

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Benefits of a private maths tutor over classroom learning

Benefits of a private maths tutor over classroom learning


So you've pondered long and hard about hiring a private maths tutor for your child. They've been having a few issues at school, and even though you know you could probably help them, there's that 'emotional' thing going on, and you'd prefer a calm household.


 



"But hang on!" says your husband. "What about the cost? It can get pretty pricey over time, and there's no guarantee it'll make any difference. Why aren't the teachers doing their job? That's precisely why our child goes to school, yet here we are, considering spending a large sum on the services of a private maths tutor!
"



And so the argument goes...




It's a valid argument. You wouldn't send your car for repairs, only to hire another independent mechanic to correct mistakes or to improve on the work already done. So what's the difference?




'Learning' isn't an exact science.


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Teach Your Child How To Improve Their Handwriting!

Teach Your Child How To Improve Their Handwriting

 

Banish That Poor Handwriting Scrawl For Good!

 

So, dear reader, you’re pushed for time - I can see that. So either scroll down a bit for the article,

or download it for later.


What’s your preference for ‘consuming’ content? Do you want to get a beautiful infographic / poster for your child’s bedroom wall?



Download '9 Handwriting best practices' Infographic

 

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GCSE English - A Modern Parent's Survival Guide for Yr11!

 

 

 

GCSE English Language and English Literature Exams

A Modern Parents’ Survival Guide!

 

By Rachael (Ash Tutors ref: 181), Secondary School English Teacher

 



“Help!” I hear you cry, “Why is GCSE English so much different, harder, confusing, befuddling and downright mind-boggling compared to when I was at school?”

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Teach Your Child To Read At Home - A Parents' Guide

Teach Your Child To Read At Home
-A Parents’ Guide

 

These practices will improve reading comprehension, phonics acquisition, spelling and ultimately the whole quality of their writing and general language work. Read on for a parents' guide to getting the most out of reading with their child...

 

 

 

You can download the gorgeous infographic version here! Totally FREE! It makes a great A4 wall poster - handy for busy parents to glance at during your reading sessions with your child! Just click the link below.

Click Here to Download Now

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How frequently SHOULD your child be READING at home?

How frequently SHOULD your child be READING at home?

 

67% of Children Read Weekly for Fun – But Is it Enough?

 

A recent survey of Mums with children aged 2 – 12 revealed that two-thirds of children in this age group still read books at least once a week for fun.

 

Perhaps reassuringly, more children read books weekly than play on an iPad or other tablet/mobile device. But is two thirds enough? Should we be worried that not all children from 2 – 12 are reading a book at least once a week? How frequently should your child be reading at home?

 

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New Technology Your Kids Could Be Using In School Next Year

 

 New Technology Your Kids Could Be Using In School Next Year!

 

Education technology: Virtual reality and wearables

 

Education can sometimes be accused of lagging behind the consumer world with regard to the technology used with kids in the classroom, seminar or lecture hall. It’s only now that we’re beginning to see the widespread use of tablets as learning tools, six years after the first iPad was released into market. For years, the humble blackboard clung on desperately, staving off an attack from the whiteboard, and later, the smart board. However, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a blackboard in many school or universities these days.  

 

 

Learning environments are highly innovative spaces, and should be absolutely at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. Unfortunately, educational institutions are often bound by long-term supplier contracts and a strict curriculum. Furthermore, technology needs to have a proven tangible function and benefit to obtain approval from the powers that be. Money certainly does not grow on trees in the education sector, so taking risks on unproven methods isn’t always the top of priorities.

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How To Help Your Primary Child Do Better in Tests!

 

How To Help Your Primary Child Do Better in Tests!

 

 

Is your child tested at Primary School?
 Of course they are! 

Want to help them get better results?

Of course you do!
 Then read on...

 

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11 Ways Your Child Can Master Phonics This Term

11 Ways Your Child Can Master Phonics This Term

 
 
If basic number concepts are the foundation of maths learning, then phonics are the building blocks of reading.
In the UK, children are screened in Year 1, so many parents will be told at the first Parents’ Meetings that their child is falling below age expectations in this area.
One of the BEST things any parent can do, is to make themselves into a phonics expert!
I’ve scoured the web, and put together the very best ideas, articles, explanations, activities and downloads to help you in your quest to help YOUR child to become a PHONICS NINJA!
 
I'll show you my 11 ways your child can master phonics this term...
(In no particular order.)

1. Free Printable Phonics Books

Via themeasuredmom.com
 

A glorious set of free, printable phonics books from teacher and mum, Anna. Apps and other tech are great - but nothing replaces physical books.


2. 26 Alphabet and Phonics Apps

Via imaginationsoup.net

A comprehensive review of phonics and spelling apps from teacher and mum, Melissa. The benefits of multi-media can’t be ignored.

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The most effective spelling, reading, phonics software available?

The most effective spelling, reading, phonics software available?

 

Literacy Resources

Like many teachers, I've used the various available resources over the years that aim to help children learn, practise and retain the information that will help them to become more fluent readers, more accurate spellers and more effective writers.

Many of them have helped to some degree, but few of them have been a 'go-to' resource for almost every ability level, and every learning style - that is, until I discovered Nessy.


Nessy Learning Programme

There's little argument that in the majority of cases children who struggle to learn spellings, struggle to read fluently and struggle to write effectively all benefit from a structured approach to teaching these areas.

However, we all know and understand that English has an unfortunate habit of resisting hard and fast 'rules'. Just when you think you've found one, along comes a whole raft of exceptions.

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Is your child hurtling down a slippery slope?

Is your child hurtling down a slippery slope?

 

Imagine this:

On a daily basis, you feel you don’t measure up to your peers.

Every report, letter, project or whatever it is you do that requires confirmation from your boss, returns to you smothered in amendments.

You find meetings stressful and have learned to stay quiet for fear of being rebuked or your ideas rubbished.

This is the embarrassment of failure

It’s a downward spiral that becomes increasingly difficult to return from. There are children in every class who face this daily onslaught to their self-esteem. It doesn’t take many years for them to develop such a loathing of a subject that an almost impenetrable brick wall is built preventing further learning development.

There is hope!

While I’ve painted a desperate picture, and there’s little doubt children like this exist, the majority who encounter such difficulties are not yet beyond rescue. But you have to move quickly. Start while they are still young. Don’t wait until your child has several years of this miserable school existence under their belts. As soon as you suspect, or are told by their teacher that trouble is brewing, act now before it’s too late. Don't leave your child hurtling down that slippery slope!

 

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Questions You Should Ask At Parents’ Evening - Primary-Aged Kids

Questions You Should Ask At Parents’ Evening - Primary Aged Kids

 

This is predominantly aimed at parents of primary aged school children – as that is where my personal experience lies. There will be some basic principles that can be applied to secondary situations too. (Or you should go and read this post about questions to ask at a High School parents' evening.)

If you’re lucky, you’ll get 2 or 3 chances to speak with your child’s teacher in a whole school year. Some schools offer only 1 slot per year. 10 minutes. That’s it! Out of all those hours of teaching and learning, you get 10 minutes to find out how things are going.

Do you plan for these golden moments? Not many do – but they should. I’m not advocating you turn up with a notepad, pencil and a list of questions poured over and redrafted. Rather, a few minutes thought and discussion with your partner (if appropriate) as to what you actually want to find out.

In many instances, the teacher will tell you this information as a matter of course. I’m merely suggesting you make yourself aware what to look out for, and perhaps subtly bend the conversation around to things they may not have told you.

What parents usually ask:

1. How is my child getting on?

Too general, and really only a conversation starter rather than a genuine attempt at gleaning a useful, specific answer. General questions will result in general responses e.g. Question: How is he/she getting on? Answer: He/she is doing OK !! Point taken?

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Questions Parents Of High School Kids Should Ask At Parents’ Evening

Questions Parents Of High School Kids Should Ask At Parents’ Evening

 

A guest post by one of our maths tutors. If you have kids at High School, you'd better read on...

High school parents’ evenings can be strange things, you dash from teacher to teacher and hear about lots of different subjects but very often hear the same thing over and over again. The picture of your child, positive or negative, is usually sorted after the first couple of appointments and the rest often seems like more reinforcement. By the time you get home, most of the detail is gone and subjects often seem to run into each other.

Here are my tips for making the most of a high school parents’ evening:

1. Take your child with you.

Having your child hear what is being said about them can be of great benefit. They get to hear all the positive things that teachers think of them and, if there are any other issues they get to hear about those too. It also allows teachers to explain specific, subject-based targets and ways to improve to them. Having your child with you also means they can show you where to go and explain things to you.

If your child is a few short years from GCSEs, you might be interested in this article about why GCSE tuition is so important.

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Teach Your Child How To Use Apostrophes. A parents' guide...

 

Teach Your Child How To Use Apostrophes. A parents' guide...

We’ve all seen them…

Apostrophe errors aren't rare about town. There are mistakes on shop signs, the sides of vehicles, at the market – which only proves that even adults find the whole ‘apostrophe issue’ quite confusing. The truth is, it IS confusing. I’ve even heard teachers debating the intricacies of the rules.

And NO – you don’t put an apostrophe wherever you see an ‘s’ !!

To simplify matters, I’ve written about the 2 main uses for apostrophes, which should satisfy most children, standing them in good stead for further detailed tuition.

For those hardier souls who like a bit of ‘nitty-gritty’, continue on to the ‘difficult areas’ section.

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The POWER of Routine in the education of your child

The POWER of Routine in the education of your child

 

 

'Routine’ is a much-maligned method of organising:

‘Same old routine…daily grind…’

But as most successful people will know – a routine is the cornerstone of your building; the glue that holds your life together; one of the pillars keeping you vertical.

 

'The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.' Mike Murdock

How many of us use a diary to keep things in order? Or a calendar? How many have one of those enviable memories that can hold long lists of dates, appointments, and tasks? (I confess, I’m not one of the latter!)

I expect most of you make use of one or all of these methods. You do this because you are organised, you are successful and you know the power of routine.

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Teach Your Child How To learn The Times-Tables

Teach Your Child How To learn The Times-Tables

 

Times-tables Struggles?

Is your child struggling to learn their multiplication tables? Is it a school target for them?

We’ll show you what to do!

First of all – here’s what usually WON’T work:

1. Hoping they’ll just pick it up as they go along.

Schools have so many other things to be getting on with, time spent reciting tables can easily get pushed to one side.

2. Playing Times-Tables computer games / iPad apps.

These are marvelous for practising tables they’ve already learned! Unfortunately though, not for learning them in the first instance.

There is, however, one time-honoured, CAST-IRON method of learning them, that’ll work for the majority of children to varying degrees. It doesn’t require unusual resources, it isn’t expensive, and it doesn’t need much planning. It is simply…

 

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Parents’ Evening went badly. What next?

Parents’ Evening went badly. What next?

 

You sit there at the annual Parents’ Evening, all smiles, waiting for your child’s teacher to agree that your child is the most wonderful creature ever to grace this Earth. But wait. He/she doesn’t agree?!

 

It happened to us. Five minutes allowed in the interview, and rather than focus on all the lovely things we know are true about our gorgeous, funny, caring, talented little girl…

 

 

“She’s struggling with her reading comprehension…”

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How Parents can teach their own kids. Secret revealed!

How Parents can teach their own kids. Secret revealed!

How Parents can teach their own kids. Secret revealed!

 

I have a confession to make: as a paid, employed teacher, I had far more patience and time for the 30 plus children I used to teach on a daily basis than I used to have as a parent teaching my own daughter.

I know this to be true for many other teachers who are also parents.

Ever wondered why this is? I have, and I think I’ve found the answer!

Treat it as a job.

At home I was always finding something else to do, always looking to complete another domestic chore. Until that is, I began to see that time as another job to complete. 

Once I changed my attitude, and made myself available  - totally 100% committed to giving up a chunk of my time – it was a problem no longer.

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