Children

MUSTIQUE | Notes from a Small Island

Oppidan Education was delighted to be invited by The Mustique Company to spend a fortnight on the island over the April holidays, providing revision study clubs and group workshops as well as private one-to-one sessions to the families and their children. 

Traditionally, the Easter holidays have been a time when families stay at home in order to allow their children to revise. Fraught with tension, the holidays become a struggle in which parents and their charges clash and little productive revision is accomplished. 

The aim was therefore simple and was carried out accordingly: for the children, to provide a structured schedule of revision for those with upcoming exams, whether that was the 11+ exams, Common Entrance, GCSEs or A Levels. For the parents, a guilt-free holiday in which the stress of organizing, motivating and coercing was taken out of their hands. 

We were delighted that cumulatively over 250 children joined us for the workshops. The morning sessions focused on the syllabus created by Oppidan Camps, our programme of educational summer camps for children in the UK. Poetry, debating, public speaking and creative writing formed the basis of a curriculum designed to improve a child’s self-belief, confidence and desire to learn, whilst simultaneously ensuring academic improvement and tangible progress. 

In the afternoons, we provided over seventy hours of one-to-one tutorials to the children; there was a real fizz of focus amongst the children who realized the imminent nature of their exams; the work we did was, I believe, hugely productive and allowed the children to then relax in the evenings with a feeling of real achievement gained. 

An enormous thank you to the guests and their children for all the hard work and hospitality shown to us on the island and a special thank you to The Mustique Company and to Roger Pritchard for their kindness and support to Oppidan as we look to a budding partnership and future years together. 

Walter Kerr
Co-Founder & Director

This article is taken from the original article on The Mustique Company’s website.

Tips from a Career in Mentoring

After more than three years working one-on-one with children, I have accumulated a set of notes that has helped me make this form of teaching as valuable as I had possibly hoped. No matter how short the course, the most important thing is the relationship. Spending time on this early on pays dividends, and makes it so much more enjoyable. Trust, I would say, is the most important part of a relationship; below are ways to make that come to fruition.

1.)   Encourage them to make mistakes, and make mistakes yourself (this shows that it is okay). Be self-deprecating from time to time; let them correct you and congratulate them for doing so.

2.)   Always leave time for reading. One of my favourite film directors gave this advice to young filmmakers: 'read, read, read, read, read. When you read, you beat the world'. Lead by example. Read to them with passion and expression. Raise your voice, be dramatic, lower your voice, and show sensitivity. Enjoy a measure of silliness.

3.)   Challenge students. Give them Shakespeare to read, without telling them it's Shakespeare. Help them memorise a poem. I spent one whole lesson on a short passage of Henry V. It was one of my most memorable and enjoyable lessons with a tutee who found English very hard, and rather boring.

4.)   Show them paintings you like, music you like, actors you like. You’ll enjoy it more, and they will as a result. Kids know when you're bored or excited. A certain degree of selfishness in this regard works wonders!

5.)   Write a long sentence, and have them cut as many words out as possible whilst retaining the same meaning. Follow George Orwell's 6 Rules for Writing.

6.)   Have short, sharp debates in writing. Which is better: football or rugby? Argue the opposite and argue your hardest. Give them two minutes to write, give yourself one minute. Show them your best, and model for them in the future.

7.)   Let them show you stuff they like. Turn it into an activity without them asking or realising (bring it up later on).

The more the sessions become a “partnership”, the better. Done well, one-on-one tuition has the ability to help engagement, increase self-worth and motivate a student to go above and beyond what is expected of them.

FW, Oppidan Mentor 2016-2018