Extended schools and learning resources for children

extended schools

With the new school term, parents face a whole new round of eductation anxieties – and the attached price tags! If your children need extra academic help, here’s how to use learning resources for children and extended schools so your kids can get the help they need without the usual astronomical cost.

Have a look at our guide on how to help your kids learn around your work commitments.

The five learning resourses or education support ideas below can help boost your child’s confidence, get them up to standard in weak areas, or simply get them ahead in their lessons.

Extended schools

You can get cost-effective extra tuition with after-school courses, breakfast clubs and summer schools run by your child’s own school, or another one in the area.

These ‘extended schools’ or ‘extended services’ can include childcare and sports activities, but of interest for our theme today is that they can include support for learning.

Each school decides if it will offer extended schools to support school work, including study and homework. As part of the course, the services can also provide access to facilities, such as computers and the school library.

MathleticsIf a course is part of the national curriculum then it must be offered for free. Otherwise, these courses are not-for-profit and must be charged at cost. You might be able to claim back some of the costs through extra tax credits if the course is registered with OFSTED.

Private tuition

Private tuition is the most obvious choice for extra learning, but it’s also the most expensive. It typically costs £20 to £45 for one hour.

If you’re going to pay these fees, you should do a lot of research to ensure the tutor is experienced – in these times of high unemployment, lots of inexperienced tutors (made redundant from their own day jobs) will be out to make a quick buck.

If you can’t get a word-of-mouth recommendation from a teacher or another parent, you could look at online resources that help you compare tutors, such as First Tutors.

Online courses

Maths Whizz is a highly recommended online learning resources for children, providing over 1,200 lessons. The program tailors itself according to your own child’s weaknesses, offering different ways of learning and extra assistance if your child continues to struggle, and providing reports for the parents.

At £150 per year or a monthly subscription (with no tie-in) of £20 per month, it’s not cheap – although it’s far cheaper than a private tutor, even if your children just use it for a few hours per month.

Maths Whizz has received good feedback from parents for how it actually helps teach your children maths (rather than merely throwing  puzzles at them). Mathletics is nearly as highly recommended. It appears to be comprehensive, but not such a good ‘teacher’ as Maths Whizz. But then it costs far less at just £39 per year.

Before buying an online course though, you should try some of the free learning resources for children available online. None of them are as comprehensive or customisable as the paid-for options above, but if you see your child making good progress you’re getting more than your money’s worth!

TopmarksWoodlands Junior School and BBC Bitesize offer free maths and literacy tools, with the latter also offering science. Tutpup offers spelling and maths, and there are many more free online courses.

Private courses

Several companies and franchises offer extra study in maths and English. First Class Learning, Kumon and Kip McGrath are the three most commonly mentioned.

Private courses from these providers, which are in many locations across the UK, offer different ways to study maths and English to support school learning. Prices vary by location, but as an example they might cost £50 per month for two lessons a week.

Parents’ reviews on the Web are many, and mixed. Some report massive improvements in confidence, self esteem, grades, and feedback from school teachers…

Do it yourself

Others say that, on those courses, their children don’t learn how to apply what they’ve learned; that many of the teachers are not trained in their subjects; that their children get very little personal attention and tuition; and that you can achieve better results by teaching them yourself at home.

For maths, they say that you may as well print off some free worksheets from the internet. A search for ‘maths worksheets’ brings up lots of choices, and you can refine your search by adding the key stage, e.g. “ks2”.

Teach yourself first

Finally, if you lack the confidence to teach your children yourself, there are plenty of online tools for adults that can make you feel more comfortable with it, such as BBC Skillswise for English and maths.

If you want to go on a course for adults, you can get help with childcare costs, which I wrote about in how to get free nursery places.

You could be entitled to free education at GCSE level if you are under 24, or at A-level (or similar) if you are under 25, provided you don’t already have those qualifications.

You might also be entitled to discretionary learner support if you’re 19 or over, financially disadvantaged, and enrolled at the best private schools austin or sixth-form that gets funding from the Skills Funding Agency.

You should ask at the institute in question, since it will decide the amount of support you might get, and whether it’ll be offered as a grant or a loan.

If you struggle to find the time to help the kids with their homework…

Have a look at our guide on how to help your kids learn around your work commitments.