Need a private tutor? Muddy reviews OXSWOT
If a rollercoaster year has left your kids floundering academically, this Oxford-based private tutoring service could get them back on track (I should know, my son played guinea pig).
It’s been a yo-yo month, hasn’t it? What with lockdown (boo), a vaccine on the horizon (yay!), and that strange sensation of paralysed normal life, even while you wave your kids off to school in the morning, and welcome them home in the afternoon to hear there’s another case of Covid and half the bus are self-isolating.
My kids didn’t cope very well with being homeschooled during the first lockdown, but it took me until June to realise they really floundering. Their schools were sending plenty of emailed worksheets but little else, and they felt bored and, more worryingly, isolated. In the end like many other parents I relaxed my grip on the Xbox so the kids could chat and play with their mates, and I also took some action for my oldest son (he’d basically missed out on four months of his first year of A-levels) by booking lessons with OXSWOT – loving that name! – an Oxford-based private tutoring service that like so many other online tutoring services saw the gap and launched during lockdown.
However, it has a true USP which is its quality – handpicked, DBS-checked tutors from the top schools in the country, with many of the teachers at Head of Department level within those schools (so they really understand the exam-board requirements – just saying!).
Prior to OXSWOT I’d tried MyTutor which I found a bit clunky tech-wise (I had a lot of problems with the booking system) and I wasn’t madly confident about uni students/graduates as teachers – probably because I thought back to what I was like at university and how ill-equipped I’d have been to teach 15-18 year olds. OXSWOT is a much smaller, more tailored operation than MyTutor, working primarily with GCSE and A-level students over a more targeted range of subjects (currently Maths/Further Maths, English, Geography, Music, Politics, Philosophy, Biology, Physics, French, Economics, History, Chemistry, and Spanish), and also helping with Learning Support andUniversity applications if required.
It’s more expensive too – £60 each for a shared lesson of up to 5, or £90 for private tuition is not going to appeal to everyone. But if you want a taste of what the best private schools are offering in online teaching without a £5000 a term price tag, this is a good way to do it.
My son was taught Economics from the other side of the world (this being lockdown, the teacher had been on sabbatical and couldn’t get home!) and it worked seamlessly, with OneNote, Microsoft Whiteboard and Google Classroom meaning the learning could be revisited away from the lesson. My 17-year-old managed to mutter, ‘Yeah, he’s actually good’ – and if you knew my son, you’d know that’s praise waaaay off the hyperbolic chart. He had been so far behind in his Economics but I could tell he felt more confident and perhaps the best thing for me, selfishly, was when I asked if he needed another set of lessons he said that his teacher had helped him how to learn and revise properly and he could take it forward himself (*thud*).
In fact, OXSWOT actually offers specific Study Skills sessions (£65) that help with organisation, prioritising, managing deadlines and all the stuff that drives parents crazy about their children. I didn’t try it personally, but I have it up my sleeve for when my daughter starts her GSCE course next year – I have a feeling I’m going to need it.
You can check out OXSWOT here and let me know if you try it, I’d love to hear if your experience tallies with mine.