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Mohan Dhall
Academic Leader

The questions I hear most often with respect to Selective School entry tests are whether a child should receive coaching, and if so, what form should such tutoring preparation take? These are important questions and should be the consideration of all parents who want their child to sit the Selective School Test.

Coaching can make a significant difference to child’s confidence and ability if it is conducted in a manner consistent with the best of educational research and contemporary teaching and learning practices.

For very bright students only very minimal coaching may be required as exposure to a range of questions types can assist such students to understand what to expect and to calibrate a range of problem-solving strategies.

For other students the investment in a program of study undertaken by experienced educational coaches can be a worthwhile investment. This is especially true when the program on offer is taught by exceptional educators who are responsive to the individual needs to the students.

Since most coaching programs on offer do provide detail about the educational philosophy underpinning the approach, parents need to empower themselves. It is important for parents to critique any investment in coaching for several reasons:
  • The experience a child has in a coaching college or tutoring class will affect their overall experience of education. If the experience is a negative one, then the child can lose confidence and the self-esteem required for effective learning.
  • The approach taken by a coaching college may reinforce the worst aspects of education: tutoring classes streamed solely on the basis of perceived ability, an exclusive focus on the exam or test, and an emphasis on ‘being right’ rather than taking an academic risk to solve hard problems. The educational philosophy of a coaching college should be assessed by parents.
  •  The priority that commercial returns may appear to take over genuine educational outcomes. This will be evidenced in the size of classes, the ‘arm- length’ nature parent interactions with coaches and the lack of specific feedback or reporting on a child’s specific strengths and areas that are being targeted. Parents should note the approach taken by the coaching institution to these issues.
  •  The capacity for a coaching college to articulate an understanding of a child’s learning styles, preferences and perceptual strengths will be crucial to the capacity of that institution to effect real learning. It is important therefore for parents to ask questions about how coaches will determine these things and what accountability in the coaching there will be accommodate identified and specific learning attributes.

The role of vulnerability
When making the coaching decision parents should be aware of their own vulnerability and the possibility that a coaching college could take advantage of this. It is therefore important for parents to test any coaching college through asking questions about the any programs offered and the measures of success on a per child level used by the college. If the college is evasive or does not have answers then it should be clear that the child should not be enrolled in their programs

Educational accountability and coaching
An investment in coaching or supplementary education should also be an investment in educational accountability. Parents should expect to be included on the learning journey through regular specifically individualised feedback, a capacity to observe lessons and a welcoming approach to an inquiry about the program and staff qualifications.

The coaching decision is an important one and parents should seek answers to important questions prior to enrolling in any course.

Do you have any questions about academic coaching and selective school testing?

At Potentia Tutoring we offer selective schools coaching classes with free trial lessons. These trials give the family a chance to see whether and how they can get the benefits of coaching.