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Could a Top Set Maths Student Benefit from Having a Tutor?

I recently spent some time observing a range of teaching styles and techniques in a variety of schools. I noticed something striking that may be of interest to parents and provide an explanation as to why even top set students may benefit from having a tutor.

I was viewing a top set year 10 maths lesson in an excellent Bucks Grammar School. The teacher opened the lesson outlining the topic to be covered that day. Explanation of the topic was followed by teacher led worked examples, and discussion with the students to check their understanding.  The students were then asked to work through some questions on their own.

At this point, I was aware that one of the students was looking unsure of what to do while others around got on with the task. Looking visibly fed up she was noticed by the teacher who went to offer help. After further explanation from the teacher the student nodded her head that she was OK and that she understood the task. She was left to progress the maths questions set.

The student looked at the questions, but made little progress,  hiding under her hands as if concentrating on her work, but clearly struggling. To the busy teacher who was now helping others, this went unnoticed.

The students were asked to finish off the task, and look at the board. The teacher called out the answers. How many questions did the pupils  get right - 'please can I have a show of hands.. who got all the questions right? One wrong, two wrong - nobody... excellent we can move on..'  

The girl who I had been observing put up her hand to indicate that she only got one question wrong, although, it was evident to me that she had only attempted one of the 5 questions set. To the teacher it appeared that all the students had tackled the problems with success.

Why did the student not ask for more help- it was there on offer? How would she tackle the homework - would she struggle? Would this one off incident knock her confidence in maths?

I do not know the outcome and I hope that this student went to the teacher later to get the explanation and help she needed. But what if she didn't? Did she have someone at home she could turn to for help? 

Colette 18/12/2016

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