I have run tutorial schools in Hong Kong for twelve years now and prepare students to study in the UK This blog will be include my experiences as an educator, practical tips about entrance exams, speech festivals and interviews. There is a school for every child and this blog will help you navigate the process.
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Focus on a poem - Fire and Ice by Robert Frost : The Poetry Foundation
One of my all time favourites. A thoughtful, reflective poem about the terrible power of isolation, destructive emotion and absence of love. Understated elegance and a quiet, powerful voice amidst the shrieking and drama of our times.
Red this quietly and let the words speak for themselves.
We had a wonderful morning speaking to parents at our Aberdeen Marina Club Seminar. The audience had a multitude of excellent questions which underlined the commitment they have to finding the right school for their children.
Key points to take away were:
1: You know your child best. Listen to advice from friends and family but be prepared to make your own decision.
2: Don't be afraid of asking questions. In my experience, the best schools are ready and willing to work with parents and actively encourage your questions in the knowledge that this is a path to a close, co-operative relationship.
3: Engage your child in the preparation process.
4: Don't just focus on academic skills, cultural and communication skills are equally important. Brandon classes offer all three!
5: Understand the needs of your child. Children develop at different rates and an appropriate school will encourage and support a student so he can develop his full potential.
The best advice I ever received about competitions was from a racing driver! "Don't focus on winning, focus on developing your talent; treat every race like another practice session. If you win, great! If you don't, you learn from your mistakes."
Brilliant advice and something that parents can keep in mind when helping their student prepare for the speech festivals. Remember: there is only one winner but every participant can learn from the experience.
When you first get the poem, read it through together and work out what the story of your piece is. Have your child retell the story to you, using their own words, so you can help them to really understand what tone the poem needs.
The most important step in your preparation is helping your child to memorise their poem. Once they know it upside down and back to front, now you can start to add colour. Think of adding variation in volume, pitch, pace and don't forget facial expressions. If the latter are elusive, try…
As our Brandon students count down to the 13+ exam (most of our girls sat the exam in Spring but we have a very determined group of Harrow candidates who will certainly do well!) I would like to offer some advice on the English paper.
The first English paper ('Literary prose') offers a prose comprehension followed by a structured writing task. Candidates have the option of writing a directed piece (speeches/magazine articles/diaries) or reflecting on literature. The majority of our students choose the first option and this advice is directed towards them:
1: Read the question carefully, underline the key words.
2: Be aware of the structure of the piece you are being asked to write. Make sure that you have the correct format in mind (e.g. if you are writing an article, have you included an introduction and conclusion?)
3: Think about the level of language you need to maintain: a diary entry can be informal language whereas a letter to a Head needs to be formal. Speeches will n…