Maths comes a lot easier to some than it does for others. However, I would argue that to a large extent this is due to the strength of the foundations on which the learner is trying to build. Very often children feel that they are no good because they have significant gaps in their knowledge, the curriculum has moved on and they are really struggling to keep up or try to catch up. Ideally in these instances schools will put interventions in place whereby the child has time outside of the classroom working on these gaps. However, in reality budgets are stretched, staffing is limited and if the learner hasn't grasped the new concept within a given amount of time... there are other children who need help too. You can learn a little more about what these 'basics' consist of here.
The first thing that we'll do with your child when they come to work with us is to have a chat about how they feel about maths and what parts they do and don't enjoy. They will be given a few tasks to do just to see how they get on and from there on we'll work on an individualised plan that will help them progress more quickly. They will still do the same work as the other members of the group, but there may be some extra bits to work on at home if they/you want to. However, some children just need the change in setting, increased support, reduced pressure in order to relax a little and 'get' that maths that they're struggling with. For every child though, the ultimate goal is for them to tackle age appropriate maths independently and successfully - and hopefully with a smile on their face!
One final point worth mentioning is that while SATs and other assessments are very useful, they are not as important as some people believe. Of course it is much better to pass them than not to (and we will do all we can to help your child achieve success in them), but if a child is working hard and doing their best then that is all that can be asked of them. We will always seek gaps in understanding that can be filled, but in our interactions we will focus on their progress and their successes, not their (current) shortcomings in this one aspect of their learning and academic development. Success is being able to do something you couldn't do before. Success is feeling better about what you are doing. Success is feeling better about yourself. It is not a number. It is certainly not summarised in the statement 'below expected levels'. The race is a long one, and ultimately it is only against yourself - striving to be the best you can. If that philosophy doesn't sit well with you as a parent, we fully understand that our tuition may not be suitable for you and your family.
Years 6 and 7 sessions are aimed at those who find maths tough and are geared primarily at mastering the skills required to achieve top marks in the SATs arithmetic paper. These are also the skills that are required to successfully access the remainder of the marks on the two reasoning papers and which underpin the year 7 maths curriculum (hence the term 'secondary ready' on end of stage assessments).
The arithmetic paper is very consistent in content and is an excellent opportunity to pick up the majority (40) of the 65-67 marks usually required to 'pass' and be deemed 'secondary ready'. You can learn a little more about the arithmetic paper here. The reasoning papers offer a further 70 marks, but questions are intentially varied as examiners seek ways to test the application of these skills in ways that will be unfamiliar to the learner. However, once the 'pure arithmetic skills' targeted in the arithmetic paper are established, the learner is far better placed to tackle the tougher reasoning questions both in sessions, at school and ultimately on assessment. You can learn a little more about the reasoning papers here.
One of the key features here is the over-learning aspect to lessons and home tasks. At all times we focus on adquiring new skills, but we must always keep in mind the need to retain existing (especially new) learning. The truth is that your child will have 'got' much of the learning that they now struggle with when they first covered it in school - but their understanding was tentative and was quickly lost when the class necessarily moved on to an unrelated area of maths. Our job is to ensure a) we get beyond that tentative grasp of the concept, and b) once it is indeed fully understood, with your support we revisit every week or two, not allowing the learner to forget it again.
Year 8 tuition is two-fold. It is aimed at the child who is lacking confidence and probably struggling in lessons. In the first place we ensure that your child is confident in the areas of maths that have the most use across the year 8 maths curriculum. These are the skills which will come up in a variety of areas of learning and which if insecure will hinder progress in the greatest number of areas of their mathematical development.
Once these 'basics' are firmly established, we will hit the areas that are new and which learners may find more challenging. By tackling these together, in a relaxed atmosphere in which the child can ask as many questions at they like, and by supporting their progress with extra practice at home, they gain confidence as well as understanding, so that when they revisit these areas in class they feel more secure and are better able to access the work presented to them.
In our limited time working together it is not realisitic to turn a struggling child into a world-beater. However, we would measure success as a more confident learner who is beginning to feel a lot better about maths and one who is enjoying more success in class and (depending on their performance under pressure) on assessment.