April 21, 2020

The importance of Tailored Learning during the Coronavirus Pandemic


The Government’s announcement to close schools across the UK is a cause for concern for students, parents, and teachers alike. School environments are essential for the personal and intellectual development of children and many students are understandably upset that they may not be able to say goodbye to their fellow classmates and teachers. Most glaringly, a lack of clarity over how GCSE and A-Level results will be calculated justifiably will be leaving parents and students worried about the certainty of their futures.

Despite our current climate, there is still room for optimism within education. Parents still have the capacity to keep their children educationally stimulated by seeking tutoring online. Online tutoring is beneficial to students because it enables students to experience teaching that is tailored specifically to their individual needs and interests. Therefore, providing them with an agency and self-determination, which may not be as easily accessible to them within the school environment.

The challenges of a school environment

Despite teachers’ best efforts to differentiate lessons for their students, it is still common for certain pupils to feel that they are not catered for within the classroom. Student class sizes can be large and are not always streamed to academic ability. As a result, students may feel that their schoolteacher is teaching at a pace to accommodate the majority of the class, making concepts difficult to understand. Conversely, some students might have grown frustrated if they feel that their teacher’s pace is too slow, which can lead to apathy and disengagement with the subject.

Students might find it particularly embarrassing to admit either publicly or privately that they are finding the pace of the classroom challenging. Confessing that you are finding a subject challenging is often internalised as an admission of defeat and can make you feel insecure about your intelligence. For more advanced students, asking to progress further in the syllabus could be deemed as arrogant. Furthermore, teachers might not have the time or resources to teach a select group of students at a different pace than the rest of their class. As hard as teachers try to differentiate their lessons it is simply impossible to fulfil the needs of every student without teaching them one-on-one.

The benefits of Tailored Learning

Motivation and Confidence

Tailored learning through online tutoring is a perfect solution to these problems because it is an excellent way to supplement the learning that goes on in the classroom. By initially asking students what they find challenging and how they want to be stretched, pupils are given agency and imbued with the confidence needed to articulate their concerns clearly. As a result, students are given the space to become more self-determining, motivated, and confident with their work; skills that they are likely to take with them into higher education and their careers. Increasing motivation and confidence is important for the academic and personal success of the student.

Learning Habits

Tailored learning enables students to test, through a process of ‘trial and error’, what learning habits and revision techniques best suit their needs. For instance, a pupil may find that they are actually an aural learner or that they prefer to revise through a visual learning style such as a ‘mind map’. Tutors provide essential techniques and nurture the learning habits of their students by drawing on their own expertise and past experiences. They can also test students on their work thereby alleviating the task from parents with busy schedules to attend to. When students have the ability to understand their own psychology and formalise their learning habits, they will be able to retain information at an advanced level, giving them the tools they need to become independent learners.

Mentor – Student Relationship

Tailored learning only works when there is a level of trust between the mentor and pupil. In these challenging times having a tutor, who is on the side of the student and is encouraging them to be successful, is valuable for alleviating stress, improving wellbeing, increasing academic engagement, and aspiring continued learning.