2 articles Tag English

Getting Ahead with Spires Online Tutoring

Spires Online TutoringWe’ve been toying with the idea of getting Sausage a tutor for some time now. I’ve written before about her lack of confidence in maths and how she’s incredibly bright but seems to get flustered with numbers, and also about how she’s adamant that she wants to do her 11+ and I do worry that her own nerves will get the better of her. The issue we have with private tutoring is two-fold. Firstly, one-to-one tutoring can be expensive, and although it’s possible to buddy up with another family and pay for the tutor together, the second issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere, seriously limiting the amount of tutors who’d even come to us (and giving us a far shallower talent pool to choose from, in much the same way as smaller, rural schools).

The obvious answer is online tutoring, which is where Spires comes in. Spires is an online tutoring site which offers tutors from Oxford and Cambridge and all of their work is done via the internet which means that our location is no longer an issue. It also means that costs are kept down because travel isn’t a worry – a Spires tutor could effectively sit at their desk for eight hours a day and tutor solidly the whole time, without ever needing to move!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about the Spire ethos is that they’re aiming to level the educational playing field by offering top-class tutoring to ANYONE, rather than only priviledged kids at the top schools getting all of the benefits. They say on their site:

“No matter how much the UK’s top universities are said to encourage entrants from the state sector, the reality remains – students from the best independent schools consistently have a far greater chance of entering the best universities.

So we asked ourselves:

What could we offer to maximise the chance of any student getting into a university worthy of their intelligence, ability and potential regardless of their background?

We attended one of the best universities in the world and we were oblivious to just how lucky we had been. Only at Oxford did we begin to appreciate the unfair advantage that going to a top private school had given us in getting into a top university. At school, we were drilled, tutored and trained to get those places.

We were coached over and above the curriculum. If we were struggling with any element of our studies – great tutors were available, around the clock one-on-one – to fix that problem.

We created Spires to provide the one-on-one tutoring experience that gave us the edge in our final exams. Our aim is to make that experience affordable to as many parents as possible and level the playing field in those pre university examination years”

I went to a really good grammar school for my secondary education and was lucky enough to get in despite living WELL out of the catchment area, but my parents couldn’t have afforded tutors because they were expensive (and probably non-existent in a town like Basildon anyway…), although I know lots of other girls have them, so it’s really good to know that my kids won’t be at a disadvantage if they ever need help with their studies.

 

Roadkill

Snow White AnimalsOne of my favourite things about our new house is the immediate surroundings and the wildlife that lives within. Yesterday, we had to drive into town at about 7.30am and it was a glorious day; as we turned the corner out of the end of our road we saw rabbits, squirrels and phaesants, all just happily milling around eating at the edges of the farmers field. When you’ve lived in a very built-up town for the best part of 31 years and the closest you get to nature is next doors’ cat shitting in your sandpit and ripping open your bins, seeing this kind of scene on an almost daily basis is like that scene in Snow White, minus the housework-doing bluebirds! However, there is a downside to all this nature.

Roadkill.

When I first started driving, back in 2002 (*boke* HOW can it be that long ago?!), I used to commute to work along an A-road every day, a drive of about 13 miles but it was then that I first started to notice roadkill. I may not show it, but I can be a sensitive soul and after a few weeks, seeing death and destruction on a daily basis really started to drag me down. I’d be at once repelled by the sight of squashed animals and obsessive about spotting them as I went. It was like a form of self-torture, my brain saying “I’m going to make you feel REALLY bad for the rest of the day” and I was really glad when I stopped doing that commute as it started to mess with my mental health, I think.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen my recent post about having seen a mouse run out into the road while I was driving along, followed by a weasel which proceeded to eat said mouse. It was all very David Attenborough but it was on this day that I realised something. If that weasel-eating-a-mouse had stopped in my lane, I’d have had no choice but to run it over. I was driving along that road at about 40 miles an hour (it’s a national speed limit road with a 60mph max, but I never drive that fast, especially if the kids are in the car) and it’s a narrow country lane with barely room for two cars to pass. There’d be no leeway for me to swerve, and quite frankly, if it’s a choice between Burrito Baby, Sausage and I ending up nose-down in a ditch next to a farmers field and saving a weasel, I know what choice I’d make.

Sausage is even more of a gentle soul than I and I’ve had to try to break it to her gently that these things happen and that one day, we may have no choice but to forge on regardless of whether something goes under our wheels. If I’m honest, I’m absolutely dreading it, for both of our sakes. I know that it’s a very real possibility and when (probably not *if*) it happens it will weigh heavily on us both. Just yesterday we saw a freshly-squished squirrel and the best way I could reconcile it for us all was to say “well, it’s sad for the squirrel, but I bet a crow or a fox will be getting a good meal for its babies today”. It’s all very Elton John, innit? #circleoflife

via GIPHY

I know lots of people will think I’m barmy or a big baby for not wanting to hurt animals, but it’s just not in me to be so carefree about it. Regardless of what type of creature it is, it’s a life – and before you ask, no, I don’t kill spiders or insects either, so my regard isn’t only for those thing which are cute and fluffy!

Do you live in or commute through a rural area? Do you have any tips for avoiding wildlife on the roads, or any stories related? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave me a comment below.