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Private tuition case studies

We have been fortunate enough to work with many youngsters and adults over the past few years.

Many have been academically able and highly motivated and have achieved outstanding results and/or successes - at school, college and university, and in their careers, and in professional and personal life.

Many tutees have lacked self-belief and have needed encouragement and backing, in order to progress to levels they would not have believed possible.

Equally individual attention has helped others to improve markedly in areas in which they were deficient. Some have been struggling badly but, with one-to-one support, have been able to address their weaknesses.

Youngsters, parents of youngsters, and adult clients themselves have been willing to testify in writing as to STEP AHEAD's role in their progress, and extracts from these testimonials can be found on this web-site.

In addition, over 500 written testimonials received - including all quotes (attributed below) - have been placed in presentation files, which can be viewed on request.

Below are a selection of different types of TRUE individual "stories" of clients who have used our services:

Do you want the best for your child?

Linda Muldoon and her husband Brian, a successful state educated businessman, wanted to give their sons Ryan and Jack the best possible education.

However, when the Muldoons started considering applications for Dollar Academy, they became aware of a major gap between the attainment levels of state and private schools.

They concluded their boys would need support 'bridging the gap' to prepare for the stringent entrance examinations to Dollar.

From March 2008, Ryan, then eight, and Jack, then six, began tutoring with Step Ahead.

A successful partnership between tutor and Step Ahead Director George Hawkins, the Muldoons and their children, paid off in mid February, when the boys learned they had passed the test and were both offered places at Dollar Academy.

The family were ecstatic, not least having learned that competition this year had been the greatest ever.

Brian commented, "Step Ahead came highly recommended and the results have been fantastic. The boys were doing well in school, but the tuition has seen them improve dramatically. Their confidence has also soared.

"George tailors the tuition to the individual, and makes it interesting from the outset. Let's face it, no boy wants to do extra school work when he could be out playing football, but Step Ahead had a way of making it more fun.

"We were absolutely thrilled with Step Ahead's service and feel that it is essential to continue with George who is now working to have our boys at an appropriate level so that they can more than hold their own when they start at Dollar in August."

Do you have a typical teenager in your family?

LAURA came to us as a 3rd Year pupil who lacked a great deal of self-confidence in her academic work, and her English and Mathematics required a patient and helpful approach. As her mother stated, she was a strong-willed teenager who felt that she was only capable of achieving Standard Grade work at Foundation or General level.

As the relationship developed with her tutor, she was helped to realise more of her unfulfilled potential and her parents saw a marked improvement in her attitudes, not only in school work but also in her relationships at home.

There was a need to ensure a steady and supportive influence and positive dealings with Laura and her parents, especially when, despite having achieved better results than anticipated, Laura had a serious falling-out with her family and left home. Her mother stated that "a caring, positive and friendly service where individuals are valued and developed" made all the difference in getting Laura back on track and gave her the belief to go on to further and higher education.

Five years later, Laura sent us a photo and a card, which stated, "As you know I hated school. I found that I was dyslexic and I thought that I would never pass any exams. I really can't believe it's me in the photo (in her graduation gown!). I know how much I owe to you for your help, support and advice."

Understanding Laura and her journey into adulthood, we were able subsequently to offer her a job in one of our other businesses, from which she progressed into having the confidence and belief to start her own business.

Do you have a potential high-flier?

CRAIG was always a bright and able youngster. By 2nd Year, he was in a top maths class, and in Credit maths during 3rd and 4th Years. However, he felt that he could aim just as high in a variety of subjects, and after using our services during 4th Year, he achieved outright Credit 1s in six subjects (plus two Credit 2s).

Realising the value of individual tutoring, his parents hired several tutors during 5th Year who helped Craig get four As in Highers (Maths, Chemistry, Biology and History) and, despite barely scraping a C pass in English in his prelims, our tutor presided over an increase of 10%+ in two months, resulting in a B.

In his 6th Year, Craig took Advanced Highers in Chemistry, History and Biology and (a crash course in) Higher Physics.

He is going to study medicine at one of Scotland's leading universities.

Whilst still at school, he received a Rotary Youth Leadership Award after participating in a number of outdoor pursuits as part of a programme designed to enhance his personal development and hone his leadership and team-building skills.

With a warm, caring and supportive family behind him, it is our view that this is a young man destined for a very promising career and future.

Do you have a worrier or under-achiever?

KATIE's parents asked for an initial assessment because they felt that their 9-year old daughter "was not being 'stretched' to her full potential at her primary school" and that she "could achieve more." They stated that she "was demoralized, suffered from stress at school, had low self-esteem and lacked the confidence to try anything beyond the easiest problems."

A year or so later Katie sat the entrance exam for a leading private school and was offered a place.

So what brought about this transformation? The answer is given by her mother:

"From her first lesson, Katie has been comfortable and happy. She has always been willing to attend her lessons and do the set homework. Her motivation is much stronger than before. Her tutor always makes a point of praising Katie and letting her know how well she is working, which has done much to improve her self-esteem and confidence. Her level of academic achievement is far higher than it would have been had we not made the decision to go to STEP AHEAD."

"Katie has remarked herself that it is 'great' to be able to ask all the questions which are never answered in a class of 30+ pupils. We have found that if we mention any problems which she has encountered with her schoolwork, her tutor has gone on to cover these, and has never been unable to explain even the most difficult concept to her."

"In addition to the three R's, STEP AHEAD has always made a point of stressing that there is more to a child's education than what they learn from books and have encouraged Katie to develop her interests in sport, music and drama."

Katie has never looked back since and has achieved outstanding results academically at school and university, as well as awards in other areas, and a fine reputation for contributions to her school and community.

Incidentally, her younger sister followed in her footsteps and benefited from STEP AHEAD at a much earlier age.

Is your youngster being bullied or nervous?

When our Director first met and assessed SCOTT, he could not understand the reasons for this 14-year old not doing better at school. The youngster clearly was bright, motivated and anxious to please, but was clearly under a cloud and appeared to be languishing in Foundation classes: there was something not right !

It took a bit of time for a relationship to build between our tutor and Scott before the 3rd Year pupil revealed that he could not concentrate on his studies because he was being bullied mercilessly.

Consultation amongst STEP AHEAD and parents and school followed, resulting in a number of changes. With the relief of the distractions removed, Scott was able to focus, with his tutor, on building his confidence, identifying his weak points, maximising his learning potential and developing his own study plan (from STEP AHEAD's prototype!)

Scott's parents wrote, "He found the work hard but enjoyable and against all odds gained good (General AND Credit) pass marks in his Standard Grade exams. Scott developed a good working relationship and benefited greatly from his time with his tutor."

Scott went from strength to strength. Initially he had stated that he would leave school when he failed all his 4th Year exams! Having surpassed his expectations, he stayed on at school and achieved passes in Highers and Advanced Highers, before moving on to further and then higher education.

Nearly four years after our initial involvement, his mother again thanked STEP AHEAD - "We really appreciate your ongoing concern and interest in Scott's development" - when we acted as a referee for firstly job opportunities and more latterly for a university place in engineering.

Do you have a gut feeling that (s)he is not 'doing fine'?

We are constantly told by mothers who bring their youngsters for assessments that they really regret not having listened to their hearts and trusting their own judgments (often from a year or several years before), rather than listening to those who tell them that their children are 'doing fine.'

One such case was teenager KRIS whose mother recorded the following: "I find it hard to put on paper what I feel in my heart. When I came to see you with my son Kris, I was so worried about him. His confidence was so low, and my husband and I didn't know where to turn to."

"With your help and guidance over the past year, Kris has become more sure of himself and his academic abilities. He now holds his head up. He can organise himself and his studies. Thank you so much for your time and patience. We are so grateful. You do a wonderful job and have a kindly manner."

Are you an adult needing help ?

GARRY admitted that he had achieved nothing while at school and could not leave quickly enough. He had never read a book from cover to cover until he came to STEP AHEAD at the age of 27 years. He revealed that, whilst in his late teens, he had been involved in a lot of mischief and just wanted to be "one of the boys," who drove flash motor-bikes and spent lots of time in pubs.

Garry decided that his dead-end job was not enough - especially when he started going out with a woman who was a successful professional - and realised he needed educational qualifications in order to get himself a better job. Although he acknowledged that he only had a basic level of English and Maths, we discovered an amazing talent in him - an ability to write! Under our tutelage, he began to record all sorts of thoughts and ideas - in both prose and poetry - and it soon became obvious that his writing was easy on the eye and pleasing to read and enjoy. By his own admission, his confidence soared - although he was reluctant to reveal his talent to his friends.

Garry would admit that it took him some time - several years - to take himself from where he had begun to where he wanted to be, namely with the sufficient literacy, numeracy and oracy skills, that would allow him to compete for professional recognition.

It was with the greatest satisfaction and pride - for him and us - that Garry passed all the exams and tests required to become a Firefighter. Understandably delighted, he praised STEP AHEAD: "I can't emphasise enough the passion and commitment that George has for teaching. Thanks to STEP AHEAD, I've surpassed my goals and more!"

Is your child's potential not being realised?

"As his mother, I had been advised by his Guidance Teacher during 4th Year that it would be in STEVEN's interest to try to obtain an apprenticeship or go to college, as he doubted my son's ability to successfully study for Highers."

In fact, Steven's school had earlier gone further and had told his mother that he would not achieve "decent" Standard Grade results, so it was with that comment ringing in her ears that a tearful mother first spoke to us. When we first met Steven he was very subdued - at times, silent - and fairly unresponsive. It took a great deal of patience, time and effort to convince Steven that he had the ability to prove his school wrong. His passion for sport proved to be the catalyst for us as we used this to persuade him to produce written sports reports for English and league tables for Maths!

We have to admit that his mother took great delight in informing his school just how well he did in his Standard Grades (once he had responded to our promptings) and that he would be returning to pass a number of Highers! This he did, with the help of several tutors --- and then confounded his doubters by getting several Advanced Highers -- and subsequently a university degree from Aberdeen!!!

STEP AHEAD continued to assist him in providing references for courses and prospective employers.

Want your son or daughter to get an independent school place?

"We were somewhat taken aback by the required standard my children were expected to achieve to even be offered a place (in an independent school)." A comment (from an anxious parent) which we hear week in, week out. This Dad continued, "We were very keen to see all three of our children successfully enrolled."

Despite the fact that two of his children were in their early primary years, he was helped to understand and appreciate that much work had to be done to reach the level even for five and six year olds, never mind someone (his eldest) hoping to go in to senior school.

The partnership we encourage between home and STEP AHEAD is often critical and in this instance it was essential. All three children, and their parents, encompassed our individual programmes and adopted the rigour we require. Their commitment was total as they followed the study plans.

Theirs was ample proof of our contention that tutoring is best started as early as possible in the life of a youngster.

"Give us the child until (s)he is seven, and we shall give you the (wo)man" is a well-known educational maxim.

Many parents have regretted waiting, but this particular family listened to our advice - and reaped the rewards when all three children were offered places (as have nearly ninety other successful STEP AHEAD clients).

Whilst it was a team effort, it was very gratifying to receive the following in writing: "This success is in no small way down to the dedication, professionalism and tutoring you provided our children. The academic support and the personal support to all three has been exceptional."

"The difference you have made to this family cannot be under-estimated, and indeed the real fruits of your labour will be harvested by our children throughout their lives."

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