Online learning is taking the grind out of private tuition for second-level students
The Dublin Academy of Education supports second level students with a mix of expert teaching and communication as well as innovative use of online learning methods
The Dublin Academy of Education is providing a proven package of online, blended and classroom teaching to grind students across the country.
It takes a village to raise a child, and it can take more than one teacher to educate them.
This is why secondary school students often opt for additional tuition, or ‘grinds’. They do so to gain additional insights, and support, to help them perform to the best of their academic ability, particularly in exam years.
It’s an area in which The Dublin Academy of Education excels.
Set up 10 years ago as The Dublin School of Maths, the success its students enjoyed led to demand for tuition in other subjects too.
Soon it was providing weekly grinds to 3,500 students, across 23 subjects. It was clear to founder Chris Lauder that there was a need for a full time 5th and 6th year day school too, which opened in 2018.
The Dublin Academy of Education now offers two full time options: a two year Leaving Certificate cycle and a one year accelerated Leaving Certificate programme.
But it has continued to build its private tuition offering too. As well as receiving part time students in its custom designed school in Stillorgan, it has opened a second tuition centre, in Killester on Dublin’s north side.
This year it is opening its doors even wider, providing a proven package of online, blended and classroom teaching to grind students across the country.
For founder Chris Lauder, the move is the culmination of 18 months of work designing the most engaging online tuition package possible.
As with every development at the school, the online launch is based on the core principle that the key to success in education is the quality of the teacher.
“Over the past decade I have assessed hundreds of teachers and have learned to look for the three things you find in the best of them,” he explains.
“First is knowledge, which is a prerequisite. Next, the teacher has to be able to communicate that knowledge to the student, whether through really interesting examples or, very often, through humour, so that kids can engage with it.”
Third, and perhaps most important, is passion. “You have to love being a teacher. If the teacher doesn’t love what they do, how can they get kids enthusiastic about it,” he asks.
Lauder knows from experience. He studied civil engineering, helped into university by a grinds school physics teacher whose passion for his subject fired up a similar response in Lauder. He credits that teacher for driving him from a C standard to an A1.
“Grinds is a negative word. There is this idea that you are teaching for the exam. But that physics teacher brought me from a lower to the highest grade in physics because of his passion for the subject,” he says.
That A1 didn’t just help him get the points he needed for third level, it “made me question what other self-limiting beliefs I had,” he explains.
It also showed him the transformative power of education. He now witnesses that regularly. “Very often at The Dublin Academy we see how, when someone gets that little boost academically, it spills over to the rest of their life and they just blossom,” he says.
The closure of schools in March accelerated the Academy’s plans to provide online education.
“We had been developing ways to ‘flip’ the classroom so that, instead of a maths teacher spending 20 minutes working out a theorem on the board with students sitting passively looking at them, that would be recorded and the passive learning done at home,” he said.
That way, students can replay a video as much as they like. “Then they can come into the classroom ready to go to work on the topic when the teacher is there to support them,” he explains.
Before exams students will come to Dublin for a socially distanced five-hour intensive exam workshop
Staff mapped out the coursework to identify elements for recording. In line with its ethos, each video class must be engaging for students.
The day after the schools closed nationally, Academy teachers got to work with a team of nine videographers and four editors, to record lessons which were then released to students on a weekly basis. This material was supplemented by tutor classes online – so that students could ask questions – as well as online assessments and feedback.
“It worked so well that we are now offering the same model to our part time tuition students,” he confirms.
Students everywhere can now sign up for an online tuition package that includes 40-plus hours of high quality video material, online live Q&A tutorials and 300 pages of hard copy notes posted to them.
Before exam time students will come to Dublin for a socially distanced five-hour intensive exam workshop. “It’s a whole package,” Lauder says.
Supplement and accelerate
It is designed to augment the teaching students already receive at school, he points out. Young people turn to grinds for a variety of reasons, explains Ciaran Hartigan, principal of The Dublin Academy of Education, and a teacher with 20 years’ experience in the state system.
“Some feel they aren’t getting what they need at school, for whatever reason. It may be that, through no one’s fault, there has been inconsistency as a result of gaps, absences or substitute teachers. Others want to gain the benefit of a different approach, or insights that give them the edge,” he says
Academy students know that over the course of the 29-week academic year, they will have a class in every exam topic in a subject. “This is 75 minutes a week that is so concentrated you can get a week’s learning from it,” he says.
And, because it’s online, students can watch each one as often as they need. The Dublin Academy of Education is offering a free trial with seven and a half hours of specially created ‘back to school’ tuition available online, free access to the Academy’s ‘on demand’ learning platform for a month and study notes, downloadable for free.
To find out more, and access your free tuition, see dublinacademy.ie