The United Kingdom prides itself on its long history of culture and academic excellence, which is why so many people come from around the world to study in the UK. For over two decades, Scion Mastery [formerly Angloslav Education] has helped nurture the next generation by providing academic career planning, guardianship, and holistic tutoring. Writing for The Leaders Council, director and career strategist Inga Neaves reflects on how primary carers, be they parents or guardians, can have a positive impact on a child’s education, in addition to how exams can be used as a means of encouraging youngsters to develop desirable character traits.
We believe that parents can have a substantial positive impact on their child’s education. Israel greatly benefited from the influx of the highly educated and disciplined emigrants from the dissolved USSR in 1990. This is because there is something to learn from the academic system of the USSR before the 1980s. It was illegal and an offence against the state to not work past the age of 16 unless one was in higher education or could not work due to severe disability. Such people were branded as being ‘parasites’ on society.
Education was free in the USSR and at the university level, some even received stipends for their accomplishments. This approach could be practically explained as such - students who received a low score of a third at the end of term exams would receive no cash payment for the next term. Students who scored a 2.2 would receive a basic reimbursement, which would cover transport and most of their coffee expenses. Meanwhile, students with the highest score [First Class or 2.1] would be awarded the highest stipend, which would also cover occasional lunches. A student could change their financial situation every term. That is great practical motivation, don’t you think?
Besides, this system would impart a valuable lesson to students: that change is possible and it depends on you! In the USSR, a university education usually lasted five years. Parents were responsible for funding any living costs throughout these extra five years if their child chose to go to university. The state was responsible for providing positions and salaries for academics, which could be a dangerous gamble for both state and family. Students were not pressured nor even encouraged to aim for higher education. Instead, with sufficient knowledge of language and science, a citizen would join the labour market at the age of 16. We are not advocating that this system should be repeated, but it is noteworthy that parents were the ones responsible for encouraging their child towards higher education or indeed persuading their child to become an independent adult as early as possible.
One of our clients shared his personal story with us. At the age of 15, his friend’s mother taught him the difference between a university-educated employee and a school-level employee at the same factory. She said that being a student would mean five difficult years of studying hard whilst struggling with money when he could instead be earning throughout that time. However, if he chose to study for a degree, in five years’ time he would enter the factory as an engineer and give orders to the school-educated labour force.
This anecdote shows the vast influence that a parent can have on their child’s attitude to learning. If you would like your child to have a productive attitude towards their education, you should start by promoting high ambition for a whole family and each member in the family, cultivating a competitive spirit, and setting appropriate goals for the “Scion”. Take the lead and drop the socially imposed anxiety of not wanting to sway them! Navigate your family’s destiny, which often requires implementing discipline. Getting an education in the UK or USA is expensive, so it is up to you parents to help your child make a responsible decision whether to go for it or take a different approach. Teach your scion to be a master of his/her destiny. Furthermore, assign clear responsibilities to each family member, including children. Praise “Scion” for their achievements, rather than out of pity. Cooperate productively with schools, academic coaches, private tutors, life coaches and extracurricular activity leaders to offer them all your help in bringing up your child successfully. Pursue your family’s goals and values. Most importantly, unconditionally believe that your child is a capable individual who needs a supportive guide, not an oppressor.
Tests and exams should be used by carers, by parents or teachers, as a tool to motivate young people to develop desirable character traits, as well as to indicate their progress.
When Scion Mastery first started working with a home-schooled child, we adopted the strategy of regular testing under exam conditions every four weeks, which would then be graded by an independent examiner. Some of the top schools in the country have created similar testing systems where tests are being taken every two to three weeks throughout the year. Regular independently graded tests are an essential part of developing students’ resilience and ingraining the habit of working diligently. Having tests graded by independent examiners ensures that the pupil can write with clarity and allows them to identify gaps in their knowledge. It also provides more accurate final grades, especially in a situation like the present, where exams cannot be taken due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Regular testing teaches “scions of a family” that consistency will always reign superior to mere good luck.
Furthermore, our pupils have regular one-to-one sessions with an academic coach. We take the time to explain the benefits of regular tests for students. These coaching sessions help pupils set themselves a realistic goal and identify the pathway to achieving it, as well as discovering the most suitable exam techniques for them. However, we do understand that schools are not able to deliver such personalised support to each child, and this responsibility is turned into an additional job for parents. We know that, from about the age of 13, children would hear advice and constructive corrections from anyone else, but parents, and we highly recommend sourcing that influencer for your child. It is great if you can hire a professional, but family friends or grandparents with the right attitude and ability to learn, may do the job just as well as a trained coach.
To help ease the burden, we are in the process of creating an online course for parents called ‘Train the Trainer’. It focuses on equipping primary carers with coaching techniques to help the pupil in their family thrive at school and develop advantageous habits.