No Tuition Policy

NO TUITION

Objective:

The objective of this policy is:

  1. To share our understanding about our beliefs about tuitions to parents, including the disadvantages of tuitions and coaching classes for students as well as the school.

  2. To inform parents about the steps that we intend to take to ensure that our students don’t go for tuitions unless it is by permission from the school, and the consequences in case this still happens.

Policy on Video

What is Tuition defined as under this policy?

Tuition is defined as any curricular support that’s taken on a regular basis in lieu of any form of payment to that individual.

We understand that parents, family members or neighbours / friends may help out an individual student or a group of students with their studies. This is fine especially if it’s not on a regular basis. If this too is on a regular basis then it will become unpaid-tuitions with detrimental effects that are the same as paid-tuitions, even though consequences as listed later in this policy won’t apply in those cases.

Why don’t we want Fountainhead Students to go for tuitions?

The most important reason

The single most important reason is that students need to learn to take responsibility of their own learning and become independent in learning over a period of time. Tuitions serve only as a crutch for students. Students who go for tuitions often think that homework and study are the responsibility of their tuition teacher. Tuitions do not develop independent learning and self study skills. This becomes a major issue with students as they grow up when they need to learn independently.

Why are independent learning and good self-study skills so important?

It is important for parents and students to appreciate the philosophy difference of the educational methods that Fountainhead follows from what we are otherwise aware of:

Aspects

Indian Education (generally)

International Education (CIE & IB)

Examinations

Mainly theoretical and some application orientation

Mostly application based, including case studies and real life-applications

Coursework & Internal Assessments

No or little weightage to coursework

20-35% weightage of final grade comes from each subject’s coursework which includes research reports, student-designed experiments or studies in the sciences & maths; 2 compulsory courses required for getting the Diploma (IBDP), extended essay and theory of knowledge, are assessed completely on the basis of student’s unique and personal reports

Primary Learning strategy

Rote-memorization or identifying patterns (in subjects such as Maths, Sciences)

Focus is on understanding and analysis and application of knowledge rather than putting together a set of facts

Role of independent thinking and self-study skills

Limited; you can get top marks without these skills

Very high role as student needs to make his/her own time management plans, and needs to take initiative in research and self-study

End-results (for career)

Students aren’t prepared for demanding colleges or careers as they lack the skills and attitudes that are required in the 21st century

Students if they do their work on their own develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that will help them to pursue high-quality higher education as well as 21st century careers

It is clear that the kind of academic demands that courses in the IGCSE and the DP make can’t be fulfilled if the student isn’t independent. Therefore, Fountainhead students must become independent in their learning habits. Only if children start taking their responsibility from a very young age, they will become independent in learning when they are older. The school takes responsibility of ensuring that every child attains basic minimum standards in math & language sooner or later (unless the child has learning disabilities), assuming that the parents provide the support that the school expects from them (details of what Fountainhead expects from parents is given in another policy document, titled “Parental Role in Education”.) Once students develop these basic literacy skills in the age-range of 8-10 years, students must become fully independent in their study habits so that they are well-prepared for the academic demands of the future.

There may be cases in the younger age group and in some cases after the primary years, that students still need external support. The school policy allows for that and is mentioned later in this policy. However, it is important to note that this percentage of students is between 5-20% of the student population. On the other hand, there are many academically competent students who today go for tuitions which have no justification.

Other important ways in which tuitions impacts students negatively

Fountainhead School follows a progressive and sophisticated methodology of teaching and the way of teaching cannot be adequately taught by the tuition teachers. This leads to the following issues:

  • In case of tuitions, there tends to be rote-learning which isn’t very useful as we need students to understand and apply. Their concepts are often not clear as they haven’t learnt it using the methods that we use in school (which keep changing as we learn and innovate).

  • Students get used to one on one teaching, makes them dependent, unable to work individually/in groups or follow whole class instruction.

  • Conflicts between the curriculum (terminologies and strategies) taught in school and at tuitions may confuse a student.

  • Students who go for tuitions often lose interest in studies in school as they are doing it in tuitions. Some begin to focus more on their tuitions and may even give importance to the tuition HW than the school HW.

  • Students who have done the course material beforehand in the tuitions don’t find learning the topic exciting or interesting, as they are already familiar with it. The joy of learning is at the core of the school philosophy which is then at risk.

  • They have packed schedules after the school which does not allow any breathing space. They have a lot of self study and course work to do especially in MY, IGCSE & DP and even in the later stages of the PYP. We have found that some students are unable to do their work either due to lack of time due to the extra-classes or else because they lack the skills. Some children are literally crying due to this stress of overwork and over-scheduling. In some cases, we have noticed that such children are unable to sleep well at night and end up coming late to school on quite a few occasions.

  • Parents don’t get quality time with their children due to the packed schedule of the children in addition to that of the parents themselves.

  • Students are required to do their own research work and experimental work in the MY, IGCSE & DP. Academic honesty can get compromised if students start relying on tuition teacher for coursework and assignments regularly. Academic dishonesty is severely punished by the IB and therefore by the school as well.

  • Research has proven that children need some unstructured time to allow for creativity and critical thinking. This is especially true in the younger ages where children need to have free play (alone or with friends) to develop a range of skills including social skills, inquiry, emotional intelligence etc.

How does it impact the school?

The fact that many students go for tuitions has also started impacting the school in direct ways apart from the ones mentioned above:

  • Students going for tuitions are more likely to be disruptive in class and pay less attention. This leads to issues like significant behavioral issues taking away a lot of time and creating a poor learning environment for the students.

  • Children going for tuitions know things beforehand because of tuitions or they get their doubts solved by their tuition teachers. Then they might tease other students for being slow or not smart and this leads to a bullying environment.

  • As more and more students start going for tuitions, teachers will find it less appealing and satisfying to teach disinterested students in school. They will become less accountable for the learning of the students and this will lead to an overall deterioration of quality at Fountainhead School.

  • Students tend to go for tuitions for subjects such as Maths & Sciences more often and this can create a bias towards these subjects whereby they may neglect other subjects in school. This goes against the philosophy of the school whereby a variety of subjects need to be given equal importance.

  • In some cases, through the students, tuition teachers are questioning the methods of the teacher in school due to which the students are unwilling to learn the way the school wants to teach.

  • Some parents have also requested teachers not to take assessments in school on certain days as students have their extra-curricular class assessments to take in that period.

What are the reasons for which parents send their children to tuitions

Reason Title

Details

Real Issues

Our viewpoint

Doesn’t listen

Many parents complain that my child doesn’t sit with me even when I try to make an effort. I have tried many times but it doesn’t work. And therefore I send him to tuitions.

It’s a parenting issue more than anything else. As parents, you need to set the right expectations and environment at home. You need have a disciplined schedule for the student, where s/he learns to put first things first.

As parents you need to take this responsibility and persist. If your kid doesn’t listen to you in academic matters, then you need to understand that this will happen in many other areas of life as well.

Superkid 1

Want my child to excel in everything including academics and extracurriculars (and thereby make him/her a Superkid)! The way to ensure this is to go for tuitions – which will ensure that child is on top as far as results are concerned. And this applies especially in those cases where the student is already doing quite well in school.

Unfortunately, many Indian parents have this tendency to leave no stone unturned to ensure that their children excel at everything without realizing the stress and burden that it puts on them. While such thinking might bring short-term results but it’s not likely to bring long-term results.

Clearly, academically competent students don’t need tuitions. What they need is to learn independent learning and self-study skills, for which they learn to study on their own. That’s hard to do but important to learn.

Peer Pressure

So many other kids are going, and they are doing well as well. That’s why I also send my child, even though I know it’s not right.

Unfortunately, as parents, especially Indian parents, we have a sense of insecurity that others will get ahead of our children – so we do everything to make sure that they don’t fall behind in any way, not realizing that this creates a lot of stress and burden and that time can be utilized by students in other ways.

Please don’t give in to herd mentality. It is more important that students learn on their own even if they don’t get the same marks as others. In the long run, these students will have much better 21st Century skills than others.

No time

Parents say that they are busy due to work / housework / social commitment and are unable to give time.

The real issue is most cases is that most of these parents are unwilling to prioritize spending this time with their children either for homework or in many cases to spend quality time otherwise.

It is true that some parents have busy schedules; but we also know of many busy parents who make efforts, change their schedules, to take out time with the kids. As support is mainly needed in the age group 4-10, at least one parent should make the effort to help out. In rare cases, you may take support of a tuition teacher in this age group – but with prior permission only.

Can’t teach / help

Some parents say that they don’t have the skills to help their children; or that they don’t understand the instructions as it is in English.

Most of these parents haven’t understood the school’s educational philosophy, specifically what support we expect from them as parents related to homework.

a. Parents only need to give the right space and environment so that students can do their homework.

b. For younger kids, parents may need to help out with reading instructions for the homework. Most parents are capable of supporting their kids in the age group 4-10 as the Maths & language is quite basic.

c. Once again, in rare cases, the school may agree with the parent’s need that tuitions are required.

Homework becomes my burden

I keep running behind my kid, but s/he is not interested. It becomes quite stressful for me, so I outsource the task to a tuition teacher.

As parents you need to take this basic responsibility of making your child independent and making him/her responsible for the homework. You need to change your parenting methods in case you are the one who’s taking the burden currently.

Asking children to join tuitions to ensure that the homework is done is simply not required. The homework is between the teacher(s) and the child (more details of the same in the homework policy).

Superkid 2

In the desire for their children to excel, and in some cases so that they can fulfill the parents’ ambitions, some parents push their children in all sorts of areas, including preparation for Olympiads, and many other co-curricular activities.

Again, the desire for their child to excel has to be balanced by the child’s interests, potential and what the child really needs. A child really needs to play apart from doing the basic homework.

Olympiads and such exams are meant for children who are naturally talented. If we end up preparing children for such exams, then it serves no real purpose.

Policy Statement:

Fountainhead School advises parents not to send their children (of all age groups) to attend private tuitions / coaching classes for academic subjects.

Inclusions in the policy

Please note that all of the following are included in this list:

  • All regular tuitions for any or all subjects

  • Most English enrichment classes which in most cases are really just tuition classes for English; please note that if such classes are true English enrichment classes such as Speech and Drama or a reading club, then we are fine with it.

  • All Olympiad classes: as mentioned earlier, Olympiads are meant for high academic achievers. Unfortunately, most parents want their children to compete in it and for that purpose they are sending them for special Olympiad tuitions. In addition, students who do well in the Olympiads tend to bully other students. The school has therefore decided that it will not register students till Grade 7 for Olympiads. Based on the academic performance till Grade 7, the school will itself register a selected set of students from Grade 8 and onwards for the Olympiads.

  • Extensive coaching for intensely competitive examinations which require 3-4 hours of daily coaching as well as another 3-4 hours of self-study for the competitive exams. Doing this intense coaching with the workload for the DP will just not work. Very few will be able to manage both these workloads together.

Exclusions of the policy

However if there is no conflict (that is the above conditions is satisfied) then the following are acceptable:

  • Students attending classes for music, art, dance or sport activity

  • Students attending real language enrichment classes such as reading or debating or drama clubs or math’s enrichment programs such as mental math’s programs, or any such co-curricular or extracurricular activities.

  • Students with clearly identified special needs who wish to work on particular areas or on overall academics (in which case written permission from the school must be obtained)

  • Students may even be given permission to attend subject-specific tuitions when specifically recommended by the class or subject teacher. For e.g. a student coming from a Gujarati medium with very limited exposure to the English language may be recommended to take up study of the English language so as to reach the level of the rest of the students as soon as possible. The same case may apply to someone who hasn’t learnt Hindi before joining Fountainhead School.

  • Students in Grade 11-12 may go for coaching for SAT, TOEFL and other such examinations which are a prerequisite to the entrance to some colleges. It is important that these coaching aren’t intense and are around 2-3 hours a week. Anything more than that will make it difficult for students to focus on their DP assignments and self-study.

Other recommendations

  • We recommend that you be careful when choosing extracurricular activities that are directly in conflict with what’s being taught at school such as:

    • If students are learning to play the guitar or Gandharva music in school, then you can not take up guitar or Gandharva music classes without prior consent from the school.

    • Similarly if the children are learning math in a particular way at school, then any math-enrichment program conflicting with it must also not be taken without prior consent.

    • In art & craft, unless the teacher is doing really creative work with the children, it is better not to take up art & craft classes.

  • More importantly, instead of trying make your kid a superkid by making them attend a large number of classes, let them have some free time and space on a daily basis so that they can play at home or in the neighbourhood, and also have time to read for leisure, do their self-study, and spend time with family.

School provided extra support

The school recognizes the fact that children are at different academic levels at different ages and their progress rate can vary significantly from child to child. Therefore the school identifies children who are significantly behind in academic areas at a particular age, especially in language and math, and plans an in-school remedial program for such kids.

If at some point parent feel that the child is academically weak or not working to her potential, can get in touch with the class teacher for an appointment to discuss the same. In these additional support classes, the child works with a teacher in a small groups and gets his concepts clarified. These sessions may be during school hours or before and after school hours. Once a child is in the remedial education program, she and the parents are expected to take it seriously, attend her remedial sessions and do the assigned homework. It is important to note that here we are not referring to children with special needs or learning disabilities, whether identified or not, which are covered in detail in the Special Education Needs policy.

The school has run a reasonably successful Additional English Language Support (AELS) program in the academic year 2013-14 and has been able to ensure that almost 50% of the students who joined the program have reached grade-level English language competence. Most of the remaining students who continue with the program will reach their grade-level competence after 1-2 terms more of support as well.

Our general observation is that students who are struggling with understand English are the ones who struggle in the other subjects as their reading and comprehension skills are lacking. Therefore if the student can work on his/her English language skills, then in most cases, they will also improve on the other subjects, assuming that they have sufficient and the right support at home as well.

Therefore, parents are encouraged to choose this program over conventional tuitions as we are confident of delivering results and in methods that we know are the right ones rather than what tuition teachers might use.

Cases for which Tuitions can be applied for:

While parents should look towards the school first for support, in case the school is unable to provide the support that a particular student needs, we will be happy to discuss with the parents what options they might explore. These are the cases where this might apply:

  • In a case where there is recognized weak academic area, and the school support program has not helped till now

  • In a case where the student is coming from a background whereby she lacks the skills in 1-2 academic areas in a big way. For e.g. a student from a non-english medium speaking background may need extra support in learning the language. However, the first preference should be to go for the school AELS program and if that isn’t suitable then go for tuitions outside.

  • In case where the parents are unable to provide any support at home (in terms of interest and helping out when needed). Please note that parents who are unable to provide support first need to try and make sure that they provide support. Home and parental support is one of the most important factors of student success in school.

  • In case the school does not have enough teachers to support the child’s remedial program.

Process for application for Tuitions

Parents must write a note (email or written) to the homeroom teacher regarding this. The homeroom teacher will then get back to you for a discussion and a decision will be made with the knowledge of the academic head(s) of the respective program.

How will we track if students are going for tuitions?

The following things will be done:

  • Asking parents formally whether they are sending their child/children to the tuitions. We plan to ask for a term-wise signed declaration at the time of the term-wise individual parent teacher meetings, so that parents can confirm in the presence of the student that they aren’t sending their ward for tuitions.

  • Asking students about the same. In most cases, this step will give us the true picture. It’s important to mention at this point that some parents teach their children to lie. We must remind parents that becoming liars is a much bigger issue for the student’s character than any shortcoming in the student’s academics.

  • Check if someone other than the parents is trying to get in touch with the teacher to get feedback about the student or get clarifications for the curriculum. Please note that tuition teachers aren’t allowed to come to school unless prior permissions for the tuitions has been taken by the parents. Please note that even in this case, tuitions must be for a predefined limited period of time.

  • If the classwork and homework quality seems distinctly different, that might be a sign of tuitions.

  • We will do random checking by asking other parents / students about their friends whether attending tuitions or not.

While It may be difficult to be sure in some cases, we believe that we will get a clear picture in most of the cases. Where we have a doubt, the benefit of the doubt will be given to the student.

Logical Consequences that the school will be applied

  • HRT to call to confirm if tuitions are suspected; if it’s the case then ask them discontinue the tuitions.

  • If it continues then a warning letter will be sent from the Head of School to stop tuition immediately. Parents must confirm in writing to the Head of School within 15 days that tuitions have been discontinued. Otherwise the parent needs to give in writing the reasons for the tuitions and if required, come and explain the same to the Home Room teacher and/or to the Head of School as required.

  • A 1:1 meeting of parents & student will be called with the respective teachers, grade coordinators and other academic head(s) as required.

  • If tuitions persist, then the student will be asked to leave the classes where s/he is attending tuition (subject specific or general).

  • Next step will be to withhold the term / final report card. No assessment / exams / progress feedback will be given from the teachers / school to student / parents. Teachers will not meet such parents.

  • In extreme cases, student will be asked to leave the school.

Conclusion

In most cases where students currently go for tuitions, they don’t really need to. We request the parents to understand why we are against tuitions and work together with the school to make the child independent in learning and develop self-study skills, and ensure that the learning environment at Fountainhead School remains exciting and challenging. Remember, parents it is important to teach your children honesty. So please don’t take a shortcut of teaching them to lie. While we wouldn’t like to, but we will implement consequences listed above in case some parents don’t cooperate.

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