Tutorial colleges in the UK

Not everyone can ace their exams. For every image of celebrating youths waving their results for the cameras, there is the less pretty sight of the failures, their expectations dashed. However, with a bit of planning, the exam crash and burn can be a useful life lesson. ‘When an exam candidate slips up at A level, there can be a silver lining,’ says Gerald Hattee, long-time principal of tutorial college Collingham. ‘It can be chance to learn how to learn and to turn oneself around.’  

Tutorial colleges ‘crammers’ as they are unkindly dubbed are known for their intensive teaching and their high price tags. But they take in the good, the bad and the ugly, and can quickly bump up exam grades. Janette Wallis is an editor of ‘The Good Schools Guide’ (www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk)


23, Collingham Gardens, London SW5 (020-7244 7414; www.collingham.co.uk)

This college appeals to children who haven’t quite fitted into the public-school system. It prides itself on its pastoral care, and bridges the gap between the help you would expect to find at school with a degree of freedom. The friendly and flexible environment is often the catalyst needed to fire the will to succeed.

Davies Laing and Dick/Abbey College

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London, Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham (DLD: 020-7935 8411; www.dldcollege.co.uk. Abbey: 020-7824 7300; www.abbeylondon.co.uk)

DLD was founded to provide tutoring for Oxbridge and Colonial Service exams, and is good at stimulating the bright and remotivating the disaffected. Abbey has a knack for turning C grades at AS or A level into A grades via traditional teaching. It has few extracurricular activities: ‘Excluding clutter enables us to ensure teaching is the best it can be.’ Both part of the Abbey DLD Group of Colleges.

Mander Portman Woodward

90-92, Queen’s Gate, London SW7 (020-7835 1355; www.mpw.co.uk)

‘We live or die by our results.’ This large organisation has courses on everything, including Easter revision courses, two-year A level, one-year intensive A level, GCSE, plus courses for medical entrance. The personal touch is impressive for such a large organisation. There are branches in Birmingham and Cambridge.

Basil Paterson Tutorial College (BP)

66, Queen Street, Edinburgh (0131-225 3802; www.basilpaterson.co.uk)

Founded in 1929, BP offers Scottish Highers, Advanced Highers, Intermediates and Standard Grades, plus GCSEs and AS/A levels. The maximum class size is 10, and individual lessons are available.
Ashbourne Independent School

17, Old Court Place, London W8 (020-7937 3858; www.ashbournecollege.co.uk)

Ashbourne has tutorial-style classes of 6-10 (‘as soon as it hits 11, we split it’), and offers an extensive array of subjects, from Vietnamese to sociology (‘if a student wants a subject we don’t provide, we’ll take on a teacher to teach it’). Ashbourne prides itself on the quality of its teaching
and results seem to justify the boast.

Exeter Tutorial College

44-46, Magdalen Road, Exeter, Devon (01392 278101; www.tutorialcollege.com)

This college offers any combination of AS and A level subjects over one or two years, plus GCSEs, and English for overseas students. It has a near 100% entry rate since 1984 to medicine and law, and a track record of getting children into good universities, especially those in the South-West, such as Bristol and Cardiff.

Collège Northside

CP 5158, 750, Chemin Pierre-Péladeau, Saint-Adèle, Québec (00 1 450 229 9889; www.college-northside.qc.ca)

And now for something different. Collège Northside, in Canada, is a tiny school specialising in turning around pupils who have flopped in mainstream British independent schools. Tuition is often one-to-one, and there are never more than three students in a class. There are few rules, but lots of skiing, roughing it and the great outdoors.

Duff-Miller Independent 6th Form College

59 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5JP (0207 225 0577;www.duffmiller.com).

Duff Miller is an independent 6th form college based in the heart of South Kensington which combined with its small class sizes and wide range of academic courses provides students with a solid academic foundation. Amongst the courses available is an intensive a-level resit course which requires thorough dedication and commitment from students, however, given this they have the potential to deliver incredible results.

Revision Courses

If your child is still in school, a good January or Easter revision course could be just the ticket for the resit assault. ‘Understanding “command words” can be key,’ says Dr Jeff Beatty at revision-course specialists Justin Craig. ‘It’s not fair for them to lose points because they didn’t grasp the instruction.’ Try Justin Craig (www.justincraig.ac.uk) and Harrow School Enterprises (www.harrowschoolenterprises.com).

Private Tutors

The one-to-one teaching offered by private tutors is pricey (a one-hour phone consultation with can be £300), but is cost-effective if lessons are mastered quickly. Try Westminster Tutors and the Tutors Group (www.westminstertutors.co.uk; www.thetutorsgroup.com).