Many years ago when I was studying in one of Singapore’s top secondary schools in Singapore, Mathematics used to be my problem subject and I remember going for tuition class at Lucky Plaza in the bid to improve my grades.
Unfortunately, I benefited little from tuition there. With so many students per session, the tutor had little time to coach each of us individually and I always left the class as clueless as before. After a while, my mum found me another private tutor who only coached a maximum of three students per session; I went on to ace my ‘O’ Level Math and the rest is history.
Fast forward to the present and I guess small-group tuition continues to be the preference for many parents and students after all these years.
Ms Chen, Principal at Future Academy, shared with me on her tuition centre’s rationale for keeping class sizes small for better results. A Ministry of Education (MOE) scholar and an RGS ex-teacher, Ms Chen boasts more than 10 years’ experience in giving tuition and is now a top tutor in Math and Physics.
What is Future Academy?
Ms Chen: Future Academy is a tuition centre which I started with some of my friends who are also teachers. We are now an MOE-registered private school offering high-quality tuition for Upper Primary/Secondary/Junior College levels in the following subjects:
Mathematics & Competition Math & DSA Math
Chinese (CL and HCL)
Through classes to help students cope with their school studies and also for those preparing for their PSLE, ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level exams, our mission is to cooperate with academic schools to help students improve and develop so as to ensure an excellent future.
How qualified are the tutors at Future Academy?
Ms Chen: We cannot stress enough the quality of our tutors, who are all NIE-trained and experienced teachers. Among our team are top MOE/IP Schools Teachers and top JC Lecturers. Some of us are Master degree/PhD holders, International Olympiad Gold Medalist Coach, Singapore Math Olympiad Gold Medalist, Science Faculty Dean’s Lister or ex-A-STAR Scholar, etc.
Why is small group tuition better?
Ms Chen: Some parents may think that one-on-one home tuition is best for their child because of high teacher to student ratio. However, it may not be the truth in practice. Sometimes, home tutors merely help students to complete their homework, which in the long run, will not help or encourage students learn independently. Moreover, students who get tuition at home may be subject to other forms of distraction, e.g. family members being around, etc.
Truth be told, generally in Singapore, good tuition teachers do not give one-to-one tuition, especially at students’ homes. Otherwise, it can be very ineffective in terms of cost for parents to slowly try out individual teachers before deciding on a suitable one.
At Future Academy, we conduct tuition for two to five students at a time and offer a more structured approach that aims to not only help the student score well in a subject but also arouse the student’s interest and even promote self-study. So we focus on methods rather than formulas; understanding of topics rather than memorisation, good learning habit rather than a “duck-stuffing” type of teaching.
Our small centre provides a cosy and conducive environment for learning and sharing of resources – there’s always a lot of positive peer influence. Groupmates readily discuss about their other school subjects after they finish tuition and friendships have been forged among many of the groupmates/tutors. In fact, some of my tutees have annual gathering with me and I also keep in touch with many of my former tutees.
What can students and parents expect?
Ms Chen: Being experienced school teachers ourselves, we are able to share the flow and expectations of the current school curriculum. For example, if a student is focusing on taking a DSA paper, we are able to share the skills and knowledge required as some teachers from Future Academy have set the actual paper before.
We have experts in the IP syllabuses who can effectively give tuition to students from IP schools. These students’ parents can likewise consult us on the academic path their kids can pursue in junior college, university or beyond. As in all our tuition classes, notes and worksheets are prepared for every lesson; homework is also give to students.
I believe that self-driven study is a sword which empowers students for the future, so at Future Academy, we emphasize on making students understand concepts rather than just memorizing formulas or giving the final answers. Formulas learnt can be forgotten in months, if not weeks, so I always stress on the learning outcomes and to help in the students’ all-round development. In terms of Math, I try to make students understand that it is not just about counting numbers but that the subject can actually nurture one’s analytical skills required in one’s future career.
We always assess individual student’s needs and situations, e.g. whether a particular kid is already overwhelmed by schoolwork or can still afford time to do more worksheets. Unlike certain commercialised tuition centres, which utilise the same worksheets over the years, our tutors here prepare updated materials catered to individual students.
Students can expect to do something over and above their school curriculum. For example, those in P5 can get a headstart on P6 topics or start training for their PSLE Chinese. Primary school kids who are more used to the model approach will be taught how to solve problem sums with Algebra is so that they can prepare themselves for how Math will be taught in secondary school.
You’ll find at our centre a very relaxed atmosphere. Students may stay back to do some self-study, when space permits. And if they encounter any questions about their schoolwork, I also don’t mind helping them out in between my tuition classes.
Since we recognise the importance of the parent-tutor partnership in a student’s education success, we constantly update parents about their child’s progress, whether verbally, by SMS or a written progress report.
Who are the students attending Future Academy?
Ms Chen: Students in Future Academy are from variant schools. Many secondary school students who come to us are from the top/independent schools in Singapore, whether from Express Stream or IP, and many of the primary students we teach, especially those in the Math competition class, are from the Gifted Education Programme.
Coincidentally, a lot of them actually used to attend other commercialised tuition centres but finally decided to transfer to Future Academy as they recognise that we offer good quality tuition.
We are seeing more students joining us through word-of-mouth recommendation from their friends or other parents. It is not unusual for siblings to sign up for a few classes in different subjects and/or levels at our centre.
What are some of your students’ achievements?
Ms Chen: Here is a snapshot of what many of our students have achieved:
Failed in Math in JC 1, but scored A in A level, majored in Math in NUS
Good O/A level result , i.e. A1/A
Great improvement from B3 to A1 in 6 weeks, F9 to B3 in 2 months, E7 in prelim to A2 in O level
IP HL Physics/Math full marks
Managed to get into top secondary school/junior college
Superb achievement: International Math Olympiad Gold Medalist
Average student to full marks scorer in school exam (top IP school student)
Testimonials from Future Academy’s students and parents
“His ability to turn things around is testament of your patience with him, concern, coaching skills and amount of effort committed.”
-Mr Tan, parent of a perfect scorer (L1R5 as 6) in O level 2015, who performed unexpectedly well
“I was able to increase my confidence in all the topics and also draw links and connections between different topics…I managed to score full scores of 7 in IB HL Physics and Mathematics… Tuition classes at Future Academy were really enriching, interesting and enjoyable at the same time.”
– Shanice, student
“Tutor Chen is a very passionate teacher who has helped me improve my grade from a B3 to an A1 in 6 weeks (1 lesson per week). She gives challenging questions that expose me to the different types of tricky and challenging examination questions. I would definitely recommend her to anyone.”
“Finally my child realised her problem with the guidance of tutors in your centre. She says tutors at Future Academy are superb teachers!”
-Mrs Chua, parent
“My daughter India’s Maths has improved rapidly. India has quickly advanced through the sets at her school and, just as pleasing for me, has developed a real enthusiasm and confidence for maths.”Future Academy tutors are obviously highly qualified but also excellent teachers. These two (qualities) don’t always come together.”
– Fran, parent
“I have not only improved academically, I have also gained confidence to challenge myself to even more strenuous questions which has allowed me to easily score an A in most of my topical tests. Tutors in Future Academy are indeed amiable teachers who are truly passionate in teaching. They are sincere in helping and bringing education to others.”
– Alycia, tutee since P5 to Sec 4 (from Year 2011 to current)
175A Bencoolen Street #06-05, Burlington Square, Singapore 189650