Effective GCSE and A-Level teaching in Core Academic subjects
Maths, English, Physics, Chemistry and Biology – at both GCSE and A-level. In addition, we also cover History, Economics and Psychology for A-level.
Benefits and Outcomes of the courses
- Courses are well structured and taught by expert teachers who help identify and improve students' areas of weakness – some of the very best teachers of A-level and GCSE.
- Salient topics are taught, reinforcing key aspects of the specified course –the teaching helps students gain a better understanding of the concepts.
- Questions set for practising and meaningful feedback provided for exam technique mastery.
- A focus on mastery of exam technique, so your child learns the skills needed to apply their knowledge more effectively and gain valuable marks in the exam.
- Effective small group teaching – Individual support within a small group setting.
Results for your child
- Your child gains a much-improved subject knowledge and mastery of exam technique.
- A boost in confidence in problematic areas of specified
- A realistic chance of improving by one or perhaps two grade boundaries. Yes, even at a relatively late stage of exam preparation.
- Drastically reduced stress and anxiety in the weeks and days leading to the summer exams.
- Improved exam grades in subjects that matter most.
Features of our courses
- Our module is individual support within a small group setting. A combination of both small-group and one-to-one support.
- Long established, with a proven track record of helping GCSE and A-level students achieve top grades in core academic subjects.
- High quality and dedicated teachers – whom top private schools would be proud to have. These professional educators possess a history of bringing out the best in exam candidates.
- There is the option of either In-Person teaching at our centre or Online Teaching via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
A list of the courses we offer
- Saturday classes – our flagship programme for GCSE, A-level and KS3 in core academic subjects – more information on this page
- Intensive Revision – two day (GCSE) or three-day (A-level) per subject during school holidays
- Excel iLearn Flex – flexible, live online teaching – limited to Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology GCSE at present
- Consultation tuition – flexible one-to-one teaching by a top teacher (limited availability)
Mr. McManus BEd (Hons) MA(Ed) NPQH)
Our Senior Physics Teacher and Head of Science speaks about the impact of the Saturday Classes in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. He talks about the benefits the revision classes bring in maximising students' potential and enhancing their understanding of the topics - allowing them to obtain top exam grades in Triple Science and Combined (double) Science.
Mr. J Smith MA Oxon - Mathematics
In this short video, Mr. J Smith compares the differences between the two-day or three-day intensive revision courses and the regular, weekly Saturday Classes for GCSE and A-level students. In his explanation, you can see the benefits for each of the two courses, and how they can help to make a difference to students' understanding and examination performance.
Dates for 2023-24 Academic year – St James, Olympia centre
|2023-24 Academic year - Olympia dates|
|07-Oct 2023||14-Oct 2023|
|INSET & Open Day - Olympia||Diagnostic Tests||Diagnostic Interview|
|Term 1 - Autumn 2023|
|Half Term||1st teaching Saturday||2nd teaching Saturday||3rd Saturday||4th Saturday||5th Saturday||6th Saturday||no classes||7th Saturday||8th Saturday|
|Term 2 - Spring 2024|
|1st Saturday||2nd Saturday||3rd Saturday||4th Saturday||5th Saturday||Half Term (no classes)||6th Saturday||7th Saturday||8th Saturday|
|Term 3 - Summer 2024|
|1st Saturday||2nd Saturday||3rd Saturday||No classes||
|4th Saturday||5th Saturday||6th Saturday||7th Saturday||8th Saturday|
GCSE Fees for 2023-24
- new structure from September 2023
- GCSE & KS3 - fees per term - (Term 1 has 10 Saturdays - extra 2 Saturdays for D & A - Diagnostic and Alignment. Term 2 has 8 Saturdays and Term 3 also has 8 Saturdays). There is a total of 26 Saturday in an academic year
|GCSE & KS3- fees per term - Saturday Classes|
|5 subjects||4 subjects||3 subjects||2 subjects||1 subject|
|[English, Maths & Triple Science]||Maths, English & Combined Science or any 2 Science subjects for Triple Science students||[Maths & Combined Science -OR English & Combined Science OR Triple Science]||[Maths & English OR Combined Science or any 2 Science subjects for Triple Science students||[Maths OR English]|
(includes D & A see below for details)
Fees for 2023-24
- new structure from September 2023
(same fees for both in-person and online)
A-level - fees per term - (Term 1 has 10 Saturdays - extra 2 Saturdays for D & A - Diagnostic and Alignment. Term 2 has 8 Saturdays and Term 3 also has 8 Saturdays)
|A-level - (AS or A2)- fees per term - Saturday Classes|
|1 subject||2 subjects||3 subjects||4 subjects|
|Total for Term 1 - Including Diagnostic and Alignment - a total of 10 Saturdays|
|Fees for each of Term 2 or Term 3 - a total of 8 Saturdays for each term|
D & A - Diagnostic and Alignment
This is £345 and is compulsory - paid Term 1 only. This is for the first two Saturdays - assessment, interview and profile included. This is already included in the fees stated above for Term 1.
|(20 hours per subjects at AS and A2 level,
12 hours at GCSE)
|Intensive Revision fees
(2 full days per subject for GCSE and 3 full days for A-level)
|Number of Subjects||GCSE & IGCSE||A-level
AS & A2
In-Person Teaching – Additional Information on Lessons and Fees
GCSE & KS3 (in-premises at our centre)
Every Saturday, students in classes of no more than 8 will spend:
- 60 minutes on English
- 60 minutes on Maths
- 60 minutes on each Science subject - Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
- Students who are taking Combined Science (double) spend only two periods on science subjects. They still cover Physics, Chemistry and Biology but they rotate. For example Chemistry and Physics for a few week, then Biology nan Chemistry and so on.
Most students spend between 4 and 5 hours with us every Saturday, studying Maths, English and science subjects. The timetable and the fees structure encourage students to do four or five GCSE subjects. The fees work out more cost effective that way. However, a minority of students do just a couple of GCSE subjects.
Average class size at GCSE and KS3 is between four and six students per class.
Classes are usually held from 9:30am to about 2.45pm but sum fish at about 3.30pm
Our Grade Guarantee applies to students who study for the whole academic year in Y11 and the whole two years at A-level.
There is also 1 hour of homework set after each lesson.
A-level (AS or A2) - in-premises at our centre
Every Saturday, students in classes of no more than 6 will spend 90 minutes on each subject, with up to 4 subjects covered that day. Most students take about two subjects.
Classes are usually between 9.30am and 4pm .
The main exam boards we cover are AQA, Edexcel and OCR and tuition is tailored to the exam board of each student.
Our grade guarantee applies.
Excel in Key Subjects also offers Christmas and Easter Revision, as well as One to One Tuition.
Please note that some A-level classes finish about 10 minutes earlier. This is usually where there are only about two students in the class, as opposed to the usual three or four). The allocated time is more than sufficient to cover the material required in great depth. There is about 2 hours of homework set after each lesson. Where there is only one student, the lesson last for 60 minutes instead of 90.
Diagnostic and Alignment (D&A)
Diagnostic and Alignment (D&A) is compulsory irrespective of when a student starts. This session takes place before the start of the actual lessons. The diagnostic session requires a student to sit for a test based on the subject(s) in which the student is enrolled. The test enables us to know the strengths and weaknesses of the student. The diagnostic is followed by an interview with the subject teacher(s). The teacher asks quite a number of questions to the student based on his/her performance in the diagnostic test and on his/her past exam results and school reports. This is also an opportunity for the student to express himself/herself. Post-interview, we create a specific profile of the student and the process of alignment starts. By alignment we mean the process of placing the student in the group that represents attributes similar to him/her.
In simple words, the student will be placed in a group of other students with the same academic level. After the D&A, the most appropriate learning package reflecting the unique requirements of the student is designed and the student is taught according to that plan.
The most popular combination at GCSE and KS3 are English, Maths and Combined Science (for those who are taking Combined or Single Science). This is treated as 4 Subjects at EIKS. It usually results in five GCSE exam grades: two for English, two for Science and one for Maths. Only Triple Science students who are also taking both Maths and English will pay for five subjects. They will spend 5 hrs studying each Saturday and obtain six GCSE exam grades at the end. For all students, a full academic year consists of a period of Diagnostic and Alignment (the first two Saturdays). This is followed by three terms, each term consisting of 8 Saturdays.
The usual payment method is to pay the D&A and first term's fee as initial payment. Thereafter, payment for the second term and then the third term three weeks before term starts. A monthly payment option is also available.
Online and in-person
Some students attend in-person at our centres, while other attend online. The fees and the number of teaching minutes are the same. for both online and in-person. Our online teaching is just as effective as in-person and below is one of the reasons why that is the case.
The teacher will use a camera and you can see the teacher when they are speaking, except when they are sharing a presentation with you, in which case you can see their screen. We insist that the student uses a video camera too, so that the teacher can see them. The body language is very powerful, and is an essential aspect of the learning process.
Enrolment and Payment Details
We will send an application form – to be completed and payment made. The first fee to be paid is usually for the first term (the first 10 Saturdays); however, some choose to pay for the full academic year at the start. In the case of a full payment, there is a slight reduction in fees.
|How to Pay:
Use your child's name as reference when making a payment.
A parent or student who introduces us to another parent will receive a voucher of at least £50 or the parent will receive a discount of up to 3% (whichever is greater) on the next instalment of fees they are paying. If a parent wants to enrol a second child, there is a 5% discount on the whole fee for the second child. For the first child or whichever is the highest fee, will pay the full fee)
Rules on fees (Saturday School)
- Our policy has always been that if someone enrols and pays for future academic years, the fees at the time they enrol apply - with all the usual rules
- Full payment for the academic year - 3% discount (if for two children or more , and paying in full for the whole academic year, this will be 8% in total)
- Termly payment - No discount for termly payment, but they will pay this year's fee for all three terms and any increase in fees within the academic year will not apply. If two children, there is a 3% reduction for the second child when paying termly.
Monthly payment - only available if joining 6 months before the end of the course.
Monthly instalments are also available for those who are studying more than two subjects and committing to the full academic year or the remainder of the year from when they start. A payment of £5 applies per instalment. If there are two children and paying monthly, the £5 per instalment will be waived.
Payment is by standing order only on the 28th of each month and all the fees ideally need to be completed by 28th March of the Academic Year at the very latest.
- The only way we take card payment for monthly payment is that, when you make the first payment, you are authorising us to take payment on the 28th day of every month and the payment will be deducted automatically each month from your card without contacting you. However, an invoice will be sent to you to confirm payment
A minimum of one clear term's notice, in writing, is required if a parent wishes to withdraw their child from the Saturday school. This is for those who are paying for the full academic year or termly. No refund is applicable for those who pay monthly, irrespective of when they choose to leave or reason for leaving. Please ensure that you read the terms and conditions for full information. Monthly payments are not applicable for Intensive Revision.
A frank message to a caring parent – January 2023
Dear Fellow Parent,
I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you some facts, ideas and opinions, and thereby offer one or two suggestions which you may find useful. Despite my experience and the expertise that I have gained while serving in various positions in the secondary education sector in England since 1993, I will always consider myself a parent first and a teacher second.
Before COVID-19, there had always been constant changes in the English education system and all the pandemic has done is to widen the already huge chasm in education between children from different backgrounds. It must be said that, in my view, it is not just about rich and poor. From what I have seen, how much parents value education is more of a determining factor in their child's success than how wealthy they are.
I would like to briefly touch on three points on issues in the education system at present, and the effect they may have on your child.
- The legacy of COVID and variations in how it affects different children
- Industrial actions and the effect on travelling, students' education and health. In this case, the potential effect of teachers striking in the spring of 2023
- How the rise in cost of living may affect how much the parents invest in their children's education
Legacy of COVID-19 on some school children
I don't know if you've ever called an organisation and a recorded message comes to tell you that they won't be able to attend to you on time, as, due to COVID, staff are working from home and all that. Sadly, so many businesses - including government departments are still hiding behind the pandemic, and giving that as the excuse for their laxness. Yes, the pandemic is real; however, some could do better than they are doing, despite COVID.
Now let's be more specific about school children. For me, what is more worrying is the social skills that young people have missed out on over the two years of COVID due to lockdown and school closure. This is more important for their future development than the teaching they have missed. For a young person, two years of little social person-to person interaction, as opposed to digital chat, is potentially damaging in the long term.
I'll explain the reason why I said the teaching that young people missed worries me less. First of all, the children are being educated and are learning all the time - even those who received very little or no teaching during lockdown. Learning goes on all the time, even if it's not the school work or the national curriculum. Yes, we should not ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people are behind in the three Rs - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic - and also in their academic curriculum. I accept that this is damaging for those young people and if we (the government, the school and the parents) do not do something about it, it is not only damaging to those young people but also to society in the long term. As far as exam grades are concerned, if all children are equally affected, it will not have any effect on how many students get the top grades and so on. The issue we have is that young people are not affected equally. It varies very widely how much children are affected due to the school they go to, where in the country they live and perhaps how much parents are able to support them. Just to expand a little on the last point - parental support. Depending on the age of the child, the subject, how much time the parents have and so on, the parents may need to find an external source of provision to support their children.
What we have is children who receive very little teaching from school, but who were able to get additional support do well despite COVID. Observation tells me that some schools coped very well and used the sometimes meagre resources they had to provide well for their pupils - both during and after the lockdown period of COVID. On a personal level, my own children are lucky not to have been affected very much by COVID. Although my son decided to change from Geography to History, after more than one third of the GCSE course had already been taught. We had to find him a tutor to assist him in catching up, and thankfully he thrived and got the top grade in the end.
Just before I finish this part, I would like to mention something that came up in a conversation with one of my colleagues not so long ago. He is teaching as a tutor as part of the government catch-up schemes after the pandemic and he told me that half the children do not turn up for the lessons. This is a scheme that is costing the school and the government a lot of money. I will be blunt on where I put most of the blame on that. The parent(s). If you are reading this, I know with almost absolute certainty that you are not one of those types of parent. The kind of parent that can be bothered to read my rather long piece of writing tend to be those of us that people often, wrongly, call pushy parents! I call us concerned and caring parents. We do not hesitate to put our money where our mouth is. I'm not just talking about the investment in terms of cash. Yes, money is part of it; however, for many parents, the investment of time, physical and emotional energy in striving to get the most out of our children's education - teenagers in particular - is more costly than the cash.
It is hoped that the government, with the support and cooperation of schools, NGOs and perhaps education charities, will do something to address the growing chasm in the education divide in society. In many cases, it will be the parents who do most of the heavy lifting to support their offspring to fulfil their full potential at GCSE, A-level and beyond.
Rising cost of living and potential effect on children
It is very depressing to hear in the news the level of poverty that some children are enduring in Britain. I am of the view is that much more can be done to help the very poor - especially the children. To be factual, a lot is being done already; however, as a decent and compassionate society, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The present global economic situation is perhaps worse in Britain than it is in most other industrialised countries. The high cost of shelter, mortgage and rent and ongoing industrial action makes things more challenging than perhaps in other comparable countries.
The thing is that that children seem to be less aware or concerned about the effect of the economic climate on their parents. Children still expect you to fill up the refrigerator with food, and replenish the ever diminishing loaves of bread and snacks - especially if you have a teenager. There is a situation in my own household at the moment, as my son has just decided to become a vegetarian, and he is toying with the idea of being a vegan. When my son told his mother to stop buying meat, as I am the only one who cares much about it, I was not overly concerned for two reasons: I eat very little red meat anyway and also this will save us money. The challenge comes when we realise how challenging it is to find other protein outside meat and fish that teenagers find edible.
Back to the main issue, I will again start by taking a philosophical approach. Whilst recognising that economic situation is very challenging to the vast majority of people irrespective of their income level, it is also the case that the talk about recession creates more fear and anxiety than is merited.
Industrial action and the effect on children's education
Speaking philosophically, and in my view, the order of basic human needs is Health (including food), Shelter and Education. Sadly, two major events at present - the industrial action and economic challenges - high cost of food, heating, mortgage and rent on one hand, the strike actions by nurses, doctors and teachers on the other, cut right to the core of the three basic needs. This will potentially have an adverse effect on children's education. Again, there will be variation on the extent to which different children are affected. The one that has been going on for the longest is the transport workers strike, which has the least effect on children's school education.
Let's focus our attention on education for a moment. As the legacy of the pandemic is still lingering, teachers going on strike is being added to young people's life experience, all in a short period of time. It is a waste of time to speak about all the politics of it here. I have no interest in discussing whether industrial actions are justified or not, I just want to speak as a parent. This is about paddling your own canoe - well, as a parent, with your children in that canoe. The thing about children is that they grow so fast. Your daughter or son will only be 16 or 18 once. What they achieve in those formative years will shape their future.
Please don't even start to talk about exam resits, as it doesn't work. According to a Times article a few years ago, at GCSE, for example, between 7 to 11% improve on their grades at GCSE in Maths and English, respectively, when they take them for the second time. Despite the fact that, rightly, the GCSE in particular has been made to be more challenging in the last few years, the content is still such that, with a focus and the right level of support, your child does not have to be a genius to do well at GCSE and A-level. Even with the proper exams, almost a quarter of A-level grades that are awarded are either A or A*, and this is in proper exams and not teacher assessment. Having said that, one must not take anything away from the dedication of many young people and the support of teachers and parents in achieving top grades. We have to remember that it is not correct to expect everyone to get an A grade in everything. It is all about a child fulfilling their potential, as a C grade will be quite an achievement in some cases. What young people achieve in the crucial four-year period of between the ages of 14 and 18, tends to determine the path of their future. These years are also a critical period in their emotional and social development. When we look back in years to come, we can always say one of two things. Some will say that, despite the pandemic that started in 2020 and economic challenges that followed two years later, we tried our best and it worked out okay for our children. Others will say that these two events severely affected our children and they did not do as well as they could have done. It's not a black and white situation, as there is a wide grey area in the middle. All we can do it try our best and see how our children react and what they make of the opportunities that exist and the challenges they face. As I always say, when it comes to the teenagers fulfilling their potential, we parents are just a catalyst, but nevertheless an important one in this rather complex chemical reaction. Unlike in chemistry, we are a catalyst that often gets used up!
In-person and online lessons at Excel
At Excel, we have gone back to providing in-person teaching at our centres since September 2021. Although we are also teaching a minority of our students remotely, for whom online is the best solution.
We are of the view that in-person lessons are the most effective for young people. However, given the lesson we have learnt and the expertise we have developed during the pandemic, our online provision is very effective.
We are very pleased about how effective the teaching we have been providing via online video lessons has been. Having said that, there can never be any room for complacency, as we must keep finding ways to further improve the quality of education we deliver. I believe there are two key factors that made our online teaching so successful: providing one-to-one tutorials in addition to small-group teaching, and the fact that we insist that every student switches on his or her video camera during the lesson, so the teacher can see them.
We all know how instrumental technology is to the learning process and we must continue to develop our expertise in the use of devices to communicate, learn and entertain ourselves. Given the right piece of technology, things can be done with speed and convenience. Years ago, one had to order past exam papers and wait for perhaps one week for them to arrive in the post. This is no longer the case, as you can access them online in seconds. For many teenagers, revising with past papers involves browsing through the question, thinking about the answer and then checking the mark scheme to see if the answer they thought of is the correct one. This is not a very effective way to revise. A few past papers must be printed out and the student should answer the questions under exam conditions. It is recommended that, for each exam paper, they attempt at least two or three under exam conditions, as part of their preparation. They should use between five to six past questions for each paper, but they only need to do two or three under exam conditions. It is more time-consuming but more effective.
The main reason why it is important to print out the question and do it with a pen on paper is that the vast majority of exams are still done in that way. This is good for handwriting practice and also for getting used to the timing of the exam.
I wish you fellow parents all the best in getting your teenager to understand and appreciate that you are trying your best to help them succeed. It is my sincere wish that they cooperate with you and work hard enough to see themselves succeed as well!
Thank you for investing your time to read this message. My team and I at Excel are looking forward to working with your family to help your child to achieve his or her full potential in the core academic subjects.