Leaving Cert results 2013, A year later – the transformation of The Homework Club to Confidence Club

So it is one year on - our first state exams results since transforming The Homework Club into Confidence Club and I have been asking myself what are the real results? 

In the past I found myself dancing around the real issues with students - as parents and students alike thought they were attending some form of "grind school" we spent more time by stealth in the background getting to the real reasons behind what was going on ... it was often a case of me waiting for an opportunity in the hall to chat casually to a student or waiting for the chance when a parent collected their charge. 

Now it is all a lot more straight forward and upfront - which means less time waiting for the chance to talk about what is really happening. All too often the maths result or other challenge is just a factor in what is really happening in a young persons life. 

This means a year later I can say that we have worked with real people, real problems and in record time. Many of the students I have met have required no more help from me or my team after the initial hour and a half meeting. Their whole lives have improved not just the "maths problem" or the "english essay rows". The time my team have spent in peoples house has been less that we would have needed in the school for greater return. 

All round as what we do is not conventional in anyway it didn't make sense to continue with a conventional school model. I felt often that we had a revolving door as we got results too quickly and now we get them even quicker with a wider spectrum of people. 

Another change for me is that I have often felt that we work with students that everyone else has washed their hands of - now we work with the really outside the box stories that no one has thought of! I truly enjoy the challenge and nothing has ever shocked me. I think there is no way now we can be seen as a simple "grind school". 

I'm looking forward to what this year brings and all the amazing young people I will meet along the way. 

Dr. Naoisé

Expression Developist™


What can Profiling do for a Studnet’s Future Career?

This short video I recorded at the Irish Times Higher Options Conference in RDS explains why profiling is so important for Students early in their education life - You can pursue the Career you were born to do!


The Homework Club’s journey into Confidence Club

As We re-locate to Dublin City Centre this August it seems a good time to reflect on All that We have created and achieved here at The Homework Club in just over 3 years. 

Our main purpose for re-locating is to have access to many more Students and to focus on what We really love and have developed from Our experience over 3 and a half years. 

I have attached some short video clips that sum up some of what We have achieved and  some of the outstanding feedback We had from the Students We have worked with. As there are 500+ Student feedback comments it’s not possible to include them all.  But I wished to attempt to give You a sense of what We have developed in this short amount of time.

In setting up The Homework Club I always wished to create an environment where We all continued to learn.  The hugely committed Tutors and Students needing support.  I would like to think that Everybody has expanded Their horizons by being part of this experience - including Me.

In just 3 and a half years We have not only helped and supported these Students in Their lives and education - We have taken Our experiences to create 2 more projects to take all of Our dreams in. The Purple Learning Project, www.purplelearning.ie and Confidence Club, www.confidenceclub.ie 

In setting up The Homework Club there have been 2 main differences in Our approach to education.  Firstly, the way We have gone about making education accessible to all of Our Learners.  We have achieved this by using Our own unique learning method - now known as The Purple Learning Project. This is now the outreach element that is allowing us to take Our methods back into all education environments through Our own Workshop experiences.

Secondly, We have always had different objectives and perceptions of what success is for Students.  We have always felt that not only are students always good at something but They should be able to use these talents to be good at everything.  The Confidence Club is about allowing us to step away from the traditional expectations of success in education and allowing all Our students to fulfil Their dreams - no mater how crazy they may seen now.


Our first Confidence Club Workshop takes place this August.


Confidence Club Workshop August 2012 – Primary to Secondary School Transition.



Parents, Positivity and the exams – what are Your roles?

So we forget that it's not just the exam students who are stressed up and down the country today - so are their whole houses, family homes, parents and siblings - they have been walking on egg-shells for weeks now!

There have been many tears since the mock results and some schools may not have helped by sending home letters in the last few weeks advising students to drop down in levels - at this stage of the game that is pointless - no one should drop a level - JUST GO FOR IT!

Chances are you need the points at that level, so a "pass" Leaving Cert is no use to you - schools seem to be out of touch with this reality! So you have this shot make it a good one and if it doesn't work out then worry about what to do next but it's very important at this stage to remain positive and put all the doubts in a large black box well out of the way.

In 1925 Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock showed in a study that students who were prasied and encouraged got vastly different results from those who were not or were critisised...

By the end of the fifth day, the results showed:

Those given praise – 71% improvement
Those criticized – 19% improvement
Those ignored – 5% improvement

This is huge and has been known since 1925 so why are we still giving students such a hard time at such critical stages in the exam process? What I have to explain to parents on repeat loop at this time of the year is that your daughter or son is not the same person they were in February of this year - 4 months is a lifetime in the development of a person between the ages of 15 and 18... so much has happened, they have changed their appearance, their friends, their music taste and so on - they have been learning so much information and working so hard to understand how to study, how to answer questions and most of all they have learnt from their mistakes in the mocks! So why would you think they were the person they were 4 months ago and would get the same result now?

So steps of what you can all do for the next 2 and bit weeks:

1: Totally believe in your child - defend them to anyone who doesn't and stick up for them - It will mean the world to them!

2: Somehow mange to teleport them to where they need to be - stress free and for them to always be early - Know their schedule for them, they have enough to think about!

3: Just make sure they have nice clothes to wear, snacks, water, tool kit - batteries for their calculators - rememebr to just hand it to them! They won't remember their heads right now..

4: Feed them really well - all their favorite foods and make sure they eat well between the end of the exam and the start of the next or the start of study for the next day..

5: Make them finish at least 30 minitues to an hour before bed time - have some nice time, a walk is fantastic.

6: Make sure they don't sleep surrounded by study notes - clear the sleeping space.

7: Make sure they take off the first Saturday of the first exam week - it's a very intense three day start with major subjects and not always their best specialist subjects - they need to pace themselves for their good topics the following two weeks - it's a lot of pressure and they need to totally step out for one day! Go to the mountians, beach, walking, cycling, film anything just away from it all.

8: Let everything go - people become very controling of silly things when they are stressed - where did this go - why was this moved - ignore ... get siblings to ignore and not lose the plot too!

9: Repeat point one it's the most important one - believe in them - don't go on about alternatives right now - they have to go for their dreams in full right now and really see them to achieve this - the alternative is an August conversation not a June one!

10: Tell them they are great at least 50 times a day! more if you can squash it in ...


Dr. Naoisé.





Mocks and the sky falling in – Chicken Licken Syndrome

I have written about the mocks before, the top tips of why we do them and how we get through but this year I'd like to write on something slightly different. The "Chicken-Licken-syndrome" where students seem to genuinely feel like the sky is falling in on top of them! The mocks are a test run - you are meant to make mistakes.. that's the whole point of doing them!

For some of The Students at The Homework Club this happens in a more spectacular fashion. I myself did very badly in my mocks as do many students with learning difficulties. As the department of education has not granted who will and will not receive accommodations in their exams, very few if any schools allow these students to sit their exams in a similar environment to how they will in June. We are overwhelmed by the exam hall experience - I'm conducting some research at the moment in why some students are hyper-sensitive and how this can helped. We don't have a reader and hence we read the questions wrong, we take the wrong meaning and we answer a completly different question. Some studnets haven't got to grasp with the whole course in one "bulk" form - they are struglign to put all the secitons together and maybe they haven't covered their best seciton yet! No one tells you how to sit an exam and for some studets who really do need to do a visual map of the answer and the question, this is highly discouraged and implied to be a waste of time when it's not as all - it's a vital way of thinking for them! If you are going to use a laptop maybe you didn't get to do this in the mocks.. there are so many factors as to why students find exams hard.

I call this time of the year "crushing season" because I watch the students who we have built up since September lose complete confidence in their abilities. We have to build them up again from the floor. I really question at this stage if the mocks are a good exercise at all? Surely there must be a better way to have a test run?

The sky really isn't falling in and there is loads of time left to fix the mistakes - but it is very hard to show people your mistakes when you are made to feel so bad for making them.


Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly



Point of Blog

Our motto is that "we don't do normal". Everyone who comes to The Homework Club is different and is here for a different reason. It's not important if they are dyslexic, have reduced hearing or simply don't "get-it". This Blog is about creative teaching that suits everyone, all of the time! No one needs to be "special". The work is done in groups, so students avoid stigma and don't feel only they need help!






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