Most private a level colleges began their lives as tutorial colleges or crammers. Their brief was to offer students intensive a level courses (I academic year or less – one year a level courses) and ensure the best possible result on examinations (best a level exam results). The negative connotation of ‘crammer’ should be offset against ‘tutorial’ which should remind one of the tutorial systems at Oxford and Cambridge. Here traditionally students meet their personal tutor each week in a small group or individually to discuss their work. Essentially the tutorial college provided excellent short-term solutions for exam-based problems.
Private colleges for a levels incorporate the best elements of the tutorial system. They are very exam orientated and their primary focus remains ensuring that students receive outstanding preparation for examinations. The continue to provide individual attention through small classes, copious teaching time, personal tutors and supporting extra-ordinary opportunities for subject choice. Tutorial colleges continue to offer the same intensive courses as before but these are a much smaller part of their curriculum – generally at least 80% of a level students will be engaged on full-time two year a level courses.