A Five-Step Guide for Parents Looking for the Best Private Tutoring
by Henry Fagg, Thetutorpages.com
Parents naturally care a great deal about their child's physical, emotional and social well-being. Your child's educational journey impacts on all of these aspects, and so it is no surprise that both schooling and extra-curricular learning are potential sources of anxiety for parents.
Private tuition is a common adjunct to learning, with up to a quarter of children across the UK reporting having had this kind of assistance at some point during their educational lives.
However, parents will inevitably have many questions regarding this form of learning. For example: Is it right for my child? When should I employ a private tutor? How can I find a good tutor, and how will I know whether it's worth the money?
This five-step guide therefore gives parents an insight into some of the key areas that they should consider when employing a private tutor.
Unfortunately, many parents leave the search for a tutor too late. While it is possible to employ a tutor at short notice (with the aim of helping a child pass an imminent exam, for example), short-termism in education is never a good idea. Firstly, deep learning in any area requires time and reinforcement which is not possible on a short-term basis. Secondly, effective learning in a private tuition context requires trust and rapport to develop between the tutor and pupil, and is something that cannot be rushed.
As a parent, if you get the sense that your child is struggling at school, lacks confidence or may need an extra boost for some important exams then you shouldn't hesitate to act on your instincts. It is much easier to nip something in the bud while time is on your side, rather than having to deal with a problem that has grown bigger later on down the line.
In any case, a good tutor will be honest in their appraisal of the scope of the tutoring sessions required for your child. They will assess the progress of your child, giving you regular updates along the way. If your child is no longer getting much out of the sessions, or is confident in their abilities once again, then it may be time to stop the extra tuition. In this regard, the UK Tutors' Association has a code of conduct where tutors agree not to over-tutor by creating 'unhealthy dependencies' which could jeopardise independent learning in the pupil.
Where to look
The Good Schools Guide - which is well known for reviewing private tuition companies - in fact always recommends word of mouth first and foremost for finding a tutor. Simply put, parents will certainly find out if there's a local tutor who offers professional, good value tuition and gains impressive results.
But sometimes your personal network will not come up with any solutions, not least if the best local tutors seem to be booked up months in advance. Casting the net wider would then involve contacting a tuition agency or using a private tuition directory.
The best private tuition agencies offer a full support package, including getting to know the needs of your child. They will not only source a suitable tutor for you, but can replace the tutor if things don't work out. The Good Schools Guide is a useful source of information on the best private tuition agencies.
Private tuition directories (such as Thetutorpages.com) offer an alternative good value solution. Parents or carers will take on full responsibility for the tutor whom they contact (including following up references and so on - see the 'safety first' section below), but the costs are inevitably reduced since the tutor is hired directly, with the agency and its services 'disintermediated'.
As mentioned above, there will be a difference in price between using an agency or tuition directory. There are many other factors involved. Tutors themselves will charge differing amounts based on their experience, qualifications, success rates among pupils and often the educational establishments (schools and universities) which they themselves attended.
The age of the tutor can also be a factor in pricing. Although a younger tutor may be less experienced and subsequently charge a lower rate, some parents and agencies prefer to employ recent graduates, since there is an impression that they may be able to enthuse and act as a role model for a pupil who is closer to their age.
Price needn't be a limiting factor in employing a tutor. Online tuition can sometimes be less expensive (no travel costs for the tutor or pupil, with an overseas tutor also an option), and a rise in the popularity of private tuition centres certainly to some extent reflects the attractive price point of group tuition.
Some of the more well-known private tuition centre brands in the UK include Explore Learning, Magikats and Bright Young Things. Such centres have attractive offers for those who are new to private tuition wishing to trial a course of lessons.
The best private tuition agencies will interview tutors and perform background checks on the tutors on their books. If, however, you are going to employ a tutor directly, then it is wise to a) obtain references b) speak to the parents of other pupils and c) ask the tutor if they have a DBS certificate, which demonstrates that there is no known reason why they shouldn't work with children.
There are other basic child safety precautions which you can take. Never let tuition take place in the child's bedroom; instead, you can be in the same room as where the tuition is taking place, or in an adjacent room with the door open. You can also make sure that all communications (whether by email, phone or otherwise) are with you and not your child (or at least that you are copied into such communications).
For further advice on private tuition safety please visit www.thetutorpages.com/safety-advice.
Integration with family life
Finally, you will need to find a tuition arrangement which suits you as a family. Quality family time seems to be increasingly squeezed by parental work commitments and children's extra-curricular activities. Therefore, you may wish to consider having a tutor who visits your home.
Online tuition is another solution which can work well with families for whom time is at a premium. Since neither tutor nor student needs to travel, there is no wasted time at either end, and indeed tutors are sometimes prepared to be more flexible when tutoring online (for example, by having two shorter sessions per week rather than one longer one). More background information on how online tuition works can be found in The Tutor Pages free report on online tuition.
Whatever you decide as far as hiring a private tutor is concerned, private tuition is an increasingly popular and flexible solution for your child's needs. With an increased level of research now backing up claims about its effectiveness, it is certainly worth considering as a way of supporting your child's education.