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23 Mar Private Tuition – Choosing a Tutor for Your Child

More and more parents are opting to supplement the education their child receives at school with private tuition, either as occasional top-up tuition or regular, on-going tuition. Deciding to use a private tutor does not mean that your child is in any way failing, you are simply adding an alternative means for them to learn through. There are many reasons why parents choose this option, the primary factors being:

1. The job market is tough at the moment, especially for school/college leavers, and unlikely to improve dramatically in the near future. It is more important than ever to achieve the best grades possible.

2. Competition for university places has been intense in recent years. The increases in tuition fees may reduce the competition in future, but there’s no guarantee of it. Applicants need to maximise their grades at GCSE as well as AS and A level to maximise their chances of an offer at their first or second choice.

3. Applications for places at private schools have been increasing steadily in recent years. Many parents are finding it necessary to turn to private tuition to ensure that their children perform to the best of their abilities in Common Entrance exams.

4. The ‘one size fits all’ approach of the comprehensive education system does not suit everyone. More able children may get bored because the work is not sufficiently challenging for them, while less able children may not get the support they need to fulfil their full potential.

So, now you have decided that your child would benefit from some private tuition, where do you find a suitable tutor? Word of mouth is usually an excellent source. Ask around among your circle of friends, and the parents of your child’s friends. Many established tutors advertise in local newspapers/magazines or on local notice boards. The internet is another good source of potential tutors. There are numerous tuition agencies providing tutors nationwide. Many established independent tutors have their own websites.

Wherever your potential tutor comes from, make sure you do enough checks and ask enough questions to satisfy you that they are genuine, appropriately qualified, and a suitable person to entrust your child with. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any reputable tutor will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact several potential tutors and talk to them on the phone. If possible, arrange for you and your child to meet them before you decide whether to go ahead. When you make contact with a potential tutor, have a list of questions ready prepared. Here are a few suggestions for the type of questions you should be asking.

What qualifications do you have?

Ideally, the tutor should have at least a good honours degree in a relevant subject (a 2:2 or higher).

What experience do you have?

The tutor should have previous experience of tutoring at the level you require, and/or have a PGCE or QTS with some post qualification experience.

What resources do you provide?

All tutors should be able to provide relevant past exam papers, but some charge extra for this. They should also have up to date textbooks and/or provide notes.

What do you charge?

The going rate varies according to region and the level of tuition. As a rough guide, experienced tutors will charge in the region of

Key Stage 2 £15 to £30 per hour

Key Stage 3 £20 to £30 per hour

KS4/GCSE/IGCSE £20 to £40 per hour

AS/A Level/IB £25 to £50 per hour

Make sure you ask if there are any extra charges, such as for travelling or providing past exam papers.

Some tutors are happy to travel to tutor the child in their own home, while others work only from their own premises. There are benefits and drawbacks with either method. For most parents, logistics are often the deciding factor. If the tutor comes to you, make sure there are no distractions during the lesson time from other family members, pets, the TV or video games. If you take your child to the tutor, ask to sit in the first lesson or two. You will then be able to see at first hand how the tutor and your child interact, and ensure that you and your child are comfortable with the arrangement.

Claudine M Smith

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