“How do I choose the right private tutor for my child?” – this question pops up time and again in parents’ google search history.
It’s not surprising that parents are doing their research – a good private tutor does more than help your child with their homework. They will inspire and motivate your child, leaving them with greater self-confidence and new, lifelong, transferable skills. In short, choosing the right tutor for your child is the most important piece of homework you will ever do!
In this article, we explain why tuition matters, explore the growth of private tuition, and suggest 8 tips to help you select the right tutor for your child.
How common is tuition?
Tuition is growing exponentially, with increasing numbers of children having some experience of private tuition. The Sutton Trust found that in 2019, 27 % of 11–16-year-olds in England and Wales had received private tuition, with this figure rising to 41% for children in the London area (up from 37% in 2014). As you’d expect, the young people who receive private tuition disproportionately come from better-off backgrounds. According to the Sutton Trust “Those from ‘high affluence’ households (34%) are more likely than those from low affluence households (20%) to have received such tuition at some point”.
Why should you hire a tutor?
Tutors provide children with 1-to-1 education that far exceeds what even the best school with the smallest class sizes can provide within the time constraints of the teaching day. This means that a private tutor can tailor the content, the presentation method, and the speed of the sessions to the individual needs of the child. So, for children who are struggling in certain areas, tuition offers the chance to catch up with their peers. What’s more, tuition provides high-performing children with the chance to deepen their understanding and build on their knowledge, leaving them way ahead of the pack.
Tips for picking a tutor
1. Speak to your child’s teacher
Your child’s teacher is a great resource, and the key question you should ask them is this: does your child stand a good chance of passing the test you want to tutor them for? If the answer is no, then your child may benefit from the support of a tutor.
2. Start early
Most tutors recommend a year of tuition before the 11+ exams, meaning that the best tutors will start working with students in year 5. Get ahead of the game by assessing your local options, including tutoring agencies. Don’t forget to allow time to persuade your child of the benefits of the extra work before your ideal start date. Which brings us to our next point…
3. Talk to your child first
Does your child want tuition? There’s a lot of FOMO around for parents, especially when it comes to obtaining those elusive places at highly competitive, fee-paying schools. Yet what is right for others is not automatically right for you – or, more importantly, your child. Don’t hire a tutor just because everyone else has. In fact, hiring a tutor for a child who neither needs nor wants it can even be counterproductive, as we explain below.
4. Consider the commitment that tuition requires
The tuition process can generate a lot of extra work for your child. Tutors give homework – sometimes as many as four pieces a week on top of your child’s usual school homework – it’s not just an hour-a-week commitment. Extra work can pile pressure on your child, leaving them tired and stressed, which in turn affects their exam performance. What’s more, their friendships, extracurricular activities, and quality of life can suffer if their time is dominated by endless studying.
5. Get references and recommendations
Remember, the learning relationship between child and tutor is just as important as the information you want your child to learn. So, ask other parents about their experiences with tutors. If you struggle to get advice and recommendations locally, try looking online. The Good Schools Guide provides subscribers with reviews of over 50 different teaching agencies.
6. Don’t get blinded by teaching qualifications
The question of whether having a teaching background makes someone a good tutor is hotly debated. Clearly, there are many benefits to undergoing formal training in teaching. However, the key qualities that make someone an effective teacher can’t be taught – they are personal attributes. More specifically, good tutors should be passionate about their subject, able to communicate that passion effectively, and have a genuine enjoyment in working with children. If an individual has these skills, they will be an effective teacher regardless of their training background.
7. Book an initial assessment with the tutor before you decide
This will help you get a feel for how the tutor works, and their attitude to the tutoring process. Passing tests or exams is a short-term indicator of how successful tutoring has been, but results aren’t the only indicator of an effective tuition process. Remember, a good tutor should provide your child with learning skills that are fully transferable to other topics and other subjects. Hiring a tutor with this approach means that your child will grow in confidence as well as ability.
8. Make sure the tutor is familiar with the requirements of your child’s assessments
Exam boards will vary across the country, so make sure the tutor is familiar with the assessment materials used by the schools in your area. Some tutors will have considerable experience in preparing children for specific exam boards, and many will have a successful track record in helping children win places in specific local schools. Don’t be afraid to ask about this during your initial appointment – a reputable tutor should be willing to discuss their experience and should inform you early on if they don’t feel they have the right skill set to help your child achieve their goals.
George Alexander Tuition offers private, 1-1 maths tuition for children aged 11-18. We are based in London, and pride ourselves on offering a flexible service that fits around the demanding schedules of our young students. To find out how we can help your child boost their skills and confidence in maths, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 07494672719.