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The Insider's Guide to Private Tutors

The Insider's Guide to Private Tutors

Private tutors are the first thing that springs to mind when you consider how to help your child achieve at school, get extra coaching in a particular subject, or pass their entrance exam.

But what is the role of a private tutor, and to what extent are they really able to help your child?

Finding and Hiring a Private Tutor

Finding a private tutor can be like mining diamonds: it is a lucrative business and quality tutors are few and far between. In the modern day, with so many resources available, it can be tricky to think about where to start. The answer is simple: use everything that you can.

  • The internet is the best place to start if you have no connections or have never hired a private tutor before. Google will be your new best friend - try searching '11 plus tutors near me, '11 plus tutors Leeds' (replace 'Leeds' with your area), or 'private maths tutor in Leeds'. If you have location enabled on your device, Google will now be able to find results that are local to you. This will start to give you a rough idea of what is around you, and if you might have to look farther afield.
  • If you know other parents with children of a similar age, ask them if they have any recommendations. If you get in contact with the tutor they recommend and they have no open slots available, ask them to recommend you an alternative. The benefit of recommendations is that you can get an honest opinion about the tutor from someone that you know and trust.
  • Particularly when exams are approaching, you may be able to find tutors who have placed advertisements in local newsletters, or they may put flyers or business cards in local shops. Keep an eye out for these types of things, but remember that tutors' schedules will be crammed close to exams.

Consider how far you are willing to search. Some private tutors will be flexible, and may even come to your own home to tutor, but others may require you to travel. This could take up quite a lot of time either after school or on a weekend, so make sure to think about how much time you have available.

Private tutors can charge anywhere between £30 and £120 an hour for their time. Though the price is not necessarily an indicator of their expertise, it may give you a good idea of how experienced they are in comparison to others in the same area.

When you're looking to hire a private tutor, ask them these questions to determine their suitability:

  • How long have they been practising as a private tutor?
  • What other experience do they have in the education industry?
  • What is their success rate?
  • How do they determine their success as a private tutor?
  • How many hours a week are they available for?
  • What subjects do they specialise in?
  • What resources will they use with their child?
  • How much work will they give your child to do outside of tutoring time?
  • Do they have any testimonials from previous clients?

In terms of when to think about hiring a private tutor, you could start anywhere from a year before your child takes their exam, to a couple months before in the lead up to their exam.

What a Private Tutor Will Offer

Private tutors are highly specialised in a small number of subjects, or towards a particular exam, such as the Kent 11 Plus, or the ISEB Assessments.

They will dedicate a certain amount of time each week to helping your child in areas which they struggle, having first identified what these are.

Private tutors are the ideal solution for children who are struggling in a particular subject, or who are working towards a particular exam, and who do not have access to specialised support in school. It might be that their class size is quite large, or that their primary school does not prepare them for entrance exams. Having said that, it is important to remember that hiring a private tutor is a large financial investment.

The private tutor will often give your child extra work to do outside of tutoring sessions, and the time this takes could vary from an hour per week to half an hour every night, depending on the subjects being studied and the teaching style of the tutor.

Your Other Options

The main advantage to hiring a private tutor is that your child will have dedicated time with a subject expert on a 1-2-1 basis.

There are a couple of disadvantages to this though, these being:

  • Your child may become reliant on their tutor and start to struggle in school, where they would not receive the same kind of individual attention.
  • Your child may become burnt out from the pressure and extra work.
  • Your child may not have time for their actual homework, and may fall out of sync with what their class is learning in school.
  • Your child may find that when they have passed their entrance exams and started high school, they can't keep up because they have relied on private tutoring to get into the school, and so just aren't capable of keeping up with the material based on their natural academic ability.

The alternatives you may want to consider are:

  • Sending your child to a tutoring centre - here they would learn alongside a class of between 5 and 20 other pupils. This is just like having extra lessons in particular subjects at school - it will be a similar kind of environment.
  • Asking your child's teacher to provide them with extra work to do at home - this way their teacher can monitor their progress and will be aware of what subjects your child is struggling with.
  • Investing in educational software - this will allow your child to work at their own pace, and will allow all parties to be involved in your child's education, including you, their teacher, and a tutor if you decide to hire one.