I remember it as if it were yesterday, how can I forget such remarkable words about a tutor? They were spoken so sincerely and naturally as a matter of fact, yet they were so memorable that I still recall what was said almost two years later. It was just a few days after my birthday and some pre-teens and teenagers were helping me prepare for my party. Three of them were in my car as we journeyed to my house and as you would expect, the chit-chatting was non-stop throughout the drive. If you're anything like me, you'll sometimes find your ears zoning into a side conversation even when there is a lot of noise in the background. That's what happened that day. I was listening to the radio and wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation but suddenly my antennae tuned in to their frequency...
My nephew who happened to be one of my young helpers, had said, “I hated maths before she became my tutor but I now love it.” Before I knew it, I found myself joining the conversation as my curiosity and insatiable passion for education got the better of me. I wanted to know who he was referring to and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was referring to his maths tutor whom I happen to know very well. What more? The girls who were also in the car had very similar testimonials to share as she was their tutor too. I had always known she’s a good tutor but hearing such words from her pupils made it more real.
The Growth of Extra Tuition
From my interaction with parents, it seems as if almost everyone is getting one form of extra tuition or the other for their child. The results of a survey published by The Sutton Trust in July 2018 revealed that about four in ten (41%) secondary school pupils in London have received home or private tuition. The publication went on to show that there has been a steady growth in these numbers over time. The number had increased by 7% since 2005 and the growth for England and Wales as a whole was even more.
You probably don’t need a survey to tell you this. If you’ve been paying any attention at all you’d have noticed that wherever you turn these days, it looks like a new tuition centre has sprung up. Naturally the question that springs to mind is whether or not this is a good thing? This is an important question to ask when you consider the extensive use of private tutors and how much they cost. To address this, I have conducted some research to help you know what to look for when seeking extra tuition for your child.
In addition to my own research, I reached out to some parents in The Smart Kid community, asking them to share their own experiences. What you will find below are some of their current real life practical examples as well as my views about what to look out for in the growing world of private tutors and extra tuition.
Six Reasons to Seek a Tutor
In my experience, parents typically seek the services of a private tutor or a tuition centre for their son or daughter to help with one or more of the following:
- Specific subjects where the child needs help; it could be any subject but it’s often Maths, English, Science or languages
- 11-plus exams, typically from year 4 or 5
- Independent secondary school entry exams, typically from year 4 or 5
- GCSE exam preparation
- A-level exam preparation
- The child’s work in general
To avoid disappointment and frustration, it is important to know why you are seeking extra tuition for your child. If your child is preparing for the 11-plus exams, that is not the best time to employ someone who helps with general Maths and English. You are better off using the services of a tutor who specialises in 11-plus exam coaching at such time.
Types of Extra Tuition
There are two broad ways in which private tutors provide their services: via one-to-one coaching or in a group setting; and within these categories, the delivery could either be face-to-face or virtual/online.
In my opinion, no method is better than the other. What is important is that you choose a style that works for your child’s personality and your budget.
One-to-one coaching tends to be more expensive but your child gets the undivided attention of the tutor, does not feel embarrassed to ask questions and more often than not the tutoring is done from the comfort of your home. That said, in a one-to-one scenario your child will not experience the subtle competition that tends to occur in a group setting. This type of healthy rivalry makes some children work harder (iron sharpens iron) whilst for others it knocks their confidence.
Most parents choose the group setting because of cost. Although your child will not have the dedicated attention of the tutor, a good tutor will still be able to give your child great value especially when the group size averages 4-6 students.
10 Benefits of Employing A Tutor
Have you ever wondered why parents seek extra tuition for their child or if it makes sense to employ one? You need to wonder no longer. Here is a compilation of the benefits of using a tutor that I got back from parents who participated in our research. I have combined some of the feedback in cases where there was an overlap.
- It keeps my sons busy after school as opposed to them playing endlessly because they weren’t set enough homework.
- The low tutor-pupil ratio means my daughter gets the attention she needs. It is 4:1 compared with the 30:1 teacher-pupil ratio at school.
- Keeps my child focused and challenged; stretches my son to do more therefore he’s making better progress.
- My sons learnt to manage their time better from an early age, because they knew they had to finish everything from school and extra tuition.
- Having a tutor gives me the opportunity to get a second opinion about my child’s progress.
- Acts as a good complement to school work; and in cases where the school is lagging behind, it supplements school work.
- The neutrality, patience and professionalism of the tutor earns them more respect in comparison with the parent. One parent said, “The tutor is more patient than us, so the ‘fights’ don’t happen.”
- Helps my son stay on top with his work.
- Helps with exam success… “We now have the option of a grammar school or any of two top independent schools…”
- My son is getting the dedicated and tailored help he needs.
Sounds great, doesn't it? However is it always good news? Does every pupil need a private tutor? What behaviours should you be looking for in your child's private tutor? We answer these questions and more in our next blog.