The reasons for seeking a tutor for your child can be manifold. Most commonly parents look for a tutor when they feel that a child is struggling in a particular area. This is not the only reason however. They may have specific aims in mind such as exam preparation or university entrance. Or there may be a need for an academic assessment to understand why a child is struggling with a particular subject. Not all tutoring agencies can provide the full spectrum of assistance or subjects. The more high-end agencies tend to offer assessments and exam preparation assistance as well as tutoring, whilst the more moderately priced offer tutoring only, often online.
Types of tutoring
One to one
One to one tuition allows a tutor to focus wholly on one child and their needs. Good agencies put a lot of time and effort into matching tutor to child. One to one tutoring can be administered online but (pandemic permitting) there is perhaps no replacement for a face to face relationship where the child and tutor grow to know each other well, at least at the outset.
As you would expect, online tutoring has become something of a boom industry in recent months. Prior to the pandemic, online face to face tuition was already in growth mode, mainly for reasons of practicality and flexibility. Tutoring agencies have developed apps and technological support for tutors and pupils and in the case of some of the more affordable agencies, all of the tutoring is done online.
The understanding of what home schooling signifies has undergone a significant shift over the past year. Where once it was the oldest form of education, the preserve of the upper classes or off-grid radicals seeking to avoid Establishment interference, COVID has seen it become the norm for all. Most parents openly admit that they cannot wait to cease home schooling entirely. And whilst we can’t help but side with the wishful thinkers, we can see an increased requirement for tutors to aid with home schooling in the future.
When to engage a tutor
If you are looking for a tutor to provide support in a particular area William Petty of Bonas MacFarlane encourages parents to opt for “the little and often approach. Do not wait until there are problems but try and be proactive and preventive rather than reactive and cure based.” It is also worth bearing in mind that good tutoring should provide a child with learning skills that are fully transferable to other topics and other subjects. ‘How to learn’ may prove to be as valuable as ‘what to learn’ and may obviate the need for a child to be tutored across a broad spectrum of subjects.
What qualifications do tutors need?
Tutors are not necessarily qualified teachers but will always have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Increasingly they will also have a professional teaching qualification although there is no obligation for them to do so. Most tutoring agencies have their own training programme and are increasingly developing courses for Continuing Professional Development. You should feel comfortable quizzing agencies about a tutor’s experience and qualifications.
Can I do a background check on a tutor?
The tutors’ governing body is The Tutors’ Association (TTA). There is no obligation for tutors to join but if you are looking for someone without the help of a reputable agency it would be wise to check the TTA’s register which was created to give comfort to parents in this situation. If you have found a tutor through an agency, check for corporate membership of TTA. You can find out whether a tutor or agency is a registered member by contacting the association. The Good School’s Guide is also a valuable source of information.
Where to find tutors
High-end tutoring agencies
Mid-market tutoring agencies
Less expensive tutoring agencies
*Bonas MacFarlane and Scholato are related businesses