Private tutoring in the UK is on the rise, becoming more and more popular with students and parents, and a more inviting career prospect too.
But is home tuition the right choice for you? Does it put too much pressure on your child alongside their school life? Is it worth the money?
When thinking about hiring a tutor for yourself or your child, there are all sorts of questions to ask and rumours to dispel.
It’s not always easy knowing where to find a decent tutor. There are so many factors to consider, from finding something that works for you, to finding prices that you can get on board with.
This guide will address all of the main queries that students and parents generally have when embarking upon private tutoring, including:
- How and where can I take private lessons outside of school?
- Are private tutorials a long-term solution?
- Does private tutoring guarantee long-term success?
- Is tutoring worth the money?
- Why is tutoring so expensive?
All of these questions are asked frequently, and asking them will help you make the right decisions when it comes to starting the search for a personal tutor and how to go about hiring one and organising your tuition schedule.
How and Where can I take Private Tuition outside of school?
The beauty of home tutoring is that, as the name suggests, you can take your lessons in the comfort of your own home!
Private tutoring takes place outside of the classroom and outside of school altogether, as lessons are usually conducted in a home or public place.
You might consider meeting with your tutor somewhere you feel safe and comfortable, this could be a café, a library, a park – wherever works best for you.
For most students it’s really important that their tutor is able to travel, and you can make this one of your priorities when looking for someone to hire. This might mean that they have their own car or bike, or have one readily available for use. Equally, it might mean that they are able to use public transport to get around easily and punctually.
It is very common for tutors to carry out their private tutoring sessions in their own homes. This can be easy and comfortable for everyone involved, and can create the relaxed atmosphere that you can’t always find in a classroom!
There are naturally many risks involved if you decide to go to your tutor's house for private lessons. There are many factors you might want to consider, such as the health and safety risks involved, whether your tutor has any personal insurance, and if they have a DBS certificate or basic background check.
These are all crucial elements for tutors to think about as well. As a tutor, you will need to make sure your home is clean and tidy, with no potential hazards. This could be anything from water on the floor to loose carpet or wires.
It is very strongly advised that as a tutor, you take out the right insurance policies to cover you for damage or injury when working with members of the public in your own home. If something goes wrong, and either party has an accident, it’s important to protect yourself and your client.
DBS checks are also a really important part of private tutoring – however they are not compulsory for tutors. A DBS certificate – formerly known as CRB – is a check carried out on your background to check for a criminal record.
For students or parents, it is quite common to have a private tutor come to your home to tutor you or your child. This usually works best if you are strapped for time and have a hectic schedule, so you can eliminate the time and costs of travel.
One of the biggest parts of home tuition now is online tutoring. With online tutoring, both the student and the tutor can work from their own homes, or anywhere with internet access and a webcam!
Websites such as Superprof are a great platform for finding tutors or students, and then it’s up to you to choose whether you meet in person or do your lessons via video call. Superprof is completely free and easy to use, with an enormous online community being accessed all over the world.
This means you could tutor English in Spain, or receive guitar lessons from New York – wherever you are in the world, you can tutor and study from your computer at home!
It is becoming more and more common to tutor overseas, whether online or by physically moving abroad. The British tutoring industry is booming, to the point that many companies are expanding internationally and opening offices all over the world.
More and more people are starting to tutor alongside their current full-time or part-time work and studies. It’s so easy to do, especially through an online platform such as Superprof, and can be organised easily between tutor and student.
Tutoring sessions can be as formal or informal as you like – it’s all up to you, the student! It could be as relaxed as meeting for a coffee on your way home from university, or as professional as a fully planned lesson in your office at home.
Whatever you decide, and however you choose to conduct or take your private tutoring sessions, just make sure it’s safe and fits easily into your lifestyle. Work out prices, schedules and content ahead of time with your tutor to make the sessions as organised and comfortable as possible.
Can Private Tutoring Guarantee Long-term Success?
With the right kind of tutoring, and a real motivation to learn, there is no reason why private tuition shouldn’t be a long-term solution. That is to say that if both parties can put in the time and effort, you will be on your way to academic success.
If, for example, you receive tutoring for your upcoming maths GCSE exam, you can use your personal tutoring to a massive advantage, and you will most likely come out with a much better grade than if you had no tutoring whatsoever.
In the same way, having personal lessons in French in the run up to your A-Level oral exam will prepare you in a way that you can't really find in the classroom, because teachers simply can't provide the one-to-one attention that a private tutor can.
But exams are often short-term issues. Once they're over, students might decide that that's enough, and they can go ahead and forget everything now!
So it does very much depend on student motivation as to whether private tutorials can be a long-term success. If a student is willing to learn, and perhaps change their attitude to certain subjects or alleviate a mental block, then home tutoring is a recipe for great accomplishments.
Long-term success is ideal when students plan to carry a subject forward to post-16 study or to university. Tutoring at earlier ages can therefore ignite the confidence and open-mindedness needed to continue with study and achieve success in the future.
It is becoming more and more common for parents to hire private tutors for their children – sometimes for multiple subjects too. So we can see that people are willing to put the money in and invest in their child’s education, now more than ever before.
This says quite a lot about the national education system in the UK. The demand for tutors is at an all-time high, and students are becoming more aware that they have potential that is not always being fulfilled in the classroom.
It is only natural, then, that parents and students are seeking home tuition in order to fill in the gaps that national education doesn’t seem to be tending to. It could be as simple as a child falling behind in maths and struggling to catch up again, or just a general lack of support in a tricky subject.
With classrooms becoming more heavily populated, and teachers having more to manage in their job roles, it's nearly impossible for each child to receive the individual care and attention they need in order to get the best grades possible.
This is exactly why school children, particularly of secondary school age, are struggling to keep up if they fall behind, and feel they need extra help outside of school with GCSE or A level tutors in order to thrive, and sometimes just to tread water.
For some people, tutoring is a short-term solution to simply pass an exam or complete a piece of coursework. But for many, it is about cultivating skills and building up knowledge that will have long-term, positive effects.
Students ideally need a long-term solution to their academic struggles, and with subjects they find particularly challenging. For many pupils of younger ages, these are subjects that they have to continue with for a few more years, so the goal of private tutoring is usually not just a short-term fix, but an investment in a student's future.
Is Tutoring Worth the Money?
This is the question that people mull over for ages when they are considering private tuition.
Students and parents are paying for quality. They want lessons delivered at a high standard, which will guarantee a boost in grades and a rise in confidence in the subject.
So tutoring can often be worth the money, if you’ve found something that works for you.
When considering hiring a home tutor, you need to think about what your goals are. As a student or parent, the goals are usually very defined. You will be considering what grades you want to achieve, how much money you can afford to spend, and how it will fit into your schedule.
But it is usually the question of money which is most frequently thought about. As we’ve seen, private tutoring can get quite pricey, and you may feel pressure to pay more in order to receive a better service.
So it’s up to you as a paying customer to do your research. Have a look around online and in your local area to get an idea of rates and competition. Places like schools and libraries are a great place to find adverts, and sites such as Gumtree will give you a great idea of what’s out there.
Once you know what you want to achieve and how much you are prepared to pay for it, you can start making enquiries. If it is GCSE level tutoring you need, you will probably find that you can employ a tutor with a lower level of experience and still get great results.
If you are looking for A-Level, IB or even university level tuition, you will of course need to find a tutor with at least university level education, or a practicing professional. Again, it’s up to you who you feel comfortable employing.
Don’t be afraid to trial people either! A student-tutor relationship is never set in stone, and you might just like to pay for one lesson and see how it works for you. You will soon see if you are getting your money’s worth and if this is a worthwhile investment for you.
When it comes to learning languages, tutoring is without a doubt worth the money. You can try out free apps or cheap online courses, and even some classes can be a decent option, but the best way to learn a language is one on one with a native speaker.
Language tuition will give you the help and support you need, in a relaxed setting. You can learn all the more challenging elements like grammar and spelling with worksheets and textbooks, but a tutor will give you something which isn’t always easy to find: authentic conversation practice.
This is something that no amount of YouTube videos or language apps can provide – and it’s the best way to learn a language whilst staying in the country! There are some really amazing online services available, but when it comes to language learning, tutoring is undeniably worth the money!
Why is Tutoring so expensive?
Having private, personal tutoring sessions with an expert means that you will usually see a huge improvement in a subject. A private tutor could be the difference in passing an exam rather than failing, or could boost you up from a C to an A grade – so it really depends on what you want to achieve.
Unlike a classroom education, with home tutoring there are no distractions, there is less pressure, and it’s an all-round different experience to school. This is why people pay so much for tutors – it’s the quality of education provided and the clear incline in academic performance and confidence.
Many parents know the value of private tutoring for their child, and equally many students know how much better they do at school or college when they receive personal lessons outside of school.
But for many people who are still sitting on the fence, it can be uncertain whether you will actually get what you pay quite a large sum of money for, and it's hard to know without paying! This can be quite an off-putting and daunting thought, especially for those who feel financially stretched as it is.
If you are unsure about paying for private tuition, it might be worth asking around to see if friends, family or colleagues have had any success with it themselves, or maybe check out some online forums to help you weigh up the pros and cons.
You might decide that you could stretch to £30 an hour, once a week. This £30 a week could end up pushing you forward to receiving a place at university, or preparing you to work abroad.
Bear in mind, though, that you really shouldn’t be paying much less than £20 an hour. For high-quality tutoring and to get your money’s worth, it’s worth paying around £30 an hour for decent tuition.
It is up to you and your impression of the tutor, of course, when you consider hiring them. But remember that paying too little will most likely guarantee you a low-quality or inexperienced tutor. By paying a little bit more, you can probably guarantee better quality and therefore better results too.
So as you can see, there are lots of things to think about before you start up as a private tutor, or before you employ one.
You might want to let your opinion be heard: what are the pros and cons of tutoring?
If finance is a problem, and you feel like you couldn't afford a tutor, let alone a decent one, then there are still options available for you. There are tutoring charities across the UK which offer free academic tutoring outside of the classroom, to help boost grades and fulfil potential.
Organisations such as Action Tutoring work to support young people from underprivileged or disadvantaged backgrounds through volunteer tutors. Charities like these are available all over the country, across various secondary schools. Have a look online to see what's out there, or check with your local school to see what they can offer.
Keeping your Child safe during Home Tuition
We've discussed many factors that you should consider when choosing a tutor but probably the most important for parents is making sure your child is learning in a safe environment.
This is the first question that parents and students ask, and it’s the most important one!
Aside from the academic requirements that you will want in a tutor, such as qualifications and professional experience, there are other elements involved when looking at a tutor’s profile.
You might wish to check that the tutor is properly qualified and accredited to the standard they claim, that they has actual teaching experience and qualifications, & have proof of background checks as a self-employed tutor.
Most parents will want a tutor who already has some experience of working with young and vulnerable people, and the ability to prove this too. You could ask the tutor for the contact details of a current or former parent or student if you would like to find out more about their teaching or to answer any specific questions you might have about the tutor.
Remember that there is a solution to your academic queries, and finding a great tutor isn't impossible if you feel as though it's something you need but can't really afford.
From considering where to take tutoring classes and the health and safety risks involved, to outlining goals and prices, you need to create a clear image in your head of what you want in a professional tutoring relationship, and what you want to achieve.
Find tutors on Superprof from Edinburgh to Bristol tutors.