I’ve been a private tutor for twelve years. I’ve had dealings in a professional capacity with a variety of tutors, from on-line forums to professional recommendations, from offering advice to tutors starting out to frantically seeking tutors for my own children in emergency situations! We’re a very mixed bunch.
Private tutors are still a completely unregulated cottage industry. Anyone can set themselves up as a tutor and offer tuition to the unsuspecting public. Tuition websites are sometimes nothing more than a database of individuals who think that they can teach. Some will vet their applicants, others will take a fee in exchange for an unvalidated website profile.
Students see tutoring as a way to fund themselves through college or university. Graduates leave university looking for suitable employment – not so easy to come by these days – and think that tutoring should be ‘easy pocket money’.
This unregulated activity completely devalues those professional educators who are experts in their own field, plus a teaching qualification on top. When I tutor a child, I have a wealth of experience to draw from, including a sound knowledge of the subject matter, a sound understanding of the different mechanisms of learning, and experience in drawing reluctant children out of their shells and turning ‘I can’t’ into “I can”.
If you are looking for a tutor for your child, ask yourself a few questions. Would you expect a full-time, private tutor, with qualifications to prove subject knowledge and teaching skills to work at an hourly rate considerably lower than a similarly qualified teacher in a school? Is it worth jeopardising your child’s education to save a few quid that amounts to less than the theme park entry for a family for a day? Would you take your car to a recommended garage owned by a highly skilled mechanic or would you pluck a name from a website because it’s the cheapest deal? Ask yourself, if you were the proud owner of a brand-new Audi, would you take it to a chap down the road who advertised that he serviced his own BMW five years previously and did a fantastic job?
So why is it acceptable to find your most precious possession, your child, an unqualified teacher and pay fractionally more for their time than someone serving fast food? Ask yourself about that student. Did they sit the same exam board that you child is due to sit? Did they even sit the same syllabus, would they have taken their GCSEs before the major changes examined for the first time in 2018?
Over the years I’ve learned that struggling children in struggling schools are rarely going to turn themselves around without help. I also have confidence that I can turn a failing child into a passing child in a handful of months, given the right circumstances – and the most important circumstance relies upon the child actually having the intrinsic motivation to want to do well. I also know that while I’m not the most inexpensive tutor on the circuit, I’m not the most expensive either. When a potential client asks about my rate and responds with “you’re a bit on the dear side” or “I wasn’t expecting to pay that”, I grit my teeth and politely say “other clients think I’m worth it” and in response to “so-and-so around the corner is cheaper, what’s your best price?” I politely say “this is my only price, but you, as the client are free to choose whoever you wish to work with”.