Finding the right tutor can be a real game changer for your child, it can help to overcome areas of concern, and to unlock their academic potential.
Looking for the right one, though, can be a minefield, and a stressful one for both you and your child. Below we answer 10 commonly asked questions that should make the whole process much easier.
1. Does my child need a tutor?
Some parents will think they need a tutor simply because their friend’s children have one, but it is worth considering whether your child really does need a tutor before investing your time and money. You may be considering a tutor because your child has received a low grade in a recent test or perhaps it’s just a sense that your child isn’t reaching their full potential in their current educational environment. Discussing issues like these with your child’s teachers can help you understand what else their school can do to help, and what role a private tutor might be able to play. It’s also always important to discuss this sensitively with your child too, so that you have a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve and whether a tutor is the right next step.
2. What age should my child be before I consider a tutor?
There is no right or wrong answer to this – it very much depends on the specific situation each child faces. At Keystone we provide tutoring for students aged 7 and upwards. One-to-one support can be appropriate for children who are even younger, but we’d suggest that this should only be for very specific circumstances (e.g. a child who has moved to the UK and English is a second language) or where a specific difficulty has been identified. Many tutoring agencies attach a premium to tutors who teach older students (e.g. GCSE and A Level upwards). However, our view is that early years tutoring requires, if anything, more specialist knowledge than any other age group and we select these tutors carefully. It is worth noting that leaving it too late to consider a tutor (i.e. a few weeks before an important exam) will limit the impact on your child’s academic achievement. Regularly reviewing your child’s grades and schoolwork with both them and their teachers, as well as keeping a firm eye on the long term objective for your child, will give you a clear sense of when tuition might be needed.
3. How do I look for a private tutor?
Word-of-mouth referrals are an important avenue to make use of; trusted recommendations from fellow parents can give you assurance of the quality. Ask your child’s school for recommendations too - they will typically have been asked many times before and may have an idea of the kind of tuition that will best complement what your child is learning in the classroom. Google searches can quickly help you understand the range of options available to you. Do call up a number of tuition agencies that interest you - half an hour on the phone should give you a lot of information about whether a particular agency has the attitude, ethos, and expertise you are looking for.
4. How do I choose a private tutor?
There are a number of factors to consider - quality, cost, reputation, expertise, and availability to name a few. The most important factor should be whether your child and the tutor can develop a productive and comfortable rapport. At Keystone we know all of our tutors well and based on the information provided by parents we can often get the match right. That said, do your homework and research, and above all trust you and your child’s gut on this – don’t be afraid to ask for a new tutor after a few sessions if the fit isn’t right.
5. What do private tutors charge?
Prices will range hugely and are primarily determined by the of experience of the tutor. Current school or university students may charge in the region of £20 per hour, whereas trained tutors with considerable prior experience can cost upwards of £100 per hour. At Keystone we only take on tutors who have a degree and experience of tutoring as we believe this yields the best results.
Sourcing a tutor directly rather than via a tutoring company can be cheaper but is often more challenging in terms of finding high quality tutors that have been fully vetted and meet your child’s specific requirements. The role of a good agency is to ensure they get the match right first time and they are there to iron out any difficulties.
6. How much does a private home-school tutor cost?
Again, there is a large range of prices depending on what is included. Group based home-schooling programmes can cost under £2,000 per year, with very limited ‘live’ sessions which may work for students that do not need much support. Fees for a comprehensive one-to-one support programme with experienced tutors can be akin to the fees at a UK independent school.
7. How long do tutoring sessions last?
In our experience, most tutoring sessions will last 1 hour but older students can often focus for longer and 1.5-2 hour sessions allow them and the tutor to get really stuck into a topic and make significant progress. At Keystone we can tailor the length of the session to what suits the student best and do not have a one size fits all approach.
8. Do private tutors need to be registered with Ofsted or have a DBS check?
Private tutors are not required to register with Ofsted, nor are they required to have a DBS check which details any criminal convictions. At Keystone we take safeguarding seriously and all of our tutors are required to have an enhanced DBS check before they work with any of our clients.
9. Are private tutors worth it?
Data from the Sutton Trust in 2019 showed that one in four young people in England and Wales have received private tuition, rising to 41% of students in London. Research by the EEF shows that one to one tuition can significantly improve outcomes for students when carried out within schools. Whether a tutor is worth the time and cost spent will depend on what your goals are – an increase on a test score is easier to quantify than an increase in confidence. When tutoring complements what is being taught at school it is more difficult to measure whether the tutoring specifically is having an impact, but their teachers should notice a difference. When you have engaged a tutor to help with something that your child’s school is not preparing them for – e.g. a computerised pre-test, school interviews or an Oxbridge entrance assessment – it will be easier to see the direct impact the tutoring is having on progress. A good tutor will regularly update parents about progress and clearly communicate any changes in the trajectory. Private tutoring is a significant investment of both time and money and ultimately the only judges of its worth are the children and their parents themselves. You will very quickly see whether your child is getting the benefits you expected from private tuition, especially if you spend time on point 1 of this article - truly understanding what your child’s goals are for their tuition.
10. Are online tutors as effective as face to face ones?
In an ideal world you would be able to find the perfect tutor for face to face lessons near to where you live, but in reality this isn’t always the case. Online tutoring can provide children with expertise that you might not be able to find locally and ultimately the tutor is the most important factor for your child’s progress – the medium less so. The convenience of online tutoring can save time and means your child can maintain the same tutor wherever they are in the world. Keystone has taught over 150,000 lessons online and the feedback we receive from parents is very good. We have written an article which outlines the FAQs about online tutoring which is worth a read if you are considering online tutoring.
We hope these ten tips help and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any further questions.