Research from the Sutton Trust shows that 42% of pupils in London aged 11-16, have had private tutoring at some point in their academic careers. This shows that private tutoring is popular with many families but what are the things to look out for when choosing a tutoring programme? How do you choose between group tutoring or one-to-one tutoring? How do you know if it’s time to get a tutor?
In this blog, we’ve put together a list of things to consider when choosing a tutoring programme:
Discuss tutoring with your child:
As with most things, it’s always helpful to have an open conversation with your child to discuss the benefits of tutoring and determine if he or she needs it. Some pupils will be more proactive and ask their parent for a tutor. Other pupils may feel that it is a waste of time because they are just not good at or will never be good at the subject. Tutoring is extremely beneficial to pupils that struggle with a fixed mindset ie. pupils that feel that they cannot improve in a subject. It is therefore worth discussing this in detail with your child so that he or she understands that they can improve and a tutor could make a huge difference if they are open to the idea of improving. If your child is particularly reluctant about going out to a group tutoring session, you can always propose a home tutor or online tutor which is more discreet.
Group tutoring or one-to-one tuition
Both options are widely available but you need to consider what would fit better to your child’s needs. In general, group sessions will mean working with a group of pupils that are at the same or a similar stage to your child. Pupils may find it useful to work with a group where there is some healthy competition and a group where pupils support each other’s progress. One-to-one tuition is more orientated to children that need more focused sessions. With one-to-one tutoring sessions, children are more likely to speak up to their tutor if they don’t understand a topic. The tutoring content will also most likely be determined by the tutor’s ongoing assessment of your child’s progress.
Take an initial assessment
It is very important for the tutor to know where to start and decide if there is any basic concept that might not be very clear, as they need to have a strong foundation of knowledge in order for their knowledge to progress. Your school may provide an end of year report for your child to show their overall progress for the year. A copy should be passed on to your tutor so that he or she can use this knowledge to get started with tutoring. Your tutor will most likely still need to conduct an initial assessment and work directly with your child for a few weeks in order to gain an idea of learning gaps and areas of weakness that need to be addressed through tutoring.
It’s easy to assume that a tutor can solve all academic problems but progress is usually a join effort from the parent, pupil and the tutors. The first few weeks of tutoring may be tough on your child as he or she is being challenged in new ways. As always, you should encourage your child to keep trying and embrace the challenge. As a parent, you also need to be involved in the tutoring progress. This can be as simple as contacting the tutor to schedule or book tutoring sessions at a time that works for you and your child, meeting with your child’s tutor after tutoring sessions to discuss your child’s progress and ensuring that your child completes any homework provided by the tutor.
Always make use of a programme that keeps Disclosure and Barring service (DBS checks) up to date. DBS refers to the new agency created out of a merger between the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and The Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). It checks the police and other databases to ensure there are no markers suggesting that a tutor is not suitable to work with young people. There is no harm in asking your child’s tutor for a copy of their DBS certificate. They should be able to show this to you before you get started with tutoring sessions.
Terms and conditions
If you’re unsure about any aspects of a tutoring programme – ask questions. Always make sure you understand how the system works ie. the details of tuition, suitable times, flexibility and tutor availability, policies for cancellations, how payments works and any payment options you have. It’s important that you respect your tutor’s time and you maintain clear communications with your tutor. Most tutoring programmes will have very clear guidance on cancellations. The GT Scholars tutoring programme and many other tutoring programmes and agencies require parents to give 24 hours notice for tutoring sessions and if your child turns up more than 20 minutes late to a session, the pupil will forfeit that session.
Time it right
When selecting a tutoring programme, you will need to consider the most suitable day or time to attend the tutoring session. Most pupils will need a short break from school before starting lessons but for some pupils it is better to have the tuition lesson right after school as they are already in “learning mode”. Talk to your child to find out what works best for him or her. It’s also important not to start the sessions late in the evening as your child will probably be exhausted from school, sports, homework and any other extra-curricular activities. If your child has existing commitments with sports or clubs, you may have to make a decision to start the tutoring programme at the end of the season or commitment period. There is no point in overloading your child with extra-curricular activities and tutoring – especially if this could lead to adverse affects on his or her learning.
Tutoring in London can range from £20 to £60 per hour. With such a wide range in prices, it can be hard to know which tutoring programme or tutoring agency represents good value for money. You will also need to consider the cost of any books or resources. Ultimately, the value of tutoring is determined by the grades that your child can achieve and the boost in confidence, knowledge and skills gained from the tutor. If you are thinking about going to a tutoring centre then you may want to factor in the cost of transport and the time that you would need to invest in the tutoring sessions. If you would rather have a tutor come to your home then they may charge a higher rate to cover their transport cost. If you’re looking into online tutoring you will need to have a reliable PC or laptop as well as reliable internet connection.
The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme that focuses on growth mindset. The programme includes tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16. To find out more about the GT Scholars Programme, register your interest here: www.gtscholars.org/register-your-interest