After a difficult year of mostly online learning and lockdowns that have wrought havoc on teaching schedules and exams, it’s natural to worry about children falling even further behind over the long summer break. Figures by the Government suggest that more than 200,000 pupils may be leaving primary school without basic reading and writing skills.
As we all know, students learn best when they’re happy and well-rested, so taking time out is essential. But if you are planning on hiring a tutor this summer to ensure your child in the best position for the next academic year, here’s our advice on where to look.
Should I hire a tutor this summer?
Over 40% of parents say their child has the highest levels of stress observed in their lifetime, according to a survey of more than 2,000 respondents by MyTutor and Populus. If your child is struggling educationally because of the disruption to their education in the last 18 months, you might feel a summer tutor would help restore their academic and general wellbeing by instilling confidence in time for the start of the autumn term.
Lucy Spencer, Vice President of The Tutors’ Association, says that “Learning is more than the attainment of a grade. Many tutors take mental health first-aiding courses and can become a confidante to work through your academic struggles together with, away from the pressures of school. Tuition doesn’t have to be a big, expensive, sheetwork-based chore. You could tell stories, discuss the news, play games – it’s all customisable.”
How to find a tutor
In the UK, tutoring is a largely unregulated industry. There’s no legal requirements for a tutor to have even passed a DBS check, let alone be signed up to any sort of code of conduct.
Here’s how to find a good tutor…
The Tutors’ Association (TTA)
The Tutors’ Association (TTA) is the only professional, associative body for tutoring and wider supplementary education in the UK, and is recognised as such by the government.
TTA say it puts the safeguarding of its clients first. This means that, should students, parents or tutor’s have any issues, there is a middleman to turn to for help and complaints.
Any member of The Tutors’ Association has to have a current DBS Check and would have signed up to TTA’s Code of Practice (when on-boarding a TTA tutor, ask them for their signed copy).
All certified members can be found on the TTA’s member’s register search-tool.
Word of mouth
Don’t underestimate the power of personal recommendations for finding a tutor. The school gate, clubs, anywhere where people with children of your age meet and talk are great reservoirs of information.
The best tutoring agencies will have a range of highly experienced tutors specialising in the subject, and level, that you’re after.
Tutors from agencies should have been vetted and interviewed by people whose whole business is in the provision of tuition, with some agencies even providing tutor training.
A tutoring agency that’s a member of TTA will have signed up to its code of conduct and child protection policy, as well as performing its own vetting procedures.
Filter your search
Google ‘find a tutor’, and you’ll be bombarded with thousands of tutoring agency websites. This isn’t very helpful, and can be a little overwhelming. To save time, filter your search down by going directly to The Good School Guide, which has a review of over forty agencies most of which they have visited and assessed, and The School Guide, which also has a useful selection of tutoring organisations.
Ask your school
Schools can be a fantastic source of recommendation for tutoring, and if partnered with the National Tutor’s Programme, will even provide the tuition itself.
It’s worth having a chat with the class-teacher, especially if your child has ‘Special Educational Needs’. They’ll know exactly where the student needs support and how to navigate the assumptions on how learning difficulties may present themselves.
The National Tutor’s Programme
Through NTP Tuition Partners, state schools across England will be able to access heavily subsidised tutoring from an approved list of Tuition Partners.
Created to reach as many disadvantage students as possible, these providers have been given support, funding and will be subject to quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards.
What can I expect from a tutor?
Any tutor, even if they’re a newbie, should be able to provide some kind of personal, academic or professional reference. Like any employer would, it’s always insightful to run a quick search on what they put online (social media, LinkedIn, etc.)
An average tutor will cost around £30 per hour, but this can range from £15-£60 per hour dependent on the area, subject, tutor’s experience, specialism and whether the lesson is online, person to person, private or in a group.
Look out for summer deals: MyTutor, for example, is offering free lessons and resources, discounted private tuition and group courses for £10 per hour during the holidays to help fill in learning gaps and master exam technique.
A PGCE isn’t necessary to be a tutor. Of course, there are many advantages to formal teacher training, but what really makes a good tutor are, at root, being passionate and knowledgeable about your subject and being able to communicate that effectively.
To agree on goals
Make sure these objectives are clear and that you both agree on realistic progress and how it’s measured. This will help a tutor know if they’ll be able to help you.
Don’t expect your tutor to guarantee unconditional success, that’s an impossible ask. If that is offered, you should probably be looking at finding a replacement.
Top tip: ask the student’s class teacher three learning targets to then take to your tutor.
What progress is being made? Regular, honest feedback is essential – it may be a mix of written and verbal reports, agree on this with the tutor after your first lesson.
Make sure to probe your child for their own, less formal feedback to see that they’re satisfied and enjoying the lessons.
Learning is not automatic. You should be able to see evidence that the tutor is instilling self-belief, building confidence and giving your child room to make mistakes they can learn from.
It might sound obvious, but go with your gut – it’s key to look for experience and understanding paired together. The student must feel comfortable in the tutor’s company or learning will become challenging.
Online tutoring vs in-person
While one will never replace the other, it’s worth comparing the benefits of both.
Benefits of online tutoring
- Takes away any postcard lottery that certain children have when it comes to learning and is extremely flexible – access anywhere and at any time.
- Lesson’s are recorded (great for those with memory issues) and worksheets are stored digitally, so are harder to lose.
- Certain digital learning tools, or simply typing, can be helpful for those who struggle with writing.
- Tutors are often cheaper online; you should be able to find one suited to any budget
Benefits of in-person tutoring
- Personal contact helps prevent loneliness and rebuilds connections lost over the last year.
- Many children, especially young children of those with SEN, need tactile teaching methods (lego, role-play, measuring shadows, etc.).
- Room for spontaneity, experiential, immersive, site-specific and trips.
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