You will want to get the best bang for your educational buck whatever your justifications are for using tutoring services outside of school. The quick checklist below will ensure that you find the best tutor for your needs.
1. Why Do I Need a Tutor for My Child?
Whether it is an 11 plus summer course in preparation for an entrance examination, to help after being absent from school for an extended period, or simply to boost a problem area, it is important to have clear objectives to find the right private tutor for your needs.
2. How Can I Find the Best Tutor for My Child?
Word of mouth is your best bet, so ask around for details of local tutors. Talk to your child’s teachers since many actually offer home tuition outside of school. A good tuition agency can help match your child to the right tutor and top agency tutors are usually trained and vetted. Tutoring centres are big business and can be found in local ads. Online tutoring is growing too and can be a convenient option.
3. What Should I Beware Of?
It is always a good idea to meticulously check DBS records and references. Watch out for any agency that asks for an introductory fee or those that attempt to tie you into a ‘package’ before you even meet the tutor. Ensure that you read the fine print prior to committing to a hefty contract. If you use website agencies, ensure that they are regulated.
Does My Child Actually Need a Tutor?
A tutor is essential for some children since they are off school with a long-term health issue. Families travelling for an extended period will occasionally take a tutor with them to keep the children’s brains ticking over. Others need somebody to maintain schoolwork during a difficult period such as a family break-up or an exclusion. School-aged film stars also have private tutors that keep them up to speed in between takes.
The question is, when and how should you offer a child a helping hand?
A tutor is often used:
- To shed light on a potentially tricky GCSE topic
- In Year 5 (ages 9 to 10) to prepare the child for entry, at age 11, to a selective independent school or the local grammar school. The vast majority of grammar schools and even some independents test both non-verbal and verbal reasoning along with Maths and English.
- In Year 6 (ages 10 to 11) to bolster basic English or Maths competence ahead of the KS2 exams.
- At age 7 to make sure that the child is up to speed for prep school assessments.
- To help with common entrance subjects – perhaps to ease the challenge of Latin or algebra.
- To put a learner back on track after dodgy examination results.
- To help improve schoolwork after a drop in grades on a school report.
- To ensure that A-level grades match UCAS offers.
- Following an unexpected family set-back or bout of illness.
- When a specific learning difficulty is diagnosed or suspected.
Schools usually don’t ‘test’ children below 5 – they may evaluate how they interact with other children and adults, whether they are able to concentrate, whether they enjoy listening to a story or playing, but tutoring a child that young is basically a waste of time and anyone that claims to offer it should be viewed with suspicion.
It is also good to be sceptical of those claiming to offer coaching in non-verbal and verbal reasoning. You can find test papers in these areas from the online bookshop and it is usually enough to give your child enough practice while you gradually encourage them. If your child has real problems with such papers, it is probably a good idea to get them assessed by an educational psychologist.
Children that are off school for extended periods, for instance due to illness, should be helped by the home tuition service of the local authority and this needs to be the first line of enquiry. Whether they offer what you need is a completely separate issue.