Education is important. As one parent put it: “the only truly lasting things you can give your child are memories and an education.” But the modern world of education can be a minefield for parents. A little help is always welcome and good help is hard to find.
Hello Tutorfair, a website that makes it easy for parents to find the best tutors. Unlike traditional agencies, Tutorfair allows parents to contact and book tutors directly. You can read all about them on their profiles, and watch videos of most of them, so your child can help to choose the tutor too.
Tutorfair also has a promise: for every student who pays, they give tutoring to a child who can’t afford it. As a website they afford to charge much smaller commissions than traditional agencies; the tutors can earn more and get to give back to society. So it is easy to see why the site attracts the best tutors in the world. They wanted to answer some of your questions:
What are the most common reasons to use a tutor?
“Mark has worked with 4 of my 5 children: the eldest for exam technique; the second for concentration and to reignite her love of maths; he was the one who diagnosed my third child’s dyslexia; and my fourth asked for Mark when he found the move to his new school a challenge…. he changed our lives with his tutoring.” Mother (West London)
Much of the time, tutoring is about boosting confidence. Having someone half-way between a teacher and a best friend inspires a student to want to work hard. The most common reasons are:
- Personalised learning: “My child isn’t reaching his full potential.” Whole class learning has never been the whole answer. Because schools teach in large classes, even great teachers can struggle to get the best out of every student. Your child may be gifted and not being stretched, or struggling and falling behind, or in the ‘forgotten middle’. Some children are just ‘square pegs’ who don’t fit easily into the round holes of school; one-to-one tuition helps the learning to be tailored to them.
- School Entrance: “My child has a chance to go to a selective school, but the school he’s at has no experience of preparing for the entrance exam.” Competition to gain places into Britain’s top schools is fierce. The pressure increases if your child is at a state primary that simply can’t cater for the one or two students who might be applying to a local grammar or private school.
- Exams: “My daughter is panicking about her first public exams. I’m worried that she’s making herself stressed”. Exams are a daunting time for families and even a strong student can benefit from extra help. A tutor can identify gaps that might have been overlooked in the classroom – and reassure your child.
- Catching up: illness, a difficulty at home, a move of school or any number of reasons could cause your child to fall behind. Most teachers can make up the difference and sometimes a little extra help is useful.
- Special Educational Needs: “I really want my son to be able to stay in mainstream school.” It can be hard for a parent to know how to support a child with special educational needs like dyslexia. Specialist SEN tutors can provide assessments and advice to help you support your child and tips for them.
- Extending learning: some parents love their child’s school but feel like there should be more to education. A tutor could help your child to explore just about anything, outside school, purely for the joy of learning. For example, Tutorfair has a British chess champion sitting down for a match with a keen student every week.
What difference can it make and how often do tutorials happen?
“Tim is simply amazing. My son has literally moved from a C/D at A level maths prediction to an A/ A* that he is expected to achieve this June. I can’t thank Tim enough. I would recommend that you get him on board as soon as you can as the maths tutor for your child because he will get you the results that you need.” Parent, North London.
Recent Education Endowment Foundation results1 show tutoring can add about 5 months’ progress to a student and Bloom2 found that “the average tutored student was above 98% of the students in the control class”. Mark Maclaine3, has seen students jump from 25% to 78% in a week, and change their whole outlook on a subject within days.
Tutors usually visit once a week for one hour, but your child might ask for extra support in the run up to exams. There is such a thing as too much tutoring: be mindful of a child becoming overtired, and not having enough energy for school. Hopefully the tutoring will help the learning happen faster so they have more time to play.
What should I look for and how do I choose a tutor?
Look for a tutor you like and, as importantly, look for someone your child likes. Engaging the student in the selection process is a great motivator. Ideally you want a hybrid of mentor, teacher and coach; if your child likes the tutor, half the job is already done. A lot of this will come down to personal chemistry so don’t be shy about ‘trying out’ a few tutors.
You might want the tutor to have been to a good university and have experience tutoring the same subject so they are aware of common misconceptions and pitfalls. Ask for references and reviews. Prices vary widely depending on experience and demand, so compare a couple of options. On Tutorfair’s website it’s easy to see a tutor’s qualifications and read reviews from previous clients.
Ask your child how the lesson went. The right tutor for your child should boost confidence and make your child feel ready to learn more.
Shouldn’t my child be learning enough in school hours alone?
Most students will never need a tutor and be supported brilliantly by their school. But as many parents discover, some children need a helping hand. One-to-one tuition is very effective – and teachers also often give up their spare time to support students outside of class. Tutoring can have a stigma and parents can be made to feel guilty about it. However, most progressive schools are delighted when parents, carers or professional tutors support a student’s learning. An additional pair of hands to provide some specialist one-to-one support is likely to be in the best interests of the student and the school.
How can I make tutoring work alongside schooling?
“I work alongside a pupil’s school teachers; usually they are conscious of not having the resources to look after a particular child and happy that help is at hand.” Serena, Tutor
Tell your child’s teacher you are getting a tutor and why (if it happens to be because of your concerns with that particular teacher, be tactful!) If your child has fallen behind or clearly isn’t being stretched, the teacher will probably be pleased to know the child is getting support and can provide valuable pointers.
Some parents worry that getting a tutor will be seen as a sign of mistrust by the school, and prefer to say they have decided to help their student themselves; or have an aunt who is a mathematician and wants help. Whether you tell teachers the truth or not, they should be able to supply you with the term’s curriculum, the child’s personal targets and the dates of any upcoming tests.
It is helpful to share with tutors any feedback you receive from your child’s school: reports, latest grades or even something your child has mentioned in passing. Keeping the teacher and tutor informed helps them both plan effectively and helps students ‘unblock’ anything that is stopping them from learning.
What’s the best way to find a tutor?
It can be overwhelming finding the right tutor with hundreds of traditional tutoring agencies throughout the country. They can be great for local knowledge but usually charge 35-50% commissions to arrange the match, with some parents feeling they don’t get much choice or information. Some independent tutors post adverts on directory listing sites like Gumtree; this gives a broad choice of candidates but cannot guarantee quality. Personal recommendations are a great way to find someone to suit your child, but you may find it more difficult if there is a very specific need. Online tutoring can be cheaper as can going to the tutor’s house.
Tutorfair is a marketplace for tutoring. They make it easy to find the best tutors. Simply search for the subject and level you want tutoring in, and your postcode to see who is nearby. The best tutors will be at the top of the search results. Tutors can be contacted and booked directly via the website to get you the help you need quickly and efficiently. For more information visit www.tutorfair.com or call on 0844 800 8040.
1) EEF http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/one-to-one-tuition/
2) Bloom http://education.purduecal.edu/Vockell/EdPsyBook/Edpsy2/edpsy2_strategies.htm
3) Mark Maclaine https://www.tutorfair.com/tutor/name/mark/id/168/profile