I chose to be a tutor not because I can’t teach but because I can and love to teach. I made an active decision to make it my full time occupation and as a result I have a very varied and satisfying career, meeting all sorts of people. Tutoring is not solely an indulgence of the rich to ensure their child exceeds in exams, it is a much needed service that supports a child’s learning, boosts their confidence, eases their pressures and worries and helps them to untangle subjects they previously thought of as impossible; all this, regardless of their social background and academic needs. Tutoring is unique learning; the child is the absolute focus of your teaching and I am always amazed by the achievements and improvements they can make by being taught in this way.
Recent press articles such as telegraph.co.uk/education have condemned tutoring and given it a bad wrap. My beginnings of tutoring are humble, as is my background, so I find these articles hard to relate to. It paints a picture of children being unwillingly ‘subjected’ to tutoring but many of my students want extra help and their parents work day and night to provide this. It is also important to remember that tutoring fills a tiny percentage of a child’s free time; their childhood is not sacrificed, in fact it is enhanced as they feel more relaxed because their worries about a subject diminish.
Tutors are not trying to belittle the education system or glory grab from hard working teachers. We have a different role. We supplement a child’s learning. And some, regardless of where they live or go to school, need this additional support.
I see tutoring as tool to develop self-drive, not hinder it. I do not think for my pupils or pamper them. I encourage them to question and analyse and debate. And I support their individual needs, moulding every lesson around them. I have witnessed first hand how tutoring helps children from all different backgrounds and abilities. It is certainly not just for children from private schools being pushed by their parents to gain A star grades.
Seeing the benefits tutoring can bring to any child has linked me to some fantastic projects where I have given my time to tutor students who need the support but are financially unable to pay for it:
The Access Project was established to help less affluent students, attending state schools, during the summer months, get into University. Their mission is: “To combat educational inequality by using volunteer tutors to help motivated students access top universities”. After being in fruition only a few years, The Access Project now teaches hundreds of students a week.
Seeing the value, I have committed to being regularly involved, seeing one student once a week.theaccessproject.org.uk
This wonderful project is based in Kent and run by three mums who wanted to level the playing field in terms of seeing all children being able to pass entrance exams. With funding, they set up AIM to offer free 11+ preparation to children from local, low income families.
I heard about the project and offered my help last Summer, using skype as a tool to enable me to tutor a pupil three times a week over the holidays. He went on to pass his entrance exam and gain a place at his first choice Grammar school.
So you see, tutoring is valuable to everyone but often, yes, cost can be an obstacle for some families. This should not devalue tutoring or put it in a realm of impossibility. There are projects out there and willing tutors who give up their time to help. So I hope I have shed some deserved and positive light back on tutoring and shown it to be the multi-dimensional service it is.