Private Tuition – Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)

As all too many parents find out the hard way, private tuition is an unregulated industry. While there are some distinct upsides to this, as let’s be honest, the educational overlords can be rather chaotic, there are some very real disadvantages too. The main issue is that anyone can set themselves up as a private tutor, and while this doesn’t instantly create a Wild West scenario, it can make it challenging for parents wishing to give their children extracurricular support. As with many things in life, there’s a phrase which springs to mind when considering private tuition – Caveat Emptor (or buyer beware).

If you’re going to entrust your child’s education, along with a not inconsiderable financial investment, to a private tutor, it stands to reason that you want to be reasonably assured of a positive outcome.

The challenge parents have is that many private tutors look equally qualified. You will see an array of apparently qualified tutors listed on various tutoring sites, each with a degree from a respected establishment. Therefore, unless you have been fortunate enough to have a good word of mouth recommendation from someone you know and trust, finding a tutor can be a mine field.

This being the case, many parents can’t differentiate and proceed to choose a tutor on price and location.

However, what you can’t see is whether the tutor has a passion for education, whether they have the right disposition and experience to help your child, and frankly, whether they’re any good!

Another important factor is longevity. All too many tutors are essentially gigging until something else comes along, be it the next acting role or a ‘proper job’ that they’ve applied for materialises.

This may just seem like a fact of life, but put yourself in your child’s position and you may see it differently. A student often forms a bond with their tutor, and a professional tutor will often become a coach and confidant. This is all part of helping the student break through barriers, increase confidence and ultimately, to achieve their success.

To have a tutor suddenly vanish at the end of a term, or in the lead up to exams, could be catastrophic for the student’s planning, results and of course, their all-important self-confidence. This is not what you set out to achieve or to pay for!

The fact is that there are a number of highly qualified and greatly skilled tutors around. The best are often not the cheapest and when you think about it, why would they be?

It is incumbent upon every parent to perform the due diligence on a tutor prior to engaging them for the sake of all concerned.

As an example, every year without fail, I have parents who have previously enquired about my services but gone elsewhere (usually due to cost), come back to me because the hired tutor hasn’t worked out.

The effect here is far beyond the wasted cash. What you may not see is that the poor outcome from a lesser tutor is often taken as a personal failure by the child, especially if they know that the investment in private tuition is not without sacrifice.

I implore every parent who is considering a private tutor for their child to thoroughly check out the tutor of choice before formally engaging them. References and testimonials are essential, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it turns into an informal interview!

Even then, I would advise parents to proceed on the basis of a trial lesson to ensure that the student and tutor are a good fit. Sometimes there’s instant chemistry, and sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.

As the parent and the paying customer, you get to choose, so it’s worth taking one’s time to get this very important decision right.

I am always happy to advise and I have no need to push my services as I am usually fully booked for most of the year. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].