What to look for in a tutor

 

This month, I’m following up my last blog on “When should (and shouldn’t) you tutor your child” with one that gives advice on what to look out for if you decide to find a tutor, or a tutoring company. The tremendous surge in the number of parents looking for help, assessments and tutoring, expresses their deepest desire to help their children do well, in whatever ways they can. It can really help to know the key criteria to look for and vital questions to ask when considering engaging an individual tutor or approaching a tutoring agency.  

 

  Good teachers and tutors are passionate about learning and helping your child to succeed. What you need from a tutor is for them to always tell you the truth about your child and create a bespoke teaching package to meet their needs.  Whether an experienced teacher, or a bright and enthusiastic graduate, your tutor should boast excellent training, a love of teaching and a way of getting through to your child. All children are different and no two tutoring jobs are the same.   

 

How to find a tutor

  There are several options, and the search often starts with either word of mouth recommendations or a local internet search. You can engage an individual tutor, found either locally or via online classified listings and tutoring agencies, or approach full-service educational consultancies and tutoring companies to discuss your needs. If they are good at what they do, they will assess your requirements and recommend a trial lesson with the tutor they consider to be the best match to your child and your child’s needs.  

 

It is worth doing this properly from every perspective to avoid wasting time and money. More importantly, a child’s enthusiasm for learning and their self-esteem are at stake, and they are far too valuable to take a risk with.  

Things to ask a potential tutor

 

What are your credentials?

  You will need to know their educational qualifications and their knowledge of the subject area with which you need help. You should feel free to ask about any relevant training they’ve had as a teacher or tutor, and continuing professional development. Membership of a professional organisation such as the The Tutors’ Association (either as individuals or as part of a tutoring company) can also indicate a seriousness about their profession which speaks volumes. The Good Schools Guide is another valuable source of information, as it publishes independent reviews of tutoring companies, ranking them according to strict criteria. At JK Educate we are very proud to have been reviewed by them and to be featured in their top section of listings.  

 

What experience do you have?

Tutors should be open about their general tutoring experience and their experience in the specific field for which you need help, such as GCSE Maths or the 11+ exams. Don’t accept vague or evasive answers.  

 

What is your record of success?

Some tutors will have years of results to talk about, whilst others may be newer to teaching. Newer tutors can do a truly great job, and children sometimes prefer a younger tutor. They should ideally have had thorough training, however, and have the backing of more experienced colleagues and managers at a tutoring company with a great record!

 

What is your approach to tutoring (and homework)?

You know your child best and will be able to discuss how they learn and help the tutor suit their approach to them. You should get an early feel of whether you think they will “click” from their answers to questions such as this.  

Image by Mark Maclaine

 

I truly believe there is no greater gift for our children than teaching them how to love learning and you need to trust that the tutor you choose can create the right conditions for this to be achieved.  

Can we have a trial lesson?

  Tutors should happily agree to a paid trial lesson, and ideally the tutor should call you beforehand for a detailed conversation. This gives you a chance to ask more questions and clarify what you see as the individual needs of your child before the tutoring relationship begins. If the trial lesson goes well, then you will feel confident about committing to a tutoring contract going forward.

 

Can you provide references?

A willingness to provide references should be a measure of the tutor’s credibility and confidence. You should always check the references from an individual tutor.  Check the track record of tutoring agencies too (and always read the small print before committing to a contract of any kind).  

Is your DBS certificate up to date?

Tutors will be spending time alone with your child, so it is essential they have an up to date certificate, to ensure your child’s safety. Reputable agencies will always check a tutor’s DBS before working with them, but if you are engaging an individual, you must ask to see their certificate.   Save Save Save Save Save Save Save

About Lorrae Jaderberg

Lorrae Jaderberg is joint founder and Managing Director of education consultancy JK Educate. Before founding JK Educate in 2010 Lorrae was a Lorrae was a dedicated teacher, Deputy Headteacher and Senco. JK Educate offer bespoke support for children’s learning including high quality tutoring across London and beyond.

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