Looking for the right Tutor doesn’t need to be a complicated process.
We’ve added some of the more common questions below.
Remember, the Tutopia team are always on hand to talk. Don’t hesitate to give us a call - ☎ (0)203 2874309
What We Are Asked…
► What’s the difference between a teacher and tutor?
This question often comes up, and on the surface they seem very similar. In short, teachers impart the information required by the course, tutors focus more on teaching skills. Teachers of course also teach skills, but the primary job a teacher is deliver the curriculum to the class. Tutors work 1-2-1, and can help explain any conceptually difficult ideas and material in a way that makes sense to the student. In addition, the tutor has the 1-2-1 time needed to laser-in on specific areas of weakness at a more granular level, what they need to do to succeed in the exams.
► Why get a tutor?
A tutor isn’t a substitute for school, however they are a brilliant compliment to an education. A Tutopia tutor is always a real expert in their subject and above all a great communicator. It’s our belief that tuition can give students the understanding and confidence to maximise what they are getting from their school work. Tutors have recently been through their own educational journeys, often with exceptional results, and can relate to their students’ experiences. Tutors can provide pastoral care as well as help keeping the student on the right track, introducing a fresh voice to help back up parents and students alike.
► What can we expect for our child?
Tutopia creates a structure between you the parent, the child and the tutor. Our job is then to manage and oversee the operation to ensure that the tutor is focussed not only on the syllabus goals, but also the student’s personal development. We believe that this structure keeps everyone working together to ensure the best outcomes.
► Why is tutoring so expensive?
One of our chief ambitions when setting up Tutopia was to reduce the cost of tuition. As private tutors of a combined 15 years experience James and Jonathan felt that the market was something of an unsustainable bubble in which parents were being charged close to double the rate that the tutor was receiving. Tutopia has built it’s reputation on not only cutting that cost, but also providing a round the clock service that makes the expense worthwhile.
Due to the nature of the business the tutors themselves are able to dictate their prices, but at Tutopia we encourage our tutors to think longer terms about the necessary continuity that they can offer a child, and how that should be reflected in their pricing.
We have been keen to mitigate the over-all cost to client with our business structure. Each tutor is paid well for their work, and our agency fee is reflected in the ongoing work that we do to maintain the individual goals and learning plan of the student. Parents who look to have a tutor as a long term part of their children’s education can expect discounted rates due to the continuity offered to the tutor.
► How much does tutoring cost?
The cost of tutoring varies considerably. Areas of high demand such as London push the market price of a tutor up in comparison to other parts of the country. Tutors know what they can demand for their time, and the cost of tutors reflects their experience and how in demand they are.
Tutors are generally self employed, receive no holiday or sick pay, and must travel to a client’s home. Furthermore, the tutoring industry is very seasonal with demand peaking in the lead up to the summer school holidays. Given that demand for tuition is concentrated over the after-school hours, further limiting a tutors earning power. As such, the cost of a good tutor can easily exceed £50/hr (plus whatever the agent adds by way of a fee). Agency fees tend to be baked into the hourly charge rate passed on to the client, so bear in mind that an £80/hr fee probably includes £30-40/hr agency commission! We pay our tutors market rate and keep the commission rate to a minimum. As such, our tutoring prices start from £60/hr
► Does my child need tutoring if they are already at a fee-paying / boarding school.
If your child’s schedule is very full it can be difficult to find space for extra tuition. Also children can be exhausted by the end of term, and we would be the first to advocate the importance of good rest. In our experience independent and boarding school students can benefit from knowing that they have a supportive individual during the holidays, someone who can keep them focussed on their holiday work, and help them to prepare for exams or university applications.
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What We Think You Should Be Asking…
► Are all tutoring agencies the same?
No. By their nature a tutoring agency is only as good as the tutors it has access to and its individual business model and philosophy it adheres too. There is no regulation of the tutoring industry - the job title of ‘tutor’ is not protected like “clinical psychologist” or “qualified teacher”, and tutors are not required by law to have 3rd party liability insurance or a criminal record check. So beware of individuals or companies offering to provide ‘professional tutors’ - this is is a fudgey term that may mask an individual’s vast lack of experience or competence.
Choose your tutoring agency according to your needs Take time to to understand what your needs are before committing to a company. Some tutoring agencies are ‘high volume’ businesses, with many tutors on their books but little personal contact them or clients. You can find a great tutor through these companies, and at an attractive price point. And many tutors registered with £100/hr agencies can also be found through such registers as tutorages or tutor2u. But it can be a lottery, with no company support in place to help find cover in the event a replacement is needed.
Others agencies are more like educational consultancies, providing a very personal year on year service and supporting and advising parents, students and tutors as they progress through their educational journey. As a client, you’ll get the best service - and be given the best tutors - by building up a relationship with a good agency. The cost of tutoring may be the biggest driver here, or perhaps you are more concerned about achieving a specific academic goal. Partner with an agency that operates in a manner most commiserate with achieving your goals. Our strong recommendation is use a good company that has already vetted it’s tutors and has a relationship with them. Alternatively, take a referral from a friend.
► Are tutors checked in terms of child protection?
Yes. All Tutopia Tutors must have an enhanced DBS check. Make sure to get confirmation from any agency that the tutor has an up to date DBS certificate.
► Why go with Tutopia.
Experience. Both business partners are long-term tutors with a combined 40 years of working experience. We feel we are uniquely placed to offer expert advise, insight and training ot the process. Not only that, but we also care deeply about the outcomes.
► What if we need to cancel a session?
In general cancellations are fine provided that they are arranged at leat 24 hours before the session begins. Due to the nature of freelance tuition the tutor may feel that it was impossible for them to arrange further work if the session is cancelled within the 24 hour period, at which point they may either choose to let it go, or charge for it, should it be a regular issue. Over busy times fo the year, expect the tutor to insist on charging a cancellation fee if cancelled inside of 48hrs. If they are in demand, it will be difficult to simply full the slot with another student.
► Is it better to get an online tutor?
We’re happy for our tutors to work online with their students and we see this method both improving and becoming more popular in the future. However we also believe that there is no substitute for genuine one to one, face to face communication as it gets the best results. Therefore our suggestion is that the tutor and the student at least run a few sessions face to face before working online. Sometimes online is the best option - the student may be somewhere remote, or simply may wish to maintain continuity with his/her favourite tutor. Other times a quick Skype for 20mins is all that is needed. Online tuition can be great.
► Isn’t tutoring just for exams?
This is a misconception of sorts. We believe that as a compliment to education tuition is not simply about exam revision, but actually helping the student to become a better learner. This way, when exams rear their ugly head, the student is best prepared to take them on, and is already organised towards them in terms of notes and revision, from the preceding months.
► Is there a downside to tuition?
So long as a child has time to be a child, play, socialise, solve boredom through creativity, and occasionally tidy their room, then tuition can be a good addition if well planned and goal oriented. Tutors should lead and inspire, but some tutors (not our tutors) are encouraged by students to help get their homework. This isn’t tutoring. A tutor that does this is disabling, so be careful to ensure that tutors are used in the right way.