Last year, 40% of London parents hired a tutor for their children and that number is set to grow again this year. More and more students from overseas are entering the British school system, intensifying competition for the limited number of places. As a result, private tutoring is becoming more and more popular – essential, even, for many parents. They see it as a vital part of ensuring their child wins a coveted place at one of London’s top independent schools.
It is time to move beyond the debate as to whether tutoring is a benefit to children or not. Of course, taken to its hot-housing extremes, it can be severely detrimental to a child’s development and sense of self-worth. That is not good tuition. Good tuition is about careful planning and a clear understanding of how a child learns. An excellent tutor plays an indispensable role for a family that complements and enhances what a child learns at school.
Exam season is a stressful time for any child and tutoring should make those exams easier, providing a support network that helps prepare them and bring them that extra confidence to take on the challenges.
The best approach to a child’s education is a collaborative one. In a world of exams and tight schedules, teachers do not always have time to cope with the challenges thrown at them outside the classroom. This year, Fulham Prep enlisted Enjoy Education to support the growing number of foreign students who, with English as their second language, were struggling to cope. Each week, Enjoy Education tutors have spent one-to-one time with students to improve their literacy levels and develop their confidence in speaking English. The effect has been overwhelming. As, head teacher Jane Emerson understands:
Private tutoring agencies like Enjoy Education now go much further than just providing a family with a tutor, instead a full consultation takes place, courses, support and expertise are all provided to complement a child’s school education. With schools testing students from as young as 3, agencies need to be there to support both the family and the school to ensure the child is able to get through their exams with as little stress as possible.
Private schools are well known for producing excellent results and their small class sizes and tailored approaches are often the key. But, no matter how small a class is, teachers will struggle to dedicate the level of one-to-one support that tutoring companies like Enjoy Education can provide. Teachers play a crucial role in supporting children in their behavioural and education development, but schools need to embrace the idea that learning can take place in all areas of a child’s life, not just in the classroom.
But, with over 1.5 million tutors in the UK, not all tutors can be of this high standard. It is a thriving industry, it seemed impervious to the pressures of the recession, and that is always a success story we want to read about, but it has also led to a huge variety in the quality of tutors and teaching. Professional self-regulation is necessary to ensure the tutoring industry continues to bring confidence to parents that it will make a positive impact on their children’s education.
The best tutors are not only those who have the grades and experience, but those who have a good rapport with your child. Enjoy Education provides an extensive consultation and assessment programme to ensure we understand your child’s learning needs fully before we choose a tutor. Tutors of course are not all the same, they come with different skills and characters. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whilst one child may benefit from just one hour a week, another may need the mentoring and structure of a tutor joining the family for an extended period of time.
As a founding member and Vice-President of The Tutoring Association (TTA), I am determined to see a continual rise in the standards of tutoring in the UK. Promoting best practice is vital if we want to see the tutoring industry continue to grow from strength to strength. The benchmark of quality that the TTA provides allows tutors to focus on achieving the very best for the children – helping to give them the skills and confidence to be an active participant in a thriving school community, and giving parents the assurance that they are providing their children with the very best education. Ultimately, the sign of a truly successful tutor is that they are no longer needed.