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Tuition - how do you make the right choice?

The start of a new academic term, not to mention new academic year, is obviously a popular time for parents to be seeking some form of private tuition for their child.

As there are a variety of options available, from the traditional home visit to the modern tuition centre, it is worth being aware of a few factors that might help you make the best choice for your child; as one size does not fit all. Having decided which route to go there are a plethora of options out there, so it is worth being as informed as possible before you part with your hard earned cash and more importantly your child’s precious time.

Usually the first decision is to whether you want to try and find someone who comes to your home and offers the ‘kitchen table solution’ or you feel that your child would be better served by taking them to a dedicated tuition centre. Each of these two approaches have their merits and drawbacks, all of which ought to be taken into account before making your choice.

The home visiting tutor may well be convenient for the parent, but is it the best for your child? The child will be in their own home and subconsciously may not enjoy the lines between home and a place of work being blurred in this way. When you consider ‘Working from home’ is full of pitfalls for all the but most disciplined of adults, it could be that tuition away from the home environment may be more effective. Due to the one-to-one nature of home tuition the prices can be quite high and perhaps even then not fully cost effective, as there will need to be times during the hour where the tutee needs to put into practice what they have learned. A home tutor can only carry a limited range of resources to illustrate their teaching and nowhere near the scale that should be available to hand in a dedicated centre. In addition to all of that there is the fact that human beings are social animals who enjoy being around other people, so this is another aspect where the tuition centre comes out on top.

Once you’ve decided which of the above routes to try first, the next item on your agenda should be to establish wether or not the tutor(s) is/are a fully qualified teacher(s). This might seem like the least obvious question to ask at this stage, but it does come as a surprise to many that not only do you not need to be a fully qualified teacher to set up in private tuition, BUT….. Some of the ‘big names’ in the industry cannot guarantee that your child’s tutor will be a fully qualified teacher. They don’t want you to know this and will circumnavigate it by calling their staff something like ‘instructors’ or ‘facilitators’ ;-) So it does pay to Explore this further before signing up.

If you decide to go with the traditional home visit model then the remainder of the considerations will not apply, though your child may well miss out on some things that their centre tutored peers benefit from and enjoy. If, however, you have opted for what has become the preferred route for many; and not without good reason, then there are just a few more things to weigh up before making your final decision.

It is worth establishing what the teacher to pupil ratio is, but when doing so do be aware that this can be manipulated in some instances; for example you could have one teacher to a room of thirty children, who is assisted by some 6th formers. This means that they are taught by a fully qualified teacher and there is a ratio of 1:6, but as you can see it’s not quite the same as 1 teacher per 6 children. Be diligent in checking how the ratio is made up so at least you can make an informed decision.

Another consideration is how responsive they are to the child’s rate of progress and their needs as they arise. The more you teach a child the more you get to know their strengths and weakness and can respond accordingly. Some tuition centres that do not use fully qualified teachers rely purely on computer programs to progress the child. A computer algorithm is not yet the ideal replacement for a qualified teacher no matter how sophisticated it might be. That’s not to say that the use of computers is to be ruled out or dismissed, quite the contrary, but there is a big difference between a qualified teacher making judicious use of a computer as a tool compared with relying on a computer program to make decisions and act on these with regard to your child’s progress, strengths and weaknesses. Whilst on the topic of progress, strengths & weaknesses, how often does the centre carry out a reassessment of the children? These do not necessarily need to be reported back to you ad-verbatim, just as long as they are taking place and being used to inform the programme as it progresses.

The final things to consider, which might not be as important as some of the previously mentioned criteria but will still play their part in both how much your child enjoys going for tuition and how convenient it is for you to get them there each week.
So it is worth enquiring as to what reward systems and incentives there are in place for the tutees, as these will contribute to the overall success. A happy child is more willing to learn and to try hard.
The location of the centre itself is also something which should be given due consideration. A central location, such as a town centre, will be more likely to provide a wider choice of public transport options for the older children; or shops & other facilities nearby for parents of younger children to make use of whilst they’re being tutored.

We hope that you found this article informative and hopefully useful if you are exploring the various avenues with regard to tuition which are available to you. Thank you for reading.


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