16 Dec 2019

How To Choose A Maths Tutor In London – One Mum’s Struggle To Find The Perfect Person To Help Her Daughter With Maths

  • By Rachel Bilton  | 
  • 16 Dec 2019  | 
  • 6 min read
  •  |  Free download

Kate, a mum of two from North London did not know where to begin to find her daughter a maths tutor in London. She had tried everything she could think of to find the right tutor for her family… or had she? Follow her journey from tutor-less to algebra, fractions and much more all being taught in her living room!

It all started at Parents’ Evening

Any parents of primary school aged kids can probably imagine the scene.

I’m chatting to my daughter’s wonderful teacher. All is going well. Reading, writing, all good, an outgoing and happy member of the class.

But then we get to maths.

Not going quite so well.

In fact, my daughter is struggling. Which means she’s stopped concentrating in maths lessons. Which means that she is falling behind. And it’s SATs next year.

I’ll be honest. I got home and panicked.

The teacher had said it would help if I talked to her about maths in the everyday transactions we do together, such as going to the shops, but I knew deep down that she needed more than that. She needed help getting her head around the building blocks of maths, in order to be able to really fly and enjoy it.

But here was the problem; I didn’t want to transfer that worry on to her. But I knew that this was something that had to be tackled.

And soon.

Learning maths at school in the 1980’s

I wasn’t particularly bad at maths at school, I certainly knew my angles from my algebra and was comfortable using maths in day-to-day life. But I couldn’t get my head around all the new terminology my daughter was meant to be learning in the National Curriculum, so I never really felt that I could help her myself.

Reverse operations and place value have both been cropping up a lot in her homework this term. I don’t even know what they mean!

Is place value the same as hundreds, tens and units? I have no clue what an operation is – let alone a reverse one – and don’t even get me started on the Singapore Method!

Anyway, I digress.

Maths at school in 2018

Before I tell you about what happened next, I’ll give you a bit of background on us.

My daughter goes to a great state school around five minutes walk away from our home in North London. The teachers are committed and exceptional, but the one drawback is that the classes are large.

Bursting at the seams.

Yes, there’s a teacher and a Teaching Assistant, but I was beginning  to get worried that my daughter wasn’t getting the support she really needed.

Some one-to-one help in maths. A personal tutor.

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So, how did I find a maths tutor in London?

So how should you go about finding a maths tutor in the depths of London?

I had absolutely no idea.

But I knew what I was looking for and I thought the best plan of attack would be to put it all down in a tutor checklist and hope I would be able to find what I was looking for.

I’ll share it with you now as you might find it useful should you ever need a tutor for your own kids.

My Tutor Checklist

1. Local – I was assuming that we’d have to go to them for the tutoring, and anyone who lives in London will know the hell of parking permits and traffic wardens. Walkable or an easy journey on public transport would be ideal.

2. Safety checked, of course – In fact, essential. I’d like to see a recent DBS certificate for anyone who would be tutoring my child.

3. They know their stuff – I was looking specifically for a primary school maths tutor who knew their way around the current National Curriculum. Why? I want them to be able to pinpoint exactly where my daughter is having problems and plug those gaps.

4. They should be able to make maths fun – After all, I wanted my daughter to have come out of this enjoying maths, not just learning by rote.

5. Timing – The fact is, we’re already so busy with after school clubs and swimming lessons, we’re going to be looking for someone who can fit around our jam-packed schedules.

And finally, it shouldn’t break the bank.

Was this too much to ask?

Who could help?

I started off – where else – asking my gang of parent friends at the school gates for their help on where I could find a great tutor for my daughter.

Their advice? Lots!

From local students, to tutor agencies, to ex-teachers and even some friends of friends. I had a great list to get started with so I prepared to interview them all, keeping in mind, all the while, my checklist of the six things that I was looking for.

Here are the questions I asked:
  • Where are you based?
  • Are you DBS checked, and if so, how recently?
  • What qualifications do you have in teaching maths?
  • How much do you know about the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum? If I said that my daughter is in the first term of year 5, would you know what she’ll be learning?
  • Could you please tutor my daughter at either 4.30pm on a Tuesday or 5.30pm on a Thursday, as she has clubs the rest of the week?
  • Can you please make maths fun?!
  • And finally, the million dollar question… how much do you cost?

The highs and lows of hunting for a maths tutor in London

I started the research with gusto, fitting in phone calls with potential tutors in between work and school runs. It wasn’t easy and it was taking way longer than I had planned, but I was OK with that.

This was something that mattered and I wanted to get it right.

The problem was, at the end of three weeks, I hadn’t found a single maths tutor near me who could provide everything that was important to me. It was obvious that I was going to have to compromise.

But on what?

Driving for an hour across London to see a tutor? A tutor who couldn’t bring the subject to life, but just taught through drills and repetition? Or a tutor who was double what I could afford?

At this stage, the only thing that kept me going was the look of worry on my daughter’s face whenever she had maths homework.

Yes, I’d spoken to some brilliant tutors: ex-teachers who could Skype us, students who knew their stuff and some really enthusiastic and fun people.

But there was always something missing.

After I’d almost given up completely…

Just as I had said goodbye to my last strand of hope (and was resigned to learning the KS2 curriculum myself to help my daughter!), I met a friend who’d seen something on Facebook about one-to-one online tutoring with a company that specialised in KS2 maths support – Matr.

I was interested, but also anxious.

Online – how would that work?

Would it be possible to build a human connection with an online tutor?

Could they figure out what my daughter was struggling with?

Would it be fun? Would it be expensive?

The truth about Matr

I needn’t have worried one bit!

For a start, I was able to actually speak to a human at their HQ in London, an ex-teacher, who answered all my questions and gave me some background on the company. It turns out that Matr are the largest providers of maths interventions in UK schools as well as the biggest maths tutoring community in the UK, so they really do know their stuff about supporting kids in maths.

All of my checklist requirements were met.

No need to travel, as the sessions happen in the comfort of your own home.

I could choose exactly when the tutoring sessions took place. 

The tutor is an expert in the National Curriculum and will be able to see exactly where my daughter is struggling and plug those gaps.

All tutors are safety checked and monitored and can actually make maths fun.

They even give you weekly practice resources and worksheets to keep the maths momentum going between sessions.

And the best bit? It’s affordable – only £49 per month for weekly 25 minute sessions or £79 for 50 minute sessions weekly.

Now this really is something worth celebrating.

If you’d still like a little more information on how to choose the right maths tutor for your child, let our blog point you in the right direction.

Related articles:

Metacognitive Strategies: How to use them at home

Parents Guide to Primary School Tutoring

The Best Homework Hacks: 18 Tips And Tricks To Help Busy Parents Get It Done Faster!


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