It may be a booming industry, but it can be hard to find a location where private tutoring is explained well for parents. Now estimated to be worth up to 2 billion pounds in the UK, it’s become a huge business over the past few years. We’ve seen some tutors earning up to £1000 an hour and a sharp increase in students getting private tuition – a figure, according to the educational charity The Sutton Trust that currently sits at 27% in England and Wales and 41% in London. So what is driving this change and is private tuition a truly sustainable way of transforming education as we know it today?
Ten years ago, tutoring was something we only really saw amongst GCSE or A-Level students, a privilege reserved for the lucky few.
But according to a recent Radio 4 programme, The Business of Tutoring, more and more children across the social divide are having private tuition, regardless of their family’s income or background.
And with parents with children as young as 4 now seeking private tutors all across the country, it’s clear that tuition is here to stay.
So what is behind this increase and what effect is it having on today’s parents?
It’s common knowledge that 1-to-1 support is one of the most effective methods to help transform a child’s learning.
But this is something schools can simply not offer when class sizes often go up to 30 students, and nowadays they are becoming increasingly less equipped to handle the needs of every individual child.
And with cuts and underfunding, it’s not hard to see why.
“There’s a sense that schools are no longer adequately sourced”, Diane Ray, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge argues in the programme.
But with pressure mounting on youngsters and the world becoming an even more competitive marketplace, it’s clear that this is not something parents are willing to gamble on anymore. They are anxious to provide their children with more certain futures and opportunities they perhaps didn’t have.
Can we really blame them?
Private tuition has now become normative Ray declares, and is deemed to be “something that every good parent should provide”.
In recent years, a new trend has emerged in which we see some will stop at almost nothing to find any means possible to give their children this specialist kind of support.
Parents are dispensing hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds monthly on private tutors in the hope of securing the best education for their offspring.
But this tuition comes at an expense that’s not just monetary.
It seems that more and more parents are now working multiple jobs just to provide their child with 1-to-1 support and give them a leg up in life that they never had.
One family mentioned in a Guardian article on the subject is Ayesha Ijaz and her husband Malik, who have been taking their children to private tuition for almost two years. Ijaz has been working extra shifts just to be able to afford the expense, but they believe it’s a priority.
“The world is very competitive and everybody is working very hard,” he argues. “I know the school are doing very well, but there are 30 students in each class. It’s one teacher and support staff. They try their best to help, but I realise if I’m going to give my kids some extra help it’s going to be brilliant for their future. Anyone who does a bit extra always gets ahead.”
And yet, there is a huge issue at the heart of the business
Tutoring is entirely unregulated.
There are no legal checks, tutors are not required to have any teaching experience and Ofsted is not out patrolling the industry.
In reality, anyone can post an ad on the internet and call themselves a tutor.
Young students have taken to tutoring to make money on the side of their degrees and there is no necessity for specialists.
So, it would seem that “a complete hierarchy of tutoring” has come into fruition, as Lee Elliot Major, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, points out.
He goes on to argue that “there’s probably an assumption out there that if you just put a tutor in front of your son or daughter that will help – that’s not the case. It really does depend on who’s doing the tutoring. We know it’s very effective if you get a good tutor. It could be that you’re spending a lot of money on someone who’s not making a lot of difference. There’s a lack of awareness of the variation in the effectiveness of that tutoring”.
With less experienced or under qualified tutors charging the lower rates, there is a worry that parents are opting for 1-to-1 support that is perhaps not as beneficial as they first thought.
So, what are the solutions?
Tutor centres, a new concept, are cropping up across the country and are quickly becoming popular amongst parents.
You pay a joining fee and then a monthly amount, which allows students up to two lessons a week. Children follow a programme of computer-based learning, answering questions online according to their age and ability.
There are also companies which offer monthly or yearly subscriptions to unlimited maths resources which come at much less of a cost.
However, in some tutor centres there is often only one tutor to multiple children, meaning that they might not be getting the personalised individual support they really need, a situation which mimics classrooms up and down the land.
Whilst resource subscriptions might seem like the more affordable solution, they require a lot more time and effort on the parent’s behalf – as it involves them becoming the teacher, reviewing, marking and often simply checking that the work has been done in the first place!
Plus, if children have any budding questions or are struggling with particular areas, many parents are not equipped to deal with the current KS2 maths curriculum! With new concepts coming in since many parents were at school including bar modelling and chunking, some find themselves stumped when they see a homework sheet.
It’s clear that the world of tutoring can be a minefield for parents: finding the right 1-to-1 maths tutor for their child can seem like too big a task to tackle, but help is at hand.
Matr’s solution to the world of private tutoring
With Matr, it’s different.
We’ve taken it all online, meaning we’ve been able to create affordable, simple and convenient private tuition.
Via our online classroom using a shared screen and audio, your child can access high quality 1-to-1 tutoring without ever having to go further than the home computer – no rush hour traffic for either of you!
What’s more, our intelligent platform not only allows us to connect children with their perfect personal tutor – and take the stress away from you trying to find one –, but it also means we can offer you tuition at a fraction of the cost of regular tutors.
We personally recruit and rigorously train every single one of our specialist tutors, alongside the renowned Institute of Education at University College London. In addition to this, tutors undergo background checks and we carefully monitor every session to ensure your child is in the safest of hands and making the most of every maths minute!
And, having already taught thousands of children (44,023 to be precise!), in over 1,500 UK primary schools across the country, we are experts in teaching the KS2 national curriculum and giving children the support they need.
A word of advice from Matr
Here at Matr we are passionate about helping children achieve all they can in maths, so whether you decide to go with our convenient and affordable online tuition or one of the other options available, we ask that you research it thoroughly to ensure that you’re getting the most for your money and your child is getting the boost in maths they truly deserve!
Want to listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme in full? You can do so here.
Want to read the Guardian article in full? You can do so here.