Last week we took a look at some of the key differences between the different types of 11+ tuition that parents may consider for their children. Seeing a child excelling in their studies is a dream for many parents; seeking out a professional tutor is one of the ways that a parent may wish to show support for their child in their academic pursuits and on their 11+ journey.
The demand for professional tutors has continued to grow in recent years: the benefits include dedicated guidance to help children with tricky subjects and usually an insider knowledge of exam technique and up to date information on the form and style or exam questions. The results are usually increased confidence and academic achievement.
Professional tutors can often be quite expensive, and so choosing the right one for your child is often of the utmost importance. In this blog post we have listed some of the most important things to consider when looking for a tutor.
Timing of sessions
When does your tutor begin their sessions and how long do they last for?
A session beginning at 8pm in the evening will not benefit any 10-year old, especially one who has spent their whole day in school, as they will likely be tired and their attention span will therefore be short. A child will likely not benefit greatly from a session if they are tired after another extra-curricular activity. Ideally, a tuition session should slot into the timetable of the whole family. Your child will benefit most from these sessions if they are happy and relaxed before tuition, not anxious about running late or surrounded by the stress of trying to juggle too many commitments!
Location of session
Where does your tutor teach?
Most tutors will teach in their own home if they tutor individually, or in local village halls if they teach groups of children. Occasionally you may find that a tutor is willing to come to your home rather than expecting you to travel to them. If you have several other children this may be more convenient, but note that the tutor may charge more for doing so, especially if they have to travel beyond their local area.
If the tuition will take place in the tutor’s own home, check what the environment for the tuition will be. Do they have a separate quiet area where they teach? Or will your child be working at the kitchen table while the tutor’s family comes and goes? Tuition in a noisy area of the house will be far less effective than in a dedicated area.
Consider also whether tutors will be offering their tuition exclusively online. It is best to ask your child how they would like to learn – this may suit them better than learning in a foreign environment!
Charges vary considerably among tutors, even in the same area, and the most expensive tutor is not necessarily the best one! You can get some idea of the going rate for your area by browsing through our Tutors Directory where most tutors state their hourly rate.
Some tutors will ask for payment on a weekly basis, while others may ask for large amounts in advance, and that may not be affordable for some families. If a tutor asks you for the full cost of tuition in advance, rather than in two or more payments, you should consider very carefully before committing to the payment. If your child does not get on with the tutor, or it becomes clear that he or she does not have the potential to pass the 11+, you may end up losing a great deal of money.
If you are paying on a weekly basis, does the tutor have a cancellation policy if your child is unwell or you have to cancel the session for other reasons? What notice do they want for cancellation? Are they willing to arrange an alternative time slot if you do have to cancel? What arrangements will they make if they have to cancel a session? It is always best to agree on this from the start, to prevent misunderstandings and unpleasantness later!
Quality of Tuition
Of course, this will usually be the biggest concern when selecting a tutor and will likely be a major factor when making your decision. But how do you discern this?
Consider the tutor’s track record. You should not be afraid to ask what their pass rate has been over the past few years. If possible, do not be afraid to ask for references from parents of children they have tutored previously, too.
Consider their qualifications. Ask to see proof of their qualifications in the form of teaching certificates or other academic certificates. Not every tutor is a trained teacher, but anyone tutoring a child should have a good academic background. A tutor should also have completed a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check within the last five years and be happy to show you their clearance form.
Consider their tutoring methods. A good tutor will assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor their tuition accordingly. This is where one-to-one tuition is particularly valuable. If your child has special needs you may wish to discuss with a tutor what experience they have in the field and how they will approach the special needs in the way that they tutor.
Consider the feedback you will receive. Regular feedback is crucial throughout the 11+ process. It enables you to obtain a realistic view of your child’s chances of success, and to plan your schooling options accordingly. A good tutor will be absolutely frank with you at all times. Find out if there is a specific point during the preparation process when they will inform you of your child’s prospects in passing their 11+.