I was 19 when I started my economics degree and Bee was two. I needed to make some money, but late night bar work isn’t really an option when you have a toddler to look after. I needed a part time job for just a few hours a week that could be flexible around Bee and ideally that I could do from home. I’d always been a bit of a nerd at school, with a talent for maths, and so I decided I’d try my hand at being a private tutor. Most of my maths lessons at school had been me going around the room, once I’d raced through the questions, helping other people, so how hard could it be?
This was 1997, before I owned a computer, let alone had access to the internet, so to advertise my services as a private tutor I went into my local newspaper and paid for a tiny classified ad. I charged £7.50 an hour, which was pretty cheap even for 1997, but then I figured I was only 19 and that I shouldn’t push my luck.
Much to my surprise, I had quite a few people phone me, and before I knew it, there I was, a maths tutor, teaching a seven year old boy about fractions with the help of some Lego and a board game I’d made myself out of an old cardboard box, some felt tip pens and some sticky back plastic. (We had to be creative in the old days, before we could just Google worksheets.)
Most of the time I really enjoyed being a maths tutor. It stimulated my mind, forced me to be creative, and the flexibility was brilliant. It was a little more scary for the three months or so when I tutored a 17 year old in the second year of a pure maths A-level – I only did maths with statistics, which has far less mathematical theory in, and so basically every week I had to teach myself the work beforehand. If he ever asked any questions, I’d just have to say ‘that’s a very interesting question – your homework is to find out the answer for next week.’
It was hugely satisfying too. When you explain something complex, and then see that look of dawning realisation on a child’s face, as it all clicks into place, and you know you’ve made a difference – well, you’re bound to feel pretty good about yourself.
My point here is two-fold: firstly, if you feel your child needs a little confidence boost in a particular area, a private tutor could do wonders. Secondly, if you’re looking for flexible, part-time work, then becoming a private tutor is definitely an option worth considering.
How to find a private tutor
Approved Tutors is a nationwide database, set up a year ago by an experienced educationalist. It’s free to use to find a tutor – you do pay an introduction fee for the contact details but this gets taken off your first month’s tuition fees – and you can search by subject, level and area. It’s not just academic stuff either, as well as the standard maths tutors and English tutors, you could also get musical instrument tuition, art tuition, and more.
Start with a quick search, and Approved Tutors will show who is available in your area:
Then click on a profile to find out more about that tutor. When they sign up, each tutor has the option to upload ID, enhanced DBS checks and qualifications, as well as more general information about themselves, so this is where you can check out your private tutor in a bit more detail. Easy peasy.
(This is the profile of Lee, the site’s founder. There’s lots more information in Lee’s profile about the subjects she offers, plus reviews from happy customers, so do have a look.)
How to become a private tutor
If you’re coming at this from the tutor viewpoint, the process is equally straightforward. It’s totally free to sign up to the Approved Tutors site, and the only cost is the admin fee you have to reimburse when a new client signs up to receive tuition from you, so you have nothing to lose!
It took me literally 20 seconds to register, (first name Maths, second name Genius, just for the purposes of this review), and then you login and build up your profile. Pick the subjects you’d like to offer, and then add as much detail as you can. Adding a picture definitely helps, as it makes your profile seem much more genuine and approachable, and the more you can include in terms of qualifications and security checks the better I would think.
Then that’s it! Sit back and wait for the job offers to roll in!
Another great feature from a tutors point of view is that your Approved Tutors profile acts as a mini website for you. If you’re considering being a private tutor for a little bit of extra income, you’re not going to want to shell out loads of money initially on marketing and advertising, so having a page that contains all your key information, that you can easily signpost people to, is really useful.
Much simpler than having to go to your local newspaper to place a classified ad.
Have you ever used a private tutor? If you were going to offer tuition, what would be your subject?