Advertisement feature in association with Headway Tutors – providers of in-home and online tutoring.
It’s a fun fact about me that, if you don’t count the paper round I had for literally 45 minutes, (which we don’t), my first job was as a one to one maths tutor. I was a personal tutor for about three years while I was at university and it was a great way for me, as a single parent to a toddler already, to make some extra money but work flexibly.
I guess when you think about it it shows how well suited I’ve always been to working for myself, because I took the initiative, found all my own customers and managed everything myself. It’s also quite staggering how far technology has come since then. There was no such thing as online tutoring companies back then because there was no such thing as online. Once I’d had the idea, the only way to find the people who wanted tutoring near me was to put an ad in the local paper. You couldn’t Google it – if you wanted to find a maths tutor you looked in the classifieds, or maybe at the postcards in the window of the newsagents.
I remember quite distinctly going into the newspaper office to place my ad, checking out the competition from the other private tutors and tutoring companies, and trying to come up with an enticing way to say ‘inexperienced but cheap’. My maths resources were Lego, (excellent for making fractions seem fun), a maths version of snakes and ladders that I drew myself on a bit of cardboard from a box and covered in sticky back plastic, and, if I was feeling flush, pages from workbooks that I photocopied in the library.
I charged £7.50 an hour. Happy times.
Nowadays the world of online tutoring is big business and there are masses of different online tutoring companies offering support with everything from the 11+ to GCSE Spanish. Many of these tutoring companies will offer the option of in-home tuition as well as online, and some may also run workshops or group tuition sessions, which can be more affordable than one to one tuition.
Because the options are now so much broader than the selection of postcards in a shop window, it can be hard to know how to choose the best online tutoring option for you and your child, so I’ve teamed up with tutoring website Headway Tutors to help you think about some of the questions you might want to ask yourself or a tutoring company before you make a decision.
Does my child need online tutoring?
An excellent first question!
A child can benefit from tutoring for all kinds of reasons. For some it’s a way to work on topics that they struggle with in school and to get that one to one support that school teachers simply aren’t able to give. For others it could be that they’re keen to pursue a subject further, and want to be pushed outside the classroom. You could be looking for a tutor for a specific event, like entrance exams – there are tutors for this too.
For many children, in-home or online tutoring is a lot about confidence. If a child struggles to speak out in class they can quickly feel left behind and that leads to them thinking they’re not smart enough to keep up or that they’re just not good at a subject. Often all it takes is a little bit of time with someone explaining something in a new way and everything can click into place.
I saw this so often when I was working as a maths tutor. At the beginning of a lesson a child would be quiet and shy, seemingly quite down on themselves. Then part way through the lesson you’d get that penny drop moment, where their face lit up and suddenly they got it. From that point on they’d have a totally different energy and both their ability and their enjoyment would shoot up.
Most children have at least one subject where they struggle to achieve this confidence boosting, penny drop moment in a classroom full of other people.
How do I find the best online tutor and know they’re good quality?
This is where things can get tricky. There are literally thousands of online tutors available, so how do you know that the tutor you find is going to do a good job?
One way to filter your tutoring shortlist is to go via a reputable tutoring company rather than an individual. Whilst individuals can work well if they’ve come from a trusted, personal recommendation, at least with a large, well-reviewed company you’ll be able to do some proper research. Look for a tutoring website that puts its tutors through a thorough review process rather than a site that simply acts as a middleman, allowing anyone to list themselves as a tutor with no real checks.
All of Headway’s tutors go through a three-step interview process which includes qualification checks, safeguarding processes and agreement to a formal code of conduct.
You can also look at things like Google reviews, (find Headway Tutor reviews here), for independent customer feedback.
How do I know online tutoring is making a difference?
This is one area of private tutoring where you’ll find an awful lot of variation between the different tutoring companies and so it can be a great filtering tool.
In school, your child’s progress is monitored and reported on a lot – we’ve got exams, tests, parents’ evenings, school reports – it’s not hard to get an idea of the progress your child is making. With private tuition it’s different, and while you may be able to notice a change in confidence levels and see your child feeling better about the subject generally, not all online tutors properly track progress in a tangible way.
Others, like Headway Tutors, appreciate the importance of understanding a child’s goals and progress.
Headway uses a system called Pogo Progress. This is their own purpose built progress tracking software that helps you to understand the learning process, increase a child’s engagement with their tutor and provide you with consistent feedback about how their online tutoring is benefitting them. POGO’s comprehensive curriculum for each year group and subject provides clear learning objectives, in line with the National Curriculum, to help tutors deliver sessions based on the curriculum statements. Why wait until parent’s evening to see how your child is progressing?
Is private tutoring safe?
Of course as a parent you want to make sure that anyone coming into contact with your child, especially if it’s for face to face tutoring in your home or the home of a tutor, is safe. Online tutoring is slightly different, but you’re still facilitating a relationship between your child and a trusted adult, so you can’t afford to be too careful.
Have a look at what online tutoring companies offer in the way of safety checks and promises and if you can’t find the information you need then don’t be afraid to ask. All Headway tutors for example go through security and reference checks, safeguarding checks and all have valid DBS checks in place.
I hope these questions have given you plenty to think about and hopefully some useful ways to compare different tutoring options and choose the one that’s right for you. Remember that like most things, there isn’t going to be a solution that works for everyone, so take your time, do your research and think about the aspects of online tutoring that are the most important to you.
One place to start that research is with Headway Tutors, so take a look at their website, get in touch with them and who knows, your child’s journey to increased confidence could start today!
Find out more about Headway Tutors.
A nostalgic P.S. Sometimes, when I want to feel old, I think about some of the kids I tutored. There was one boy, whose name I can’t remember, who used to bravely cycle to my house once a week after school. I say bravely because he was coming from one secondary school into the catchment area of another, just at kicking out time. He would be about 38 now.