06 October 2013

How to Hire a Private Tutor For Your Child

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Our children often struggle to meet target grades, or achieve their potential. And though you hope their school can give extra support, the reality is that resources are stretched.

Also, many children hate being singled out at school. Getting extra support is often visible where a teaching assistant might work with them in class, or the child is removed from class to work in a learning support unit.

Children often feel embarrassed by this just at the time when they want to be accepted by their peers. On top of this, some children simply don't get on with their teacher. We've even heard of students who have failed a GCSE subject because of it, or their learning has stalled just at a critical stage in their education. 

So, should you hire a tutor? And what's the first step?

It isn't just students with learning difficulties who struggle in class. Gifted children come up against it too. With the teacher's attention diverted elsewhere, the brightest children sometimes lack the challenge they need.

In fact, Ofsted - in June 2013 - reported that many gifted & talented children are failing to reach their potential. Whilst teachers do their best, there is only so much time a class teacher can spend with a child in a class of 30. 

If the class teacher can't provide the sort of support your child needs to stop them slipping further back, or hasn't time to stretch your child enough, a tutor can make a huge difference. According to an Ipsos Mori survey, a quarter of parents have commissioned private tuitors to help their children. 

If you too are at the stage where you know your child could benefit from booster lessons, or individual help, there are different options open to you. The first step is to find a tutor who can offer you the right tuition. But where to start? Let's explore...

Choices ... choices

Essentially, there are three main ways to hire a tutor in Surrey. Through word of mouth recommendations, through a tuition agency or service who find a tutor for you, or through an advert. (whether online or in the paper) 

Picking a tutor to work with your son or daughter is in many ways a leap of faith. You are entrusting that person to help your child, and need to know they are up to scratch.

Since tutoring is currently unregulated, just about anybody can upload their details to a tutoring directory online or advertise in a local weekly. This means that you can't be sure the tutor is reputable. Or safe... 


Here at Lemon Tree in the gorgeous Surrey countryside, we only pick the best of the bunch. That means we look for qualified teachers with a degree in their specialist subject. 


Experience is worth its weight round here too. When we refer local tutors who have either taught or tutored before, we know that those teachers have the expertise and understanding that parents look for.


A good reputation is essential. You might hear of a tutor through another parent, or know of a tuition agency locally. It does matter. Why? When a tutor has great references or glowing testimonials from parents, you know that that tutor is trustworthy - and reliable.


We take the trouble to scrutinise all of our tutors here so you don't have to. Only those with great references, and an unblemished safety record make it into our team. And because the decision rests with a very experienced teacher, we know what we are looking for. 

Good tutors care about safeguarding. They insist on working with your child downstairs in a dining room or kitchen, rather than behind closed doors upstairs.

They insist that a parent or guardian is in the house during tuition when visiting your home. They insist that the child's needs come first. 

Remember: private tutoring is not a 'regulated' activity. There is no requirement for tutors to have a DBS check. And therefore many tutors won't have a (formerly CRB) police check - unless they have worked in a school within the last three years. That's why we thoroughly vet our tutors so you know a Lemon Tree tutor comes with integrity. 


Sometimes though, it boils down to how your child and a tutor get on. Tutors are not like classroom teachers. Because they are not seen as 'authority', a child often feels more relaxed with a tutor.

Many of our 1:1 tutors here in Surrey tell us how they often 'convert' a student within one lesson having blown a child's preconceived idea about tutors out of the water. Expecting to work in silence for an hour, they are often amazed by the range of fun and challenging activites their tutor has planned for them. 


And that the follow-up activities build on the last session's progress, and are at their level. One of our tutors this year told us a boy (new to tuition - and a reluctant reader) said, 'I usually hate reading, but you make it interesting. Can you be my teacher?' 

Enhance learning

Whilst a tutor doesn't replace a teacher, a tutor can transform a child's attitude to their learning. So our final advice is to arrange a first session with a tutor, and listen to your child. Watch how he/she reacts. 

If you have any questions about how we choose our Lemon Tree tutors for Surrey parents, you can always get in touch. We're open about what we do, and are always happy to share. 

Last modified on 09 November 2015
Nikki de Villiers

Nikki de Villiers - Lemon Tree senior tutor, owner and English/SEN specialist. For the best private tuition in Surrey and West Sussex...

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