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Cut the cost of a private tutor

by Lovemoney Staff ReenaSewraz on 09 November 2012  |  Comments 10 comments

Many families think it's necessary to supplement what their kids learn at school with a one-to-one tutor. Can you do it without spending a fortune?

Cut the cost of a private tutor

A recent survey from EdPlace, an online education resource for parents, found that families are spending as much as £6 billion a year on private tuition for their kids. According to the research over a quarter of families use tutors to supplement their child’s education, though it’s an extra cost they can barely afford.

The average rate for hiring a tutor was £22 an hour, taking the annual total to a whopping £2,758. A third thought one-to-one tuition was necessary because schools were inadequate. However, even though parents wanted the best for their children 54% said they couldn’t afford the cost of getting them extra help

So if you are one of the growing numbers of parents looking further than the classroom for support, what should you know, where can you find tutors and are there any cheaper alternatives?

Private tuition

Anyone can set up as a private tutor. According to the Times Educational Supplement, more than a quarter of 11-18 year olds have had one at some point in their school life, most commonly for maths.

However, there is a growing market for younger children at the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 level where SATs exams place extra pressure on teachers and pupils.

The growing private tutor industry isn’t regulated but many will have a CRB check to improve credibility and put parents' minds at ease.

Fees can vary depending on where you live and whether you go for someone from an agency or someone that does it on the side. On average you can expect to pay £20 to £40 an hour, but you should ask tutors how they charge and what’s included (such as travel for the tutor and extras like worksheets) beforehand.

Parents are usually most concerned about the quality of teaching when hiring someone to help. Researching the level of experience, previous clients and credentials is important in pinpointing a good candidate. However, a big price tag doesn't necessarily mean the best quality, so shop around and make use of recommendations from friends and family.

It doesn't work for everyone, but from personal experience I found having one-to-one tuition helped to fill the gaps before I took my Maths GCSE, and helped me get an A.

Finding a tutor

You can find a private tutor through the local paper, on recommendation from people you know or even through your child’s school.

But if these methods prove unsuccessful there are plenty of online agencies with tutors specialising in a range of subjects that might operate in your local area.

Here are some websites to start with:

Expert Tuition offers one-to-one tuition all the way up to post-graduate courses. Lessons can be done through Skype.

Personal Tutors can provide a list of tutors operating in your area that offer tuition in core subjects as well as languages and humanities. First Tutors and Local Tutor can also help in your search.   

Fleet Tutors offers home tutoring to those as young as four up to university level and beyond for professional exams.

Hippocrene Tutors only employs Oxford or Cambridge graduates with two years’ professional teaching experience. This extra devotion to quality is costly; prices start from £60 an hour. Bright Young Things Tuition also has top quality tutors on their books but prices start from £48.

Cheaper alternative

The cost of helping your child excel is high with one-to-one tutoring, especially if you have more than one to consider. But there are cheaper alternatives.

Your child or children can get access to extra help through classroom-based tuition at Kumon, Explore Learning and Kipp McGrath centres located across the UK.

Prices vary on location and which organisation you choose to go with. Kumon in my area charges £55 a month with drop-in sessions run during the week. That’s a big saving on the price of private tuition. However these centres only cover the core subjects and some charge a registration fee.

Free tuition

But extra help is available for free.

Online resources are getting better and better with more interactive features to engage your child in extra learning outside of school. Personally I learned a lot from BBC Bitesize when I was younger. You can also use Topmarks which is an educational search engine to find more free resources.

Elsewhere there may be after-school clubs, breakfast clubs and summer schools that can supplement your child’s education for free run by their school or another organisation in your area.

Alternatively you could try doing it yourself. Freshen up on your knowledge using something like BBC Skillwise and help your child to learn with one-to-one time set aside when you can.

What do you think?

Have you ever paid for private tuition? Was it worth it? Let us know in the comment boxes below.

More on education:

The pros and cons of online degrees

Is a £3,000 student overdraft a good idea?

Students: how to find bursaries, grants, and scholarships

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Comments (10)

  • Aitken B
    Love rating 146
    Aitken B said

    I know someon who is a private tutor, qualified in a well respected educational college. Fees are at the lower end of ypur spectrum but this person has never advertised yet has a significant client waiting list and they are not from the silver spoon brigade. This says all that needs to be said.

    This person has tutored children who have been written off as stupid and more or less uneducable by the schools and helped them to gain confidence and learning enough to secure places in some very selective schools.

    Perhaps HMG could put an end to this private tuition by delivering education to our children of a quality that would make private tuition unnessary. With a constant stream of families presenting their perfectly intelligent children for schooling, often in basic stuff, I see no sign of that happening any time soon.

    Report on 11 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • Nickgeorge1234
    Love rating 0
    Nickgeorge1234 said

    What people may not realise is that tutorial colleges rip customers off by charging £60 an hour and paying the tutor £20 or so. The simplest thing is to advertise on Gumtree or if in Oxfordshire, and deal with the tutor direct. I teach A levels and usually do the whole A level course in a few weeks so compared to the time taken at school (2 years) that's good value for money.

    Report on 11 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • SacredDark84
    Love rating 0
    SacredDark84 said

    I'm a qualified teacher and also tutor. I live and work in Aberdeenshire. I've always tried to be fair in what I charge per hour - the going rate up here is about £30 per hour - I also pay my NI and PAYE! Too many tutors pocket all the money and don't declare it. I also have a PVG for tutoring as well as teaching (Scottish CRB) - and anyone who works alongside me also does.

    I know other local tutors who charge similar and again word of mouth keeps us busy. I do advertise on Gumtree and locally and have a website. Up here it is the lack of teachers in schools that are the issue - people don't seem to want to move up here and we have several private schools - which means entry exams!

    Most kids lack the confidence but have the ability - I agree with Aitken B. In classes of 32/33 so many get lost.

    Report on 11 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    I've used VOIP and the internet to help students in a few countries for free. Some people don't charge students.Ask your friends if they know anyone first. However, if it's free the students do have to behave and treat tutors with respect or they walk! It can be rewarding for the tutors too. One of the students I helped last year came to see me not long ago, she is now studying in England.

    Report on 11 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Janie D
    Love rating 2
    Janie D said

    I employed a private tutor to coach my daughter through the 11-plus exam as her school were unable / unwilling to do so. A friend recommended the tutor and he helped greatly, and she passed with flying colours. He was not cheap but he did not expect direct debits or anything, you paid only when you attended. Other parents went to Kip McGrath (a franchise operation) and paid huge amounts of money (over £50 per week, by direct debit) - none of their children passed any of the exams they put in for. The children were just left alone with a PC and did online work - there's nothing to beat personal tuition.

    Report on 12 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • bridgid
    Love rating 1
    bridgid said

    parents continuing to pay for extra tuition is masking the fact that schools are not doing the job they should be doing.....teaching! there is far too much additional pressure on teachers to produce copious amounts of paperwork which limits the time they spend actually teaching.

    Report on 15 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LucindaMay
    Love rating 0
    LucindaMay said

    I use hippocrene on the recommendation of friends. i agree they're costly (and difficult to get hold of) but their tutors are amazing. apparently the tutors themselves get to keep the majority of the fee (i asked my tutor how much he got and he said £45 out of £50!!) which makes a change and i feel hippocrene charge so much to make sure they can keep the best teachers. my eldest daughter used to tutor for one of the bigger agencies (i won't mention the name) and they held the lessons in swanky commercial premises and used that to justify giving her only half the amount the client paid (the client paid up to £80 and she never got more than £35). i only pay £50 an hour for tutors from hippocrene even though the website says 60 ... not sure why this is :$ we had to take our children out of private school for financial reasons and the costs of tuition are a snip compared to school fees. one of my sons is so shy that he doesn't speak up in class and having one-to-one discussions with a tutor has boosted his confidence a lot. i have friends who find their tutors on gumtree and are satisfied.

    Report on 15 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LucindaMay
    Love rating 0
    LucindaMay said

    in response to brigid: i agree about the pressure on teachers of the excess paperwork. but here's a thought experiment: if your child was at a hypothetical 'perfect school' where the teaching was second to none but all the other kids still had private tutors, wouldn't your child be at a disadvantage if you didn't get them a tutor? i think the surge in tutoring is less about a dip in teaching quality than the 'keeping up with the joneses' effect of everyone else having tutors. so many of my children's peers hve tutors we don't want to hold them back by NOT getting one. with me, it all comes down to there being an economic climate that makes finding jobs so difficult that parents are feeling panicky. you want to do everything you can to help your kids in these difficult times

    Report on 15 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LucindaMay
    Love rating 0
    LucindaMay said

    bridgid, i mean.

    Report on 15 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mary1
    Love rating 0
    Mary1 said

    Great post, found offering private tutors for only £4.99

    Report on 20 August 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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