Cut the costs of hiring a private tutor

15 September 2014

With the new academic year starting, and my middle daughter entering Year 5, my thoughts start to turn to the exams that she will be taking over the next 12 to 18 months. She's a bright spark and I feel confident in her ability to knuckle down, work hard and fully prepare herself but is that enough? Or will hiring a private tutor give her an advantage?

Pros and cons of hiring a tutor

While hiring a tutor can be hugely beneficial, it can have its disadvantages. On the one hand, extra tuition can boost your child's learning but extra work on top of school and any clubs they may attend could lead to burn out.

Not liaising with the child's teacher can be problematic. Imagine the situation where the teacher is setting assignments and the tutor, because it's not been discussed, is concentrating on something completely different with the child. Whenever you hire a tutor, I would absolutely discuss it with the teacher first so that you can pass the information on to the tutor for maximum results.

On a positive note, because of the one-on-one nature of private tuition, the tutor can identify what areas need to be worked on, without the distraction of 20 or so other children.

What you need to know

If you're hiring a tutor for the first time, you need to make sure exactly what's expected. It's no good if they don't provide the results you want. One way to combat this is to make sure a learning plan is in place at the start.

Whether you choose an independent tutor or an agency, you need to ensure all safeguarding checks are in place. You will need to see an up-to-date DBS (formerly a CRB check) certificate, references from previous clients and the ability to contact them for verification.

It will definitely be worth trying a taster session with your child and the tutor to see if it's a good fit. Let's face it, we're not all compatible and the same goes for children.You need them to have at least some common ground before stumping up the cash.

Money-saving tips

With private tuition starting at £25 per hour, costs can quickly add up.To reduce them, you can try a number of things.

If you know other parents are looking to hire a tutor, why not see if they want to share? You could host the classes at alternate houses each week and split the cost with the other child's parents.

Rather than charging double the amount, the tutor may give better rates for a small group but you just have to make sure that your children can concentrate together.

Local A-level or college students may be a good choice if you are looking for some extra tuition. If they're considering going into teaching, many young students look for work experience to help with their university applications.

Before choosing this option, if is probably a good idea to speak to the student's parents and, if possible, the school to make sure that the work is suitable. It is also worth spending time with the student, so they understand what needs to be taught and your expectations.

If you have the patience, you could also consider providing extra tuition for your child yourself. There are so many free resources available online at places such as BBC Bitesize, or you could pick up some books from the library to get you started.

Whatever you decide, just make sure it's in the best interest of your child. As much as you want them to succeed, placing too much pressure on them can have the opposite effect.

Ricky Willis is an award-winning blogger and author of the blog