Questions to ask a tutor
What are your qualifications?
As highlighted in the above article, there is no formal accreditation for tutors in the UK so make sure that whoever you choose is qualified to a level that you, as a student or parent, deem suitable.
Do you have a CRB certificate (or equivalent)?
CRB stands for Criminal Records Bureau; they are an Executive Agency of the Home Office and provide wider access to criminal record information through its service in England and Wales. In Scotland, the equivalent agency is Disclosure Scotland and in Northern Ireland, the agency is known as Access Northern Ireland. Even though some tutors do not have these certificates, this does not mean that they are untrustworthy and therefore unsuitable. Every advert on this site states clearly, whether or not a person has a CRB certificate. Please be aware that tutors will not be restricted from advertising their services on the site if they do not have one.
What happens during lessons?
This will vary depending on the tutors’ preferred approach to lessons, what subject is being taught and the time of year. At the very least, a teacher should be able to explain their plan of action to students and parents and show appropriate structure in their lesson plans. The content of a lesson will be determined by the subject being studied. Subjects such as English and Art for example, where answers are often open to interpretation, may often take a more ‘discursive’ form and involve less methodical practice. Subjects such as math and science however, may be more likely to follow the logic of working through practical examples during the lesson.
The time of year a student starts a course of tutoring will also determine what will happen during lessons. At the beginning of the academic year, personal tutors generally tend to focus on class-related lessons, so as to provide a supplement to the coursework outlined by the school curriculum. From January onwards, tutors are normally at their busiest as the demand for exam preparation increases and therefore lessons tend to be more orientated towards final exams.
How do you keep up to date with the school curriculum?
This is a very relevant question as not all tutors are teachers and therefore need to source their information from elsewhere. Home educators should be expected to keep up to date with the school curriculum from a range of sources. Of course, if someone is actively tutoring when you meet with them, then they will already have a fairly good insight into the course requirements. Teachers often have friends who are teachers, who are able to clear up any uncertainties that may arise during lessons. Each UK country’s National Curriculum websites are also good sources of up to date information.
How much do you charge?
It is essential that a price is confirmed before the first lesson so as to avoid future disagreement. Tutors normally charge on an hourly basis but some may give discounts if a student or parent agrees to a certain amount of hours over a certain period of time. Lessons are generally charged at £15 - £45 per hour, some charge slightly less, and some slightly more. Experience and qualifications are generally a determining factor in how much people decide to charge. Some tutors may also provide discounted rates to small groups of students who are interested in being taught together.
Do you have references I can check?
Experienced tutors should have a list of telephone numbers they can provide for previous students and parents. We highly recommend that you call these references before agreeing to any lessons, to ensure that the references are genuine. Tutors who are relatively new to delivering personal lessons may not have contact details for previous students or parents, in this instance, it is even more essential that you check any references you have been provided with. At the very least, new tutors should be able to provide references from previous employers or university lecturers. Many home educators will also have written testimonials from previous students and parents. Such testimonials should clearly show their referee’s contact details and these should be contacted regardless of what the testimonial claims.