Our guide to picking out the best tutoring agencies in London
According to the Good Schools Guide's Tutoring Agency Review, the best tutoring agencies in London know their tutors personally and interview every one before recruiting them as part of their team. To take this point further, we’ve put together a list of the common traits that set the best tutoring agencies apart from others in the industry.
A Rigorous Recruitment Process
As echoed by The Good Schools Guide, a credible tutoring agency will meet every tutor face to face before recruiting them. Tutors should undergo an interview where they’re asked questions about their teaching methods, their experience and their approach to learning. Meeting tutors face to face, enables agencies to make more informed recruitment decisions. A thorough recruitment process, might look something like this:
1. Safety check. Before offering a tutor a place, agencies should also request a disclosure certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which will highlight any criminal convictions.
2. Verify qualifications. Because there aren’t any recognised qualifications for private tutors in the UK, it’s important that agencies make the effort to check that candidates have given the correct information. Qualification checking services like Qualification Check can be useful for verifying such details.
3. Follow up references. References are another aspect of the tutor recruitment process that shouldn’t be overlooked. Tutors should be able to provide agencies with full contact details of referees and agencies should contact each one to verify the tutor’s suitability.
4. Training. Even the best tutors may need to brush up on certain elements of their subject or teaching methods. The best tutoring agencies will offer training opportunities to tutors when they first take up their positions and throughout the year thereafter.
A good tutoring agency will put their students in the driving seat. By its nature, private tutoring, requires a student-centred approach if students are to benefit from extra tuition outside of the classroom.
It was the philosopher Carl Rogers who brought the idea of student-centred learning to prominence in 1951, through his belief that students do not learn effectively through direct teaching and only the student themselves can facilitate their learning.
In order for tutors to find the correct balance between student-focused learning a teacher-led learning, the following process may be useful:
1. Assess each student’s ability. In order for a tutor to gauge a student’s current ability, they’ll need to identify which areas they need to improve in. This can be done by setting students the task of completing practice exam papers, in-house assessments or simply by reading feedback given by classroom teachers on their work.
2. Agree on the best approach. Once tutors have identified where a student needs to improve, the next logical step is to look at how they can improve. It’s important that students are involved in this process so that they feel they’ll be benefiting from the most effective approach. At this stage, tutors may want to consider what resources, materials and technologies will be the most effective for the student’s learning.
3. Set goals and study schedules. The best tutoring agencies will encourage their tutors to be organised and create clear action plans for each student. Plans should include a detailed breakdown of exactly what needs to be studied and within what timescale.
The best tutoring agencies gain credibility in their area through word of mouth. If you want to verify how good an agency is, it’s always a good idea to ask former students and their parents about their experiences. Searching for online reviews can also be a good way of determining an agency’s standing. Bear in mind however, that customers are more inclined to leave reviews if they’ve had a bad experience, so don't only rely on online review websites as your source. A credible tutoring agency should display the following qualities:
1. Strong customer service. The best agencies know that happy students and parents are the best form of marketing. A good agency will do everything they can to accommodate a student’s needs and will maintain regular contact with parents.
2. Quoted in the Media. Agencies that are regularly quoted in the media are generally considered industry authorities. It shows that their opinions are valued in the marketplace.
3. Industry involvement. Many good tutoring agencies are involved in educational projects outside of their immediate business. Some are involved in organizing conferences; others act as educational consultants to schools.
A Proven Track Record
Any tutoring agency worth its salt will be able to demonstrate a proven track record when it comes to getting results. The best agencies are proud to display testimonials from students and parents on their websites and should be happy to provide you with relevant statistics on how many students achieved their personal goals, how many passed overall and how many received A grades.
They should also be able to provide you with contact details of previous students and parents (who have given consent) so you can verify any information.
Clear Communication Channels
A good tutoring agency will take the time to answer any questions you may have over the phone, by email or face to face. The best tutoring agencies encourage parent involvement and should keep them informed of their child’s progress through regular updates.
They should also be available to discuss any student concerns and provide direct access to tutors. A good agency will also keep their staff informed of new developments, industry news and internal changes.
What do you think sets the best tutoring agencies in London apart from the rest? We welcome your thoughts.