How to choose the correct tutor?

Different students look for different things when choosing a private tutor. Tutors tend to come from a range of different backgrounds and all have a different level of experience. Some tutors have teaching qualifications and some don't, so it's up to you as a student or parent to decide what you think are the most important factors that will influence your decision on which tutor to choose.


All the tutors listed in our directory are educated to at least degree level or are in their final year of undergraduate study.  Many have qualifications exceeding this minimum requirement and this is something that students and parents should enquire about before committing to any lessons. 


Here are some questions to consider when deciding on which tutor would be most suitable for your needs:


What Are the Tutor’s Qualifications?


There are no legal requirements for tutors to reach a specific level of education and there aren't any official tutor qualifications that they can obtain. So, it's up to you to decide what you think is an appropriately qualified tutor for the subject in which you need tuition.


Do They Have a DBS Certificate?


DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service and are sometimes required for certain jobs or voluntary work. For example, someone may need to undergo a DBS check in order to work with children, work in healthcare or to apply to foster or adopt a child. There's more information about the Disclosure and Barring Service on our DBS Checks for Private Tutors page.


What happens during lessons?


This will vary depending on the tutors’ preferred approach to education, what subject is being tutored and the time of year.  At the very least, a tutor 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 more subjective or 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 tuition will also determine what will happen during lessons.  At the beginning of the academic year, tutors generally tend to focus on class-related tuition, 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 does the tutor 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.  Tutors 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.  Tutors 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 website is a good sourcesof up to date information that can be used by tutors.


How much does the tutor charge?


It’s 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.  Tutors generally tend to charge £15 - £70 per hour, some charge slightly less, and some slightly more.  Experience and qualifications are generally a determining factor in how much they decide to charge.  Some people may also provide discounted rates to small groups of students who are interested in being taught together.


Does the tutor have references you can check?


Experienced tutors should have a list of telephone numbers they can provide for previous students and parents.  It’s recommended that you call these references before agreeing to any lessons, to ensure that the references are genuine.  Those who are relatively new to tutoring 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 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.