The author of this document is a husband, father of three and highly qualified classroom practitioner. With 18 years experience of teaching in both secondary and primary schools, as well as private tutoring, Adam has a wealth of experience to share with new dads, single dads, experienced dads and dads who just need a bit more guidance.
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As a dad and qualified classroom teacher of 18 years, I know a thing or two about tutoring. The private tutoring industry has no regulations, tutoring agencies self-regulate, so anyone can become a tutor. It is the one industry where workers can have contact with children without any previous checks. This is my guide to finding a safe and competent private tutor.
Dad rule no. 1 when employing a private tutor is safety!
Employing a safe and trustworthy private tutor will require careful consideration and asking some probing questions. You need to consider a tutor’s experience, academic qualifications, previous teaching experience, references from current and past clients as well as their general character.
As a dad your overriding priority when considering employing a personal tutor has to be safety. You have to be 100% certain that your tutor can provide a safe, comfortable and positive learning environment. This is essential if good progress and high attainment is to be made.
Finding a competent tutor is a challenge and its important to take your time, consider your options to find a tutor that’s suitable for you and your children
Dads must be very cautious when choosing a private tutor so here is my advice as a dad myself and qualified teacher.
What are the qualities of a good private tutor?
This is the most important question to answer and the most asked by my own students and their parents.
You will be looking for certain academic qualifications and professional experience but there are many other factors to consider when looking at a tutor’s online profile or agency website.
- You must check that your prospective tutor is suitably qualified and accredited. How qualified they are depends on your own requirements. There are tutors that specialise in primary SATS, 11+ exams, SEN support, GCSEs as well as those that can help with specific academic or future professional goals. Look for high grade passes at GCSE and A- level in your desired subjects, level 3 college diplomas, a relevant degree subject and relevant teaching qualifications.
Many universities offer higher level tutoring qualifications now so look for these as further proof of competence. You must ask to see certificates of qualification that are highlighted in profiles. Question the tutor if these can’t be provided or steer clear.
- Some dads and parents will want a tutor who has real classroom teaching experience and qualifications. You will find that a professional teacher is someone that can be trusted to fulfil your safety worries. They will of course have experience of working with children, superior knowledge of exam specifications and assessment criteria, access to the best teaching resources but most importantly a current enhanced DBS certificate.
DBS certificates can only be obtained by employers or licensing bodies such as an agency, school, governing body, local authority or OFSTED. A freelance tutor cannot obtain a DBS certificate themselves and would have to apply through one of these channels. What is the cost of your children’s safety and own peace of mind?
“It is not a legal requirement for a UK private tutor to have completed any background checks. A self-employed tutor can gain a criminal record check from a local police station or Disclosure Scotland but it is up to them to apply for one should they want to. Your child’s safety is paramount”
It is a personal preference but as a dad I would not employ any private tutor to work with my own children unless they have a DBS.
- Most dads are likely to want a tutor with some experience of working with young and vulnerable people. So how do you find evidence for this? You may have had a tutor recommended through friends or other parents, a local advert, social media or even school teachers. The best judge of character is often former students. It shouldn’t be too difficult to speak with one or two. In my 18 years of teaching I’ve found students to be a fairly reliable and honest source of character judgement.
You can ask the tutor for the contact details of a current parent if you have any questions. As a tutor myself I have a number of parents and former students I can call upon who will willingly accept emails or phone calls from prospective clients who need reassurance.
- You should ask your prospective tutor for two referees. If you need a personal or professional reference. Don’t forget you are the employer here, you are the boss, and you have a right to get a reference for anyone you employ. You should follow these contacts up with a phone call. No references? Steer clear dad!
Do I need to interview a private tutor?
Again, this is a personal preference but it is certainly a very good idea. It can be as formal or informal as you would like. A quick 10 – 15 min interview will give you a much better idea of whether you will be comfortable allowing them to provide one-to-one tuition with your child.
It is easier to interview over the phone but I would always interview in person, you can read their body language, they can meet your child and you will get a better ‘feeling’ of how good a match you will be. If you are hiring an online tutor insist on a video interview to find out more about them. Safety is paramount regardless of tuition costs but don’t be afraid to talk about money during the interview.
During the interview you should ask any questions you have about the tutor’s qualifications, professional experience, their own education and get to know a bit more about their character, perhaps their own interests and aspirations.
Always ask open and positive questions. They will need a sensitive and thoughtful response. Pay attention to the tutor’s tone of voice, their body language, is your child’s education always at the heart of their answers. A successful private tutor is someone who comes across as friendly, approachable, open to discussion and has a real interest in supporting your child.
During interview make it clear when and where you would like the sessions to take place. You must have somewhere that is quiet, comfortable, tidy and accessible for both you and the tutor. As a conscientious dad it is your right to remain present during the lessons. You may prefer to simply prop the door open and occasionally listen in or pop into the room.
Your private tutor will need chairs and a table to teach at, free from distractions such as TV, noisy mobile devices or other family members. A lounge, study or dining room would be perfect. A child’s bedroom is not a suitable place for private tutoring lessons and should be avoided.
“When interviewing a prospective private tutor your fatherly instincts will take over in the interview so trust them. Remember YOU are the employer and your children’s safety is your number one priority.”
An informal interview will answer all your dad questions!
As a dad no one knows your children better than you. Fatherly instincts will take over in the interview so trust them. As a parent, employer or employee and all round good egg you will know if something doesn’t feel right. If the private tutor does not meet your high expectations, appears to be something other than advertised on their profile or agency website or your child feels uncomfortable end the interview and thank them for their time. Neither should you be afraid to end a lesson or cancel a series of lessons if something isn’t right. Remember YOU are the employer and your children’s safety is your number one priority.
What questions should I ask a private tutor?
Here are my
- How much experience do you have as a private tutor?
- Which study and revision books do you recommend?
- Are there any online resources to support study?
- Do you have access to past exam papers?
- How will you measure my child’s progress?
- Do you provide progress reports and if so, how often?
- If you are using an agency: Where do you run your tutoring sessions and can we arrange a pre-visit?
- Can you provide online tuition?
- Do you complete a baseline assessment to assess a starting point?
- How many hours per week would you recommend?
- Do you set regular home learning tasks?
- How many hours a week do you expect my child to study between lessons?
- Do you offer any discounts for block bookings or client referrals?
- Do you charge for your travel costs?
- What are the charges for cancelling a single lesson or a block of lessons?
- What is the process if you as a tutor cancels a lesson?
- Can you help with 11+ applications, college and UCAS applications, interview technique or crafting a CV?
How do I make sure my child is safe during private tuition?
As a dad you will of course do your very best to minimise the risks but problems can and do evolve overtime during private tuition in your own home or your tutor’s home. Follow my advice, as a dad of three and qualified classroom teacher (yes I can show you my certificates too!) and you will have done all you can. If its important to you make sure you check whether your tutor has personal insurance (public or professional liability insurance) and wether they have an enhanced DBS certificate or just a basic background check. Agency tutors will likely have a DBS and freelance tutors in my experience rarely have such certification.
I know I keep saying it BUT your child’s safety is your number one priority in private tutoring. Be sure to do your own homework to ensure that you and your child feel safe with the agreed arrangements.
If you decide to host the tutor in your home set up a tidy space for the lessons to take place and somewhere that you can easily keep an eye on things. Do not use your child’s bedroom. If your child will travel to the tutor’s home you MUST have a look at the proposed work area to check for hazards. You should be able to sit somewhere quietly to read, or work on a laptop perhaps so you can keep an eye on things should you wish. This is absolutely a reasonable request, especially for the first few sessions. Very few people will feel comfortable leaving their children, whether of primary or secondary school age, in a private home with someone they have potentially met just once.
If you are leaving your child with a private tutor in their private home I highly recommend your child has a well charged mobile phone (even if they are the bane of my life as a classroom teacher!). Discuss it openly with the tutor and make sure that the phone is turned on with an audible ring tone for your own peace of mind and your child’s safety. Any high quality, professional tutor taking your hard earned cash will understand this. If they don’t, thank them for their time and move on. Safety first!
NEVER let someone pick your child up in their car even if they claim to have business insurance. Always drop your child off yourself or let a trusted family member or friend do it for if you are unable to do so. Share a code word or password with your tutor so that if you are unable to pick up your child only someone with the password is allowed to collect them. If your child is old enough to travel alone make sure they have their well charged mobile phone on them.
Make your tutor aware of any allergies or medical issues prior to the lessons starting. It could be anything from food allergies, pet hair, diabetes or more serious illnesses. Informing the tutor and making sure that there is a plan to follow will eliminate a certain amount of risk when under their supervision.
If you decide to use an online tutor via a video call there are still online risks so you will still need to keep an eye on the lessons to make sure that everything runs efficiently and safely. Monitor the lessons by setting up the computer in an open area in the house where you can supervise or by leaving a door open if you are in a different room. You must also monitor any files being shared between the tutor and your child for further safety precautions. Ensure the tutor is aware that you are monitoring lessons; don’t forget you are the employer!
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