Our expert, Nathaniel McCullagh, Managing Director of Simply Learning Tuition, on choosing a tutor for an academically ambitious child

Q: My daughter is able and doing well at school, but I’m keen to support her as she has her mind set on a highly competitive course and university and will need excellent grades. How do I find the right tutor to support her ambitions?

A: It is great to hear that your daughter is ambitious. A successful academic career requires hard work, and there is no substitute for genuine passion for learning. That said, one-to-one tuition with a qualified, experienced tutor can certainly help her excel – 84% of our tuition students get the results they need, and three-quarters improve by one to three grades.

If she hasn’t yet taken her GCSEs, this should be the first focus – universities will see these grades when she applies. From there, she will need strong predicted grades at A level or IB to receive an offer, and equally strong results to meet it. That’s before considering her personal statement and, potentially, admissions tests and interviews. Matching her with the right tutor(s) will be crucial to support her through this demanding process. There are several key things to look out for:

Experience and references Look for a tutor with at least 100 hours’ previous experience and a track record of success. You should also ensure that the tutor is familiar with the specific exam board your daughter is following, or course she is applying for.A good tutor should have several references or referee details they are happy to share. It is worth following these references up, especially if the tutor has not been provided by an agency.

Commitment Most tutors should commit for at least one academic year or until your child’s exams. They should also agree to the same lesson time(s) each week. Tutoring should fit into your life, not make it more of a hassle. Finding a tutor through an agency can save you time and worry. Agencies should have vetted the tutors themselves so you don’t have to, and, vitally, should know the tutors personally so that they can recommend the person who will work best with your child.

Value Tutors’ prices can range from £10 to more than £100 per hour (this is usually indicative of their experience, and we encourage you to check this). A tutor at the higher end can seem expensive but might be better value for money. Ten hours with a very experienced, vetted tutor compared to many more hours with an inexperienced tutor is often better value.

Fit with your child Years of experience have confirmed to us that successful tuition is so much more than the cold steel of academic expertise. Effective tuition relies on the tutor’s natural ability to mentor, generate trust and become a role model. Ideally, your daughter’s tutor will become a trusted partner who will support her in the pursuit of her academic ambitions.

Simply Learning Tuition: simplylearningtuition.co.uk

Further reading: Ask the Experts with Gabbitas Education