A tutor can help pupils shine at exams or catch up with schoolwork, but the right match is critical. The experts at Gabbitas give smart insights for making the right tutoring choices for your child 

As independent schools become increasingly competitive and oversubscribed, tutors are in high demand. Parents look for one-to-one support to assist their child with independent school entrance exams such as 13+ or ISEB, boost their A-level or GCSE grades, or catch up with schoolwork. This style of teaching is anything but a ‘one size fits all’ relationship, so how do parents find the right tutor? We spoke to Gabbitas, experts in independent education, for their guidance on making the right choice.

With so many tutor options out there, where should parents start?

It’s important to have an open discussion with your child about their specific concerns. Ask them which aspect they are struggling with and what kind of tutor they would connect with. Aside from the base goal of achieving a higher grade or guidance on a school entry test, perhaps they’re also a visual learner or don’t feel that they are being challenged, and need a passionate tutor to inspire their learning. Whatever it is, they must take the lead and clear objectives must be set.

An online search is a good starting point but focus on the well-established agencies with the best reputations, whether through testimonials or word of mouth. Reputable agencies have the knowledge and expertise to source a suitable tutor who can provide what your child needs. Additionally, an agency is likely to provide a tutor who has a track record of success in your chosen schools’ entry processes and exams.

expert guide parents Gabbitas

What about qualifications and safeguarding issues?

Every tutor who works with young people or children should have an up-to-date DBS. Going through a reputable tutoring agency will save you time here. As part of their strict selection criteria, they carry out rigorous interviews and check academic credentials. They will also require tutors to provide a DBS or be signed up to the update service.

How do we brief the tutor and set realistic expectations?

Transparency is key to ensuring tutors are properly briefed. Provide as much information as possible so that the tutor understands your child’s requirements and can tailor their approach accordingly. When it comes to setting expectations, experienced tutors can quickly assess a student’s capabilities and provide attainable targets. Bear in mind that a good tutor will monitor a student’s progress and readjust targets when necessary.

How important is the working relationship between tutor and student?

Your child’s rapport with the tutor is crucial. If they enjoy and look forward to their sessions, they will be far more likely to excel. A shrewd tutor will look for similar interests and use these shared passions to inspire their student to relish a subject in which they previously struggled.

expert guide parents Gabbitas
expert guide parents Gabbitas

How hard is it to find a specialist tutor?

If your child has certain requirements, such as needing SEN support, or is very young, a tutoring agency will be able to match your child with a specialist tutor who can prioritise your child’s specific needs. If you are looking for a SEN-specialist tutor, they should be able to provide a certificate of training and it is worth taking extra time for your child to get to know the tutor before their sessions commence.

Can group or small group tutoring sessions be a better alternative?

Some students find it useful to discuss ideas with peers, so small-group sessions can be valuable – this does depend on age, stage and subject. In general, one-to-one teaching allows for a greater focus on weaknesses and how to resolve them, and so the time is usually more productive, more personalised and, ultimately, more successful.

Any other tips for ensuring the tutor we hire is the right one?

Agencies can organise a short video call between you and a prospective tutor. Take your time, be open to the plans they suggest, and be frank about your expectations.

The right tutor will not only help with school admissions, exams, or subject specific help but will also support your child from a pastoral point of view, helping them to gain in confidence academically and personally.

Gabbitas offers a full range of independent education advice and consultancy services, including tutoring.