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 Post subject: Quality of tutors
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:57 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Richmond upon Thames
I'm researching a magazine article on home tutoring and would be grateful for feedback from other members. In your experience, is it better to pay extra to get a tutor from an agency? Can you really trust the recommendation of other parents, especially if their child will be in competition? Is it true that some parents go to great lengths to hide the identity of their tutors hoping to give their children an advantage?
Anyone can set themselves up as a tutor. Has anyone had a bad experience of employing a tutor? What happens if the tutor is nice but in your view ineffective? How do you extricate yourself?
Finally, I hear it said that some tutors insist you pay to have your child assessed before they agree to take them? Has that happened to anyone?
If so, what reason was given?
Lots of questions I know but I'd rather listen to other parents than spokespeople.
Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to help.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:12 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:29 pm
Posts: 625
Hi LIZL

If this were to be an academic, balanced, research article I would expect there to be an equal focus on the benefits of tutoring. Your initial request for information gives the impression that you are aiming to write a negative article, although this might not be so, but all of your questions are leading questions.

Is it better to pay extra to get a tutor from an agency?
Sometimes independent tutors are fully booked in advance and parents may not know of a local independent tutor. An agency can provide a link between tutors and students. A well established agency will vet their tutors for suitability. The agency aad-on fee is relatively small for the service they provide.

Can you really trust the recommendations of other parents, especially if their child will be in competition?
In our experience of being tutors we were consistently recommended by parents with children from the same schools. There was a comraderie between the students rather than any conflict between them.

Is it true that some parents go to great lengths to hide the identity of their tutors hoping to give their child an advantage?
Irrespective of whether a parent tries to hide the identity of a tutor the tutor themselves will be actively involved in promoting themselves. As many children go to tutoring centres or are tutored in small groups it would be difficult to hide the fact that a child is being tutored.

Anyone can set themselves up as a tutor. Has anyone had a bad experience of employing a tutor?
Although it is correct to say that anyone can set themselves up as a tutor, it is a fact that not everyone who can does. This is why, in some areas of the country, demand is higher than supply. In such areas there may be a small number of poor tutors who are not familiar with the 11+ content. Generally information about poor tutors is passed on by word of mouth and such tutors may see reductions in their student numbers.

What happens if the tutor is nice but ineffective?
This is highly subjective as the effectiveness of a tutor needs to be assessed over a long period depending on the individual factors of the student. Effectiveness may be an improvement from low level knowledge to a medium level of knowledge that may not lead to a pass mark in the test.
How can anyone evaluate the "niceness" of a tutor? Most of the time "niceness" is determined by the child who may respond better to a more mature tutor than to a young tutor, or to a female tutor rather than a male tutor, etc.

How do you extricate yourself?
Most tutors have limited contract agreements with parents, however tutoring centres may impose financial commitments on parents. If a parent is genuinely unhappy with a tutor they should simply remove their child, preferably after discussing issues with the tutor.

Some tutors insist you pay to have your child assessed before they agree to take them, has that happened to anyone? If so what reason was given?
Firstly, we never charged for assessments because we never assessed children before commencing tuition.
Charging for assessments is reasonable as the process takes up the time of the tutor in preparing material, marking papers and giving feedback to parents.
One justification for this is that in some areas the ability of students is varied and if the tutor has limited spaces they would be more inclined to spend time with children who are liely to pass rather than thos who are unliely to pass.
Although this may seem like cherry-picking at the top end of the market, the process can save parents money if it is considered that their child may not be able to pass the test irrespective of the amount of tuition they receive.

Hope this helps with your research.

Regards

Mike

_________________
Mike Edwards is a co-author of The Tutors product range.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 12:49 pm
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Location: berkshire
This is only a parent's view.........

Is it better to pay extra to get a tutor from an agency?
I would personally prefer employing a tutor on recommendation (whether from an agency or not) but not all parents have this resource. Having used an agency tutor I would say that you need to clarify what is expected of your child and how you will receive feedback on how your child is doing.

Can you really trust the recommendations of other parents, especially if their child will be in competition?
I would say yes...... you would not be in conversation with another parent if you did not respect their judgement. Competition is not usually seen within friends.

Is it true that some parents go to great lengths to hide the identity of their tutors hoping to give their child an advantage?
I have never heard of this happening in my area.

Anyone can set themselves up as a tutor. Has anyone had a bad experience of employing a tutor?
This question is very subjective. Each child, family, situation is different and therefore what mey be right for one will not work for another. As long as the expectations of both the parent, child and tutor are consistent then it should work.
I have heard (second hand) of some tutors that may have not researched fully the exact formats of individual exams....this would obviously cause friction.

What happens if the tutor is nice but ineffective
If the relationship between a child and tutor is not achieving the desired outcome then it should be discussed with the tutor. There may be underlying reasons for this.

How do you extricate yourself?

It all depends on the contract with the tutor....but if the parent believes that the child is genuinely unhappy then they should remove the child after the discussions as above.

Some tutors insist you pay to have your child assessed before they agree to take them, has that happened to anyone? If so what reason was given?

A tutor should give you their frank judgement in terms of achievement at 11+. An assessment should give the tutor some idea of the standard already being achieved by the child. I have not come across a tutor who charges for the assessment as such, the payment is for the time it takes, then a discussion took place between the parent and tutor.
The decision should then be made by the parent as to whether lessons with the tutor is the right decision for their child.

A tutor can be the difference between an intelligent child, from a failing primary, accessing the correct education or not.
Areas where the use of tutors is widespread can also be seen as encouraging the 'bar' to be set higher. Unfortunately, in some areas, there is a great chasm in the standard of educational environment provided by different schools and this will motivate parents to ensure their child can access the most suitable environment in what ever way they can.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:45 pm
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Location: Medway & Kent
As a mother of a child already successfully been through the 11+ process, I have lost count of the times I have recommended various tutors, including my own.
If I felt that my child would only get through if nobody else had access to his/her tutor then really I wouldn't put my child through the process.
Tutors are not miracle workers, in my opinion they are there to provide practice materials for the exam - you can lead a horse to water but not make it drink - therefore they are an important tool in my opinion, but the most important thing is that your child is able and in the top 25% of the cohort.
And anybody can come up with an excuse why your child will not come to the tutor/lesson anymore - even if it is not strictly the truth!


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 Post subject: Quality of tutors
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:57 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Richmond upon Thames
Thank you Mike for your very helpful comments. It's not a negative article at all, far from it. What I perhaps should have said is that I have spoken to three tutor agencies and two private individual tutors so have all the plus side from the profession and am now looking for a user perspective. All best regards Lizl (Liz Lightfoot, former education editor of The Daily Telegraph and now a freelance journalist).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:43 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:51 pm
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"...is it better to pay extra to get a tutor from an agency? Can you really trust the recommendation of other parents, especially if their child will be in competition? Is it true that some parents go to great lengths to hide the identity of their tutors hoping to give their children an advantage?"

We found ours on parent recommendation and we've recommended him to others in our turn. As far as competition is concerned - our child is in competition with perhaps 5,000 others in at least a 20-30 mile radius! I really don't think it will make a difference to his chances if I single out one or two of them for sabotage.

On the other hand, our child at least, who like many has a very strong aversion to appearing in any way different, probably feels more comfortable that other children he knows are going through the same process. I know he discusses things with a girl in his class who goes to the same tutor.

Mike


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 6966
Location: East Kent
I am a tutor and work through an agency and independently. The agency wa sa good starting point for me when I first started tutoring. They take my first 2 hours pay and then the parents pay me directly.

An agency is a good first port of call for parents who may not have been through the process before. The owner of the agency matches parents to her list of tutors , she knows our strengths and teaching styles. It also makes it easier for a parent to extricate themselves as they can ring the agency rather than having to do it face to face.

I visit the parent and child to find out a bit about them first, discuss their interests, strengths and weaknesses. I explain what the Kent test entails and how I teach and if the parent wants to go ahead with tutoring then we arrange a series of lessons. I don't charge for this. I also tailor my lessons to the individual.


The area of the country makes a difference.Here in East Kent we have a lot of grammar schools and so dont tend to have the superselectives. Most parents contact us about 3 months before the test is due. Parents of previous years pupils have recommended me to others and I am now getting more enquiries at first hand.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 4:33 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11942
I trust that if the article is sold we will all get a cut of your fee :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8204
Location: Buckinghamshire
Back in your box please, Guest55! :lol:

Liz, I would personally never source a tutor through an agency (unless it was Yoyo, of course :D ) unless I absolutely had to. As the 11+ is the "norm" in Bucks, there seem to be plenty of tutors, and personal recommendation is certainly the most common way to find a tutor here.

Most people seem happy to share information about tutors with other parents, although I am absolutely certain that no-one would recommend a good tutor if they hadn't already got tutoring for their own child sorted out first!

I have never come across anyone trying to hide the identity of their child's tutor in the hope of gaining an advantage. The children all talk about who their tutor is anyway. (That has proved to be the downfall of a few parents who tried to pretend that their child wasn't being tutored. :lol: )

Many tutors here do a "paid for" assessment, at their normal hourly rate, and parents don't seem to object. The scope of the Bucks test is so narrow that many tutors will use starter-level VR questions for their assessment, so the assessment could be seen as tuition, or at least practice, anyway. In an area where the exam's scope is wider - including English and Maths, for example - that might be different, because the assessment might include looking at school reports and workbooks.

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:07 pm
Posts: 2660
Dear Liz

Is it better to pay extra to get a tutor from an agency?


Generally, no because you just do not know who they will send, are they just a teacher who can work out what to do or are they really proficient in the 11 plus discipline.

Can you really trust the recommendation of other parents, especially if their child will be in competition?

In my experience, I have never advertised, all my pupils come from word of mouth. In fact I discovered last night I am not only booked up for 2009, I have over booked my self for 2010 :oops: and I am nearly full for 2011. These bookings have all come from personal recommendations. What tends to happen is that about this time of year the school gates are full of parents discussing 11 plus, Mums from lower year groups listen in to the “gossipâ€


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