Should I employ a tutor?
If you are in the fortunate position of being able to afford tutors then that is a huge advantage. So, yes you should. However, always check that your tutor has successfully supported a home-educated student before and is fully aware of what can and can’t be achieved from home. As a minimum, tutors should have relevant experience, training and/or support from a tuition company with regard to supporting home educators. They should know which subjects and exam boards are not available to private candidates or can only be achieved with an extra layer of complications and costs (e.g. coursework requirements, fieldwork or practical exams).
There is no doubt that appointing a tutor can make all the difference but if you intend to replicate the school experience of 9/10 GCSEs or more, then you may need more than one tutor…and costs will rise. It always makes sense to bring in weekly support for each subject if you can afford it. You may want to budget for this so allow between £25 to £90 per accompanied lesson. In some areas tutors may charge more. If you are looking to obtain very high grades in examinations or to pass with confidence, then tutors are skilled at knowing the specifications, exam techniques and content, tailored to different exam boards.
Tutors are not essential and can be expensive, especially if you are looking for those with an excellent reputation, and/or multiple tutors for different subjects but from experience, a good tutor who understands the anomalies of home-education is of immense value. Bear in mind that you may not need a tutor continuously or for large amounts of time and good tutors will be realistic about what you require and happily provide sensible advice on where they can best support you and your child.
The Tutors’ Association’s (TTA) members are required to agree and comply with TTA’s Code of Practice, which includes a range of professional standards, expectations and guidance; if you do use a tutor that is a member of TTA you will be able to submit a complaint to TTA in the event that there is a problem and TTA can and does take robust action in the event of malpractice. The Tutors Association directory of tutors provides a list of safe, reputable and highly skilled tutors to contact. You can find a reputable tutor here.
If your child is in exam years, then it’s recommended that a tutor who specialises in that subject(s) supports your child through their learning. This can ensure that the syllabus/specification is followed precisely and guide and support you and your child through exam techniques as well as knowledge and content. It is also worth considering having mock papers marked from tuition businesses that specialise in this area such as Mark My Papers so that your child can fully prepare for their final examination and maximise their chances for success.
What about student teachers?
A student (post GCSE or A level) is unlikely to know the pitfalls of home education and their experience will likely be limited to the path they followed themselves. Although some students make excellent tutors (and are likely to be comparatively inexpensive), do be careful. On social media you will notice that student tutors are becoming younger and younger (some as young as 14); TTA does not recommend using tutors under the age of 18 and you would be strongly advised to carefully consider whether inexperienced tutors are able to appropriately support your child. Try not to be tempted by their low fees because it is very unlikely that they will have diverse enough experience in their subject to effectively address your child’s needs. They may not also be familiar with the idiosyncrasies of home-education and the exam specifications available.