Private tutoring

The benefits of one-on-one tutoring

The history of private tuition goes back a lot further than you might think – all the way to ancient Greece in fact.

On the say-so of his father, a 13-year-old Alexander the Great was mentored on a range of topics, including the doctrines of morals and politics, by Aristotle himself.

Whilst the subjects covered by today’s tutors may have altered in the intervening 2,000 or so years, the benefits and popularity of one-on-one teaching have not.

A recent 2018 study carried out by The Sutton Trust/Ipsos-Mori found that more than one in four 11 to 16 year olds in the UK have received some sort of extra tuition outside of school.

This figure of 27% has risen by half since The Sutton Trust began collecting data in 2005.


With ever growing class sizes and increasing pressure on teachers, one-on-one tuition can provide bespoke, targeted support for children at primary level.

A private tutor at this stage can work with a child on his/her particular weakness and prepare them for the challenging end of Key Stage 2 SATs.

Many children find the demanding nature of these exams particularly tough, and can benefit from learning test techniques and strategies which will enable them to approach the assessments with greater confidence.

Similarly, as competition grows ever fiercer for secondary school places, a growing number of parents are turning to private tuition to help their children pass important entrance exams.

The skills needed to get through verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, taken by Year 6 pupils to gain entry to many secondary schools, are not covered at primary level so the help of a private tutor at this stage can make a big difference.


According to the 2018 Sutton Trust survey, one in three pupils receive tuition for specific GCSE exams.

With the switch to a more exam-based assessment system and the elimination of coursework for many subjects at GCSE, more and more parents are employing private tutors to help their children.

As well as significant changes to the curriculum, a recent overhaul of the GCSE grading system means this period can be a particularly stressful and at times confusing time for both pupils and parents.

Hiring a tutor can be an effective way to boost a child’s understanding of the new examinations and help them keep abreast of the latest trends in secondary education. And whilst many parents choose to hire a private tutor to help their child with core subjects at GCSE such as maths, English or science, it’s not just traditionally academic study that can benefit from one-on-one teaching.

Music, cookery and drama are just some of the more creative topics that a private tutor can offer a child valuable assistance with.

What should I look for in a tutor?

With the private tutoring market bigger than ever before, finding the right tutor for your child can at first appear a rather daunting task.

Before you jump in and book an appointment, it’s important you discuss the idea with your child first.

Once you’ve got them on board its time to discuss priorities; what does your child need extra help with? Homework? Exams? General skills? Music?

Armed with this information, the next stage is to get recommendations. Whilst most online tutor sites offer reviews, often an endorsement from a fellow parent can be the best and most reliable option.

Finally, it’s good practice to meet with your child’s prospective tutor and see how the two interact before committing to a run of sessions. It’s vital your child is comfortable with his/her tutor in order to ensure they reap the full benefits of one-on-one teaching.

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