One of the big questions many parents ask themselves is: Is a tutor worth it?
There is a lot of debate online and between parents about the pros and cons of tutoring. Still, one consideration always rightly comes up: money.
Regular one-to-one tutoring, especially long-term with a great tutor, is not cheap. And, of course, you, as the bill payer, want to make sure it's a good investment!
But with so many different tutors and companies offering lessons at different prices, it can be a nightmare to understand a reasonable cost for high-quality education…
Our quick guide below outlines the average costs for different types of tutoring and how to weigh up the pros and cons of tutoring in general.
How much does a tutor cost?
The average cost of a tutor in the UK is difficult to identify - not because it's hard to find out, but because it doesn't consider the tutor's experience, where they are, what ages/subjects they teach, etc.
A quick search online shows you can find a tutor from anywhere between £10 and £100 per hour. But what kind of tutor do you get for your money?
Tutors for £10-£30 per hour
These tutors are usually graduates and looking to earn some extra money. You typically find them on large tutoring company websites advertising low fees and online lessons. We’re not saying they will be poor quality (there are some excellent tutors in this price range). Still, you should understand what to expect from the average tutor: a younger tutor with a good knowledge of the subject but limited experience in teaching it and a potentially unreliable experience.
Tutors for £40-£60 per hour
These tutors are either experienced, professional tutors with a history of good reviews and references or qualified and experienced teachers who do tutoring in their own time. At this price range, you should expect someone with good experience not only in teaching the subject but also in teaching your child’s age and curriculum.
Tutors for £70+ per hour
Tutors charging in this price range are usually either in London (or another high cost of living area), are famous/renowned in their subject, or are teaching a very specialist and in-demand subject (like a specific school entry exam). Our main advice here is to be very picky at this price range and demand excellent references.
Online vs face-to-face costs
Also, be aware that the cost of a tutor usually varies based on whether the tuition is online or not. Online tutors are generally cheaper as they incur no travel costs and can fit in more lessons in a day. You should weigh up what your child needs and will engage with more when considering this trade-off, especially for younger children or those with additional needs.
Individual vs group tuition costs
You can also save money by looking at group tuition, which is generally cheaper than one-to-one tuition. Again, you need to weigh up the trade-off here. While group tuition is usually cheaper, you are sacrificing the benefits of tailored lessons and, in essence, just creating another classroom environment for your child.
What is the cost of a cheap tutor?
Every tutor will say they are excellent, and every company will, of course, say they only have the highest quality tutors. But can that always be true?
We believe a good tutor is qualified and experienced
We personally believe that the best and most reliable education for a child comes from a qualified and experienced school teacher. That’s why we only provide experienced and qualified teachers as tutors.
Teachers are trained to educate, have extensive experience working with children, and are always up-to-date on the latest curriculum and exam boards. There is no substitute.
Beware subject experts who can’t teach
In contrast, many tutors and tutoring companies work exclusively with unqualified tutors who have an excellent knowledge of their subjects. This is easy to see as most are graduates in their subjects and have gotten great results themselves in their own education.
But their experience and knowledge of how to teach can massively vary (especially when working with younger tutors), and is difficult to identify until you hire them and see how they interact with your child.
Many rely on worksheets and are the equivalent of extra homework rather than an engaging learning experience. They may also be unable to build rapport quickly or are uncertain about how to structure a lesson or evaluate your child’s needs and their progress.
For this reason, we always recommend interviewing a prospective tutor upfront and asking questions about their teaching experience and methods. You can read our guide here on how to interview a potential tutor.
It can mean the difference between hiring a great tutor and making a bad decision.
So now you know roughly what a tutor costs and what to expect for your money, but is tutoring worth it for your child?
The pros of tutoring
A tailored education
The average UK classroom size is 22 children to one teacher, meaning the teacher has to teach the whole classroom and cannot dedicate time to just your child and their needs. Lessons proceed at a single pace, meaning some children will fall behind and lose confidence, while others will be ahead and will become disengaged.
One-to-one tutoring can solve these problems. By providing your child with a one-to-one lesson, a good tutor will tailor these lessons to your child's needs, either focusing on weak areas or exploring new and exciting topics.
More than just tailored lessons, one-to-one tutoring also changes the dynamic of classroom-based learning. Your child becomes an active participant in their education.
A good tutor doesn't just stand over your child and talk at them; they work together and provide regular feedback to the child as the lesson progresses.
Confidence and attainment
The result is the same in both cases – a more confident and engaged learner. But more than that, multiple studies have shown that tutoring impacts student results, with an average increase after 10 hours of roughly 1-2 grades.
The cons of tutoring
Overworking the child
A good balance is important for children, and adding more workload to an already overloaded child can just make the matter worse.
Take time upfront to talk to your child and understand some of the reasons why they might need tutoring, and weigh this up against other factors. It’s vital that your child is on board with getting a tutor and that they see it as a helpful activity.
If a tutor is not right, it is worth looking at the basics. Ensuring good sleeping and eating habits, as well as defined boundaries between school, homework, hobbies, and play is essential for children of any age. Making positive steps in these areas often has a dramatic effect on a child’s education.
It takes time to find a good tutor
Finding a good tutor can be a painful process. As a parent, you have so many options, but most will run into the same difficulties:
- How do I know this tutor is knowledgeable about their subject?
- How do I know this tutor is experienced in teaching children?
- How do I know this tutor is safe?
- How do I know this tutor is available now?
This leads to 'kissing a lot of frogs' when looking for a tutor, as after speaking to many, you find that they are either unqualified, inexperienced or can't fit you into their timetable.
There is also the risk of paying for a tutor and realising that they are not a good fit or are low quality – you’ve wasted money and time, and now you need to restart your search! Not only that, but your child is probably feeling pretty disillusioned too…
That's what we experienced when we went through the same process for our children, and it's why we created Teachers To Your Home (more on how we solve these problems in the final section).
Direct tutoring or tutoring company?
Another factor to consider when looking for a tutor is whether to go directly with a tutor or engage them through a tutoring company (like Teachers To Your Home). There are pros and cons to both:
Should I go direct with a tutor?
Direct tutoring is often cheaper, but you have to find the tutor yourself and work out their availability. This can lead to a long process of researching and reaching out to multiple tutors and waiting for them to respond. You also need to consider what happens when the tutor becomes ill, goes on holiday, or stops tutoring altogether – you will need to restart your search again.
Should I use a tutoring company?
Using a tutoring company is more expensive than going direct as they charge a commission fee per lesson, but what are the benefits? It varies from company to company, but with Teachers To Your Home, you get:
- A shortlist of local, available, and experienced teachers to choose from
- A dedicated support number and email address
- A first-lesson guarantee if you don’t connect well with the teacher
- A simple payment system so you can monitor spending and don’t need to haggle
- A teacher replacement service if you need to swap teachers for any reason
What do we recommend?
Step one: Understand why you want a tutor in the first place
This step is crucial as it helps you talk to the tutor about your aims. Discuss with your child too, but aims can range from preparing for an important exam, to catching up on a specific topic, to stretching a bored child. Different tutors will be better at different things, and will impact how they structure their lessons with your child.
Recommended reading: How do I know if my child needs a tutor?
Step two: Reach out to some tutors
You need to work out your budget, then, based on this, start your tutor search.
Of course, we would recommend our own services here! Tuition fees range from £40-£50 per hour (based on age and subject) and we only provide tutors who are experienced and qualified teachers – meaning they are experienced in teaching your subject, curriculum, and child’s age group.
With our service, just fill in a simple form to tell us what you are looking for, then you have immediate access to safe, relevant, experienced teachers who are available and interested in teaching your child.
Recommended link: Click here to find a subject tutor in your area
But, we also understand that we are not for everyone!
If looking for tutors elsewhere, make sure to check they are experienced in teaching your child’s age and subject. Many other tutor agencies are just a Google search away, and you can often find local tutors advertising themselves directly on local Facebook groups.
Recommended reading: How to find the best tutor for your child
Step three: Get involved yourself too
Finally, never underestimate what you as a parent can do to enrich your child's education and love of learning. The best tips here are simple but effective. We’ve seen children of all ages make great leaps when their parents get involved in things like:
- Read together with your child, or have reading time where the whole family sits quietly together with books, magazines and comics
- Go on family outings to museums or galleries or walking tours
- Take time in the evenings to discuss your child’s homework with them. If you don’t understand it, get them to try and explain it to you.
"Good teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together."
~ Scott Hayden