The Good Schools Guide met with Teachers To Your Home staff. In addition, 61 clients and 77 tutors have completed an online survey (sent to 911 clients and 455 tutors) and we have followed this up with additional short phone interviews with some of those surveyed.
Teachers To Your Home Staff
Run by husband and wife team Gill and Jim Dixon. For eight years, Gill (fast-talking, savvy, friendly) was head and CEO of a large co-ed, HMC, independent day and boarding school, where Jim was a physics and maths teacher. But in 2015, this dynamic duo sought a different challenge in the educational sector - "naively, we thought it would be a good idea to start our own business - after all, how hard could it be?" she laughs. it is now a thriving business, and they are nicely settled in Oxfordshire.
Described by parents as "quick", "caring", and even "perfect". We were told, "they're always helpful and deal with queries very promptly" and "they really listened to my requirements and got me two high-quality options". Another called them "the best tutor company I have interacted with - you can really tell it's run by former teachers". Tutors report "a real sense of a relationship with the people that run it" and that it's "friendly" and "professionally run".
What do they offer?
The clue's in the name - only qualified teachers are on their books, all of whom come to your home (or tuition can be online). Most teachers continue to work full-time in local schools, although a minority tutor full-time and are registered across several agencies.
TTYH claims it corners the market in terms of primary-age tutoring, which forms about 60 per cent of its work. The rest is a mixture of all academic subjects at all stages, including preparation for SATs, 11+, 13+, CE, Scholarship, GCSE/IGCSE, IB, Pre-U and A-Level. Parents say they find tutors with experience in the right exam boards (critical for subjects like psychology A-Level), and they will headhunt for more unusual subjects. A third of families have children in independent schools; the rest are in the state sector.
Many teachers have SEN qualifications and experience; some are SENCOs or educational psychologists. "They found us two candidates to interview with strong SEN backgrounds when other companies couldn't find us anyone at all - a lifesaver during such an immensely stressful time," said one parent; "Our tutor really helped build our dyslexic son's confidence," said another.
They support families with homeschooling, including SEN and children who are elite actors or sports talents with lots of training and rehearsal commitments. "My son finds mainstream education too overwhelming due to his autism. I specifically wanted qualified and dedicated teachers, not smart young adults who tutor on the side - and that's exactly what I got," said a parent.
The business has unusually strong relationships with schools (no doubt helped by Gill being an ex-big cheese in the sector), both providing teachers for one-to-one or small group work and liaising on behalf of parents - "ours liaised with the teacher and offered to attend parents evenings," said one parent.
The youngest age is four (can four-year-olds really need tutors, though?); the oldest is currently a 94-year-old having Latin tuition. They also provide tuition for businesses (recently for Mercedes Benz), as well as schools, hospitals, SEN solicitors and local authorities.
There's no corner of the UK they don't cover. However, inevitably, they take on more tutors in the southeast and big cities, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds, and Nottingham.
Described by parents as "excellent", "kind", "engaging", "encouraging", and even "a wonder woman", we heard tale after tale of the tutors "reflecting my very high standards" and how they "really understood our needs and got under the skin of the areas our daughter was falling behind in".
Background and basics
This outfit is big and getting bigger still - when we met them, they'd had 20,000 tutors working with 15,500 families over the previous 12 months. "In any one week, around 1280 tutors are working with 1100 families," says Gill, who was expecting their tutors to teach over 100,000 lessons over the next academic year.
The upsides of the sheer size include choice and speed. "It's brilliant - you get instant access to a shortlist of high-calibre available and relevant teachers to choose from," explained a parent.
There's a "belt and braces approach to safeguarding" (the teachers only work in a supervised setting, and all have an enhanced DBS), and because the firm remains personal ("clients know they can ask us questions and for advice anytime - we are open long hours and over the weekend").
Around 200 client requests come in each day - these are offered to all relevant teachers who can teach that subject at the required level. TTYH then whittles down those that fit the criteria (anywhere between 20 and 200) to a shortlist based on the quality of their profile, the location and the internal ratings they keep on each teacher, which reflects any previous roles they've had with them. The client then receives a shortlist and gets to scrutinise the teacher profiles (this is the time to check those credentials and get references if you want them), then interview the ones they're interested in by phone.
The agency gets regular feedback from their families, which is posted on the website each week. In contrast, feedback from the tutor to the family is left down to them - "I love that flexibility, especially as so many agencies are so prescriptive," said one tutor.
Money and small print
No registration fee. And what a joy to see prices so clearly listed on the website - starting at £40 to £46ph for primary, going up to £46 to £50ph for A-Levels. All travel expenses are included. After each lesson and approving timesheets, you pay the teacher directly via an automated credit or debit card payment system. T&Cs are clear for both clients and tutors, and you can start and stop the tuition whenever you want. Reasonable notice is expected for cancellations, but nothing is set in stone.
Teachers To Your Home say, "We have big aims and want to establish ourselves as the market leader in the UK for high-quality home and online tuition," says Gill.
A big player in the market, yet one that (at least for now) has a personal touch. With an ex-head teacher at the helm and only trained teachers providing the tuition across the UK, this feels a very safe bet.