Tutors and tutoring firms often shy away from such a direct question, but I like to address this candidly in my initial consultations with parents. The bottom line is parents need to know that the tuition will be worth the investment, not only financially but also in terms of their child’s (and their own) time and effort.
I may start by saying: “Private one-to-one tuition – when done well – will help your child reach his or her particular potential.”
I would then unpack this statement, highlighting some of the particular benefits that outstanding tuition can offer, and the key elements that need to be in place if these are to be realised. More specifically, the tuition must be:
Without clear objectives in place, tuition will at best be unfocused (any potential reached will be indeterminate and without purpose), but more likely will be inappropriate, confused and detrimental (the student will move backwards, away from his or her potential rather than towards it).
Meanwhile, without clear outcomes defined at the outset, how can the tutor, student and parents possibly assess whether potential has been reached or not?
The tutor needs to look at the student as an individual. A student doesn’t want to aim for some generalised average standard or even some arbitrary level above the norm – someone else’s potential. Rather, a student wants to strive to reach his or her own particular potential.
The tutor needs to consider that student as an individual from the outset. Student assessment needs to be personalised and programmes need to be tailored accordingly. The tutor needs to consider carefully the student’s particular:
The tutor should be:
Where the tuition is focused on a particular end event such as an exam, the tutor needs to consider the student’s capabilities and potential not only in general terms but in the context of how much time is available. Not to state the obvious but what may be achievable in 24 tutorial sessions over six months simply can’t be achieved in four sessions over one month. The best tutors will know how to adapt content and tuition style to help the student track his or her potential in the time available, but will also be confident setting new challenging but realistic objectives and outcomes if necessary.
Available time is a key factor often underestimated or neglected altogether by tutors and tutoring firms – with damaging consequences. I’ll be returning to this in a later post.
Director, Cornerstone Tutors