Whilst ‘FOMO’ is certainly a factor that makes parents turn to private tuition, the main reason for this is that competition for places at London day schools is incredibly high, says Morgan Griffiths, Managing Director at Holland Park Tuition & Education Consultants. “There has been a huge increase in the number of, and number of applicants to, selective and highly competitive pre-prep, prep and secondary schools (i.e. for entry at 4+, 7+, 8+, 11+ and 13+, not to mention pre-tests) across London.”
Bad tutoring, agrees Amanda McLeod of the McLeod Centre for Learning, pushes children beyond the level that they would achieve naturally and this can cause emotional damage. “I have seen too many children tutored to death, scrape into a ‘top’ school and, consequently, experience a horrid education as, actually, it was the wrong school for that child to start off with,” says McLeod.
A good tutor should set a schedule that doesn’t result in a depressed and stressed pupil and should also work with parents to identify the best school for their child.
Many parents who pay for a tutor feel that a private hour or two gives their child confidence and the chance to go over stuff they may have missed or just not understood. “If used effectively, however, tuition can actually act to reduce stress and to increase the amount of free time a child has, since time spent on academic work with a tutor is a great deal more effective than struggling, either alone at home or in the classroom, in silence,” says Griffiths.
“Of course if you’re paying for an hour a week to help with a subject that you’re not too strong on yourself or feel you’d rather pick your battles with your child, then targeted tutoring is worthwhile,” says Mrs McLeod.
Interestingly, not every parent who seeks out a tutor is interested in preparing for entrance exams, or even academic tuition at all, says Mr Griffiths. “For instance, we have witnessed an increasing desire for parents to provide a fully-rounded education for their children, hence they seek music, sport, drama, dance and/or art tuition to supplement that provided (or not provided) at school,” says Mr Griffiths, who also says he sees a rise in requests for EAL (English as an additional language) and other MFL (modern foreign languages) tuition too.