A little extra help

Most children need extra help with their school work at some stage. However, to have the best chance of getting into a good school or university it is vital they do not get left behind in their studies.

An effective solution is to hire a private tutor, allowing a child to catch up in weaker subjects, outside of school hours.

Private tuition usually takes the form of extra lessons that take place at home, often lasting for one hour per session.

The most common time to call on the services of a tutor is in the run-up to exams, and whether it’s GCSEs, SATs, school entrance tests or A-levels your child is studying for, you will find tutors who specialise in each different stage of education.

However, even if exams are not on the horizon, your child’s teachers may have identified areas for slight improvement, or where they are completely struggling, and it is important to act now so that they do not get left too far behind.

There are other times when it is also necessary to call on the services of a tutor, for example extra-curricular activities, such as learning a musical instrument.

Finding the right tutor may seem like a daunting task, but there are many ways you can go about it.

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Private tutors come from all kinds of teaching backgrounds; they might be full-time teachers or lecturers tutoring in their spare time, retired teachers, or indeed full-time private tutors.

Your first approach could be to ask other parents to recommend a tutor, while your child’s school might also know someone, or perhaps even a teacher there might be able to provide extra tuition. Your local education authority may also have a list of tutors in your area.

You could also try looking in the phone directory, local papers or on the internet. There are many agencies that can match your child’s needs with a tutor on their books.

A cost effective approach could be to enlist the help of a university student who is willing to tutor your child; contact a local university to see if they can help.

When you have identified a potential candidate, you should arrange an interview to find out about their qualifications, which subjects they specialise in, their knowledge of the National Curriculum, availability and fees.

You should also find out how long they think it will take your child to progress, and, if your child has special needs such as dyslexia or ADHD, if they can accommodate.

Check their references and ask for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. You could also ask for a one-off session to assess how well the tutor works with your child.

Private tuition comes at a cost, but of course, a good education is priceless. If you think you might struggle to afford a tutor, consider drawing up a budget and cutting costs in other areas, or even selling unwanted items.

Speak to a financial adviser who can help you plan ahead and make the most of your money, and tell you what borrowing options are available.

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