Private tutoring has become a flourishing business, especially in the UK where the market is estimated to be worth £2 billion per year.

There are many misconceptions about the industry, however, and many falsely believe it to the preserve of the rich which, while once true, is no longer the case.

Students having trouble in class, or those just looking for a helping hand in their studies, shouldn't hesitate to get in touch with a qualified personal teacher.

If you're curious to learn more about the world of personal tutors before committing to extra lessons, then read on, as we take you on a guided tour.

The History of Private Tutoring

Many assume that private tuition is a recent phenomenon.

In fact, private tutoring has a long history, going back millennia.

In antiquity, the school as we know it today did not exist and education was reserved for a rich elite, through personal lessons.

The private teacher was called a "tutor". His aim was to pass his knowledge on to his pupil and, above all, to help form his tutee's thinking and perspectives.

Aristotle tutoring Alexander the Great
Even Alexander the Great had a private tutor (Source: - Jean Leon Gerome Ferris)

Many of these tutors were famous in their own rights:

  • Mentor, after whom the term is named, was Telemachus' tutor in Greek mythology.
  • Aristotle was Alexander the Great's tutor.
  • Seneca was Nero's tutor.
  • Frederick Caesar de la Harpe was the tutor of Alexander 1st of Russia.
  • William of Ercuis was Philip IV of France's tutor.

Over time, educational systems became more democratic and schooling has become available to all social classes.

The term private tuition began to emerge in the 19th century, but only in the 20th century, thanks to widespread economic growth, did the middle classes gain access to this privilege.

Since then, the home tuition market has gone from strength to strength.

With traditional education viewed by many as inadequate, more and more parents are turning to private tutors.

The demand for private lessons is on the rise: In 2005 18% of pupils in the UK had received private tuition, but in 2016 this figure was 25%.

You could even say that the modern age of private lessons is just beginning.

Online Tutoring of Tomorrow

The internet has, as an understatement, changed all our lives including those of private tutors.

Today, we needn't take private lessons as we have done so far, in the same physical location as the tutor: We now have cyberspace!

According to a survey carried out by the Ipsos Institute in 2015, teenagers spend 13.5 hours on the internet per week, and even 1-6 years are online for 3 hours 45 minutes per week on average.

To improve their skills in a given area, young people prefer to use a medium they know well.

So, pupils looking to take private lessons can make use of a ubiquitous and popular instrument: The webcam.

Courses by webcam and video chat (e.g. Skype) are highly interactive and offer numerous advantages:

  • For teachers, no need to spend hours on public transport
  • Savings on transport costs
  • Using familiar tools helps students relax
  • Group video calling can reduce the per-hour cost of tuition
  • Easily make use of electronic media (video, audio, digital documents, online exercises and games).
  • More free time
  • The chance to take a course with a teacher located at the other end of the country... or even the world

In addition to lessons with a "real" tutor online, there's also the opportunity to learn with apps.

Use your phone to learn!
Smartphone can also be used for….. taking lessons! (Source: – janeb13)

Educational apps of all types can be found on Play Store and the Apple Store, are enjoying unprecedented success.

Babbel, for example, which is great at assisting language acquisition, has been downloaded more than 10,000,000 times on Android.

In just one short decade, the internet has revolutionised how we take or give lessons outside of school.

Thanks to a new approach to learning, digital resources will provide a more personalised learning experience for the student, for the foreseeable future.

The college or secondary school student is now able to ace her exams, while making use of modern tools that are at the same time familiar. This is a future shared by private lessons.

Private Tuition Worldwide: An Overview

Private and home tutors now occupy a very important place in our lives.

A 2016 poll found that around 40% of pupils in London have had a private tutor at some time.

How does the UK figure in relation to its neighbours? What does private tuition look like worldwide?

In France, tutorials do not form a part of the regular school system, and classes sizes tend to be larger.

In countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, the parent-teacher relationship enjoys a high degree of trust, as scholastic education is seen to have proven its worth, by way of a low unemployment rate following graduation.

Béatrice Durand, a French teacher living in Berlin, has experience with both French and German educational systems. She characterises the differences between the two as follows:

"The Germans find French education too "verschult" (too "academic") and too demanding in the lives of young people: They would like to lengthen the school day, but not to French levels, and there is a feeling that making parents' lives easier is not, in itself, a gauge of quality in education." 

So, we can see that there's a wide variety in the styles of school education around Europe.

Moving further afield, we have to go to Asia to find the biggest demand for private teachers.

As a cultural stereotype, Asian parents tend to be more demanding of their children in terms of academic achievement and job prospects.

Many Asian cultures value academic achievement highly
A high premium is placed on education in Japan (Source: - Azlan DuPree)

To achieve this, they are prepared to pay:

In Japan, parents spend on average between £700 and £1300 per month on their children's education.

Parents are prepared to accept these kinds of expenses in order to consolidate their children's knowledge and give them an enviable education.

In the UK, on the other hand, the aim of hiring a home or starting online tutoring is, above all, to assist pupils in progressing with regular school work at their own pace.

The UK Private Tutor Landscape

After-school tuition in the UK is closely tied to specialist providers.

To help their children excel, parents rely on the home tutor's methodology, which is designed to develop a student's skills through private classes.

Here are some figures that will help guide you in selecting a private tutor or teacher:

  • The private tuition market in the UK is worth around £2 billion per year
  •  The average price of a one hour course at home is around £30 per hour
  • With Superprof, homework assistance costs on average £20 per hour
  •  The demand for private tuition increases greatly during the school summer holidays.

If you want to take maths classes, economics lessons or even singing classes, getting out-of-school assistance is likely to cost less than you think!

Consider the cost of tuition before taking desperate measures.
No need to rob the bank! Tuition may be cheaper than you think (Source: - Henry Burrows)

On Superprof, you will find prices suited to all budgets. At the lower end of the price range, some concessions may need to be made, such as hiring a less-experienced teacher.

Most private tutors give additional lessons in order to complement a regular salary, rather than as their main way of earning a living, but of course, this largely depends on the topic.

Some tutors offering music or sports classes are able to earn a full salary through this alone, since these are paid more per hour than academic subjects.

By becoming a student of private lessons, you can take part in this flourishing sector, and maybe even discover a passion for a new subject!

Home Tutoring Platforms

Any discussion of private lessons leads inevitably to those organisations specialised in this growing sector.

Yet, these private companies account for less than 1/8 of the market!

Often, their services don't fit within parents' budgets, however going through such an organisation does have certain advantages. For example, there's no need to spend time looking for and vetting tutors, as they come straight to you!

What's more, the company will always try to offer you teachers in your area, to avoid potential delays in transit time.

The main tutoring companies in the UK include:

  • First Tutors: They offer a wide range of subjects and teachers, who set their own hourly rates. They charge a one-off fee of £4.99 to 24.99 to connect with a tutor.
  • UK Tutors: School subjects like English and Math as well as many others from primary level to GCSE, A-Level all the way up to degree level. It’s free to search, browse and contact tutors, but to connect with a teacher you need to pay an introduction fee of £4.99 to 19.99.
  • Superprof: From academic subjects through to music, martial arts and sculpture, find a tutor that best meets your needs here. You can browse by location to find teachers located near you. Superprof does not charge a fee and is free to both students and teachers.
  • Tutor Hunt makes the process of locating tutors quick and easy. You can browse through their list of thousands of registered tutors free of charge. A one-off finder’s fee of, on average, £24 is made when connecting with a teacher.
  • Other popular tutoring London and UK platforms include: My Tutor, Tutora and Keystone Tutors

There are also some disadvantages to going through a private organisation: In addition to the often high prices, the teachers usually prefer to teach college or secondary school students.

Tutors prefer to teach secondary school pupils rather than university students
There are often fewer tutors available for university students (Source: - John McStravick Follow)

If you are the parent of a primary school or nursery-age child, or if you are a university student, you may only have a relatively small number of teachers to choose from.

To bypass such hurdles, why not get in touch with one of the many skilled and enthusiastic teachers on Superprof!

Unlike these companies, Superprof is free students, and does not charge a fee to connect you to your chosen teacher.

92% of our Super tutors even offer the first class free, to help you make the right choice!

On Superprof, both subject areas and levels are very diverse. You can find lessons for students at engineering school, in accounting or even computer sciences - With a comprehensive selection,  you're sure to find the discipline you're looking for, from tutors Glasgow to Surrey tutors, we span the country.

Tutoring: a Form of Exchange

To engage the services of a particular teacher is to entrust him or her with the direction of your child's education.

Regardless of the subject, a home tutor will help your child to effectively revise what she has learnt in class, in order to successfully complete her curriculum and avoid any remedial classes.

A private teacher will begin by analysing the student's difficulties and will guide her through a course of intensive coaching, short or long term.

Support for the following school subjects is available on Superprof:

  • English
  • English Literature
  • Maths
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Physics and Chemistry
  • Biology
  • History and Geography
  • Sports

Often, over the course of private lessons, a relationship of trust develops between student and teacher, since the latter is able to give a greater degree of attention than a student is used to receiving in class.

Use your private lessons wisely
Make the most of your tuition (Source: Defense Department - Jo Finley)

Through one to one tuition, the teacher will often become your child's guidance counsellor, pinpointing shortcomings and offering constructive advice as to how to work towards future goals.

Private lessons are a preemptive defence against exam failure: Whether aiming to get into a grammar school or a top university, the unwavering support of an experienced private tutor will help a pupil get the result they want.

The minute you think that your child has academic difficulties, whether related to the fast pace of a class, problems in spelling, or a feeling of being 'bottom of the class', you should take action and consider private tuition, to alleviate his or her feelings of negativity.

With the support of not only parents, but also qualified teachers, a student can't help but succeed in his or her educational journey!

The Future of Home and Online Tutoring

What does the future have in store for private lessons?

It looks likely that in coming years, online tutors will face stiff competition from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Whether free or paid, these often attract hundreds of thousands of students.

It is, equally, unlikely that e-learning, or distance learning will not leave an indelible mark on private lessons.

Already, such lessons, facilitated by webcams and widespread fast internet, are becoming a mainstay in private education. Such a setup means that neither tutor nor student need bear the inconvenience of travelling, to attend a lesson.

Additional tuition for school subjects already accounts for the majority of private lessons. This is a trend which is expected to increase with time, and is one that is bolstered by mistrust on the part of some parents of the school education system.

It is also likely that sports coaching, a discipline very much in vogue, as well as the use of digital materials, will soon experience a boom in popularity.

Finally, we expect to see a diversification in the teaching of music, the arts and leisure activities, accompanied by a parallel diversification in teaching methods and materials.

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