In May 2013, the Centre for Market Reform of Education launched a consultation on its plans for a new national association for tutors, their aim is to develop industry standards and improve the consistency of the private tutoring market. This process concluded yesterday and we await its findings and conclusions with interest.

The Tutors Association

We are regular bloggers on the field of education and tutoring and to open up wider debate on the The Tutors Association (TTA) we recently wrote about our concerns on the form that it might take in ‘Who will really benefit from a new national association for private tutors’.

The more information and opinions that can be drawn together, the better. We were pleased to support Henry Fagg’s (of The Tutor Pages) initiative to get the feedback from independent tutors. 

The results of The Tutor Pages survey were made public today. This is what tutors had to say.

Should tutors be required to hold a university degree?

71% think requiring tutors to hold a degree might exclude quality tutors
69% believe requiring tutors of children over the age of 11 to have subject-specific degrees is too inflexible

I concur with this view. There are lots of really talented and effective tutors that would be excluded from entering the new professional body. Degree level entry standards are unnecessary, and should be relaxed.

Will tutors choose to join up?

94% think many excellent private tutors will decide not to join the association

The big question is why so few tutors would choose to join the TTA. Maybe it’s because of the degree level entry requirement, or maybe it’s because of the cost. Most people pursue tutoring on a part-time basis and do not earn the kind of money that would allow them to cough up a couple of hundred pounds for membership.

Things might change if members start to command higher hourly rates, in which case for tutors it would be an economic cost : benefit decision whether to sign up. Were the state education system to only choose from TTA tutors, then the prospect of regular work from schools may tempt larger numbers of tutors to join.

Is the tutoring industry broken?

67% say no parents have raised concerns about quality in the private tuition industry
56% think current regulation of the tuition industry is sufficient and no self-regulation is required

I have been involved in the tutoring industry for many years, and in all that time I have only received a few messages of concern about a tutor. Where things go wrong it’s almost always because the chemistry isn’t right between the tutor and student. Tutors are, on the whole, honest and trustworthy and tutor because they are knowledgeable about the subjects, and love teaching.

Very occasionally you may see tutors passing themselves off as better qualified or more experienced than they are, and claiming non existent DBS / CRB checks. But an upfront chat with them and asking to see a copy of their DBS / CRB check will quickly identify if there is anything adrift.

Does the industry need a new association?

56% do not think the new tutors’ association could be “an independent arbiter of the quality of private tuition”
56% do not think the association as currently proposed would ensure higher standards
62% of tutors think there is a need for an association to set and maintain industry standards

I think that there is a role for the TTA in establishing quality standards, codes of conduct and providing balanced information to the public about tutoring. Maintaining industry standards by running a complaints handling and disciplinary process seems a step too far, as quite apart from the cost it’s not apparent what teeth the Association would actually have.

Finally, I should mention that we have attended a Consultation session at the Centre for Market Reform of Education. It’s our opinion that there is no political agenda at play here, as suspected by some. It’s a well intentioned initiative that deserves to be supported. I believe that its focus needs to be altered somewhat, but think that once implemented it will result in better quality tutoring, which is ultimately what we all want to see.

I hope that this blog post sheds some more light on the topic. We will keep you updated on news as it happens.

In the meantime, if there is anything you would like to get off your chest, please feel free to comment on this blog post. You can find an ongoing discussion about TTA on LinkedIn.

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Jess