Facts about tutors

A young girl with a tutor.

At a glance

  • Discuss your child's education with their teacher first.
  • Tutors need to add confidence and work in partnership with your child's school.
  • Tutors should be warm, empathetic and subject matter experts.
  • Tutors should build confidence in your child so that they trust their own skills.
  • Exercise caution if you're asked to sign contracts with a tutor.

Private tutoring to give kids a helping hand in their schooling is a growing business. However, it's also an area where parents can be vulnerable to bogus offers and misleading advertising. If you're considering using a tutor, you need to know how to get the best service for you and your child.

It's important to know that the job of a school is to ensure your child's educational needs are met in line with the curriculum. Teachers in NSW public schools are university educated and use effective teaching and learning techniques. If you have concerns about your child's education, you should discuss it with your child's teacher, year adviser or principal.

Qualities of a good tutor

Mohan Dhall, chief executive officer of the Australian Tutoring Association (ATA), says the right tutor can complement school education when "they instil confidence in the student and work in partnership with schools".

Mohan says parents should first think whether their child would benefit from tuition. After all, a well-structured home environment may provide the best framework for parents to help their children.

However, if you have identified an area or areas that could benefit from extra academic attention, then you need to be clear about what you want the tuition to achieve, Mohan says.

A well-structured home environment may provide the best framework for parents to help their children.

"They should also see how the tuition can work best with the child's school to achieve the best outcomes for the child."

Tutors should be effective communicators, warm and empathetic, and open, honest and accountable, Mohan says. They will be subject matter experts who can break down complex concepts and build understanding through standard teaching processes. A tutor's aim is to help kids build confidence in their skills so they can help themselves.

Tutors in Australia can now be accredited by an industry-based certification endorsed by the Australian Tutoring Association. As more tutors apply for accreditation, you'll be able to search for them by subject and suburb at www.accreditedtutor.org

 

What to ask a potential tutor

  • How long has the tutoring service been in business?
  • Does the service belong to a relevant industry association with an enforceable code of conduct?
  • Does the tutor have references from other parents who have used the service?
  • Has the tutor been interviewed face-to-face by the tutoring service?
  • What qualifications and experience does the tutor have?
  • What training does the tutor have in the subject area being tutored?
  • Is the tutor equipped to give correct support in NSW curriculum requirements?
  • Have reference checks been conducted on the tutor?
  • Has the tutor undergone relevant child protection screenings?

What to look out for in tutors

Unfortunately, not all tutors have positive traits. Many families have contacted the NSW Fair Trading complaining about tutoring services related to refunds, cancellations, fees and unsatisfactory service.

In hiring a tutor, NSW Fair Trading advises parents to:

  • exercise caution with overseas or interstate institutions promoting their services on the internet
  • read any contracts carefully before signing
  • be aware of any cancellation conditions.

NSW Fair Trading also suggests that parents ask how guarantees of success can be proved and to be careful of companies that rely on web-based communication and don't offer telephone numbers or office locations. 

Parents who are experiencing problems with tutoring services can contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20. The Australian Tutoring Association has 6,000 registered tutors nationally who abide by a Code of Conduct.

Fact sheets on hiring a tutor are available in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.


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