The Blog

Should the Private Tutoring Industry be Regulated?

It is fast becoming one of the most popular jobs in the UK - and if the recent figures are true, the industry is now one of the most popular career choices out there...

It is fast becoming one of the most popular jobs in the UK - and if the recent figures are true, the industry is now one of the most popular career choices out there. Sounds appealing: be your own boss, work when you like, no qualifications necessary, charge between £30-80 per hour. It's no secret that the growth in private tuition across London and the UK has started to cause major concerns with parents, teachers and even private tutors themselves. Recent reports from the Telegraph's Education Supplement suggested that a staggering 72% of all children preparing for Common Entrance have had a private tutor, with 25% of all 11 - 18 year olds having had private tuition at some stage during their education.

There are now over 500 private tutoring agencies operating throughout the UK, some with over 10,000 private tutors registered with them.

That's not the scary part though. The fact is that absolutely anyone can 'be' a private tutor. You don't need a valid CRB certificate, you don't require any qualifications and you can effectively charge what you like as long as someone is willing to pay your fee.

In my opinion a CRB (or DBS) check is a must for all private tutors, along with a degree or equivalent high-level qualifications in the subject they wish to teach. Currently, private tutors in the UK do not undergo anything close to this level of investigation, and that needs to change.

Education is a personal thing and parents always want the best for their children. Private tutors and agencies have a responsibility to provide an important service to students; I don't see why other companies don't enforce the same or similar guidelines as we do.

With the sharp rise of University fees a couple of years ago, and the rise in fierce competition and pressure to get into good schools - the demand for private tuition in the UK has seen an exponential growth.

The rising demand for one-to-one private tuition has resulted in it becoming the fastest growing sector within the Educational market place, with specific emphasis at key stages 1 and 2. The education industry is now worth in excess of £17.5 billion. The talk of regulating the industry has been met with both support and refutes, with tutors expressing concerns for tutoring agencies holding the power to self regulate.

There has been mention that private tutors need to hold a degree in their chosen subjects they wish to tutor in. However many argue that this is not entirely necessary and what constitutes a good tutor in a chosen subject does not depend on what degree title they hold.

Although tutors work directly with students and are in a position to really nurture and develop a student in a chosen field, many parents would like some sort of prior 'quality assurance' before taking on a private tutor for their child. What this is exactly, is certainly up for debate.

This would instill faith in the tutor they have hired, assuring that they have met a certain criteria suggesting that they are adept at tutoring in a specific subject. We live in a world where we constantly rely on quality assurance. Whether it is choosing a taxi company or picking a restaurant. Therefore why should selecting a tutor be any different?

Private tutoring has not only seen an exponential growth in the UK but across the world and the same problems surrounding regulation are being faced on an international level.

The question then remains on how regulated the industry should be? Is it sufficient to have a certain number of years worth of experience in a chosen subject area or are tutors required to hold a degree in the respective subject as well...or do they really need to hold a degree in order to be an effective tutor?

For example, should a qualified teacher who has 20 years worth of teaching experience, as the head of Mathematics at a School, be a benchmark for a regulated quality assured tutor? Or can a graduate in Chemistry with three years worth of teaching experience meet the benchmark.

Where do we draw the line?