Every few months I read an article about how elite private tutors are paid large sums of money to fly out to exotic destinations to provide private tuition for wealthy clients who want their children to have the finest education available. While these placements are common and many tutors will do several of them over the course of a career, in reality that private tuition is not simply the preserve of the globally wealthy.
If parents have the means to do so, hiring a full-time elite private tutor can be a very positive move. It allows the family the luxury of being globally mobile without disrupting their children’s education. For families that travel a lot or who have moved to a nation without a well-developed education system, a full-time private tutor can be a tremendous asset. Often hiring a full-time tutor actually leads to an accelerated learning process, so children return to the mainstream school system in subsequent years ahead of their peers.
However for parents who don’t have the option of hiring a full-time tutor, simply hiring a well-vetted, experienced tutor for one or two hours per week can provide their child with a huge amount of extra-input. A good private tutor will provide motivation, challenge and encouragement as well as academic and technical knowledge. Children and young-people are also afforded the time and space to ask questions freely without fear of embarrassment in front of classmates. The level of focused work that students do and the individual attention they get in private tuition is simply unmatched in any other educational setting. A student in mainstream education would be lucky if they received two-to-three hours per year of individual attention at school. For a very affordable monthly cost, a student can receive four-to-eight hours per month of individual attention. It is quite simply inevitable that with a good tutor, the student will progress significantly. With a very good tutor, the student should also feel a renewed sense of enjoyment and motivation for their subject.
There are also secondary benefits to having a private tutor which are often not written about in national and regional newspapers. Certain tutors and agencies are experts in finding solutions for tricky situations related to education, for example selecting the correct school or university, preparing for a specific exam, moving from one school system to another, dealing with a learning difficulty, dealing with an uninspiring school environment, dealing with exams, finding centres for re-sits and many more besides. I personally spend several hours per week involved in such activity – a dedicated tutor is also an impartial and valuable advisor for parents and a pro-active advocate for their students.
The debate over private and free education is, to my mind, a false one. All education costs money – no teacher or educator is able to work for free – nor should they. The only question is whether the schools, teachers or tutors are paid for through taxation or are paid directly by families and parents. The cost of working with a tutor once or twice per week is an affordable one for most parents and the benefit for students is potentially huge. I have personally worked with students of every imaginable background, from dozens of countries, in several locations around Europe and without exception students feel the benefit of working with a good quality private tutor and families have been universally happy to make the necessary investment in their child’s future.
Given the sheer amount of highly focused work that students do in private tuition and the incomparable level of personal attention they get, I would argue that all things considered, private tuition can be the most cost-effective way to provide a truly world-class education. To my mind, the most cost-effective approach of all is to have your children attend a high-achieving school and complement this with private tuition once or twice per week. For a very affordable price, it is possible to furnish your child with a truly outstanding education.