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How should you use a Private Tutor?

By Phil Marks

Pupils and students in school today are subject to teachers who are teaching in a regime of relentless change. The teachers are under great pressure to achieve targets and fill in all the tickboxes and paperwork that lies behind it.

Teachers have lives too, and when they become overburdened then something has to give. All too often it is the quality of the education and individual pupil attention that suffers.

What does a Personal Tutor Offer?

An effective personal tutor offers additional:

  • ‘space’ for the student to learn, away from the group of his/her peers in a classroom
  • additional learning time for the student
  • time for additional perspectives on a subject
  • time for additional knowledge and development of a pupil’s own reasoning ability in the context of the subject
  • exceptionally, a tutor will be able to illustrate relevance of the subject to its use in the real world, drawing on the tutor’s personal experience. This is especially important in generating interest and enthusiasm in a student for a subject. Enthusiasm makes learning so much easier.

How should I use a Tutor?


Before engaging a tutor, be clear about what the objectives are that you want the student (probably your son or daughter) to achieve. Are the objectives to:

  • build/reinforce basic knowledge to achieve an exam pass?
  • improve exam grades?
  • build confidence in the student to achieve a basic pass?
  • improve exam technique (i.e the best ways to analyse and answer questions)?

Some objectives might be even more refined, for example interview preparation for a college/university interview, with ‘mock interview’ sessions and discussions of suitable answers for key interview areas.

The objective(s) you set for the student will govern the approach and the style of the tutor’s approach to the student.

Also, the approach will be governed by the level at which the student is studying. Lower level (eg GCSE in the UK) will require more rote learning of basic facts and so on.  At higher levels the student is expected to demonstrate the ability to reason more - using the facts and knowledge to extend exam answers, analyse, propose and argue for a particular point of view, draw conclusions and so on.

All too often, in the scrum of large classes, the individual learning needs of a student are subsumed under the pressure to raise the class average grade, and the opportunity to develop these key traits is very limited for those students who may not be, at that time, achieving their potential.

You should discuss your objectives beforehand with the tutor and the student, to ensure that everyone is aiming for the same outcome.

Brief the Tutor

You do also need to brief the tutor about any particular challenges that the student may be facing, personally and educationally. Family issues, for example, can affect motivation and the ability to concentrate and absorb knowledge. The best ways to teach will vary from student to student.

Do you need a private tutor? Contact me at

or call in at my specialist site  www.tutorsforsuccess.co.uk

© 2010 Phil Marks. All rights reserved




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