A recent advert in The Times Educational Supplement hit the headlines: Private tutor to coach an Arab businessman into Oxford. Salary: €146,700. Private tuition is clearly a big business. Managing Director and Founder of Enjoy Education Kate Shand explains how private tuition can help international students join the UK school/university system.
If you and your family are moving to the UK, you may find the prospect of navigating the complexities of the British education system an intimidating one.
You are not alone. Complicated school exam processes, admission deadlines up to three years in advance, and an academic curriculum that is potentially vastly different from that in your home country can create a maze of uncertainty.
Not to mention an ever-increasing number of pupils competing for a limited number of places, which means getting your child into your British school of choice can be a stressful experience.
However, parents do not need to go through the process on their own, and a wealth of help and support is on hand through hiring the services of a reputable private tutoring company.
Throughout my eight years as founder and managing director of Enjoy Education, an award-winning tutoring consultancy based in Knightsbridge, London, we have helped hundreds of expatriate families relocating to the UK.
Here are my top tips and advice on how to hire the ideal private tutor and the myriad ways in which a tutoring company can help your family.
A special breed of tutor
Last year there were an estimated 1.5 million private tutors working in the UK. This means there are now more tutors in the country than solicitors, teachers and employees within the National Health Service.
But families need to be careful when choosing a tutor. Indeed, as more and more schools claim to have ‘tutor-proofed’ their entrance exams, the kind of tutor who teaches children how to cram for 11+ or 13+ exams, or to merely tick the right boxes for entry into a school or university, will no longer do.
In this way a good British tutor needs to be a different breed. A more holistic approach is required that encompasses both the facts and knowledge that is required to pass an exam, as well as encouraging each child’s creativity and independent thought. Building confidence lies at the heart of all successful tutoring.
A good tutoring company should help you find exactly that kind of tutor. At Enjoy Education, we go one step further with our unique five-step approach to getting the best results from your tutoring programme. This includes carefully selecting a tutor to match each child’s specific needs as well as personality.
As one American parent said, ‘I got the feeling that you did think about the kind of child that my son was and tried to tailor the programme and tutors to him.’
Assessments and schools consultancy
Planning and support can begin in your home country before your move to the UK as well as after you have landed on British soil.
The first step would be to conduct an assessment of your child, either face-to-face or online. This is the quickest way to gauge your child’s knowledge of the relevant syllabus for their age and their level of English (if it is not their mother tongue). This will then determine work programmes to get up to speed with their British peers.
Students in the UK are spoilt for choice with a wealth of quality independent schools and some of the top universities in the world. However, if you are getting confused by all the options, then it’s a good idea to book a meeting with a schools and university consultant.
We work with the top specialists in the UK, who will be able to advise on which schools will suit your child’s character and priorities. Focussing on a selection of schools will also prevent your child being overwhelmed by too many entrance exams and interviews.
Individually tailored face-to-face or online private tutoring sessions should then follow. These are a great way to build not only knowledge, but also to allow your child to interact with a British person and learn more about British culture, which will help them to settle in more easily.
A more intensive option chosen by many parents is to have a live-in tutor over the school holidays. Having a tutor in your home for a substantial period can create the ideal learning environment and will do wonders for your children’s – and possibly even your (!) – English.
To date, Enjoy Education has sent tutors to more than 30 countries worldwide with a great deal of success. ‘Everything was provided with perfect quality, even though we were on different continents,’ described a Russian parent.
In certain cases, we would recommend a short period of home schooling where a structured education programme using a handpicked group of tutors will be created for a child in preparation for joining a mainstream UK school. This can often be the fastest and most effective way to bring children up to the level required for their age group.
A parent who moved to the UK from South Africa said: ‘You have managed to send us a superlative group of young, energetic, dedicated and intelligent tutors. It has been a real pleasure to have them with us!’
Another option parents might consider is to hire a mentor. A mentor’s function is to support, advise and encourage your child, whether they are at school or university age.
A mentor can make all the difference if your child is struggling to deal with new life in an unfamiliar country. At university level, my company has arranged mentors for students who are having difficulty both with the social aspect of university life as well as coping with the heavy workload.
The beauty of individualised learning
Private one-to-one tutoring is widely acknowledged as the ultimate in adaptive and interactive learning, and is the best way to prepare children for exams when time is limited and every hour needs to count.
Through one-to-one attention from the highest calibre of tutors, consultants and assessors, and a top level of service from the in-house team, Enjoy Education will make your move to the UK a happier, smoother experience for the whole family. As one parent said, ‘It’s like you’re flying business class!’