In defence of private tutoring

What is the logic behind throwing cold water on pupils’ and families’ aspirations

Share

Sebastian Hepher, headmaster of Eaton Square School in Belgravia is concerned about the growth in private tutoring. In a letter to parents, Mr Hepher lists a series of his misgivings: tutoring can have many disadvantages he says; children can be overloaded with work; parents can be misinformed of what a child needs in order to generate business; children can be taught methods and practices which are confusing to them; homework can be affected due to lack of time. In his two page letter he cites no supporting evidence for any of these assertions.

One thing we can agree is that tutoring has boomed in recent years.  Some commentators have interpreted this as an indictment of mainstream schools.  Mr Hepher’s defensiveness suggests he too views the growth of private tutoring from that perspective.  The growth in the demand for private tuition is a global phenomenon and as a World Bank report confirms, it needs to be analysed in the context of more of us wanting to equip ourselves and our children with educational attainments to join the service sector. It is not necessarily an indictment of a particular school or education system. Obviously I can not speak for Mr Hepher’s particular school.

Recognising that private tutoring is now a significant feature of the educational landscape, The Tutors’ Association an industry body comprising of individual tutors and tutoring companies was launched in October to represent the tutoring industry and to promote best practice. Its members adhere to a code of practice which addresses the specific points Mr Hepher asserts in his letter.  It is part of our code of practice not to over-prescribe tutoring for instance.

As someone who was a classroom teacher myself for a number of years, what I find more concerning about the tone of Mr Hepher’s letter is not so much his hostility to private tutors but his eagerness as a head of a primary school to throw cold water on pupils’ and families’ aspirations. He asks parents -“is it (the school you are aiming for) too academic? As educationalists we should not be prejudging young peoples’ abilities and instead encourage them to fulfil their potential.  Pupils report back effusively as to how with tutoring, their confidence has been restored and their intellectual curiosity engaged. Mr Hepher would appear to believe that warning pupils and parents not to bite off more than they can chew is somehow more important to emphasise than this.

Finally and on a more conciliatory note, Mr Hepher states that we should “ensure that the (tutoring) work being done compliments (sic) the work undertaken at school”. Assuming he meant to say complements, we can assure him that tutors are very keen to work alongside schools for the benefit of pupils. Indeed many confident school heads have already adopted such an approach and one of the aims of the Tutors’ Association is to encourage cooperation of this kind.

Tom Maher is chair of the Tutors’ Association.

Private tutoring is damaging our pupils, says headmaster  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bob Geldof  

Ebola is a political AND a medical disease

Paul Vallely
 

I've tried reason, but my cat is pig-ignorant

Dom Joly
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin