Being the father of three school aged children, it has not escaped my attention how the home tutoring sector has soared in popularity in recent years, with anxious parents each year desperately trying to secure the best tutors for their children before those dreaded exams take place. It can all be a bit cloak-and-dagger, where parents only pass on their tutor’s details after they are sure their services will no longer be required, and it is often all through word of mouth. The prices charged by these tutors can be eye watering. These tried and tested tutors know they are in high demand, often booked for years in advance, and they charge accordingly! It seems to be spiralling out of control every year, with stories of tutors being taken on ski holidays and Easter breaks now commonplace.
That’s for the tried and tested ones.
For those parents unable to secure the services of such “known quantities”, there still exists a massive pool of tutor agencies advertising all manner of specialist tutors from which to choose from. The prices for these tutors can still be exorbitant, ranging from anywhere between £20 to £100 an hour. But that’s just the cost. How can we even be sure the tutor is qualified to deliver what they claim to be able to deliver? What are the assurances? Because it says so on his or her CV? Where are the checks? The tutoring sector is surprisingly unregulated, and parents suddenly find themselves abandoning their usual rules regarding the safety and welfare of their children, by agreeing to leave them in a tutor’s house, who is to all intents and purposes, a stranger.
What drives them to such uncharacteristic behaviour? The answer quite simply is ANXIETY and FEAR. The anxiety of the whole exam process and the fear that their child will underperform and fail to secure a place at their desired school, or fail to achieve the best grades at national exams such as GCSE. Having just been through the whole exam experience myself with one of my children, I can testify to experiencing both these emotions. With the reintroduction of the Grammar school system in the UK, more parents will be exposed to this stress and it will become an even more pertinent topic in the coming years.
It is well documented that in the UK, one in four children currently seek out of school tutoring. What about the other 75 per cent? I suspect that a large proportion of those parents would consider tutoring if they could afford it.
So why should this be a privilege reserved only for the wealthy? This seems so grossly unfair given the importance parents place on their children’s education these days. It is certainly greater than it was in my day, with parents being so much more actively involved. I don’t recall my parents even looking at my homework! How can this imbalance be addressed? This was the driving force behind schoolexams.co.uk, which intends to level the playing field by making exam help in Maths and English accessible and affordable for everyone.
I also wanted to remove the inconvenience of having to be at a certain place at a certain time. Now everything can be done from the safety of one’s own home, from a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Proven, qualified teachers impart their expert knowledge, at a fraction of the price of traditional tutoring.
Past papers consistently feature in most students’ revision programmes, so the logical step was to provide video solutions to every single question on selected past papers, with computer animation making the teaching more engaging. In essence, to replicate the home tutor experience as closely as possible, with all the pros and none of the cons. Even the English books cut to the chase and explain what exactly is being assessed and outline the skills required to maximise exam scores.
If schoolexams.co.uk can help redress the balance and give more parents the ability to provide academic tutoring to their children, then all the work on the site will have been worthwhile.