10 crucial Things to look for in a tutor

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

There are many variables which must be considered before deciding to allow a tutor to support your child, and those can change depending on a student's (and their family's) needs.


It is a difficult task to find a perfect-fit tutor. One student's ideal tutor is not necessarily the ideal tutor for another student. In this post we will cover:

  1. Reliability

  2. Goal Setting

  3. Communication

  4. Passion

  5. Tailoring

  6. Special Educational Needs

  7. Expertise

  8. Safeguarding

  9. Availability

  10. Reporting

Who is this for:


Parents and guardians looking to hire a tutor.

Students who are researching tutors to recommend to parents or guardians.

Tutors looking for personal development.



1. A tutor should be a reliable source of support for students.

Tutors must always be reliable. Why?

The student and family they work with come to rely on their expertise and support. If a schedule is agreed, you should expect them to be punctual.


It is best for class times to be at a set time every week. Why?


The classes with tutors become part of a student’s routine. A routine promotes responsibility as the student becomes familiar with preparing for their class every week.


The expectation to prepare and be ready for class increases the likelihood that homework will be attended to at a high standard and that they have brought the appropriate tools for their lesson.


Tutors who provide the best support cultivate a proactive attitude in their students.

Don't forget: tutors are supposed to be modelling an excellent attitude to education.



2. Tutors should have expertise in attaining the goals which students are aiming towards and help students to continually re-evaluate their aims and avenues for attaining and exceeding them.


Goal setting is the best way to ensure a consistent move towards progress.


Goals should be SMART:


Specific – straightforward and emphasise what you want to happen

Measurable – If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Attainable – In reach of being achieved.

Relevant – Linked with the desired outcomes and activities.

Time-bound – Set a timeframe to work in

A good tutor will not only understand how to set SMART goals with their students, but also inspire students to set SMART goals themselves.


Once a goal is achieved, new goals should be set and constantly re-evaluated.


But…


Goals are not set in stone! Tutors should know which to prioritise and how to amend goals depending on changing circumstances.


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3. A great tutor is a great communicator and can change their approach to a topic, depending on the requirements of the student and how they react to the teaching material.


Most students are looking to improve in a particular top/area of study, such as English, Maths, Science, etc., and tutors must be experts in communicating understanding of their topics.


It is not enough to know about a topic! A tutor must be able to teach it well.

What to look out for?


Asking if the student is understanding the content regularly.


Be able to change approach if the current one isn't working.


Using positive language and celebrate success.


Acknowledging effort.


Speaking clearly.


Regularly summarising content.


Explain the application of the work for meeting the student's goals.



4. The most successful tutors are passionate about their subject areas.


Passion is contagious and students find it more fulfilling to be taught by someone with who enjoys learning and teaching about a topic than those who don't.


Children who have fun during their classes are more likely to remember what they have learnt.


Tutors who love to teach spend time and energy creating or discovering the best resources to use within their classes. There is a universe of incredible websites and media which challenge students to view a topic from another perspective.


Building positive associations between students and their learning helps to spur their curiosity and increases the likelihood of students completing further work after class.

The goal: students look forward to their classes and understand the value of their education.


5. Tailoring to each student

There are many factors which should necessitate a different approach.


The age of students, their ability, and grades, as well as learning difficulties, necessitate a unique approach to educational support.


Each student is an individual and must be treated as so.


The truth…


Most tutors are not well-suited to teach all age and ability groups. The majority specialise in teaching students with specific characteristics and needs.


This is not a weakness, but a strength!


A tutor who is well-versed in catering for your specific needs will be well positioned to optimally support you.


Some tutors have strengths in challenging high-achieving students.


Others excel in building confidence and consolidating foundational knowledge in struggling students.

Likewise, teaching a five-year-old requires a divergent approach to a sixteen-year-old, and the experience of the tutor in teaching specific age ranges is key to success.


Confidence is often the key ingredient which is lacking in a student. A tailored approach to that student helps them to realise their strengths and typically translates into a new approach when they are in school.


Tutors who are experienced in teaching students who have similar needs to that of your own are better placed to apply their expertise to your situation.



6. For students who have special learning difficulties, a tutor's teaching style and ability to adapt to the student's specific needs, often becomes the priority.


The ability to utilise a range of resources and teaching styles provides tutors with the opportunity to create a successful learning environment for their studnts, who are confident that their needs are being considered.


These tutors are well versed in adapting to situations and recommending tactics which support the student’s learning style.


Tutors should work with parents and students to learn which approach is best for their circumstances.


Using technology and web resources are an invaluable asset in these situations.


Patience and experience can make a dramatic difference for the progress made with each class.


Also, developing trust with students with students with special educational needs can also change the student’s perspective towards a topic, and even their education more generally.


7. To ensure that a tutor can adapt to the ever-changing needs of their students, it is essential that they are experts in their field.


A typical marker of a tutor's expertise is the qualifications which they hold.


Tutors who have a degree in their chosen topic is often preferable to those who do not as they understand how to succeed with the topic.


But specific degrees are not necessary.


Often tutors who have a degree in one Subject are also very successful educators in other fields, especially in associated fields.


E.g., History graduates tend to also tend to be strong English Literature and Language educators.


E.g., Physics graduates might also teach Mathematics at KS3 & 4 levels.


Most professional tutors have classroom experience and a teaching degree, though many do not.


Does this make a difference?


Not necessarily.


Teaching tactics which apply to a classroom of pupils does not transfer well to one-on-one learning. A different approach is needed.


Tutors who also teach in classroom environments need to have the ability to adapt their approach to tutoring.

Tutors who hold excellent grades in the subjects that they teach have first-hand experience of methods which work to replicate success and can share those methods with their students.


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8. Professional tutors should hold an extended DBS and be familiar with best safeguarding practices.


This can be requested from tutors by parents and guardians and is standard amongst professional tutors.


If in doubt, ask.


New tutors are advised to apply for an extended DBS before starting to tutor children.


Familiarity with safeguarding practices is needed for tutors who work with children. This ensures the safety of the student and the tutor.

9. The best tutors often demand a higher price point to compensate for their time, effort, as well scheduling demands, and availability.


Due to the growing demand and the availability of tutor online, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a quality educator.

There are practicalities when searching for a tutor.


Finding a tutor whose availability matches the requirements of their students is key.


This is often more difficult when searching for an in-person tutor due to the addition of travel time and costs.


This has led to most of the best tutors going online as this allows them to easily work with all of their students in a safe and suitable environment without many additional costs.


Online tuition is a growing field as applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams allows tutors to collaborate with their students during their lessons and removes the constraints of travel.


10. Tutors should regularly report progress to parents or guardians.


The best time to do this is the last 5 minutes of a class.


What should they be reporting?


Student's attitude throughout the class.


The progress which has been made towards the student's goals.


Topics to be covered in the next class.


Outline any concerns.


Communicate how parents and guardians can support the student outside of class time. This can take the form of multimedia:


· Videos

· Documentaries

· Books

· Podcasts

· Theatre and Plays

· Music

· Exhibits, Museums and Galleries

· Websites

· Applications

And more besides…

Ask if there are any queries which they can help with.


Enquire about upcoming deadlines (examinations, reports, projects, etc.)


These are the qualities which we seek from the tutor who we work with.


A top education should not a compromise and investing in the best talent is the secret to success.


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