While the vast majority of private tutors are reputable, adult students still need to be cautious when hiring a private tutor directly.
Here is The Tutor Pages advice for contacting tutors as an adult learner:
Try to talk on the phone before meeting for the first time. Ask the tutor pro-active questions and listen for inconsistencies in information you are being told. Trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to call off the meeting if you are feeling worried.
For your first meeting, consider the following:
- meet in daylight, and in a public place if possible.
- don’t let anyone pick you up by car.
- take your mobile phone with you, and possibly a personal alarm.
- tell a friend or family member where you are going, and when you expect to return.
(The Suzy Lamplugh Trust campaigns on all areas personal safety, and the above tips are based on their expert advice.)
Safe Study Space
Be clear in advance where the tutoring will take place and who will be present.
If you are visiting someone’s home, ask if anyone else is going to be there and, if you’re concerned, also ask about any pets.
If someone is visiting your home, let them know that a friend or family member may also be there.
Ask the tutor for details of two referees, and follow them both up with a phone call. In addition, ask the tutor for details of some current or former students, and follow them up with a phone call.
Check to see whether the tutor is properly accredited and qualified by asking to see evidence such as certificates. Verify these by contacting the relevant accreditation body or organisation.
Consider hiring a tutor who has an up-to-date DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service, formerly CRB) check. The Disclosure & Barring Service perform a DBS check on anyone before they work at schools, charities or other organisations to make sure there is no known reason why they may not work with children or vulnerable adults.
A Word on Contracts
We recommend the use of a written contract between yourself and the tutor as it sets out clear boundaries and raises expectations all round.
If a tutor doesn’t use a written contract, you may wish to suggest using one in the interests of maintaining a clear and professional relationship.
A sample contract is included in The Tutor Pages’ free e-book for tutors.
Suggested questions to ask a tutor include:
- How much experience do you have?
- Can you provide a reading list?
- Which study books do you recommend?
- How do you measure progress?
- Do you provide periodic progress reports?
- Where do you teach?
- Do you provide online tuition?
- How many hours per week are usually necessary?
- Do you set homework?
- How many hours a week should I study/practice at home?
- Do you offer discounts for block bookings or concessions?
- Do you charge for travel?
- Do you help with other areas such as interview technique and CV-writing?