An Introduction and Definition of Private Tuition

What is private tuition?

Private tuition is a kind of teaching which is usually:

•  paid for privately, and not by the state;
•  given one-to-one.

Private tuition can also:

•  take place in state schools;
•  involve small groups of pupils.

Who provides private tuition?

Most private tuition is provided by self-employed private tutors. Many of these tutors work independently, meaning that they enter into verbal or written contracts directly with parents, carers or adult students. In this situation, it is the responsibility of the parent, carer or adult student to check the suitability of the tutor (please see our Safety Advice for further information). Independent private tutors will often advertise their services, for example on this website.

Other tutors are provided through private tuition agencies. Tuition agencies charge parents, carers and adult students a fee for finding them a tutor. This can be an introduction fee, commission for the duration of the tutoring contract, or both.

A third provider of private tuition are private tuition centres. These centres are sometimes run on a franchise model. Well-known examples of private tuition centres in the UK are Kumon, Explore Learning and Magikats. Tuition in these centres is normally provided to small groups of learners.

Schools in the state education system also use the services of private tutors. These tutors are usually provided by private tuition agencies or educational charities such as Action Tutoring.

Where does private tuition take place?

Private tuition usually takes place at the student’s home, the tutor’s home, a private tuition centre or on school premises. Lessons are either face-to-face (sometimes called ‘in person’ tuition) or online. 

Online tuition is an increasingly popular option for tutoring children and adult students. For more information, just read our introduction to online tuition.

Why employ a private tutor for your child?

Both schools and families who employ a tutor recognize that tutoring can have far-reaching effects which go beyond just academic results. Private tutors can:-

  • boost confidence;
  • broaden a child’s horizons;
  • provide a good role model;
  • provide extra-curricular learning, such as learning a musical instrument.


In addition, there is good evidence that private tuition has a positive strong impact on learning. Some of the best data is collated by the Education Endowment Foundation

Academically speaking, parents will employ private tutors for a multitude of reasons, such as:-

  • to help a child who has missed school due to illness; 
  • to provide extra assistance to a child with special educational needs;
  • to help a child prepare for school entrance exams, such as for the 11+ or independent school entry;
  • to assist a child arriving from abroad, or whose first language is not English;
  • to help a child whose needs are not being met at school;
  • to teach a subject not on the school curriculum;
  • to improve grades in external examinations (such as GCSEs or A-levels);
  • to help with university entrance interviews and exams;
  • to teach as part of a home schooling programme;


Whatever your reasons for employing a private tutor, we recommend reading our advice for parents and carers before you contact a tutor.

Why employ a private tutor as an adult learner?

It’s never too late to brush up on existing skills or take up something new. 

Adults will employ a tutor for a variety of purposes, such as when learning a foreign language or musical instrument

Tutors are also invaluable when it comes to careers and professional development. They will assist their adult students to more confident in areas such as public speaking,  presentation skills or accountancy exams.