University students are often advertising as tutors. But is it a good idea to hire them?
There are lots of decisions to be made before you and your child embark on the tutoring journey. Times, locations, dates, and cost are all significant factors that influence the decision of parents.
It can be tempting in the current economic climate, to try to make savings to the household budget. Sometimes this means parents might turn to the idea of hiring a university student to tutor their child in place of an experienced, and qualified, tutor.
This article explores the pros and cons of hiring a university student rather than a professional tutor for your child.
Most tutors are professionals and many are even qualified teachers who choose to tutor individual children outside the hurly-burly of the core school hours. This means they have been trained to teach your child – something that cannot be underestimated. Knowing the current curriculum for all the key stages and particularly the relevant key stage for your child is essential.
Most parents want a tutor to support or complement their child’s school work, and some want a tutor to be able to bring their child up to standard if they have fallen a little behind. A tutor with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) will have these skills in abundance. Qualified teachers have invested time and energy in learning how to teach and know that unlike that common adage, those that can, teach. After all, not everyone who has been to school knows how to bring the best out of a room full of children.
After all, not everyone who has been to school knows how to bring the best out of a room full of children.
Another issue around hiring a university student is security and peace of mind. DBS checks and recommendations are priorities when it comes to employing an adult to spend time with your child. A professional tutor will come ready with a fresh DBS check – something that is expensive and difficult to obtain outside the education sector.
The DBS is a minimum check that should offer parents reassurance. It means that the person you are working with does not hold any current or past criminal convictions that would prevent them by law from working with children and vulnerable adults.
A university student will not come with these basic checks or qualifications. They may well know their subject extremely well, but they will not know what your child is expected to know for their age, their year, or the set they are in. Additionally, because of the recent qualifications overhaul, their fresh experience of school and examinations is now out of date.
At the time of writing, current university students will not have knowledge of the new GCSE or A Level specifications and will not understand their demands because they will have sat for the old modular specifications.
Current university students will not have knowledge of the new GCSE or A Level specifications and will not understand their demands
A further consideration would be to think about the fact that professional tutors will be able to spot children with undiagnosed additional needs which could be a life-saver for dyslexic children who are yet to be diagnosed for example. Again, it comes down to experience. Though their hearts are no doubt in the right place, university students just do not have the professional experience that alerts the pros to potential problems or differences.
Further problems can come when it comes down to subject-specific knowledge. For example, in Maths there may be marks for showing working. Because there are many different ways to calculate maths problems, working with an alternative method may confuse your child further rather than simplify the problem.
On the other hand, if you wanted music tuition or to supplement your child’s education with specialist knowledge in a specific area, it might well be that you can find a willing university student looking for extra cash. You may also have a family friend or relative that you know will be a good choice for your child.
In conclusion, it is undoubtedly better to hire a professional tutor who is qualified, DBS checked, experienced and with who comes with recommendations. If you have a younger child at primary school, it could be useful to hire a homework helper and this is where an undergrad could be ideal. This could be a good way to support your child while you decide whether to commit to tutoring or not.