The Tutors Association – how they’re changing the face of tutoring in Britain
- Do you think many parents who use tutors for their children have heard of TTA and should they have done?
- What are the things TTA is doing for the tutor industry that would be of interest to parents?
- When we met, you said the biggest burning issue in the industry is professionalisation of tutoring. Can you explain what you mean by that and why it’s so important? And what are some of the dangers of the industry at the moment – while it’s not professionalised?
- What would TTA’s advice be to families looking for a tutor?
- When we met, you said one of the biggest growth areas is study centres. What are your thoughts on these and advice to parents?
- Where do you see TTA a decade down the line – what would you like to have achieved?
I have been giving some thought to your questions and can comment as follow:
You think many parents who use tutors for their children have heard of TTA and should they have done?
Not as many as we would like but our focus to date has been primarily on attracting tutors into membership.. We are looking at switching some of our emphasis in communication terms towards parents, as ultimately it will be parental pressure and preference that will incentivise tutors to join. That said, we already come up on searches and parents do contact us for help. Our growing media presence is also helping to spread the word. We have recently enjoyed quite a lot of TV coverage from the BBC and ITV which we think will continue.
What are the things TTA is doing for the tutor industry that would be of interest to parents?It is a) below put against the backdrop of b) and c).
a)To provide reassurance to the public that the tutor they have selected:
i) Has committed to professional standards by signing up to a code of conduct
ii) (Where the tutor is tutoring children) presents no known risk to their child by having been successfully DBS checked
iii) Has proven their competence by providing testimonial evidence of the successful completion of tutorial engagements
iv) I would add that we are also engaging with the Sutton Trust as part of their drive to persuade government to allocate Pupil Premium funds to tutoring which, as Sir Peter Lampl said in a Radio 4 interview this week, is a highly cost-effective way to help those from less privileged backgrounds.
b)To create a community for members of the tutoring profession, where they can:
i) Exchange knowledge and experience
ii) Get access to information and services that assist with their day-to-day work
iii) Hone existing or acquire new skills
iv) Share best practice
v) Provide mutual support and encouragement
c)To provide a unified and coherent voice for the tutoring profession so that it can:
i) Engage constructively with all the other stakeholders in the provision of education Emphasise that that we are developing positive relationships with schools so that we are seen as complementary; things can be achieved 1-to-1 that you cannot do in a classroom, and porper tutoring will create learning skills that are transportable back into the classroom
ii) Help ensure that the profession is perceived accurately and positively
iii) Create mutually beneficial partnerships within the wider educational landscape
iv) Member protection – defending the profession from unwarranted criticism and regulation
When we met, you said the biggest burning issue in the industry is professionalisation of tutoring. Can you explain what you mean by that and why it’s so important? And what are some of the dangers of the industry at the moment – while it’s not professionalised?
Virtually anyone can set themselves up as a tutor. The Teaching profession is heavily regulated, but the tutoring profession is not regulated at all. One the reasons we were founded was to provide a degree of self-regulation and create the standards of best practice.
It’s important because if we are to succeed in getting Tutoring seen as a valuable and complementary part of the educational landscape, we must be seen to be behaving as professionally as the other parts already are. This is in the interests of both tutors and parents – and children. If we fail to do this, there is likely that the heavy hand of government will descend – and that tends to crush rather nurture.
Most tutors are thoroughly responsible, but because anyone can set them selves up as a tutor, the system is open to abuse. By getting a professional body in place that is recognised by parents and government alike as good and effectively self-regulated, we can ensure that the highest standards are implemented across the profession.
What would TTA’s advice be to families looking for a tutor?
Chose a Tutor who is a member of the Association or working for a Corporate Member of the Association as they will know that that tutor is bound by a code of practice, ethics and standards and has passed a DBS check This will give the client some reassurance that they are dealing with a professional and they do have recourse through the Association’s disciplinary procedures.
When we met, you said one of the biggest growth areas is study centres. What are your thoughts on these and advice to parents?
Study Centres work for children who do need to interact with others or where the subject matter requires group participation. The attraction is that they tend to be very small classes which ensures that your child will get the right amount of attention. They can be a little cheaper per hour than one to one tuition. They are popular with Tutors because it enables the tutoring company to create some scale and potentially they are more profitable than one to one tuition. Parents like them because they can drop the child off at the centre and know that the tuition is properly supervised. In addition, many study centres have to be OFSTED inspected. Safeguarding is also a key issue and there is a tutor to pupil ratio typically 1 to 8 and therefore more than one adult present.
Other growth areas are online tuition, but increasingly Tutors are offering blended solutions.
Where do you see TTA a decade down the line – what would you like to have achieved?
10 years from now I would like to see:
a) TTA reaching some 50,000+ tutors via membership or through Corporate Members. If the membership became this significant and the profession properly recognised for the quality of its self- regulation then I would ask the board to consider applying for Chartered Status. It is possible that we would meet the criteria 10 years from now.
b) TTA financially stable and operating virtually but also to establish an operational base in Marlow. Flexible staff providing quality services to members.
c) Parents showing a strong preference for using TTA members
d) TTA and the Profession recognised and respected by the General Public and having a reputation for up setting standards.
e) A strong PR presence and to be actively working with government positively in particular the DfE and BEIS.
Chris Lenton FTA, FCCA, FCIS
CEO & Secretary