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Children studying at a tableIf having your own private tutor feels a step too far, you could consider a tuition centre where children do set work under the supervision of a member of staff.

What are tuition centres?

These private educational institutions first kicked off in Singapore, Malaysia, India and the Middle East and they have since grown like wildfire over here.

Significantly cheaper than a one-to-one tutor, these centres involve children either learning in small classes or working through academic tasks individually and under supervision. Some also offer extras such as mock exam practice.

Parents say the group environment can feel more like a club than tuition, especially if the learning involves games, quizzes, songs and prizes. 

Where can I find a tuition centre?

Any Google search of ‘tuition centres near me’ is likely to give you heaps of choice. Our independent reviews of tutor agencies also include some tuition centres – written in our usual candid style, these in-depth reviews give you the low-down on all the finer detail and what customers really think of them.

Some examples are:

Kumon is among the best known. The 70,000+ students learn at 650 study centres across the UK and Ireland. They are given daily worksheets in English and/or maths tailored to the student’s ability, then they attend the tuition centre once a week where they are assessed and sometimes tested, moving up the levels. The business is franchised.

Explore Learning has 95 centres around the country, mainly located in shopping centres so parents can shop while their children learn. They offer support in maths and English and 11-plus. More recently, they’ve started covering GCSE maths either in-centre or online.

Teachitright offers mainly 11-plus tuition for groups of up to 10 children. These classes take place in 16 centres (schools, community centres and libraries) across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey – and there’s a franchise in Birmingham. 

What questions should you ask?

  • Trying it out – Is there an opportunity for a trial run? And once you’re signed up, how long are you tied in? 
  • Assessment – How do they assess your child and tailor the work they set to their individual needs? Do they give regular progress reports? How will they work on your child’s specific gaps in learning?
  • Class size – If the work is done in classes, what is the maximum size? Some sense of camaraderie, and bouncing ideas off each other, can make the learning more fun – but what you don’t want is your child getting lost in the mix and learning nothing. 
  • The tutors – Don’t assume tutors are trained teachers. With Explore Learning, for example, tutors are rarely qualified teachers and more likely students or mothers returning to the workplace, although all are trained in the teaching materials and behaviour management.
  • Teaching resources – Some tuition centres are workbook based, while others get children learning on computers or in tutor-led classes. Work out which will be most beneficial to the way your child learns.
  • Teaching style – How do the tutors interact with the children? Do they motivate them? Do they try to make the learning positive and fun?
  • Flexibility – We all have busy lives, so check if there’s any flexibility around scheduling to allow for this. If, for example, you opt for a Saturday morning class, can you swap to a mid-week one instead on the occasions when something comes up at the weekend.
  • Fees – These should be reasonable and affordable, and a lot cheaper than one-to-one tutoring.
  • Reviews and recommendations – A fancy brochure or website shouldn’t be enough to win you over. Read reviews (including ours) and testimonials and talk to other parents whose children have tried it. Remember there can be significant differences between individual centres, even when they’re part of a big chain.

Case study: Jo’s 14-year-old son Adam has been going to Kumon since he was 6

‘Back when Adam was in year 2, his teacher told me he seemed to be struggling in maths. A few of his friends were doing Kumon so I thought I’d give it a go. We had an assessment at home and then he started attending the centre once a week, while doing short worksheets on a daily basis which take around 10 to 20 minutes ech. He didn’t take long to catch up with his peers, although it was a struggle getting him to do the work every day and sometimes led to arguments and/or bribery. But we stuck at it and after a year or two, it became second nature for him to do it as soon as he’d had his breakfast in the morning – although we have had bad weeks where he winds up having to do them all at once or when one worksheet took him absolute ages. Both those scenarios put him in a very bad mood. It’s not fun as it’s very repetitive, but that’s the point – it embeds the foundations of maths so they can the more complicated stuff comes more easily. Some of my friends’ kids have absolutely hated it, but I think for more self-motivated, organised children it’s helpful.’


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