Who are they?
Katie Jayne Tutors
94 Bois Hall Road
We have met Katie Jayne Tutors staff. In addition, 20 clients and 20 tutors have completed an on-line survey.
Katie Jayne Tutors staff
After 10 years of primary school teaching and tutoring – first in the UK (mainly the independent sector) then abroad (Italy for two years and Austria for three) – Katie Jayne Gaida (MA in English and psychology and PGCE, both from Exeter) decided it was time for a break from the intensity of the classroom. ‘I loved the teaching but hated the box ticking – focusing on the tutoring seemed the solution,’ she says.
Starting out in July 2015 with a manageable and dare-we-say pretty relaxed timetable of five families a week, Katie Jayne soon realised she’d underestimated the demand. After just a few months, it seemed everyone wanted a slice of her. ‘Increasingly people wanted secondary school tutoring too – something I’m not trained in.’ Cue bringing on board the best teachers she knew – and the number of tutoring hours a week has grown ever since, with Katie Jayne now winding down her own tutoring time to focus on managing the business.
Katie runs the business with business development manager Samantha Panteli, PA Shelley Hall and head of marketing Felicity Sandford. And VIC (‘very important cat’), Clawdia Winklecat, who ‘loves to lie on the printer and watch me at work’.
‘Personable’ is the number one reason parents and tutors are initially attracted to this agency. ‘With my teaching experience, I could probably work for any agency, but I liked the fact that Katie Jayne phoned me personally to chat things through – none of this, “just fill out the online form and we’ll get back to you if we’re interested,”’ said one tutor, with others saying this approach endures – ‘she’s always got your back’, voiced one. A parent (one of many) told us, ‘It’s clear from the off that she’s interested in the individual – it’s not just a case of ticking boxes to get the cash in.’ Others spoke of her ‘professionalism’ and ‘efficiency and responsiveness – you never wait long for a phone call to be returned’.
What do they offer?
‘A wonderful, thoughtful and sensitive approach to learning,’ according to one parent, with nearly all those we spoke to emphasising this company’s commitment to the personal touch and child-centred approach - more ‘they got my child loving learning again’ and ‘my son’s confidence has rocketed’ than gloating about hard results in record time. ‘My daughter was extremely resistant to having a tutor, but now absolutely loves her and says of all the people who teach her, she is the most helpful. It’s not as if she’s even been going that long but they’ve built up this fabulous rapport,’ said one.
Used to be top-heavy on the primary end (probably because of the owner’s background), but now covers the whole gamut – everything from primary exams (4+, 7+, 8+, 10+, 11+, Sats) to secondary (including GCSEs, iGCSEs, IB and A levels). Maths, English and sciences are most in demand, then languages (they have Italian, Russian, Mandarin and German teachers on their books, among others), followed by other subjects including art, business studies. ‘If a family comes to us with a subject we don’t offer, we’ll do our best to cater for them, but can’t promise.’
SEN is a strength, with a small team of fully qualified SEN teachers on their books – ‘we fully understand the importance of having a specialist to provide the right support for each child,’ says Katie Jayne, who has contact with ed psychs, occupational therapists and others, with plenty of referring involved in her role.
Home schooling is on the menu, but it’s more a case of ‘sides’ than ‘main courses’, certainly when it comes to long-term placements. Shorter-term cases tend to be families relocating or having some issues (eg bullying) which result in a child being out of school for a short period – the focus is equipping them with the skills and confidence to return to school, ideally within a few weeks. Online tutoring also available and on the up, especially since COVID.
Unusually, tutees are as young as three – something we tend to be sceptical of, but Katie Jayne insists, ‘it’s usually only for bilingual or trilingual families and doesn’t last longer than 30-45 minutes per session, which is completely play based and carried out by an early years specialist – the kind of thing they’d get at nursery.’ Highest age for tutees was 18, but the agency is increasingly called on by parents who are seeking conversational language tuition.
Geographically, they cover Surrey (Weybridge, Walton, Hampton, Cobham) and London (Kensington, Chelsea, Richmond, Chiswick, Barnes, Twickenham, Holland Park, St John’s Wood), with all lessons in the students’ home. The firm also provides educational consultancy.
Background and basics
All tutors (60 on their books currently) are qualified teachers (mixture of state and independent), most still practising and majority aged 25-35 (although they do work with some retired teachers, ‘as long as we feel they are current, adaptable and fun for the children’) and very occasionally PGCE students at a lower rate. Parents told us, ‘these teachers don’t just know the curriculum, but the exam board inside out’.
Tutors told us recruitment is ‘reassuringly thorough’. Most are referrals, the rest a result of advertising in magazines such as Angels and Urchins and other educational based platforms. Applicants send in full CV, DBS, QTS certificate, copy of their passport and two refences (both followed up) and the agency contacts their current school for an informal reference. Those that make it have either a face-to-face or online interview – in which Katie Jayne drills them on their teaching experience, tutoring history, why they want to tutor, how they’d run a tutoring session, their teaching style and their perceived benefits of tutoring. ‘We also want to know whether they’re fun and will make learning enjoyable – you’ve got to remember tutoring is an extra and we don’t want any child to think, “Oh no, I’ve got tutoring today”’. It clearly pays off – ‘our tutor is pleasant, fun and inspires our son every time’ is a typical parent comment.
Once a client request comes in, the agency sends out a job spec to all relevant tutors (matching both skill set, geography and personality), with Katie Jayne ‘personally choosing the best fit for each family’. This takes between 24 hours to a week if demand is especially high.
Agency follows up first session, then keeps in touch with families every couple of months, and tutors give parents the low-down at the end of each lesson. Most say feedback is excellent, although one parent told us, ‘more detailed information about the child’s progress would be helpful as it’s quite hard to read between the lines of more generalised comments’ (the agency says this is no longer relevant as their new software provides a detailed summary of each session).
No training for tutors ‘as most are current teachers and receiving up to date training, although I would like to develop further team building occasions,’ says Katie Jayne, whose tutors say she is on the ball when it comes to resources eg past papers.
Company hopes to grow to 100 tutors working with hundreds of families across London, Surrey and internationally by 2024. At this point, they hope to set up the Katie Jayne Foundation, ‘which will offer free in-school support to help underprivileged children improve their oracy skills in London.’
Money and small print
One of the simplest models we’ve come across. A registration fee for clients of £120 (not paid until after first session), with clients charged £65 an hour for all tutoring, regardless of level, which includes all travel. Katie Jayne Tutoring takes £20 commission, which pleases tutors - ‘it works out about the same as I’d get for tutoring privately,’ said one (parents, don’t underestimate the value of this as a happy tutor is a good tutor). Tutors also get monetary incentives for referring qualified teachers. Parents and tutors sign standards T&Cs, with a 48-hour cancellation policy but there’s flexibility around this. Consultancy rates at the same hourly rate.
This is a not for profit agency ‘as we are very keen to give back’ and 10 per cent of the profit from each session is used to support an educational project through their chosen B1G1 charity, with recent projects including bricks for a school being built in Uganda, teaching of skills for mothers in Tanzania, books for a year for a school in South Africa.
Katie Jayne Tutoring says
‘We provide a team of dedicated, experienced and qualified teachers and education professionals in order to supply the best tutoring. Clients benefit from excellence, collaboration, outstanding standards and an innovative team. Their children benefit from a stimulating, well-structured and achieving learning environment.’
‘Our tutor is very sensitive to how my daughter learns and what makes her tick, which has built up her confidence and in turn her results.’ ‘Extremely good at understanding my son and how best he learns and therefore how to reach him – spotted issues not discovered by his teachers.’ These typical parental testimonials give you a measure of this agency’s USPs.
The tutors are experienced and have no shortage of tutoring opportunities, but many feel this one stands head and shoulders above the rest – ‘I’ve been approached by a lot of agencies, but I like this one’s philosophy, with a real sense of enjoyment at the heart of learning,’ said one.
Not one for the alpha parent who wants their kid to achieve A*s regardless of whether they relish the learning. But if you want your tutoring to be something your child looks forward to and tailored to their individual learning style, we doubt you’ll be disappointed.