Your Ultimate Guide to Private VS Public Tuition

Dec 3, 2021
Your Ultimate Guide to Private VS Public Tuition

Children’s learning worldwide has been heavily impacted by the global pandemic. National lockdowns in the UK have meant students having to adjust to online teaching, resulting in restricted access to school classrooms and resources. Many students have found it difficult to catch up with work in school hours, making after school tuition imperative for their academic progression. 

It can be difficult to find a balance for our children between school and play when they are under-achieving or struggling with their studies. Some parents enrol their children in subject specific additional tuition, but for many years the only option for this has been through a private - and very expensive - tutor. 

In recent years however, there has been a huge surge in the number of schools offering free academic after school classes, as well as companies like Learning Cubs opening learning centres specifically for disadvantaged students requiring extra tuition in core subjects for free, or a heavily subsidised fee.

tutor at our Blackburn branch smiling and helping a student with maths work

Classroom teachers can do their utmost to work with and support children who are struggling, but providing one-to-one time with each individual student just isn’t feasible. Tutoring has become an invaluable option for parents all over the UK, whereby lessons are tailored to suit the needs of each individual. 

Parents and teachers have debated the advantages and disadvantages of private vs public tutoring for many years, so to help you to decide what route is best for your child we have collated the pros and cons of each... 

So, what is private tutoring?

Private tutoring - academically known as ‘shadow education' - is essentially an additional academic lesson delivered by a tutor to one student, and usually takes place outside of school hours in the evenings or at the weekends. 

Private tutors work with a variety of students, from those who are particularly struggling with areas of learning, to those who are looking for a challenge and want to excel in a particular subject. 

Benefits of private tutoring 

Tailored support according to the child’s needs on an individual basis

Private tutors work in a one-to-one environment to focus solely on one student's needs. This is hugely beneficial for the student as they are receiving the tutor’s full attention for the time they are with them. This allows for the tutor to understand the student’s areas of weakness and strengths to tailor the learning plan individually, focusing on some topics more than others.

Due to the personal nature of private tutoring, the lessons can be personalised to the style of teaching the student prefers. Some students struggle with an abundance of information at one time, yet others thrive with that way of learning. The tutor will quickly learn what the student prefers and can adapt to suit it.  

Private tutors build a personal relationship with the student

Several studies have found that having a positive student-teacher relationship is fundamental to student success. When a student feels properly supported, they’re more likely to engage in learning and have more positive academic outcomes. 

Private tutoring enables students to build a strong and positive relationship with their tutor due to the amount of time spent together one-on-one. 

Private tuition goes beyond the normal school syllabus

Private tutoring is a great way of widening your children's knowledge in areas of interest to them, or to teach them a new language that is not in the school curriculum. 

There are tutors in higher mathematics, foreign languages, specialist sciences such as biology or chemistry, music and more - subjects not usually accessible through the National Curriculum.

private cello lesson with tutor and student

Disadvantages of private tutoring 

One-to-one sessions are expensive

The biggest disadvantage of private tutoring has to be the financial strain it puts on hundreds of families across the UK. The Sutton Trust 2017 report estimated an industry of private tutoring to be worth up to £2 billion per year. 

Recruiting a knowledgeable and trustworthy tutor for your child in the UK could put you out of pocket anywhere between £30 - £60 per hour - depending on experience and location; a cost that many families won’t want to pay, or simply cannot afford.

Private tuition is inaccessible for disadvantaged students

The high expenses for private tutoring in the UK establishes a clear divide when it comes to the socio-economic status of students who have private tutors compared to those attending public tutoring sessions. 

The Sutton Trust also found that socio-economically advantaged pupils spend significantly more additional tutor time in subjects that are likely to build their cultural capital, such as music, sports and foreign languages, than their less affluent peers.

Sadly, private tutoring widens the attainment gap even further by making it near impossible for disadvantaged students to take part in the same after-school activities as their wealthier peers.

Intense, one-to-one study time can be overwhelming

A one-to-one environment may be quite intense for some students, particularly after a long day at school, when they often want to come home and socialise or relax. Private tutoring tends to take place in the home of the student, which may put a child off from wanting to work as this is their ‘play’ environment. This may make them feel less motivated to work hard in the tutoring lesson, wasting time and money! It’s important that students distinguish between ‘work’ and ‘play’ so that after-school tuition is an enjoyable experience.

Having only a tutor to share ideas with can also stifle progress as students do not have their peers to bounce around ideas. When in a private tutoring session, they may also feel forced to do the work, either by their parents or by the tutor, thus seeing no fun in the activity, resulting in a drop in motivation and concentration. 

Sourcing a private tutor can raise concerns

As a parent, you must take the time to carefully recruit a private tutor for your child. This tutor will be an adult neither your child or you knows, therefore it is down to you to ensure the tutor you select is properly DBS and CRB checked, as well as providing some solid references. Be sure to read the reviews of the tutors to see if they would be a good fit for your child’s requirements.

Remember, you will be leaving your child in the sole care of this adult so you want to make sure they are genuine and trustworthy. To do this, many people go through an agency to recruit a tutor, but there can be additional fees for this service. 

How to know if private tuition is right for you

If your child loses focus easily or is performing significantly under their target, private tuition may be right for them as the one-to-one support will accelerate progress and ensure there are no outside distractions.

Private tuition may also be suitable if your child is already a high achiever and wants to pursue a passion of theirs in another subject, presuming that you have the financial budget to allow for this. 

What is public group tutoring?

Public tutoring classes, also known as after school provisions, are better defined as a teacher, teaching assistant or other professional educator, providing intensive and individualised academic support to pupils in small group arrangements. 

Public tutors work in partnership with schools and local authorities through government funding schemes, or alternatively with learning centres like Learning Cubs.

Research by The Tutor Trust found that pupils who receive tuition in small groups make 3 months’ additional academic progress compared to their peers , whilst the EEF discovered that the average impact of the small group tuition is 4 additional months’ progress, on average, over the course of a year. How amazing is that?

Benefits of public group tuition

Small group tuition is an effective intervention in a student’s learning

It is not uncommon for students to underachieve as they lack confidence in large classroom environments and slip under the radar of busy staff. Teaching in small groups allows tutors to get a better understanding of each student's academic and social requirements, enabling introverted students to build their confidence amongst a smaller group of peers

Working in groups of around 4-6 students gives children more of a chance to absorb information, and teachers more of a chance to give them attention than in a larger class of the average classroom of 30 children. 

Studies have found small group tuition to be highly effective for students' academic and social development. 

tutor and student working together in our Nelson learning centre

Public group tuition is affordable for disadvantaged students

The aim of public tutoring is to give disadvantaged students the same, or close to equal, opportunities as their more affluent peers. Learning Cubs is a great example of this, providing heavily subsidised or free tutoring to those who are eligible. The process of applying or checking eligibility is quick and easy, making the whole experience a positive one both for you and your children. 

Like many public tutor groups, the tutors at Learning Cubs are dedicated to making sure every student has access to academic resources and classes to enable them to succeed in their studies.

Group tuition encourages peer learning

Peer learning is the process of students learning with and from one another. It is usually facilitated through teaching and learning activities such as workshops, study groups, peer-to-peer learning partnerships, and group work. 

Public group tutoring enables tutors to productively implement peer learning in their sessions. Students learn a great amount when explaining their ideas to others and by participating in activities in which they can learn from their peers.

The benefits of peer learning may make you question why you would choose any other method of learning:

  • Improves students’ attitudes towards learning
  • Implements a more personalised approach to learning
  • Engages students through cooperative learning
  • Ultimately leads to higher academic achievement
  • Enables teaching staff to build metacognitive behaviours through peer learning
  • Public group tuition is conducted in a safe environment

Many public tutoring sessions are run through partnerships with schools, or through a company where the tutors are fully DBS and CRB checked. The classes are never carried out in the home of a tutor or student; they will always be conducted in a classroom setting with several other supervisors present. This gives parents peace of mind that their children are in safe hands. 

Not only this, but when academic classes are conducted in a calm and safe environment that isn’t the home, the students themselves will feel more at ease. Doing work in their own home conflicts with their play time, suggesting that they are less likely to concentrate or be willing to work in that environment. 

a group of 7 children and two teachers, children sat in a row listening to the teacher

Disadvantages of public group tuition

Bigger class sizes may reduce effectiveness of tutoring 

Despite the numerous advantages of peer learning, group tuition still limits having the undivided attention of a tutor as you do with private tuition.

Several studies have found that if group sizes increase above 6 or 7 students to one teacher, there tends to be a noticeable reduction in effectiveness of teaching.

Luckily, at Learning Cubs, our groups never exceed 6, but it’s an important consideration when looking into group tuition providers. Often, a promise of ‘small group tuition’ ends up being pushed to 10, 12, 14 students…

Group tuition focuses on core subjects

Since public group tutoring is often funded by the government or a local authority connection, sessions tend to focus on the core subjects already on the school curriculum; Mathematics, English and Science. 

This can limit students’ opportunities to enhance their talent in other more niche subjects such as music or drama, however, this can be balanced with the use of after school and weekend clubs.

How to know if public group tuition is right for you

Unfortunately 30% of children, or 9 students in every classroom of 30, are living below the poverty line, meaning there are hundreds of thousands of students in the UK struggling to keep up with their studies and in need of additional support academically. 

If you have a low income, receive benefits such as Universal Credit or financial support such as student finance, group tuition is an accessible and effective form of academic support for your child.

In addition, if your child thrives in a group environment and needs support with social skills development, too, then group tuition is the perfect solution.

Online Tuition

Having already discussed the advantages and disadvantages of peer learning, group tutoring, and one-to-one tutoring, it’s also important to consider the effectiveness of online tutoring when choosing which route of tutoring to go down.

The pandemic saw a huge shift in the way our children are taught, with national lockdowns causing school closures schools put online lessons on for those who could access a computer or tablet. Since then, there has been a debate around whether online teaching is as effective as in person teaching. 

For a child coming from a privileged background, hiring a tutor who offers private online tuition is often a preferred option. The lessons are taught online and the tutor can correspond with the student one to one to answer their questions giving them all the benefits of having a private tutor without the need to have their physical presence. In recent years online tutoring has become the preferred method for many private tutors. 

However, many students who are in need of extra tuition for academic reasons will come from disadvantaged backgrounds and cannot afford laptops or tablets at home, making the option of online tutoring entirely inaccessible. Depending on your budget and the reasons for putting your child in extra tuition this is a big factor to consider.

Register your children for group tuition at Learning Cubs

Learning Cubs understands the need to supply individual support for each student and is working hard to ensure that  group classes are effective, enjoyable and educational.

What’s more, we have developed our own unique syllabus that complements the National Curriculum at all levels from KS1 to KS4. Our bespoke curriculum ensures that students secure the foundations of learning and equips them with the building blocks to progress. 

We have so much more to offer than academic support though; our friendly team of tutors are passionate about helping children and young people reach their potential both personally and academically. 

We can’t wait to welcome you and your children to our learning centres to enhance their learning journey and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. 

Take our eligibility test to discover if you qualify for subsidised or free funding or find a centre near you to start your child’s learning journey.

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