Don't knock tutors for helping children to aim high

2nd September 2011 at 01:00

The pseudonymous Frances Hallett gives a one-sided view of tutoring ("My life as a private tutor", TES Magazine 26 August). It is true that this unregulated industry allows anyone to call themselves a tutor and that, in certain privileged districts, parents who already pay top whack for independent education feel the need, rightly or wrongly, to supplement this.

But it is also true that expert private tuition meets a very real need in other areas. I have tutored for more than 20 years and, of the many hundreds of pupils I have taught, few have come from rich homes. Most attend local state schools and some have learning difficulties - one of my proudest moments was when an autistic boy at a special school achieved two Cs at GCSE, in English language and literature.

Many speak a language other than English at home and need help to develop their vocabulary. Some are quiet and get little attention in a busy classroom. Many have had a disrupted education and need help to fill the gaps. Some, it is true, are applying to independent or grammar schools and need to learn exam techniques, so as not to be at a disadvantage against children from prep schools.

My long experience makes me wholly unapologetic for what I do. The one-to-one work achieves a great deal in little time - especially where confidence is a problem. And it doesn't seem very long since there was a much-vaunted government initiative to provide similar individual tuition in schools. What happened to that?

Susan Hamlyn, English tutor; senior editor, The Good Schools Guide.

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