1st February 2008 at 00:00
A struggling pupil has a private tutor who sets extra work that he and his parents seem to regard as a higher priority than his homework for me. The tutor has a different approach, which is leading to confusion. Should I advise his parents to cease using the tutor?

Colin, Coventry

A: Some private tutors have never taught in a school, or their experiences and techniques are ancient. There is bound to be a difference. So who has "professional primacy"? Neither of you. You can't be expected to change your methods to fit in with the tutor's (you have a class to teach, not just one pupil), the tutor could more easily adapt to you. Have a word with the parents - though they sound as if they have fallen into the trap of assuming paid for must be better than free. - Colin, West Sussex.

A: Parents almost always pour scorn on your methods (effectively blaming you for junior's perceived under-achievement) and sing the praises of the tutor who can give total attention to one.

You are not going to have much luck if you try to persuade the parents that the tutor should change tack to fit in with you. They might even become more resentful and interpret your concern as professional rivalry. You should raise the issue - but prepare to be ignored. - Rod, Middlesex

A: You must air your concerns to the parents, although they are almost bound to think that the tutor knows best - after all they are paying for this "expertise" whereas you are "free". Try writing a note to the tutor, who, after all, is pursuing the same end as you and might be just as professional. - Graham, Crowborough

Coming up

Q: How do we get all staff to behave professionally, on time to meetings, with diary and pen, ready to contribute to the agenda in a positive manner?

Q: I am a pastoral head of house. How do I get heads of department to deal with children who do not do homework for their subject?

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