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?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to We pay pound;30 for any question or answer published.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now