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Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by eburor, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. eburor

    eburor New commenter

    Hi All,

    I haven't done much tutoring in the past because my job normally left me exhausted at the end of the day! That said, I have taught maths for 10 years or so, am now a HoD, mark the GCSE papers for Edexcel and have a maths degree. I think that profile makes me a good candidate to tutor. I've advertised for pupils at £40 per hour in London, do you think this is reasonable? Although initially I picked up a few pupils quickly I haven't had any new students for a while and have had a few enquiries suggesting my prices are too expensive.

    I see adverts on a similar rate to mine or higher who have no teaching experience/qualification but a degree from a prestigious institution as well as university students offering tuition for around £25/hr. I have to think my service is far superior to these people given my experience. Yes, some of these people will be outstanding tutors, but probability suggests they wont have a full knowledge of the syllabus and common mistakes simply due to lack of experience. Plus, with travelling and prep time added in, I'm more or less doing 2 hours work for £40 and to be blunt, my regular job pays a higher rate than that.

    Where do you advertise for pupils? I have had some success on Gumtree, but nothing from tutorhunt/tutorhub. I've been trying to avoid agencies because I don't believe the benefit they provide outweighs the commission they charge, although I have not actually enquired as to the rates of pay available from them.

    Thanks for any help,

  2. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I charge £30 / hour and students have to come to me. So £40 if you are traveling to them sounds very reasonable. However, the bottom line is that it really depends where in London you live. For instance, I'm told that in Crouch End, about 5 miles from me, some parents are very happy to pay £50, but I remember a tutor from NW London claiming that squeezing half that out of parents near her was a Herculean feat.

    I wouldn't take too much notice of the enquiries telling you that you are too expensive. A few will always try it on.

    However, two things about you surprise me. When I was a full-time teacher I didn't want to do any tutoring. After any marking or lesson prep I wanted me time. Also, from your background, I wouldn't have thought you needed to waste time on any preparation. I tutor A-level maths, chemistry and physics, and can handle anything in these areas that students choose to throw at me on the spur of the moment. I usually have a good chuckle when a student asks me can we do ... It's a sure sign that they have previously had a tutor who didn't know their subject very well, and was therefore desperate to control the lesson.

    You are absolutely right about the agencies. In this internet age these dinosaurs should now be extinct.
  3. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    If I was a student looking for a tutor and I thought someone was too expensive, I would simply move on. I really do think some people have a cheek. I had one a while back who outlined what they were looking for, my prices are clear in the place where he was looking. We exchanged a few emails and then he said, my budget is £10 an hour! I politely suggested he look elsewhere like at the university for a student and not a qualified teacher with over 20 years' experience
  4. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Langteacher, we've all had this kind of nonsense. I had one who wanted me to half my rate and meet them a few miles away in their public library:rolleyes:.
  5. colinbillett

    colinbillett Occasional commenter

    £40 seems an awful lot to me, but then I don't live in London. I used to charge £25 but then decided this would be too much for people on the median wage, so went back down to £20. I think teachers have a tendency to compare themselves to going rates for tradesmen and other professions. In the case of tradesmen I pay them the fee, the job is done, and say in the case of car repairs, I don't expect to need them for another year. But tuition is an ongoing thing, so in total one is looking at an investment of hundreds of pounds on the part of the parent. As for other professionals, such as solicitors, one pays them because one needs to. Private tutors are topping up on an educational system that the parent has already paid for once in terms of tax revenue, and frequently twice in the case of those children in private education. So asking them to pay £40 a week, £400 - £500 over a term, seems to a good deal over what they are already doing.
    But one has to ask why you are doing this. Some tutors are topping up a pension, and happy to engage for a few hours a week to keep their interest in the subject. Young teachers might be topping up a low starting salary, much as I drove taxis forty years ago. If you are looking for some expensive cream on top of what to many people would seem a secure and good salary, then perhaps you are being too optimistic. Like you say, when one has added travel and preparation the hourly rate isn't that good, but it is more than the London living wage even when you have done that. It seems you don't want to work for such a low figure. For others it would be what we used to call 'beer and baccy' money, a bit of casual cash to pay for an hour in a pub. Decide what you want it for, and if you need the cash, then you might have to do more hours at lower rates. If not, then go back to marking.
  6. eburor

    eburor New commenter

    Thank you for the post and advice.

    I've spent most of my teaching career in very tough schools facing the usual challenging pupils and the ever increasing demands on my time. I chose that path due to my own background and I have done very well by those pupils. However, I've recently moved to a considerably better school and thus have a much better work life balance; I find I can complete almost all of my work tasks during school hours and thus have much more free time available than I used to.

    I do think you are wrong to call preparation 'wasted time.' The data I generate through testing tutees needs to be analysed and tasks designed to move the student through the taxonomy and deepen understanding. Of course, I am more than capable of providing help on any topic that the student decides to throw at me; but it is irrefutable that it could never be as effective as it would have been if the lesson had been planned in advance. Grabbing a worksheet on solving equations and spending an hour on them whilst asking some vague questions to 'deepen understanding' simply because the student got one equation wrong last week is not my cup of tea. I'm happy to off-road, but progress is quicker with a plan.

    This has given me a lot to think about. I agree that £40 is a lot. Given the price you charge do you have pupils come to yourself? I settled on that amount not by comparison to trades but by comparison to the market. There are plenty of students/graduates charging £25+ with no formal teaching qualifications. Whilst I think personality is a large part of being a good teacher (and hence, by and large, a PGCE does not a good teacher make) I just can't see these tutors really having an in-depth knowledge of the syllabus, or knowing how to assess accurately.

    I realise my wage is a good figure and I am thankful for it. My aim is to increase that by x per week to make myself more financially secure in the future. I am just trying to assess whether the best way to do that is to do say 10hrs at £30/hr or 7-8 hours at £40/hr. One consideration is that if I was to lower my rates for new tutees I would feel compelled to inform my current tutees as a matter of professionalism which would obviously present me with a rather immediate drop in income.
  7. colinbillett

    colinbillett Occasional commenter

    Very interesting, and your last problem is your own. I travel mostly, but it's a small community, I can plan the sessions to reduce travel to 10 minutes, and it's much easier for me. I asked my last parent this afternoon what she thought about my prices, and she thought it about right, saying any less might look a bit strange, which I thought appropriate. I know I could charge more, but since all my customers come through personal recommendation I like to know the least well-off can afford me, along with those with very, very expensive cars on the drive. As I said in my first post, I just like a little daily cash to spend on baccy. If I move to a bigger town, which is a possibility soon, I would certainly raise my prices, knowing many are London commuters, and would be customers rather than acquaintances.
    As for qualifications - yes, I've the HoD experience, a First in maths, an MPhil in Mathematical Education, 'outstanding' for Ofsted, and so on. But I'm not entirely sure the punters care about that, nor has any ever asked me. I would hope they ask their children if learning has taken place, and as you say, the skills of teaching aren't all down to a PGCE. Anyone with enough knowledge and a bit of creativity could do what I do, and cheaper.
  8. DrFrostMaths

    DrFrostMaths New commenter

    I charge £50/hr for local/tutoring in my home/Skype and £60 if it's Zone 3 inwards, and have no shortage of demand (but have been tutoring for 3 years now). I offer discounts for Olympiad tutoring for state school students.
    My initial enquiries came through TutorHunt, but most nowadays are either through my website or siblings of school students I teach or word of mouth.

    In terms of the issue of travel time you raise, once you get enough students it's a case of planning to have different areas on different days. So Monday is my Teddington day, etc.
  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Have you considered how you might assemble your experience, resources and expertise into a package you could sell online? I have recently launched video tutorials which I make available for a monthly fee (saving tons of cash on tutoring). Pupils don't get me 1:1, but they do get emailed a 4-week package covering key topics for the exams, with a weekly video tutorial (easily made, if a little time-consuming) and accompanying activities. They can return their work to me weekly for feedback/assessment. I keep my fees for this fairly low, but then I have absolutely no overheads and there's no cost. If a student wishes to send/receive hard copies, they'll simply pay for postage.

    This is a way of expanding my reach and income without having to use up more hours in the day.
    wanet likes this.
  10. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Hi Eburor.

    I've advertised for pupils at £40 per hour in London, do you think this is reasonable?

    If you're in London and good at what you do (as it sounds like you are) then IMO that's about right. I'm a full time maths tutor in the North West and charge £25-£32 per hour - I would say that's about equivalent to £40 in London so not unreasonable at all.

    Plus, with travelling and prep time added in, I'm more or less doing 2 hours work for £40 and to be blunt, my regular job pays a higher rate than that.

    I would say that in that case, you're either travelling a very long way for one session or spending far too long planning. My sessions for each week (20 or so altogether) all get planned within a 2-3 hour time-frame every Friday afternoon (i.e. about 5-10 minutes each).

    I'd also agree with what David Getling said about being able to be very flexible to work on whatever the students say they're having difficulty on. I always have ready a paper based Starter Task that they can get on with for the first 5 minutes. This 5 minutes is really valuable for me because if they say 'I really need to work on xyz', I've got time to find my best resources for the topic (either on the lappy or in a textbook) without them being sat there doing nothing while I'm doing this. The Starter itself can also be really valuable to recap work covered in previous weeks (the same as you'll do when you teach at your school).

    Good luck! :)
  11. kajalsengupta

    kajalsengupta New commenter

    I agree with Eva and suggest that you try some online stuff. It need not be recorded videos. You can use online teaching software which is readily available. You just need a computer and a broadband connection to teach online. I teach Physics online and have students in many countries. I pick only those with whom my time zone matches.Good luck.
  12. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Well, I have been teaching in schools and tutoring successfully for 20 years. I charge now £28 an hour (I go to them). I have one or two students that still pay me my old rate of £25 per hour but I have been tutoring them for 4 years. I think £40 an hour is a bit steep. You may get shorter term pupils. If I go through an agency my fee is £27.50 an hour plus £5 travelling. £4.25 goes back to agency. I have also been a senior examiner. I could charge £30 an hour which is probably what I should be charging.
  13. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Wish you all the best.

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