1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

"Should I stay or should I go?"

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by Bashkemesuesi, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    No, I'm not talking about carrying on tutoring or giving up, but about the question of whether to tutor at your home or at students'.

    I haven't extensively researched the forum to see members' policies/practices, but would any of you care to share here, in this thread dedicated to this question, whether you tutor either "mainly" or "exclusively" either home or away; and your reasons for this?

    I know that David Getling has said clearly that he never travels to tutor. I think the general impression I've gained is that most of you tend to tutor at home; but it would be interesting to see the specifics.

    In my case, in the beginning I tended to tutor at home, but I think it soon became clear that this would be rather disruptive to my wife and young children, so my general practice is to travel to do it. Sometimes parents will ask whether or not I'm willing to travel, and occasionally they appear to assume they'll be called on to bring their children to me; in one case, the mum said her Y12 daughter would probably work better away from the home environment, but as it happened we couldn't find a mutually convenient time for this so I ended up going there (5 mins' drive away), although there were two or three times when changed circumstances meant she came to me.

    Next - if you're a fairly frequent traveller, what sort of criteria do you set for yourself in terms of how far you're prepared to travel, and how you arrange itineraries?

    For example: last school year, at its peak, I had four Friday students. The first two were siblings in a town 15 mins away, whom I tutored simultaneously. Then there was a Y11 boy in the same town, so basically down the road from there; and finally a Y12 a further 10 mins away. If you do the maths, you'll see that the marginal each-way travel time for these students was just 5 mins for the first three and 10 mins for the fourth - or an average of about 6 mins. Viewed in this context, there isn't really much of a time-travel objection to taking on students if you can see them efficiently like this.

    Now, the siblings are taking a break, and the Y11 lad isn't going on to the A level (indeed I wonder if his mum will be texting me today with his result?), but the Y12's dad said in writing he'd be in touch again "before September", so he's got another week or so. However, if he's late in getting back in touch, I won't mind, partly because I wouldn't actually fancy travelling 25 mins each way for a single student - it would be good to have at least one other student in place first, in a town en route, or the same town as them. This of course assumes that she's not available for a Y13 study period in school hours, which aren't as premium to me as the evenings, as every tutor knows.
  2. tsarina

    tsarina Occasional commenter

    I similarly drive to my students, initially because my home was a bit too messy; i wanted to get out of the house and i like driving, although arranging them so i wssnt zigzagging all over was sometimes tricky. However this year i will do 2 days from home. Partly so i can have non driving days and partly because David has been so scathing of tutors who drive to students that i thought i would try tutoring from home.:D
  3. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    I knew that David disapproved of students demanding this, but not that he chided those of us who don't particularly object to doing it. What's it to him? As I've shown, with some judicious arrangement it's possible to see each student for barely 5 minutes' drive away. If David rejects this option, I'd like to know whether he always shops via Amazon/online and never visits his high street or retail park; whether he always orders meal deliveries and never eats out or has takeaways; whether he always uses Ocado and never goes to Waitrose; always uses Netflix/Amazon and never goes to the cinema, etc. What activities does he consider it worthwhile to drive to?

    Plus, where the student is near enough to walk to, what about counting the walk as part of the daily exercise we should all be taking anyway? I made this point in the "Laziness" thread four days ago and nobody has commented on it yet - maybe you'd care to, here or there?

    As you've also mentioned, there's value sometimes in getting out of the house - the change of scene is as good as a bit of a rest, etc.

    One thing I didn't mention before but meant to, and which would constitute solid grounds for refusing to travel in the first instance, is the issue of if you had a dog allergy. Plenty of times when I've first visited, the host will ask if I have such an allergy - well it would have been good if they'd asked that before I arrived, and anyway if I had I'd hardly have survived in this business this long. As one whose family, and parents' family, have never had a dog (despite cats, rabbits, hamsters and fish, even a snake I was given once), I've been intrigued to find that not far off half my destinations have them, and sometimes quite frisky with me too.
  4. BG54

    BG54 Occasional commenter

    This is very much an "each to their own" topic, we can all have different and perfectly valid reasons for tutoring from home, online or by personal visits.

    I always travel to the student's home for a variety of reasons, the main one being that I live on my own which means that a parent or other responsible adult would need to accompany the student which in turn can cause problems with scheduling. I also tend to regard my home as my personal "space" and would prefer not to have clients there and as mentioned by tsarina personal visits get me out of the house. After a bad accident some years ago I no longer drive but I'm fortunate to live in an area with decent public transport so I can easily travel up to 10-12 miles to a student. I like dogs so they are usually an added bonus to the visits.

    The one drawback is trying (not always successfully) to schedule a group of lessons within a relatively small radius to cut down on travelling time but I'm happy enough to put up with that.
    tsarina likes this.
  5. Kateray1

    Kateray1 Occasional commenter

    I travel now with a 15 mile radius but I live in the middle of the countryside with nearest city 50 miles away, but have had students to my home.

    For me it doesn’t matter it’s purely choice and having a very small home makes it logistically impossible unless it’s summer and I can sit outside.
  6. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    I do not travel to give tuition, all students come to me.

    It is more efficient, no travel time or costs etc.
  7. gainly

    gainly Lead commenter

    I usually travel to students although I occasionally have them come here. I generally prefer to travel, it separates work from home better. Obviously it is less efficient as I waste time travelling but I'm sure I get a lot more students than if I only tutored from home. As far as possible I try to put students who live close to each other on the same day to minimise travelling time.
  8. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Thanks to all you who've contributed so far - you've given a good range of arguments for and against each method, and the thread's already buzzing with interest.

    I just wanted to take up the mention of a responsible adult issue, as an argument for tutoring away from one's own home. A couple of years ago I was tutoring a Y11 student for several months, at her home, and as her exams approached there came a period when her mum wasn't going to be there, so could I kindly tutor her at her grandma's, slightly further for me to travel? I did. But the very last two sessions were ones where my wife was out and therefore I had to be at home for my young children. On these two occasions the mum was happy to bring her daughter to my home.

    Now, although I didn't put this to the mum, the obvious question arises: why was it impossible for the student to be with me without another adult, in her home, but perfectly fine when it was the same situation in my home? This just makes it look like the mum's real and only concern is burglary, lol. Can anyone explain the difference in terms of safeguarding?
  9. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Most of mine come to me
    I'm busy enough to not be bothered about the odd one that won't
    Evening spaces don't last long
  10. tsarina

    tsarina Occasional commenter

    I love the fact that the majority of my students have pets precisely because i have a mild allergy to fur...i love animals but could not have my own, however an hour here and there doesnt trigger my allergies and lets me occasionally be around them.

    I don't have any students within reasonable walking distance as a ten minute drive often translates to a 30min walk so i would lose too much time between students if i did walk.
  11. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    This reminds me of the line about the courtier who asked his king how the war on poverty was getting on.

    King: I'm winning.

    Courtier: So why are there all these beggars in the streets?

    King: They're losing!

    The point being: your saving of travel time/costs is at the expense of a greater cost to the parent. Assuming they don't just sit in the car outside for an hour (or even in the room with me and the student as once happened), they have to make two round journeys. If you're not prepared to travel once, how can you demand that they travel twice? You have to realise that they're doing you a definite favour here, and be appropriately humble.

    PS Anyone got any thoughts on the safeguarding issue I raised before? Or does that need a thread of its own?
  12. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I ask the parent if they want to stay. If they don't want to stay it's up to them. I have some that stay and sit in the other room, I have some that nip to the supermarket
    When I first started, I travelled to all of the children and the adult learners came to me..as I got busier after school time I just don't have the time to travel so I don't give this as an option. I finish in the evenings around 815. I make this clear in the original contact with the parents If they wish to travel they come to me, if they don't, they find someone else and I usually fill the space without a problem
    I have one student who travels about 25 minutes in the car for a French lesson and I'm amazed there isn't a teacher nearer their home. That parent stays and catches up on some work..i think he likes the peace and quiet because they have a big family and their house is rarely that quiet!
  13. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    When I was prepared to tutor below A-level parents didn't seem to have any problems leaving their younger daughters with me, and almost all of the girls I now teach A-level to don't have someone with them. One or two parents might stay, but that's only because it's not worth their while to travel home and back during the lesson, and sitting on my couch is probably more comfortable than sitting in the car: though one or two do prefer to sit in the car.

    I think the reason for the paranoia sometimes encountered is down to the UK media, who would have us believe that there's a perv in every bush, just waiting to pounce on a kid. Also, schools' policies on safeguarding are way over the top. This is why parents worry needlessly.
    langteacher likes this.
  14. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    All very true and interesting, David, but you haven't answered my question.

    One can understand (however much we regret the paranoia) parents being unwilling to leave their children alone with a given adult regardless of the place. One can also understand (with some relief) those who don't fall for the hysteria and are content, again never mind the place. But why should the place make a difference? Unless, perhaps, this particular mum had come to cross the "trust threshold" during the few weeks between the two?
  15. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter


    I have no free slots and a waiting list. I see no reason travel to give tuition.
  16. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Indeed, if that's your situation, you're quite right, neither would I. Of course, I'm impressed that you've managed that. How many slots do you run a week, and how many approx. on the waiting list (right now, late August)?

    Also, does your waiting list 'work', i.e. do people really stick around for you later instead of nipping off to some other tutor who's got the space? Cf. when you go to a restaurant and you're told you have to wait 45 mins for a table, do you hang around the bar area or decide to take your custom elsewhere? I suppose what I'm getting at is: how do you obtain customer loyalty of this sort?

    I'll certainly wager your local area's quantity situation is a good deal healthier than mine (see the "Gauging demand" thread).
  17. NoSuchThingAsNormal

    NoSuchThingAsNormal New commenter

    I have a waiting list of one. To be full, before September, is a first for me - numbers have built over five years. I do not advertise or use an agency etc., it is all word of mouth now.
  18. tsarina

    tsarina Occasional commenter

    Update: I have now done 3 days from home and am loving it! I am less tired at the end of the day, I honestly thought that the driving made no difference to how tired I was, but now on the days students come to me, I really feel the difference, especially when the weather is grotty like today. I feel even more like i am on a 3 year long holiday! At this rate I am never going to want to go back to teaching in school.

    Genuine thanks to @David Getling for helping me see the light.
    langteacher likes this.
  19. treeickle

    treeickle New commenter

    Good to see it working for you @tsarina. I'm another big fan of tutoring from home

    Being a non driver means I have to, plus I live ten minutes walk from the local college that supplies a chunk of my students during the day. I've got two that travel a half an hour drive away as well which is still astounding to me. I like having all my diagrams and laminates and molymods and things to hand, and not messing with anyone else's wifi. Plus my dining room is such a comfortable space it makes the whole thing very easy.

    I do book the local library conference room to do big groups (up to 12) but not often.
    tsarina likes this.

Share This Page