Last year a poll revealed that nearly half (43%) of state school teachers in England have also worked as a private tutor at some point during their teaching career. The most popular location for teachers to tutor was in the North East of England (49%), and the least popular area was the North West (34%).
Why might school teachers turn to this kind of work, and is it a good idea?
Satisfying work, and well-paid
As anyone who has tutored knows, one-to-one tuition is a very different ball game to classroom teaching. Although there are none of the usual classroom management issues, good interpersonal skills are essential.
If you tutor face-to-face, you’ll also have to be comfortable either with travelling or having students come to your home.
Another alternative to this is online tutoring, which may be a good option for teachers who are invariably time-pressured. Online tuition does have its own challenges, however. For example, tutors report that it can be an intense medium because it is harder to ‘read’ students in a virtual environment.
One-to-one tuition can be very satisfying work: research suggests that students can progress quickly with this medium. The work is also flexible and well-paid, with private tuition fees across the UK being around £34/ hour for GCSE and £37/hour for A-level.
Potential conflict of interest
In some countries, state school teachers are banned from tutoring in their spare time.
Although this is not the case in the UK, some schools and private tuition agencies stipulate that teachers cannot privately tutor children from their own class or school. Some may consider it unethical to do so, perhaps because it may be difficult to avoid favouritism (or at least perceived favouritism) towards tutored members of the class.
Understanding the tutoring year
The most popular time for parents looking for a private tutor is in January, followed by February, March and September. The Easter break is a very popular time for extra tuition and this may also suit school teachers well.
Unfortunately, the long summer break – when school teachers might welcome some extra work – can be a quiet time for private tuition. Full-time tutors report struggling to find enough work at this time.
However, there are creative solutions for tutoring in the summer break: for example, teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL), tutoring foreign students online or setting up activity clubs for children in your local community centre. Read a discussion about summer tutoring work.
Building up private students
Some teachers find private tutoring work through their school. Other teachers prefer not to use this route, and aim to keep their tutoring separate.
There are a number of ways to find private tutoring work apart from through word of mouth.
One route is through advertising in a private tutor directory such as The Tutor Pages.
A second route is to approach a reputable private tuition agency, preferably one which is a member of the UK Tutors’ Association.
All in all, private tuition can be a good second income for school teachers, enabling them to put their skills to good use in an entirely different setting.