…The best of these tutors are trained teachers, like Hook, who have left the classroom to do something new and will take a child’s overall wellbeing into account before accepting a new pupil. But many are graduates with a litany of famous universities and schools to their names, but not much in the way of formal teaching experience.
Not that this matters to many parents. “Etonians really do make exceptional tutors,” argues Charles Bonas, the co-founder of private tuition company Bonas MacFarlane Education. “They make much better tutors than prime ministers; they have social understanding, charisma, confidence and charm, and they bring great clarity to what they explain.”
Old Etonians might be unusually talented at wrangling an 11-year-old into doing algebra but, these days, the pupil in question is also far less likely to be heading to a similarly illustrious school.
School fees have been rising in private education for more than a decade and stagnating wages mean middle-class parents can no longer afford prestigious schools, while pupils at second-tier private schools are finding it increasingly difficult to get places in top British universities as vice-chancellors increase the proportion of students they take from state schools.
Now, a new trend has emerged where parents (many of whom were privately educated themselves) are sending their children to comprehensives, and using the money they save on fees to pay for tutors. And not just a little bit of help with maths – these are tutors for a range of subjects and they are working children long hours.
Some parents see the benefit of intense summer learning and ask tutors to join them on holiday – and certain education specialists argue that this is a particularly fruitful time for additional reading, investigation and research.
“Cramming after school isn’t particularly enjoyable for children unless they have the time and energy,” says Charles Bonas. “I think it’s much more effective to have a residential tutor who comes to stay. It’s the Evelyn Waugh style of tutoring, which died out but is coming back – the tutor lives with the family and engages in talk and debate and, depending on the age of the child, creative play.”
For Bonas, live-in summer tutors are an increasingly important part of his business. But, while it is popular among high-net-worth families, this particular style of teaching is still relatively rare across the industry in general.
Extracts from The Telegraph 07/07/2023