If you ever have the privilege of being able to choose from several tutors, you should take certain things into consideration before settling on a particular one and hiring them.
You can easily make the assumption that a tutor in your area or county knows about the requirements for the 11+, but this is not the always the situation. If you check the 11+ Regions in the Schools section of this website you will find out exactly what the tests consist of. Alternatively, you can contact the school concerned or the Local Authority. (If you like a particular tutor and believe that they would be good for your child but seem not to have quite the right information pertaining to the content of the test, you should consider putting them right by directing them politely to this website!)
Don't be afraid to enquire about what their pass rate has been over several years. It is also important to ask for references from children previously tutored. Whenever possible the references should be local and preferably for children that have attended the same school as your child. This will help you trace those references more easily and confirm that they are indeed genuine.
Ask for proof of qualifications, which is in the form of academic and teaching certificates. Not all tutors are trained teachers, but anybody that tutors a child should have the right background academically. Tutors should have completed a Criminal Records Bureau check within the last 5 years and should provide their clearance form. All serving teachers will have one as will anybody that works either with vulnerable persons or children in a different capacity. If a Tutor lacks one in a different capacity, he or she needs to have completed one in his or her capacity as a tutor. The CRB check is necessary if the child will be attending one-on-one tuition sessions in the home of the tutor and you should not accept any excuses. If you feel uncomfortable about the attitude of the tutor towards your child when you first meet them or at any other point in time, you need to start looking elsewhere even if the Tutor is CRB checked.
N.B. Civil servants run the CRB as an Executive Agency of the Home Office and performs service delivery via several strategic partnerships. It acts as an all-inclusive resource for organizations, checking police records, and even the information that the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) holds. If you check the CRB website, you will find more information about their work.
A good tutor is one that assesses the weaknesses and strengths of your child and customizes the tuition accordingly. It is in this area where one-on-one tuition really excels. If you have a special needs child, it is important to discuss with your tutor about his or her experience in the field and how they plan to approach your special needs child in terms of tutoring.
A 10-year old cannot benefit from a session 8 p.m. in the evening since their attention span will be most likely short and they will be tired the next day at school. Similarly, a child cannot benefit if they are tired after participating in extra-curricular activities. Try to ensure that you choose a time slot as convenient as possible for the entire family. It is important for the child to be relaxed and happy before a tutoring session, not worrying about running late or surrounded by a stressed family trying to juggle several different commitments.
Tutors will typically teach in their own homes if tutoring individual students or in the local village halls if tutoring groups of children. On occasion, you might find tutors willing to come to you as opposed to expecting you to go to them. It can be more convenient if you don't have just one child, but it is important to note that this may attract additional charges especially if the tutor has to travel beyond his or her locality. Does the tutor have a separate quiet area for teaching or will the child be working at the kitchen table where distractions are in plenty? Tuition done in a noisy area is much less effective than that done in a dedicated area.
Homework will be involved, probably even on a weekly basis particularly in the early stages and it will become far more frequent as the 11+ tests approach. You can also expect that there will be homework to do during the summer holidays considering the fact that most Eleven Plus exams take place in the autumn term. Some may even do mock exams. Ensure that you completely understand the level of commitment that is needed from you throughout the entire process. With the flexibility offered by a one-on-one tutor in the teaching program, you should consider volunteering to oversee the child completing the full test papers right at home. If you do this, you will be making sure that the tutor spend his or her time actively teaching the child and not simply watching papers being completed.
Tutoring charges can vary significantly even among tutors within the same location. However, the most expensive tutor is not always the best one. If you browse through our Tutors Directory you will be able to get a rough idea of the going rate for your location. In the directory, most tutors state their hourly rates.
Some of the tutors ask for weekly payments while others might as for large sums in advance, which some families might not be able to afford. If a tutor asks for the full cost of tuition in advanced as opposed to, say 2 or more payments, you need to be extra careful before you commit to the payment. If the child is not getting along with the tutor, or it has become apparently clear that he or she lacks the potential to pass the Eleven Plus, you will have lost a lot of money.
If you are making weekly payments, what is the cancellation policy the tutor has in place if you have to cancel the sessions for various reasons such as your child not feeling well? What notice does the tutor require for cancellation? Is the tutor willing to offer an alternative time slot if you must cancel? What arrangements will the tutor make should they have to cancel a session? You should make it a point to agree on this from the beginning to avoid unpleasantness and misunderstandings later on.
Other tutors will perform an assessment before they take on your child. The assessment is usually paid since it is taking up the tutor's time, even though the session does not involve any tutoring content. Even if the tutor fails to assess the child, any experienced and reputable tutor will tell you from very early on what the chances of your child passing the tests are.