The Art of Tutoring

One of the biggest issues for Supply Teachers is a lack of work, particularly over a holiday time, leading to financial hardship. Many supply teachers struggle financially and need a second income to support their supply teaching work. But finding a job which would fit in with your supply teacher role can be difficult. Private tutoring could be the answer, however there are a few things to consider first.

What to Tutor

Obviously the answer to that one would be – tutor what you know. If you are primary trained then its worth, initially at least, focusing on supporting children in the Year 2 or Year 6 SATS.  For secondary teachers then tutoring in your subject specialism would be a good place to start. However if your specialism is, say, Art, then there probably isn’t much call for private tutoring in that subject. You would need to consider something else, perhaps English and/or maths depending on your own confidence in those subjects.

There is also a growing market for adult education. So it might be worth considering functional skill level maths, English or ICT as a subject.

How to get work

There are many website you can advertise on, for example Tutor Hunt, First Tutors, and Personal Tutors etc. Most of these are free although some, like Personal Tutors, expect you to pay them a commission fee for every job you take which is booked through them, Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully.

Another possible solution would be to advertise in the local shops. Although noticeboards seem to be rare these days most local supermarkets or corner shops still offer this service.

Alternatively use word of mouth advertising. If you have children, or friends with children, then there may be parents you meet in the school playground who are considering getting a tutor for their child. It’s worth asking or even handing out flyers with your contact details on.

If you don’t know any parents or have a reason to be in the playground yourself then you could consider asking local schools whether they would send out a flyer on your behalf. Some might. What you need to be careful off though is not crossing the line between supply teacher and your tutoring business.  A school would likely not be pleased if they thought you were using your supply contract to gain contacts for tutoring.

Where to tutor

There are three options, all with their own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Your own home: The advantages are you don’t have to take lots of resources with you and you could do back to back appointments (no travelling between each appointment). The downside is you will probably need appropriate insurance and would need to consider the knock on affect tutoring would have on the rest of your household. For example it may not be feasible if you have small children of your own or pets.
  • The tutee’s home: The advantages of this are you probably don’t need insurance and the tutee should be more relaxed in their own home environment. However the flip side of this is that younger children sometimes don’t like to do school work at home and you will need to factor in travel time between each appointment meaning you possible can’t do as many in one night.
  • A separate venue: You could hire a church hall or room somewhere to carry out your tutoring. The advantage of this would be the ability to have more than one tutee at a time (presuming they were of similar age/level etc.) and you also don’t have the travel time. The downside is, again, the need for insurance and the cost of hiring the venue. You would need to make sure you had enough tutees to cover those costs.

 Financial matters

How much to charge will depend on what age range you tutor and where you live.  Most primary level tutoring is usually around £20-£25 per hour while secondary tends to start at £25 per hour. Obviously you need to be aware of your local area, £25 an hour might be too much for most parents. In that case it would probably be better to charge a lower amount and get more work.

Any money earned from tutoring should be declared to HMRC and the appropriate tax paid on it. In fact technically every source of income should be declared even selling unwanted items on EBay or at a car boot sale. You can register as self-employed to declare any tax alongside any full time occupation. You can also get a National Insurance exemption certificate if your earners are less than a certain am mount per year (meaning you won’t need to pay that element of tax). HMRC will be able to provide exact guidance on what to do, how and what implications there might be for other income etc.

Other things to consider

The hardest part about tutoring is probably dealing with the parents. They will be the ones paying for the sessions and will want to know what you are doing and why.  A good relationship with the parents really makes the tutoring much easier. One possible solution would be to make notes as you carry out the tutoring. Then spend a few minutes at the end of the session going over these with the parents. It would be worth typing up these notes at a later date and emailing them to the parent. This keeps the parent informed of what has been covered and acts a reminder of any issues that came up and what to teach next.

Tutoring is, without doubt, an enjoyable way of making some extra money. You are more in control of what you teach, how and when.  Perhaps more importantly you are able to focus much more in the individual needs to the pupil which is not always possible in a class of 25-30 children.

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