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What are some of the variables that a parent (or tutoring business) uses when assessing what tutor or delivery option is the right fit for a student?


The obvious factor that influences a customer in their selection of a tutor, or type of tutoring, is budget. Generally teachers will be more expensive than graduates and likewise graduates more expensive than university students. Individual tuition and small groups will be more expensive than large groups. Face-to-face tutoring will be more expensive than online. Combinations of delivery types and tutoring instructors will again vary what a customer will be required to pay. This price / quality variance is true for most service delivery markets. As a rule the greater the training and experience a tutor posses and the greater the attention a tutor gives a student the more expensive the service. This will influence what a customer will decide is best for their circumstances. Not every family will be in a position to be able to afford a tutor to come to their home and spend an hour face-to-face with their son or daughter; this should not preclude them from sourcing tutoring. They’ll need to investigate other more affordable options that may include a small group at the local homework centre or perhaps an online non face-to-face format.

Differences in quality

The recognition of a teacher’s qualifications and experience usually ensures that they will be well placed to deliver a great service. Often a parent will expressly request only a trained teacher when sourcing a tutor. This is as it should be. What industry insiders have also recognised is that other options can be just as successful given the quality variance in individuals. It is an unfortunate reality that some people simply aren’t good at their jobs. This will apply to a teacher as much as it will to a poor accountant, lawyer or mechanic. The qualification, although increasing the likelihood of success, does not automatically mean that we have the best option. When tutoring it can be difficult for some teachers to make the transition from teacher to tutor, they can be used to being “in charge” and this can affect their flexibility in delivery, they can be exhausted by a day in the classroom and find the extra work, after hours, a difficulty. This can cause them to go into cruise control with the lowering of the demands from a class to an individual. This is not always the case, but it will be true for some situations and helps to illustrate why a business may recommend a graduate over a fully qualified teacher. The choice on tutor recommendation can come down to which tutor a business or parent assess’ as having the best potential for quality delivery.

Comfort factor

Parents are usually clear about what character traits will work best for their student. Some students feel that they would prefer a tutor who has recently been through what they are experiencing with exam and peer pressures. They would feel more comfortable working with someone closer in age to themselves, a tutor who may have similar interests and motivations. They may prefer a younger university student compared to the older more experienced teacher. It may make the one-to-one interaction easier for them. It is possibly also a relationship where they won’t feel as intimidated in directing content and pace. Other parents are just as clearly comfortable only with someone with a strong educational background. They want someone who is well qualified and organised; they need to know that the tutor knows a curriculum inside out. Still other parents will require a tutor who is laidback and easy communicate with etc. Selecting a tutor often will simply be a choice of what makes a student the most motivated or comfortable.


The subject range that a student requests tutoring for can decide which tutor is best suited to help them. If it is for two or more subjects it will often require more than one tutor. This can cause issues for a student who finds building relationships difficult. One tutor may be better than two. The industry often finds that tutors who have recently finished school themselves are more flexible in tutoring a range of subjects. Teachers quickly become specialists in their subject area, this is natural enough. The same applies for graduates. For the student who wants to limit the number of tutors they use it can be better to choose a younger tutor. Someone who has just completed the subjects they are completing and someone who will help them out across the board with more than one subject area. For the student looking for more specific help in a limited subject range often the graduate or teacher are best suited.

Content knowledge

It can be the case that in some situations pre and post graduate students have the greater and more current content knowledge base. Some fields of study are very fluid and change and update constantly, computing and the sciences are great examples of this. It may be the case that in some instances the under and post graduate would be a more appropriate choice for the student wanting to move into a specialist field. It is also very clearly the case that at primary level, where content knowledge is not such an issue, teachers are often the best choice as they posses greater training in what and when to teach certain content.


Tutoring has the advantage of being delivered largely free of the administration, curriculum focus and class control impediments that are imposed on the teacher’s role. Some would claim that qualified teachers should be the only option for any learning situation. The majority view in the industry however does not concur with this view. A client’s specific requirement will dictate what form and what qualifications they require for their tutoring needs. Simply put the successful tutor / student relationship will require that the tutor has excellent content knowledge and most importantly excellent communication skills.