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Key Questions to ask when selecting a tutor

It is estimated that there are over 1 million tutors in the UK (and that has probably grown largely since then as this was a pre-covid figure). That's quite a colossal number; more than twice as many as the number of teachers in British schools.

Given the large number of tutors out there, many wonder what sets the best tutors from the crowd. How do you work out if the tutor knows their stuff, and figure out whether they will be effective with you / your child?

There are a couple key questions that you need to ask a tutor to find out how effective they are, and how likely they are to be right for you:

· How well do they understand the subject you are tutoring?

· Is it a speciality?

· How do they get to the bottom of a student's learning problems?

· What techniques do they use to do this?

· How do they find a way to lead the student to discover the answers for themselves?

Effective techniques & strategies

Experienced and trained tutors use strategies to diagnose learning problems, and use them to create a way forward. Good tutors can switch between these tools as they go, focusing on what works best for the student.

The sorts of techniques effective tutors use include:

· Building on pre-requisites. Getting the basics right - they consolidate existing learning in the form of prerequisite skills / concepts before moving on to more complex areas.

· Diagnosis of deep misconceptions. Sometimes you just don't understand something because you misunderstand something else. Tutors look for individual errors, which indicate a lack of understanding of other concepts.

· Socratic learning. Helping the student find the answers themselves. The tutor asks questions to help the student discover misconceptions and correct them.

· Modelling-Scaffolding-Fading. Providing a framework for understanding the problem and stepping back once the student has mastered it.

· Reciprocal teaching. The tutor and student take turns to read and think out loud.

· Frontier learning. Tutors set problems that push the scope and level of student knowledge.

Here at Soaring Stars Education we also provide educational consultancy services as well as private tuition, so we can work with you and your tutor

Ask your prospective tutor about the techniques that they use. Do they use the ones mentioned above? Do they use others? Were they clueless and perplexed when you mentioned these to them? We’d love to hear your thoughts; please comment below.

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