When families are considering bringing on a full-time tutor, either for homeschooling or working with their children in a capacity of academic support alongside school, it can sometimes be daunting to know what to look for in a prospective tutor or what the practicalities of making such an appointment entail. Here we give a brief guide to the key areas to consider.
THE ROLE OF THE TUTOR
Every full-time tuition or homeschooling role is unique, with highly individual requirements for each family and student and so there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to defining the role of a tutor.
For some students there may be specific ambitions with regard to academic pathways or future vocations which form the key objective of tuition, for others it may be a particular subject or area of study which inspires them and which cannot be covered adequately within a traditional school environment. Still others may be embarking on a period of extended travel and wish to remain in-step with their peers at school so they can subsequently seamlessly re-enter at a later date.
Furthermore, families can often have different ideas on the educational philosophy for their children. Some value a traditional approach around a fixed curriculum, while others gravitate to a more fluid, progressive educational upbringing, where traditional classes are combined with a style of learning in which the student is encouraged and supported in defining their own path from an early stage.
Finally, the individual ways in which students best learn and their particular areas of strength and weakness are vital when it comes to appointing the right tutor who can best communicate the necessary concepts to the child in a way which they can understand and build upon. Taking all these factors together and defining the role as clearly as possible is important not only to clarify a family’s thinking about what a homeschooling curriculum can look like, but also to ensure that progress and development can be adequately tracked across the course of the engagement. As part of our support and oversight services at Witherow Brooke, we make sure that these areas of development are monitored during the academic year, giving a family the reassurance that their child continues to progress and that any upcoming milestones are on track to being met.
For more information on creating a bespoke homeschooling curriculum, please see our other blog post Designing a Homeschooling Curriculum.
IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT TUTOR FOR YOUR FAMILY
The most important aspect in picking a tutor is to find one who is able to quickly establish a strong rapport with the student, inspire a love of learning, and communicate ideas in a way which resonates with the student. At Witherow Brooke we meet with the family to get a sense of the characters and extracurricular interests of the student(s) as well as their academic background, finding out what naturally interests them and the qualities which they find engaging in a teacher and role model.
We then draw up a Job Specification in consultation with the family which outlines the key aspects of the role and what a tutor appointed to the role can expect. Elucidating the role in as much detail as possible is a vital stage in the process, both in terms of defining what a family expects from their tutor and for finding the right character and profile of tutor who will quickly establish a strong rapport with the student, and maximise the effectiveness and enjoyment of the lessons.
Once we have met with a number of candidates who we feel are suitable, we then ask each to provide recorded sample lessons tailored to the role in hand which can give a family an idea of their teaching style, character and educational philosophy. Ultimately however the family need to meet a tutor before they get a sense of whether they will be a valuable addition to the education of their children, and so we always encourage this with at least two candidates before a family makes a decision about which tutor to engage.
CONTRACTUAL DETAILS TO OFFER A TUTOR
When it comes to the salary of a homeschooling tutor, this can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to: the location, the number of hours of tuition required, and the skillset and experience of the tutor. A tutor able to teach Economics, Further Mathematics and Music up to age eighteen, for example, is a highly rare skillset and so would require a competitive salary to find an exceptional tutor with these qualities. Similarly this would also apply to a family looking for a tutor with significant experience teaching across a wide range of ages, or with experience of multiple curricula across different countries’ educational systems, or who speaks a specific combination of languages.
Other contractual details to consider are whether accommodation, meals and transport will be provided to the tutor, whether the tutor will be based in a single location or will be required to travel with the family, and the annual leave a tutor will enjoy over the course of the engagement.
We take this into account when advising a family on the salary and other contractual details to offer a tutor and sometimes advise specifying a range rather than fixed value for the salary, to be dependent on the particular expertise and seniority of the tutor they eventually decide to work with. Typically we advise salaries starting at $110,000 in order to secure outstanding tutors with significant experience and exemplary academic records.
When a family decides to employ a homeschooling tutor they will either be an employer of the tutor, or engage the tutor in a self-employed capacity. In both instances we can assist with the contractual paperwork and draw up, in consultation with the family, either a Contract for Services or a Contract of Employment, a Payment Schedule for the tutor, and a formal Job Specification outlining the responsibilities and what is expected from the tutor.
Written by William Brooke, Director of Witherow Brooke