Question for teachers who tutor ( but also for parents)(9 Posts)
I'm an experienced teacher/tutor and tutor as a business ( ie I declare my earnings and am s/e.)
I ask for half a term's notice when parents stop lessons, as I always have a waiting list and this allows me to give waiting parents an idea of when they can start.
My parents know that I need half a term's notice but they don't sign anything- I give them the info when they start and it's also on each invoice every half term.
This means that I have no real evidence that they have signed up to my terms if they suddenly leave without due notice.
Any tutors who have a formal contract? and if you are a parent would you feel comfortable about signing a contract like this- it's no different from extra lessons in schools for music or lanaguages where half a term's notice or payment is required
I tutor and don't have use formal contracts. I haven't been messed around so far and also feel you need a bit of flexibility both ways - I don't charge for missed lessons (unless they are repeatedly doing so) as I may sometimes have to cancel due to my own vomiting children. I am quite laid back though! However, I do make a decent income and as you say, if you have a waiting list then anyone who does mess you around/leave can easily be replaced.
I've been teaching and tutoring for years- over 15 tutoring exclusively. I've adopted the practises that I experienced as a parent when my DCs were tutored, and had to tighten up over the years. I do charge for missed lessons though am happy to reschedule as far as possible. If I have to cancel for my own reasons then I don't charge- or offer another lesson. IME parents are happy with the arrangements I have- but very occasionally someone wants to leave at the drop of a hat- and their time and day may not suit another parent on the waiting list.
Speaking as a parent, the only time I have come across this was for a singing teacher. It did piss me off at the time because although she did that for all customers, I felt it soured the relationship from the start. She was able to reschedule with short notice but parents weren't!
I currently use a language tutor for one of my children. If I cancel with less than a days notice I pay her for the missed lesson. She also offered us a free lesson when she cancelled with less than an hours notice (though I paid her anyway the next time). This is entirely voluntary though.
In your circumstances when it is a business and your main income, I would seriously consider getting parents to sign a contract or pay up front per term as we have to do for certain out of school activities, music classes etc.
I think I am probably in a different situation as I tutor older (16 plus) students for A-levels. I am assuming you are primary if you don't know when parents might stop the sessions? I am lucky as I know that when I take on a student, I have them until the exams in either January or June, rather than a parent deciding their child has 'caught up' or achieved certain levels. Therefore, asking for a certain period of notice does not seem necessary! Due to their age, I can also tutor during the day as well as evenings, so I am not so affected by time constraints. I do love my job - so much satisfaction and working for yourself is a dream
Thanks BeingFluffy The parents pay up front for half a term and they are happy with this. I always offer to reschedule if I cancel or I would refund if not possible. It's the stopping abruptly that has caused problems at times- it's as if they choose to ignore the 6-week notice clause. Having notice allows me to ask people on my waiting list or be able to offer the place to new people who contact me meanwhile.
Mama I teach all ages from 8-19, as it's SpLD tutoring and specialist. I prefer to discuss timescales with parents and usually pupils come very long term- I advise at least 2-3 terms, and give reports and assessments as part of the tutoring. Some parents stop due to finances or their child being reluctant to come ( very very rarely).
If I was paying upfront, I would strongly prefer to have a signed contract. If you have a waiting list, that means you have a strong trading position and can demand thing others can not.
Very interesting thread as my mum is a teacher who now tutors, and I am a lawyer. On a weekly basis I hear her tales of woe about parents not turning up for booked lessons without giving notice, and then expressing surprise if she asks them to pay for the missed lesson.
Like you OP she does tell them at the outset that she will charge for a missed lesson on less than 24 hours' notice (unless exceptional circs), but this is never remembered (surprise).
Speaking as a lawyer, there's no point in having "terms" for this sort of low-value transaction unless you reduce those terms to written form which you can prove the parents have received. Without that, you will never have anything you can enforce. I drafted some very short form terms for my mum and she gave them to new parents for a bit but seems to have stopped now.
Requiring half a term's notice seems extremely onerous and I would imagine you would never be able to enforce that without evidence that it had been expressly agreed to. I use a tutor for my own DCs (not my mum) and it is all very informal - at most I would expect to maybe pay a week in lieu if we stopped.
And PS I would be perfectly happy to sign a contract for tutoring - as you say, no different to music lessons etc.
Having the half term's notice info on your invoices wouldn't help if you had to rely on that as evidence that the parents knew of that requirement, as terms can only be incorporated into a contract by express agreement (i.e. signing up to them) or by the terms having been provided prior to the formation of the contract (i.e. before first lesson and payment). So I would definitely get your parents to sign something before you start. Could be fairly short-form and would leave everyone in no doubt as to the position.
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