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How much would you pay for a creative writing class?

(36 Posts)
writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 09:41:58

Hope this is a good place to put this. I was an English teacher but am also an author and am thinking of setting up some creative writing classes for children after school. I've tutored 1:1 for years and years. This would be for children aged 9,10 and 11 approximately (Year 5,6 and maybe 7.) I have a good idea of how much 1:1 tutoring is but not so sure about fees for group tuition. I was thinking of something like £20 each for a group of no more than 6. How does that sound?

pinkdelight Fri 28-Aug-15 10:03:37

£20 each for one class or for a course of class? How long is a class? If you mean £20 each for one class that seems a lot. Unless you're a star author and the kids are from very well-off families. After-school classes are normally much cheaper, esp if linked to school in some way, and really creative writing is what kids do in school at that age anyway, so it's not like charging for adults who want to write a novel - nor like charging for music or sport lessons that kids need specialist tuition for. Honestly not sure people would pay for it. And I say that as a professional writer! Probably better off targeting adults.

LilyTucker Fri 28-Aug-15 11:13:03

I think kids are reluctant to write after school having been writing all day so a holiday class would be better. Creative writing is hard if it doesn't come naturally.I'd pay £30 for a full day or say £100 for 3 mornings.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Aug-15 11:15:25

I think you'd struggle to attract a class made up of years 5, 6 and 7 because year 7 would be from a different school.

Parents are really only likely to pay if they get something from it, eg a morning or a day off, with no other childcare costs.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Fri 28-Aug-15 12:05:01

My kids have done group French (£6 per hour, 6-8 children) and group music (£8 per hour, 4-5 children).

That gives an idea of prices I'd be willing to pay - certainly not 20 pounds an hour for a group lesson.

writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 12:47:59

pink I'm a bit puzzled by your comment that 'it's not like sport or music that kids need specialist tuition for'. Are you saying anyone can teach creative writing? I'm a qualified English teacher with 30 years' experience and an author. If that's not specialist then I wonder what is?

I take the point about language tuition but many classes are taught by unqualified teachers. Same for music. This would involve masses of preparation, 1:1 support and marking of work after the lesson.

Where I live, 1:1 can be £40, so parents would be paying half of that but still getting a lot of input. I'd not go as low as £6 because I could earn £40 for 1 pupil.

Creative writing is taught in schools, yes, I know. But many children who have a talent for it do not get the time or specialist teaching in it from non-specialist primary teachers.

LilyTucker Fri 28-Aug-15 13:08:15

My DC have done G&T writing courses,the other didn't and I've always felt she missed out. They were really lovely,lasted all day and they loved them.£30.Why should only the most able have enrichment?There is little time in the school day for extended writing.

I'd happily pay and I know many others who would too. You could do it on different themes. I searched and searched for creative days in the holidays to no avail and long thought it was a missed opportunity. Wouldn't need to be an author for me to pay,just somebody with teaching experience and an obvious love of writing.

pinkdelight Fri 28-Aug-15 13:10:08

As you must know, the value of creative writing lessons and whether you can teach it is a hotly debated topic. Personally I've done lots of courses and loved learning the craft, but even I can see that it's not like learning French or karate or how to play the saxophone, especially for kids of that age. Essentially you're giving them a space to be creative. I did some brilliant playwriting classes at that age given by a theatre group and they were fun, but they were free (through school, probably arts council funded too), and my parents wouldn't/couldn't have paid for them. Some youth theatres run similar things. But in terms of fiction writing for that age... Maybe you'll get some kids who are dead keen and whose parents can afford it, but with all the competing demands on their time and money, I think it's a longshot. Not disrespecting your skills and experience, but even v established authors give free workshops simply as a way to get kids reading/writing/buying books. An author friend did some v cool summer classes at a library for less than a fiver and got v poor take-up. I'm not sure it's comparable with your 1:1 tutoring, unless that was for the same thing, not tutoring for exams/coursework etc.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Aug-15 13:32:47

You're thinking of charging £120 per hour/session? Really? Are you Jacqueline Wilson?

writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 13:34:31

It IS an interesting debate pink.
I too have studied creative writing with the OU etc and struggle with your idea what learning to write well is somehow inferior, or less intellectual, or whatever, than learning a foreign language or an instrument. It's a bit like saying Shakespeare or Jane Austen aren't as valued/ able as the Beatles; different, maybe not so quantifiable as taking a music exam, but less demanding? No! In addition now that English GCSE is going to be marked differently(more like it was when I began teaching it in the late '70s) being able to write well will be more important.

Clearly not all parents can afford everything they'd like their children to do but there is the other side of the coin that people don't value things that are free, or too cheap.

Over the years I have tutored hundreds of children who have often come along with a story for me to read which they have written in their own time, for fun, and asked me to read it. I know what goes on in schools - primary and secondary- and the limitations of the NC mean that creativity in English is pretty much stifled- it's a case of ticking boxes. I think the popularity of creative writing classes for adults and creative writing degree courses shows that many people want to write and possibly have since they were very young.

writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 13:36:51

Imperial- with group tutoring you don't divide your hourly fee by the number of students. You have overheads ( hall hire, paper, printing, materials) and you have to understand that teaching 6 children well means in fact some 1:1 prep, not just one-size fits all lesson.

In the SE people will pay £60+ an hour for 1:1 grammar school 11+ tutoring.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Aug-15 13:41:52

But 1:1 is always different isn't it, because you are catering to their specific needs. The minute two students are there, everything changes.

I did an MA in Creative Writing and even in our workshops the different ability levels was very noticeable. This would be more so with young children because of the age difference.

I suppose if you are in a wealthy area and parents are prepared to pay £20 without thinking for a child's hobby/interest, you might be OK but I thought (as a teacher, private tutor and examiner) that parents tended to spend when there's a goal in sight, such as an exam or entrance test.

orangepudding Fri 28-Aug-15 13:51:10

Parents pay £60+ for 11+ plus tutoring because it can save on private school fees or can save on further tutoring if the child gets into a very good school.
I don't think you can compare 11+ tutoring to creative writing tutoring. £20 an hour for a group session is too much.

Swimmingwithsharks Fri 28-Aug-15 13:52:19

Hmm you will have to test the market for your area. £20 for a lesson sounds okay, though £15-18 sounds better! I have met a maths/English 'tutor' who charged £20 each for group lessons. This was aimed at kids who were trailing in class but also included children sitting 11+. So a different market than yours.
I think most parents unfortunately put greater importance on maths, sports, music before creative writing. Or are happier paying for tutoring linked heavily with the school curriculum and up coming exams.
I know a lot of children struggle with creative writing and then there are some children who love to write but have no proper guidance in the subject. I have met a couple of kids who by that age have voiced an interest in writing and wanting to be writers. In that case I think someone like you would be great. But what sort of child are you particularly targeting? I could see benefit for both types of children.

writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 13:53:29

Presumably, your MA was for pleasure and you were happy to pay many thousands of pounds for the privilege? You valued it and presumably it was a luxury?

You've hit the nail on the head; yes, all students would be different which is why the cost would reflect the personal input for each child, as well as input to the whole group.

I've taught pairs of students before and groups of three. I know what's involved.

The other point is that the hour with the students is only part of it; there is prep time and marking time, so in effect it would be 3 hours of my time.

I'm just thinking about this at the moment and even if £20 seems too much, I'd not go below £15 because teaching a group of 6 I'd want at least double what I'd earn for 2 x 1:1 students in 2 hours (about £80.)

CocktailQueen Fri 28-Aug-15 13:54:47

My daughter would love that!! Will have a think. Instinct says that I wouldn't pay £20 per hour for a group lesson, though.

writinglady Fri 28-Aug-15 13:59:33

Swimming the target group would be children who were slightly above average ability already who showed an interest in writing; children who like writing already as a hobby OR children who may be sitting CE exams where essay writing ( creative) is important. It would not be catch-up tutoring.
I'm not dead set on £20, that's why I asked, but as I said, teaching a group properly and not just following a book, or tape, or pieces for a music exam, takes time and there'd be the marking of their work after the lesson.

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Fri 28-Aug-15 14:09:17

No way would I pay £20 per DC for a 1hr group class and I am used to exorbitant inner London prices. Not even your OU tutor would have been earning that much to teach you <speaks from bitter personal experience>.

Totally agree that 11+ tutoring is different - the cost of tutoring are offset by the savings made if the DC gets into grammar school rather than private. Having said that, I'd balk at £60, that's rather more than anyone I know has paid. Creative writing is not part of the test. It's not an essential life skill. It's a hobby so should be compared to the cost of ballet, music, drama, gymnastics, etc.

E.g. recently there was a creative writing workshop held near here for kids 10+, 2x 2hr sessions held on consecutive days with well-known authors. £40 for the course, so £10 per hour. I'd say that's on the upper limit but totally acceptable as a one-off holiday thing.

The issue is not what it's worth to you, but what it's worth to the parents - not even the DC at that age. If I was to choose between 10 ballet lessons or 3 creative writing classes, then there's no contest at all. I probably wouldn't pay for creative writing classes anyway though, despite my DD's enthusiasm for creative writing which I encourage and my own career in teaching literature & writing. I think that you would have to factor in that kind of attitude, so perhaps lower demand than you might think amongst your target audience because many of us who value creative writing value the creativity more than the technical accomplishment in children (based on lengthy discussions with friends in similar careers).

You might be better off looking at a slightly older age range and doing one- or two-day workshops instead - overheads would reduce significantly if you were hiring for a single day (or even half-day) rather than hourly, especially if you take into account travel time etc (yours and the parents who have to ferry the kids... Teenagers could make their own way there). I'd be more willing to stump up cash for a teenager showing interest and aptitude than for a 10yo for whom I am also paying for after-school activities every day of the week, or childcare.

pinkdelight Fri 28-Aug-15 14:23:04

"to write well is somehow inferior, or less intellectual, or whatever"

I don't think it's inferior or less intellectual. If anything I think it's harder to teach well because so much is down to the student's ability, and it's so hard to judge the outcome objectively - you can pay thousands for many classes and get nowhere, or pay nothing and be brilliant. That happens less with more tangible skills - a student can play a Grade 3 piano piece or not. The intangibility of creative writing is partly why it's become such a cash cow in further/higher education (Hanif Kureshi's "the biggest con-job" chimes with my experience), and I can't help thinking it's even more the case targeting kids who are going to be at an earlier stage anyway and really just need to keep writing and find their voices. I guess I'm just not on board with charging so much for these things, but then I'm probably swayed by my experience of having such brilliant free/cheap creative workshops at youth theatres etc, which opened doors for all kinds of kids, not just bright well-off kids. Sorry. I'll shut up now.

Hellochicken Fri 28-Aug-15 14:52:08

11 plus tutoring is different and 1-to-1 here and done by people with plenty knowledge, experience and particularly good at it. Still I think it is around 25 to 30 per hour.

For a group class of 6 as you have described I would pay £10-12 at most, but maybe your area is more expensive than mine.

I would pay for it as I am not good at English/writing and know I'd be no help teaching dcs creative writing. I don't think they get enough time on this in school, as it is 11 plus focussed.

bikeandrun Fri 28-Aug-15 15:11:19

A really good primary school teacher who used to work at our school( well liked by children and parents) charges £6 for an hour session for something that sounds very similar.Not sure what the max no of kids is though

Paddlepop Fri 28-Aug-15 15:18:52

OP in west London parents would gladly pay, and they do pay, £90-£110 per hour for 1-1 tuition in creative writing especially before the 7+, 8+, 11+ exams. Creative writing is the most difficult subject to teach because it requires DC to be competent in a very broad range of skills. DS attended a well established writing workshop in Richmond but I was aghast to find it was 20 kids shoe horned into a classroom for 3 hours rather than small group "retreat" that was advertised. The instructor charged £50 for 3 hours. After seeing some shoddy child minding based writers workshops I prefer 1-1 tuition despite the higher price as I feel the DC is learning something. I'm extremely disappointed with the quality of creative teaching in even the most expensive day prep schools. Teachers will confess that teachers completing a PGCE do not learn how to teach creative writing. Teaching creative writing involves more than giving DC a pile of VCOP exercises.

SelfRaisingFlour Fri 28-Aug-15 15:22:03

Our local grammar schools have creative writing in their English entrance tests and I think parents would pay £20 per hour as preparation for the 11+.

ImperialBlether Fri 28-Aug-15 15:46:40

The trouble is that if some are in the class because they love writing and others are in the class because they are awful at creative writing and don't see the point in it (looking at my very bright brother here, who only read what was necessary for exams and wouldn't have passed a test in creative writing without help) then you're teaching completely different skills. A class off one type of child at a similar age would be one thing, but a mixed group could be a nightmare.

motherinferior Fri 28-Aug-15 15:52:02

I wouldn't. Not unless it was JW, or a seriously reputable writer of children's/YA fiction.

I am not a complete philistine, btw, have two English degrees and am 2/3 way through a second redraft of a novel...but I still wouldn't.

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