The best online tutoring services
1. Tutorful - Mumsnet Rated winner
With over 10,000 tutors to suit different learning styles, it’s easy to see why Tutorful won a Mumsnet Rated award. It makes online tutoring seamless: it’s as easy as requesting a lesson, completing it in the online classroom, and then a simple online payment. All the tutors have individual reviews, too, so you can see who would be the best fit for your child before you commit.
If you have a budding polyglot on your hands, Preply might be the way to go. It connects students with online language tutors, and is an established player in the online tutoring market, providing 30,000 hours of tutoring a month to language students. Very nice.
Trusted by over 300 UK schools, and with a rigorous hiring process for tutors (only one in eight tutors make it on their books, so we hear) this is a great option if you want the best of the best. It’s super flexible – you can book a recurring slot, or move around each week. There are over 145,000 reviews on the website, so you can find the best tutor for you.
4. Bigfoot Tutors
If you want to try before you buy, Bigfoot Tutors is a good place to start, offering a free trial session with no obligation to continue. Choose tuition ranging right from Key Stage 1 to postgraduate level, plus all tutors have at least two years' experience.
5. Owl Tutors
If having a fully qualified teacher is a top priority, Owl Tutors has you covered. All tutors have at least one year of classroom experience, full qualifications, and have to pass Owl Tutors’ own teaching test before being added to the books. As these tutors really are top quality, it’s worth noting you do pay a premium for it – with tutors costing £80 p/h for online sessions.
6. Keystone Tutors
If your children are aiming for grammar school, are at a private school, or are in an international school abroad which is also closed due to Covid-19, Keystone Tutors might be able to help. They’ve provided advice to grammar schools and universities on admission, and include the former Head of English at Dulwich College. They also have offices in Hong Kong, China and Singapore if you and your family are based there.
7. Mentor Education
Having provided in-person tuition for over thirty years, Mentor education has now turned to online tutoring. As an extra bonus, there is an SEN Consultant who has published extensively as part of a neurological team at King’s College Hospital – so if you’re looking for extra tips and tricks on teaching a child with SEN, Mentor Education may be your new best friend.
8. Kings Tutors
With a regimented feedback system, where tutors provide an outline of a student’s progress, strengths and weaknesses after each session, King’s Tutors will suit any particularly goal-oriented students (or parents who want to keep a weather eye out). There’s an online booking system which is fully compatible with all mobile devices meaning online tutoring can be arranged from wherever you are – although we don’t think you’ll be straying far from home for the time being.
9. Think Academy
As a leading online education brand owned by TAL Education Group (NYSE: TAL), Think Academy UK offers EdTech-powered online maths courses that are specially-designed and delivered to help students achieve better academic results in Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and SATs. All Think Academy UK teachers are highly experienced to ensure that every student’s leaning experience is fun and effective.
Think Academy are offering free courses throughout August. Visit their website to find out more.
Questions to ask your online tutor
What qualifications does the tutor have?
Find out about the tutor's education – what school and university they went to, what they studied – as well as asking if they have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Remember that 'experts' don't always make the best tutors; core knowledge is vital, but it can be equally important to ask if they took the same tests/exams your child is going to sit.
What tutoring experience do they have?
Bear in mind that for certain subjects, such as UCAS applications, or degree-level help, a tutor who has recently been through the same process and been successful can be just as helpful, even if they have less tutoring experience.
Which examination board(s) is the tutor familiar with?
If possible, ask your child's teacher which exam board they use, so that your child and the online tutor are aligned. The syllabus for each board is available online, and often past or practice exam papers can be downloaded for free.
A tutor with experience as an examiner can also be really valuable, and this is something which may not always be advertised, so it's a good question to drop in.
How do they make lessons engaging?
It's helpful to ask the tutor how the lessons are constructed; will they use 'fun' learning materials, or engage through mutual interests? Good tutors will quickly learn what the best approach is to engage your child, and will often ask for your advice on this.
How long are the tutoring lessons?
Ask yourself whether your child can concentrate fully for an hour, or whether half-hour sessions would be more achievable. This will entirely depend on the age of your child and what you and the tutor think is sensible. It's a good idea to ask the tutor how long they would recommend. Either way, breaks are important, so don't forget to schedule those in too. It’s important to consider that their attention span might be shorter with online tutoring than it would be in real life.
Do they set homework?
Many tutors choose not to add to the workload of a student. However, a small amount of work (or past papers during exam time) can be beneficial. Make sure your tutor knows your child's homework schedule so that they don't become overwhelmed with extra work.
How can parents assist with their child's progress when the tutor's not there?
Some parents will have a tutor to help with all of their child's homework; for others, 10 hours of one-to-one tuition is a big investment. It's crucial to remember that you can benefit from the experience without lots of expense. Ask the tutor what advice they can give on strategies or skills you can work on with your child when the tutoring comes to an end.
Dos and don’ts of tutoring
1. Involve your child in the decision-making process
It is crucial for your child to be willing and open to participate in tutoring. If your child helps to choose their own tutor, they feel as though it's their choice and the relationship can begin on a stronger footing.
2. Know where the problem areas are
Ask your child or your child's teacher if you're unsure: knowing what area(s) your child needs to focus on will help the tutor know how to prepare for, and approach, lessons.
3. Try marking syllabus topics with colours
Red = don't know, Orange = need some help, Green = got it!
4. Set goals
Whether it's very specific, such as improved confidence with algebra, or a general goal such as maintaining their grade at school, having a goal in mind and sharing it will help your tutor tailor lessons, provide updates, and ensure you're all on the same page.
5. Praise effort over grades
Reward and praise your child for the day-to-day hard work they put in, rather than placing the weight of 'success' on their final grade.
This can help reduce anxiety and prevent your child from feeling overwhelmed, as well as encouraging persistence.
6. Empower your child to love learning
Play to your child's interests: do they find the Egyptians a bit dull? If they love creative activities, try purchasing some gold paint and recreating Tutankhamun's death mask – instant fun. For a child a bit bored by maths and problem solving, you could look up the mathematical encoding in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Activities and reading around a subject can inspire a better depth of knowledge and a love of learning.
1. Settle for a tutor if you or your child aren't completely happy
One-to-one tutoring is the most effective form of education, and the relationship between a tutor and a student sits somewhere between a teacher, a coach and a mentor. Those are big shoes to fill, so don't feel like a failure if you don't get it right the first time. It can be particularly challenging to develop rapport over video chat, so do shop around.
2. Overdo it
Your child needs to enjoy some downtime, too. If they're against private lessons, listen to them and don't assume their worries are irrational. Encourage your child to give it a go, at least until schools reopen.
3. Be scared to say 'I don't know'
If you don't know the answer, just say so! Encourage your child to look it up, or better still, look it up together. This helps ingrain the habit of asking questions when we don't know something, and your child will be more aware that it's completely normal not to know everything.