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5 Questions to Ask When Hiring A KS2 English Tutor

28/11/2023 / English Tuition

Key Stage 2 is a pivotal time for young students, covering years 3 – 6. At the start of Key Stage 2, children are still not far from the beginning of their schooling journey. By the end of Key Stage 2, they face exams like the SATs and possibly the 11+ with high school on the horizon.

So, it’s very understandable why parents of children in this age group might start thinking about hiring a KS2 English tutor. English tuition at this stage can help firm up children’s grasp of the foundational skills they’ll need for the rest of schooling, ensuring they’re well prepared for the secondary education to come.

Children in Year 3 to 6 who are shy or anxious in lessons might also benefit from the confidence boost that comes from private tuition. And if a student is aiming to take the 11+ exam, a KS2 English tutor can soothe exam nerves and give a child the boost they might need to get into the school they really want. 

However, once you’ve made the decision to seek out a KS2 English tutor, you might find yourself considering how to ensure you’re getting just the right tutor for your child. You don’t want to waste your child’s time and energy on tuition that isn’t productive, after all. You might wonder:

  • What qualities are important in a tutor?
  • What should I look for in a tutoring session?
  • And do I need a KS2 tutor near me, or should I opt for online tuition?

If you’re pondering any of these questions, worry not! We’ve compiled a list of 5 important questions to ask your KS2 English tutor to help you find tuition that will help your child achieve their learning goals – and perhaps have some fun, too.

1. Are you a qualified teacher?

If you’ve been searching online for a tutor, you might have seen postings from graduate students, undergraduates or even sixth formers advertising their English tutoring services. You might have even seen English tutoring services on Gumtree!

Needless to say, these options just won’t work. Good teaching is a very complex skill. It requires lots of different capabilities, but there are two elements that you absolutely must have in a tutor:

  • Subject matter knowledge
  • Pedagogical knowledge

This means that the tutor needs to know about Key Stage 2 English, and they need to know how to teach it. In other words, they need to know about education theory, different ways of teaching a subject, how children’s minds learn, ways of adapting the material for students with special educational needs or disabilities, and much more.

No matter how much a tutor knows about English, if they don’t have the second piece, the knowledge about teaching itself, then they’re not a good tutor for you.

And if the tutor is a sixth former or a university student, they’re not even that likely to remember what Year 4 English was all about. What’s the expected reading pace for a student of that age? What vocabulary words are too hard? What skills does Year 4 English focus on?

The bottom line is – you really need a qualified teacher.

Hire a private online English tutor >

2. How much experience do you have with the curriculum my child is learning?

So, you know that you need a tutor with teaching credentials. But that’s not enough. Experience under the belt is important too.

A teacher fresh out of teacher training might know all of the elements we’ve mentioned in point 1, but teachers learn a lot on the job as well. A teacher who’s taught the English Year 5 curriculum for years will have familiarity with how children respond to it. What parts of texts do students of this age often find hard? What methods really worked to help children understand the skills expected of them? That’s a huge help to them when they’re tutoring your child.

In contrast, a qualified teacher with lots of experience with a curriculum from outside the UK, such as one from the USA, won’t have that familiarity with the particular details of your child’s curriculum. For example, for Years 3 and 4, the English national curriculum says that students should be able to “apply their growing knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes (etymology and morphology).” There’s no guarantee that another curriculum requires students to know root words, prefixes and suffixes at this stage.

Or perhaps another curriculum requires students to know these topics in greater depth than your child’s curriculum requires. Either way, you could get a mismatch between what’s being taught in tutoring sessions and what your child is learning in school.

3. What is your typical tutoring session like?

So far, we’ve covered the two absolutely crucial requirements for a KS2 English tutor. Now, let’s get into some finer details.

There is no one correct way to structure a tutoring session, so there is no right answer you should look for. However, the way a tutor answers will give you some insight into their approach to tutoring and their personality.

Firstly, there are some wrong answers that you should avoid. One wrong answer is “I speak throughout the session and the student writes notes.” Lecture isn’t considered a highly effective teaching tool. The greatest benefit of tutoring is that it provides a child with personalised instruction, so there really isn’t a reason for a tutor to take this approach.

A tutor also shouldn’t be planning to just watch a student do work throughout the tuition session. That’s just not worth the time.

A good tutoring session can take many forms. Perhaps it’s an intellectually stimulating conversation. Maybe it involves reading through a text, annotating, and jotting ideas down together. Or the student might send something they’ve written so they can go through the teacher’s feedback together. Sometimes, the tutor and student can work through practice exam preparation questions together, with the tutor demonstrating how the student could approach each type of question.

As you can see, the mode of tutoring usually reflects the specific skill being tutored. That’s why there’s no one right answer. The structure of a tutoring session can also depend on the personality of the student – diving right into a deep discussion with a very shy student is probably not the way to go – and can vary from day to day. In fact, one good answer to this question might be, “It depends, but here are some possibilities.” If a teacher is flexible and able to tailor their tutoring mode to the student’s requirements, that’s usually a great thing.

4. How would you approach my child’s tutoring goals?

When you’re starting out with tutoring, a good tutor will advise you to set goals. Otherwise, how would they be able to gauge your child’s progress and adapt their tutoring as needed?

So, before you speak to your tutor, we advise you to consider what you aim to get out of tutoring. It might be something as clear-cut as “preparation for the 11+ exam,” or it could be something more subtle like “improve my child’s confidence and ability to share ideas during lessons.”

Either way, when you’re looking for a tutor, it’s a good idea to ask your tutor what approach they might take toward helping your child. Of course, they won’t be able to come up with a full tutoring plan immediately. But it will be helpful to get a sense of what they might say and how confident they are in their ability to meet your child’s needs.

5. How do you use online technologies to enhance your tutoring?

“But wait,” you might ask. “Shouldn’t I be looking for a KS2 English tutor near me?”

Actually, there are fairly few situations in which an in-person tutor is needed for Key Stage 2 English tutoring. Often, an online tutor is as good as or even better than an in-person tutor, as we’ve explored in a previous blog post: Do I Actually Need a Local English Tutor?

One reason why looking for online tutors can be a great option is that it gives you a far broader pool of tutors to choose from. Especially if you’re not in a densely populated area, there might just not be many qualified and experienced teachers near you who are willing to do in-person tutoring. An online tutor means you have a much better chance of getting someone really great.

What’s more, online tutoring does offer a lot of tools that can be immensely helpful in tutoring. For example, if a tutoring platform can record tutoring sessions for a student’s future use, then you can create your student’s own library of resources to look back at for years to come. That’s why it’s great to ask your tutor how they can employ these tools to provide even more value from each and every session.

For a closer look at the options here, read: Online Vs In-Person English Tutors.

Aim high in Key Stage 2 with Principal Tutors

With Principal Tutors, you won’t even have to ask those first two questions. Why? Because every single one of our Key Stage 2 English tutors is a qualified teacher with experience in the UK curriculum. We also pride ourselves on our ability to match each student to just the right tutor, so you don’t have to worry about searching endlessly online for tutors who are a great fit for your child.

So why delay? If you’re ready to get going with Key Stage 2 tuition, give us a call on 0800 772 0974, and we’ll get you started with the matching process right away. Alternatively, just fill out our online form to get going.


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