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Why You Shouldn’t Hire an English Tutor on Gumtree!

10/11/2023 / English Tuition

When it comes to education and learning, the internet can be immensely helpful in so many ways. Online dictionaries put vocabulary words at students’ fingertips. Revision sites like Quizlet enable children to make virtual flash cards. And Google docs allow students to collaborate in ways that paper could never.

But one site that isn’t the right place to go for education help is Gumtree. Although it might seem like a handy place to find a local English tutor, Gumtree is really not as convenient as you might think. More importantly, there are serious concerns to do with safety and trust that mean Gumtree isn’t an appropriate avenue for hiring a tutor to work with your children. In this article, we’ll explore those reasons and more.

What is Gumtree?

Gumtree describes itself as a site for classified ads, much like those you would see in a newspaper. An individual posts an advertisement offering services or goods, and others respond if they’re interested.

However, the great advantage of the internet is that it can do so much more than newspapers. When there are so many more sophisticated options available, there’s no reason to opt for a site that imitates what a newspaper can do.

What’s more, there are specific details and services that you need when you’re hiring an English tutor. As a general classifieds ads site, Gumtree can’t provide these – as we’ll outline below.

Safety and security

The very first and most crucial reason not to use Gumtree to hire an English tutor is your child’s security and safety.

A professional tutoring company will ensure that background checks are performed to confirm that a prospective tutor is a safe and appropriate person to work with children and possibly visit your home. If a tutor says that they have a teaching degree or experience, the tutoring company will confirm all of the tutor’s credentials are real.

Unfortunately, Gumtree doesn’t do any of this for its users. Users could attempt to do these background checks or credential checks themselves – but it’s not wise to try to do this individually, and it would be very difficult and time-consuming, too.

Concerns around safety and security are so great that this alone should be enough to deter anyone from seeking an English tutor via Gumtree. However, there are numerous other problems with using Gumtree for this purpose.

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When parents or guardians first start considering hiring a tutor, they may not know which qualities are important in a tutor candidate. Often, they may assume the tutor should be local. However, as we’ve discussed in our blog post on local tutors, it isn’t usually necessary for an English tutor to meet with their student in person. Moreover, opening up your search to a wider area gives you far more options and makes it more likely that you’ll find just the right tutor for you.

What qualities are more important for an English tutor? English skills, English teaching credentials and familiarity with the UK curriculum. You really need all three of these – not just one or two.

Teaching experience and qualifications

We’ve already discussed the fact that Gumtree doesn’t provide a mechanism to confirm any credentials claimed by its posters are real. Beyond this issue, another problem is that tutor candidates on Gumtree aren’t certain to have all of these requirements that you need. You will likely have to sift through large numbers of other candidates who don’t have the qualifications that are necessary.

On Gumtree, you may find aspiring tutors who are university students or even high-achieving sixth form students. While these people may be very skilled in English, that doesn’t mean they know how to teach English. In fact, a university or PhD student who is used to working at undergraduate or graduate levels of literary analysis may be unable to “rewind” their thinking to understand how a twelve-year-old experiences a book.

Someone who knows how to teach English will understand pedagogical concepts like Bloom’s taxonomy, expected skill levels at each age and ways of assessing those skills. They’ll understand how children’s minds develop and how to present material so that it’s within a student’s “zone of proximal development” – meaning neither too hard nor too easy, but just challenging enough to allow a student to stretch their thinking and learn.

English skill

On the reverse side, you need to be sure that your tutor does have deep knowledge of and adeptness with English that’s needed to help your child learn. Being a university student, even at an elite university, isn’t necessarily a guarantee of English skill in every area needed.

Parents or guardians might imagine that if an English tutor turns out not to be good at English, then the result for their child’s learning is no change. But the possible outcome is actually worse. You could find a tutor who actively, although unintentionally, teaches your child things that are just not correct. You could find your child’s learning going backward rather than forward.

Ease of searching and matching

Gumtree has no way of allowing users to sort through or filter tutor candidates by these important tutor attributes we’ve discussed. You’ll have to skim through posts visually, which is difficult and onerous.

But these qualifications are the starting point for finding a great English tutor, not the end point. Just as each child is different, they respond differently to different tutors. Teaching style matters – would your child like a tutor who makes jokes or one who remains very serious and focused? Do you have a shy child who would benefit from a tutor who can carefully draw them from their shell? Or perhaps you have a child who loves a certain hobby, music genre, TV show or movie, and would immediately take a liking to a tutor with the same interest.

A tutoring company will know their tutors and be able to consider all of your child’s traits and recommend a tutor who matches in every way. In your search for an English tutor, Gumtree leaves you on far less certain ground. Will a certain tutor’s personality mesh well with your child’s? There’s often no way to know. Gumtree doesn’t provide any filters to let you narrow down your search.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Let’s say that you’re wonderfully lucky – when you search for an English tutor, Gumtree delivers a qualified English teacher with experience in the UK curriculum. Perhaps this tutor is a teacher at a local school, for example.

You exchange a number of messages with your tutor and finally arrange your first tutoring session. But after the session, it turns out that your tutor and your child just didn’t vibe especially well. Your child isn’t enthused about future lessons.

What do you do? More likely than not, you’ll find yourself turning back to Gumtree and starting the entire, lengthy process all over again.

Complex administration on Gumtree

The most interesting things about English tuition are the joy of learning and the excitement of seeing achievement rise.

However, like all things, tuition has a mundane side. Billing and scheduling are a necessity.

When you’re trying to take care of these administrative details with an English tutor, Gumtree can make things awkward and complicated. Does your tutor send you an invoice? What if you thought you sent the payment, but the tutor doesn’t see it in their account?

And what if you just want to call the tutor to check on your child’s progress?

With an English tutor from Gumtree, you’re likely just paying for your tutor’s time with your student. They might answer a brief question occasionally, but answering questions or talking about learning with you isn’t a part of their job. That can be frustrating for both parents and tutors – parents who feel out of the loop, and tutors who feel they’re being asked to do unpaid extras.

A safer and easier way to find your English tutor: Principal Tutors

What’s a better option than Gumtree? Try Principal Tutors. With us, you won’t encounter any of the difficulties discussed in this article. All of our English tutors are fully qualified teachers who are experts in the UK curriculum. Of course, we check their qualifications and references carefully too.

What’s more, we specialise in making the perfect tutor-student match. Since we have tutors from all over the UK, our broad selection of candidates allows us to find just the right tutor for each and every student. What if the first tutor we try just doesn’t click well with a student? No problem, we try again.

We also pride ourselves on providing high-quality customer service. We’re here by the phone if you have questions or need advice from our expert team. Just give us a ring on 0800 772 0974, and we’ll be happy to discuss your goals and requirements. Or if you’re eager to get started today, just fill out our online form to start the tutor-student matching process.


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