The Benefits of Online Tutoring30/08/2023 / Online Tutoring
The Evolution of Online Tutoring
All tuition provided by Principal Tutors takes place online. Whilst there has definitely been a considerable shift from in-person to online lessons in the last five years, the history of distance learning stretches further back than might be expected.
From the first half of the 20th century, technology existed that could provide a close approximation of a ‘live’ video link using closed-circuit television systems. The technology developed quickly to the point where astronauts on the Apollo missions could communicate via video with Ground Control. News providers also took advantage of the technology to provide live reporting from locations in the field. However, the technology was expensive and very prone to disruption.
With the advent of the internet, the fields of education and medicine could take advantage of systems that linked teachers or medics with pupils or patients in remote locations. As the technology developed, communication became more affordable and reliable. By the 1990s, remote learning was becoming a reality for schools that could employ teachers to teach niche subjects or that found recruiting for a remote area impossible.
Most recently, the coronavirus pandemic required all learning to take place remotely. The increase in broadband availability and the price reduction in laptops and tablets means that online lessons are more accessible than ever.
Specific Benefits of Online Tuition
Parents sometimes worry about online learning being a poor substitute for in-person lessons. This is by no means the case. There were quite rightly concerns about the transition from school learning to online lessons that happened en masse during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. However, this is very different to personalised 1:1 tuition that is planned and individualised for the pupil. Online learning provides many advantages:
- The convenience of the arrangement. There is no travelling from one home to another. The parent does not have to host a tutor at their home, whilst potentially dealing with other children and afterschool activities. Alternatively, the parent does not have to take the child to the tutor’s home or place of work, taking up time for travel and waiting.
- The tutor will always have everything with them and so will the pupil. Often something comes up in the lesson that requires an additional resource. The tutor will have access to their whole library and collection and can immediately adapt the lesson for the pupil’s benefit. From the pupil’s point of view, if they are at home, they will always have everything with them, so there are no forgotten books.
- The parent can keep an eye on the lesson as and when required. There is no need for a parent to sit in on a lesson (as all Principal Tutors are DBS checked) unless the tutor and parent have agreed it will be of benefit. With an in-person arrangement, the parent must either be in the room or out of it. With online tutoring, the parents can keep an ear to the lesson if needed without needing to be constantly present in the room.
- Eye contact. In-person tuition usually takes place side by side. In online tuition, with the correct arrangement of cameras, the pupil and tutor look at each other with the work between them. This can help the tutor to monitor the child’s engagement without the intrusiveness of excessive in-person eye contact.
- Further to the previous point, interactive pages, online writing and annotation make it very easy to direct a pupil’s attention and focus whilst working collaboratively online. Both tutor and pupil can work on the same page, which can easily be saved for future reference. Whilst aspects of this can be replicated in person, the ease and convenience of this method of working is a definite bonus.
- Recording of lessons. The ability to record lessons and play them back can be beneficial for parents who want to support their child’s learning but cannot sit in the lesson. Older pupils also find this helpful, as they can reply explanations from their tutor as they prepare for exams.
- Costs. Providing an online lesson is almost always more affordable than in-person lessons. The tutor does not have to factor in time for travel and transport costs. This saving can be passed on to the parent.
- Nationwide availability of tutors. With an in-person arrangement, the tutor and parent are limited to a very narrow geographical area. Even in a populated urban environment, this will considerably limit the tutors available. Tutoring online opens up a whole nation of tutors for you, meaning you are much more likely to find the right person for your child.
- Flexibility. Good tutors will have a busy schedule, and most of their afterschool slots will be taken. However, a tutor is much more likely to be able to rearrange a one-off lesson when the lesson is taking place online than if the arrangements happening in person. It is always worth asking; a good tutor will try to squeeze something in if they can.
- Real remote learning. Everyone needs a break from their lessons every so often, but online lessons mean that it is much easier to arrange lessons that happen whilst the family is travelling or away from home. If a child routinely spends time at different addresses, there is no disruption to learning when everything is online. A long trip, perhaps visiting extended family abroad, need not necessarily mean all learning has to stop. This is particularly true for pupils preparing for GCSE and A-Level exams and the 11+.
A child might need in-person tutoring in a few situations, perhaps for medical reasons. However, nearly all children, including those with special educational needs, will thrive with online tutoring provided by a qualified and experienced teacher.
In terms of how the lessons take place, your tutor will discuss with you the best platform for the lessons when they make initial contact. Principal Tutors offer two specific education platforms for tutoring where the child and tutor meet virtually. Both platforms have interactive tools and pages that can be saved from lesson to lesson and reviewed by the pupil or parent between sessions. Automatic recording is an option, so the lesson can be viewed back. These platforms are engaging for pupils and provide everything required for effective learning over many lessons. Other methods, such as Zoom, may be used, and the device your pupil will be using to access the lesson will be considered when selecting the best platform for learning.
Research into the Benefits of Online Tuition
There has been considerable government and charity funded research in the last few years to assess the benefits of tutoring. This research focuses primarily on ‘catch-up’ 1:1 and small group tuition provided in schools by initiatives such as the NTP (National Tutoring Program), which was set up to address the time lost to learning during the pandemic. However, the research provides an excellent insight into the benefits of private tutoring too, which is likely to be 1:1 (rather than 1:2 or greater) and take place over a longer period than tutoring provided by the school.
Research from the Education Endowment Foundation shows the following:
- Studies of 1:1 tuition of primary school children show, on average, a 6+ month improvement in attainment (over periods ranging from 12 weeks to a whole school year) compared to children who did not participate.
- Similar studies in secondary school showed an average improvement of 4+ months
- Studies involving digital technology show broadly similar effects (to that of in-person tuition).
- Low-attaining pupils are likely to make the most progress.
- Tutored pupils and their teachers consistently reported increased pupil confidence.
An Ofsted inspection of 1:1 and small group tuition in 63 primary and secondary schools highlighted the following observations which are of interest to parents considering private tuition:
- Tuition provided by qualified teachers has been shown to be more effective than tutoring provided by non-qualified teachers.
- Tutoring for adolescents has been shown to be more effective over extended periods due to the need for consistency and the development of a bond between tutor and pupil.
- Tutoring was most effective when it was carefully planned and linked to the current school curriculum.
- Pupils who received tuition were more confident when they returned to class sessions, especially in raising their hand to answer questions and asking the teacher for help.
- Older pupils felt that tuition provided them with an environment where they could take risks and make mistakes, especially when they had a beneficial relationship with the tutor.
Private tuition is a significant investment for a parent to make. However, the benefits are broad and lasting. Parents who have engaged a tutor with Principal Tutors have reported that:
- Their child feels more confident with subjects they have previously found difficult.
- Academic reports from the school indicate better than expected progress.
- Better marks are achieved in subject tests and mock assessments.
- Target grades are met and exceeded at GCSE and A-Level.
- Their child participates more in the classroom at school and is better able to ask for help from the teacher when they need it.
- Pupils look forward to and enjoy their tutoring sessions.
At Principal Tutors, all of our tutors are qualified teachers with expertise in the UK National Curriculum. You’ll get feedback after every single session to help you feel in control of your child’s learning and progress, and you can even download resources and request a recording of your tutoring session to help you remember key points later.
To learn how online tutoring can help your child give us a call on 0800 772 0974 or you can request a tutor using our online form.
We are so happy with our 11+ tutor, she is always very professional and approachable, and she is helping my son to gain in confidence for his grammar school entrance exams next term.
Very happy with the Tutor who is working with my daughter for the 11+. He always replies to emails promptly, engages my daughter during the online lesson, and she's enjoying the work. Thank you.
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