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Is Private Tutoring Worth It?

16/09/2022 / Private Tutoring

The question of whether private tutoring is worthwhile is an important one for many parents of school-age children as well as young adults in further or higher education. Within this article, we look to provide you with additional insight to enable you to make an informed decision when it comes to engaging with a private tutor.

What this article covers:

Is Private Tutoring Worth it?

The experience of classroom-based learning varies enormously from person to person and institution to institution. The tri-partite system, made up of comprehensives, grammar and private schools, is not designed to deliver equality of opportunity or outcome. Meanwhile, today’s university students have been turned into customers, which gives them a personal financial interest in the results of their studies.

Despite this, the UK’s education system does an excellent job of helping young people develop their knowledge and skills. However, it’s not perfect, and there will always be cases of pupils and students who need extra help to achieve their potential. It is precisely these people – willing, capable and hard-working – that private tutoring exists to help. Its proponents never claim it’s an alternative to mainstream education and certainly wouldn’t suggest it’s superior. It simply fulfils a need which is often felt by individuals whose educational arrangements are not matching their abilities. Whether or not private tutoring is worth it – either in terms of money or time – depends on each case. How much effort and investment is the best education worth? Is it a luxury or a necessity?

The combination of one-to-one attention and targeted lessons can compensate for disadvantages in the classroom environment with ramifications that may include falling behind, feeling stressed by homework and the prospect of exams, struggling with specific difficulties and becoming generally demotivated. In a class of 25-30 students, there is very little room for individual attention, and if a child conceals their problems, the chances are they will go unnoticed and unaddressed.

A private tutor works specifically to the needs of the individual student, concentrating on weaknesses and building confidence in a subject. In this way, private tutoring is a perfect adjunct to the formal classroom process, catching otherwise promising students who fall through the net.

When is the Best Time to Start Private Tuition?

For some parents, private tutoring only becomes an issue if they live in an area with grammar schools and they want their children to get help with the 11 plus exam. In these cases, tuition often begins a couple of years beforehand, and it has certainly shown very positive results. However, there’s no reason to limit the use of private tutors to this fairly narrow part of the educational process. Tuition at GCSE, A level and even degree level can be enormously beneficial. However, there are good reasons for considering private tutoring long before any of these milestones.

Through comprehensive studies and the work of innovative educationalists, we’ve learned that children’s capacity to absorb and use knowledge appears at a very early age. Every moment brings a new discovery, and young brains process and assimilate information with extraordinary speed. Giving young children the opportunity to engage with learning has been shown to boost their confidence, encourage lateral thinking, speed up their responses to questions and develop their problem-solving skills.

Early learning takes all forms: building blocks, patterns, drawing and painting, numbers, words and images, shapes and textures and being read to. Parents try to do as much of this as possible with their children, but if circumstances allow and require, a private tutor can be enormously helpful even at this early stage. We’d venture to say that there’s no minimum age at which private tuition can begin. The more mental stimulation young children get, the better.

Primary school is a huge change for children which they have to adjust to quickly. If they have become used to a routine of learning at home, not just with parents but with a qualified tutor, the transition will be far more easily made.

Will Private Tutoring Help Increase a Child’s Grades?

Various studies have demonstrated that hiring a private tutor can help a high percentage of students improve by as much as one and a half grade levels. In UK terms, that means a boost at A level from C to A and at GCSE from 4 to 7. What accounts for this? There are many factors, but three are particularly influential.

One-on-one support: We’ve already drawn the contrast between a classroom full of students and a relationship with a private tutor. In the classroom, everyone is expected to learn at roughly the same rate. The teacher generally decides which areas of a subject need the most emphasis, but this doesn’t take account of the variations between individual students. They may all be as capable as one another, but certain topics will be harder for some to grasp than others. Once the teacher and the class have moved on, the chance for individuals to catch up has usually passed.

In contrast, it’s the job of the private tutor to make certain their pupil has understood everything covered in the lesson. It’s much easier for the tutor to assess a child’s strengths and weaknesses in a subject, which means they can use the time to maximum effect. It’s this personalised targeting that makes private tuition so valuable and effective.

Enjoyment: Inevitably the classroom culture will largely be dictated by necessity and expedience. In many cases, it can be helpful, encouraging and supportive, but because it is designed for a group instead of an individual, it may not be as enjoyable as private lessons, where the tutor gets to know the child and understands the best ways to stimulate and inspire them. Learning is always more effective when it’s fun, and since fun is a subjective concept, there’s nothing quite as enjoyable as having lessons designed to suit the individual.

Safety: Even in the best-run schools, some children can feel insecure and unwilling to voice their problems. There’s a great deal of peer pressure not to open up and ask for help with lessons. There may be many reasons why a child is reticent, and the sometimes overwhelming school environment isn’t always conducive to openness. With a private tutor, a much better relationship of trust can develop in which a child feels able to be honest about their worries. In this situation, they can be much more satisfactorily resolved, and the child will not only get to grips with difficult subjects, but they’ll also receive a significant confidence boost.

Is Private Tuition Worth It?

Everything we’ve discussed here needs to be considered in answering this question. Of course, it costs money, and that is going to be an issue for many people. It also needs a commitment from the child to engage willingly with an open mind. Parents forcing their children to have private lessons may not see the results they wish for. It’s important that the child understands how it will benefit them personally and that their parents are doing it solely for that reason.

On the matter of cost, there’s no obligation to enter into a long-term commitment. Private tuition is designed to be flexible, and although we’d always recommend maintaining it for as long as possible, if this isn’t practical, then even a modest amount can be advantageous. In any case, fees for private tuition are not as heavy as many people expect and are, of course, a minuscule fraction of the cost of full-time private education. It is a very cost-effective solution for children who need a helping hand, and because you get detailed feedback on progress, you’ll feel fully involved in the process.

A private tutor can deliver very specific results in addition to developing and firming up proficiency in a subject. Their attention and encouragement will reassure your child that they are just as able as their contemporaries, and perhaps more so. This confidence also enhances their social skills.

Part of what the tutor does is to identify areas that need improvement that neither the child nor the parents are even aware of. Often parents won’t know where to start. Tutors are highly skilled at assessing particular needs and will take a proactive approach to the supplementary education of your child. Helping them to catch up if they’ve fallen behind for any reason, inspiring them to learn and develop their own academic interests, and preparing them for SATS and exams at all levels – are all part of the tutor’s job. Away from the classroom, children can make remarkable progress that feeds back into their school performance.

Private tuition also takes a lot of pressure off parents, who can concentrate on making family time fun to the benefit of everyone. Although much less formal than the classroom environment, private and online tuition offers a very useful structure for home learning that many parents simply don’t have the time or ability to provide.

Why Choose Principal Tutors?

We are much more than a student/tutor matching service. All our tutors are independent, fully qualified UK teachers with years of experience and a thorough knowledge of the curriculum. The tutor we assign will make their own assessment of your child’s needs and capabilities before any teaching begins. All sessions take place online. This is a highly convenient arrangement which eliminates the need for travel and gives you the option to request the sessions to be recorded. Your child can then revisit and revise their work at leisure. In a classroom or during face-to-face tutoring, it can be easy to miss crucial pieces of information. Principal Tutors provide the perfect solution.

If you think your child would benefit from private tuition for any reason, then why not contact us today and find out more about our service? It may be just the answer you’re looking for.


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.


We were recommended a tutor for our needs very quickly and were able to start immediately. My daughter is getting tutoring for her 11+ exam and according to her, the tutor is amazing. There is a long way until the exam but she managed to bust my daughter's confidence in Maths. Thank you!


Thank you for recommending such an amazing physics tutor for my son. We are now confident he will achieve the graded he needs to get into the uni of his choice, which is all down to the support we received from Principal Tutors and our wonderful tutor.