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What is the Difference Between Tutoring and Teaching?

16/11/2022 / Private Tutoring

Ensuring students make progress is the key driver behind all professionals working in education. Teachers and tutors both aim to promote the learning and development of the students with whom they work. However, the principal difference between a teacher and a tutor is that a teacher works with larger groups of students, whilst a tutor works with individual students. This distinction creates two differing approaches to facilitating learning, meaning that teaching and tutoring are two separate disciplines.

Within this article, we discuss what the benefits of tutoring are and how they supplement the work performed by teachers in the traditional classroom setting

What is the Purpose of a Tutor?

A teacher is usually based in an institutional setting, such as a school or college. Teachers follow a given curriculum using the pedagogical knowledge they have gained from their training. In a classroom environment, a teacher is responsible for the progress of up to thirty students. A teacher will often have to deliver and manage learning tasks to all thirty students simultaneously, meaning that a significant proportion of teaching is concerned with the logistics of facilitating learning with such a large number of students. A teacher must consider resourcing, behaviour management and meeting a wide range of learning needs and styles. Therefore, ensuring that each and every student makes consistently good progress in every lesson is a challenge for even the most competent and experienced classroom teacher.

A tutor is employed privately and can work in a range of settings, including online. In contrast to teaching, tutors often work on a one-to-one basis, meaning that all the tutor’s attention is on that student for the complete duration of the session. A tutor aims to guide a student through their learning, with the ultimate goal being that the student becomes a self-sufficient, independent learner. What a tutor teaches depends entirely on the learning needs of the student. Often a tutor will support a student with a curriculum or syllabus that is being followed in school, with the aim of aiding the student to achieve their very best results in formal exams such as GCSEs or A-Levels. A tutor may also help students who find specific learning areas challenging, often in subjects such as Mathematics or Literacy. Tutors may also specialise in guiding students through processes such as passing the 11+ entry exam. What is covered in a tuition session is pinpointed to exactly what the student needs, making tuition a more precision-based learning methodology than classroom teaching.

What are the Benefits of Having a Tutor?

Working with a tutor provides a range of benefits to the student, primarily in their learning but also in a range of ways that extend beyond education and into other areas of a student’s development.

The relationship benefits a student’s learning because a good tutor will empower them to aim high and maximise their potential. Because tutoring involves so much more one-to-one interaction compared to teaching, tutors are able to build meaningful, positive relationships with their students and can tailor their approach to the personality of the student. Current discourse in education and cognitive development recognises that there is a wide range of learning styles and that different people learn differently. Whereas in a classroom, it is very difficult to cater for all learning styles at once, a one-to-one learning experience only needs to consider the learning styles of a single student. A tutor allows a student to flourish by granting them full expression of their preferred style of learning.

Tutors are skilled in responding to the individual learning needs of the students they work with. Working on a one-to-one basis makes it much simpler to assess where students currently are in their learning and where they need to go next. This means that a tutor can identify the correct next steps for the student and guide them through that learning journey at a pace most suited to that individual. Working on a one-to-one basis creates a constant feedback loop between the tutor and the student for the complete duration of the tuition session, ensuring that the tasks set are at a level that is simultaneously accessible yet at just the right level of challenge to enable progress.

Tutoring is a positive experience for a student. Receiving personal attention and carefully crafted sessions catering for that individual alone can promote a deeper love of learning and reengage the disengaged. Increased engagement is vital in ensuring students maximise their potential, and a positive learning experience with a tutor will help many students feel more positive about all aspects of their education. Working with a tutor will also enable students to develop good study habits that will benefit them for life as they learn to become more self-motivated and self-reliant. A tutor will gently encourage a student to become increasingly independent in their learning which, in turn, will encourage the student to take more responsibility for their own learning and personal growth. And above all, a one-to-one tuition session is centred on communication between the tutor and the student. Communicating effectively is a skill that will serve the student well in all areas of life, benefiting their personal and social development as well as their educational studies.

Why is Tutoring Good for Students?

Having tuition that supports the learning students are working on in formal educational settings helps them to revise previously explored content, extend their learning and go over concepts with which they may not have initially succeeded in the classroom. Tutors can help students prepare for formal examinations and guide them through the content required to pass a qualification successfully. A good tutor is able to ensure a student has acquired the knowledge needed to pass an exam, but they are also able to help the learner to help themselves – by equipping the student with the necessary strategies needed to become better learners. A tutor can give a student the tools they need to give their best performance in exams and coursework and give them a better understanding of the content with which the student needs to be confident.

Tutors empower students by building up their resilience and self-confidence as they guide the student through areas of learning that they find more challenging. Indeed, many students find a busy classroom environment distracting or difficult to work in, or they may feel anxious about contributing in class in front of their peers. One-to-one tuition creates a learning environment that is a safe space conducive to effective learning. Distractions are limited, and the pressure to perform is negated. Having a tutor builds confidence and self-esteem in the learner as much as it develops their intellectual capacities. This can have lasting impacts beyond the tuition sessions as students feel empowered to engage more fully back in the classroom and in all other areas of life too.

Tuition is also a valuable experience for students who feel bored or under-stimulated in a traditional classroom environment. Tutors are able to provide the challenge that such students thrive on and ensure that a child does not become complacent or demotivated in achieving their academic potential.

Does online tutoring work?

At Principal Tutors, all tuition is offered via online sessions as we believe online tutoring is the most effective and efficient way to connect tutors with students. A suitable device that is able to

receive the online session and sufficient bandwidth is all the technology required to access online tuition. Although the session is facilitated with the use of technology, the tuition is in real-time, with a real person, and the primary medium of learning is the interaction between the tutor and the student. Online learning combines all of the benefits of one-to-one tuition with the added convenience and ease of the online world. The technology involved does not replace the human interaction between a tutor and a student, it simply provides the most efficient space in which that interaction can occur.

Online tutoring creates a virtual learning space that is adaptable and convenient for both tutor and student. Critically, it takes away the constraints of geography and means that the student can access the expertise of tutors across the entire country, making it even easier to match the right tutor to the specific needs of the individual student. Online tutoring also allows for greater flexibility in scheduling. It eliminates the added logistical consideration of ensuring a suitable shared study -location and takes away the time spent having to travel to that location. Consequently, this means a wider range of time slots can be made available, making it even easier to fit tuition sessions into busy lifestyles.

Online tutoring allows sessions to take place in an environment where the student feels most comfortable and has the benefit of being less intrusive as it does not require inviting someone into your home or having to visit the home of another. The technology involved with online learning is constantly evolving and has become highly effective as it allows files and documents to be shared easily and interactive elements to be worked on in real time with instant feedback. Furthermore, sessions can be recorded on request, allowing students to refer back to their tuition session in a way just not possible with face-to-face tuition.

It is an exciting world where the possibilities for empowering and enabling students to reach their fullest potential are now more achievable than ever. With increasing numbers of parents recognising the benefits of additional tuition in helping their child’s learning and growing their confidence, there has never been a better time to explore what online tuition can provide for your child.


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.