What exactly is 'private tuition'?

Simply put, it's extra or supplemental instruction provided on a one-to-one basis between student and tutor. It can take the form of online tutoring or home tutoring, and there are tutors out there for every subject or skill you can possibly imagine.

One-on-one tutoring is becoming increasingly sought after in Australia. Generally, it is the parents who seek private tutors for their children, adult learners who look for specialised skill development and, very occasionally, elite schools may also offer tutoring services to assist students.

Once you find a tutor, there are multiple options for the location of your sessions. Where you go will depend on the structure of your lessons, the availability of time and the means of travel.

The most common location for private tutoring, however, is at home — either yours or your tutor's — hence the term 'home tutoring'.

Where can you hold your private tutoring sessions?
As long as you and your tutor have access to transport, and time, you can study and learn anywhere that suits you. (Source: Unsplash Credit: Weyne Yew)

Availability of space and time, what works for both you and your tutor, and safety for both of you will all determine where your tutoring takes place.

If your private tutor is coming to your house, comfort, access to equipment and privacy are all essential — whether this is in an office-style room, or at your kitchen table. As long as it works, it will be fine.

The same applies if you are going to your tutor's home.

For any tutoring conducted outside the classroom environment, and in a public space, it is imperative you feel safe and comfortable. The place you choose also needs to be free of distractions and have enough space to spread out your work or plug in your computer.

There are several options, including:

  • community spaces, open rooms
  • private office spaces
  • public libraries
  • coffeeshops or casual restaurants
  • parks

Cafés and restaurants would make a great place to have language tutoring. And what about suggesting a museum visit to your history tutor? Or how about putting your chemistry knowledge to the test at your local Science Museum?

Many subjects lend themselves to study at different public institutions and, as long as they're educationally relevant, can add a practical component to your session and keep you motivated.

Some tutors only work out of their own home, so it would be important that you have a reliable means of transport to ensure you are punctual. This may be your own car, bicycle or access to public transport.

Whether you are travelling to your tutor's home or meeting in a public space, remember your transport will be an additional cost. Be clear on how far you are willing to travel, how much time you have, and how far your budget will stretch to cover your tutoring fees.

Taking Private Lessons at the Home of Your Tutor 

If you find a tutor who works from their own home, there is a good chance they will have a special room set up for this purpose. You will also likely find it to be a more relaxed environment, and more conducive to nurturing student success, than what is found in commercial tutoring companies or the traditional school classroom.

It should be clear in the tutor's advertisement, or in their online profile, whether they have a preference for a specific location, or if they are willing to travel. If you are not sure, make sure you ask this question and get a clear answer before making an appointment with them.

What do you need to achieve your study goals?
For study skills, academic support or test preparation, individualised tutoring programs can be undertaken via online tutoring, at home or in a public space. (Source: Visualhunt)

Prior to becoming a tutor and taking on students in their own home, most tutors will ensure they have all the correct checks in place. However, this does not always happen, so, for the student's safety, it is up to the individual to clarify that their potential tutor has the following clearances:

  • occupational health and safety compliance
  • risk assessment clearance
  • relevant and current insurance coverage
  • police check and Working with Vulnerable People (WwVP) or other similar certification

Health and safety compliance refers to the home being clean and tidy. There should be no visible potential for damage or injury to your property or you any time you arrive for your individual tutoring session.

A risk assessment involves identifying hazards that seem minor but may have serious consequences if they are left as they are. Something as simple as a puddle of water on the floor, a loose floorboard or bump in the carpet, or exposed electrical wires can lead to injury.

Having a current insurance policy (namely public liability and professional indemnity) which covers the tutor for third party damage or injury is highly advisable. If something happens to you, and the tutor is not insured, you may end up considerably out of pocket. This is not mandatory for private tutors, so check in with your tutor if you are concerned.

Police checks and certification for working with children and other vulnerable people is also not compulsory if you work for yourself, but it is highly recommended you check to see if your tutor has these. Peace of mind for parents and students is important.

Home Tutoring: Your Tutor Comes to You 

It is not uncommon for a private tutor to arrange to come to their tutee's home, particularly if the student is at primary or secondary school. Tutors who offer this are often sought after by parents, who are often under time pressures as it is.

Be aware, you will likely pay a little extra to cover the tutor's travel expenses, but this can be worth it. Make sure to clarify this before you agree to home tutoring.

As with the tutor who works from their home, you will need to ensure you have adequate space for tutoring to take place — a clear desk and a quiet space is all you need.

You should also be aware that, having a tutor come to your home puts the responsibility for health and safety, and risk management, back on you (or whoever owns the home).

While it is also up to the tutor to assess their work environment and take steps if they don't feel it is safe, you might want to see if your tutor has any personal insurance, should you be in the unforeseen position of them injuring themselves. Accidents do happen.

If you're a parent, the safety of your child is paramount — whether you find a tutor for home tuition or online tutoring.

Online Tutoring Lessons 

In our current tech-savvy society, there is now a massive market for online tutoring. All that is needed by the student and the tutor is a computer or other device, a strong internet connection and a good webcam. Once you have these, you can work from anywhere at all — even different countries.

It is also incredibly easy now to find a tutor (or for tutors to find students), with online tutoring platforms such as Superprof taking on all the hard work. All you need to do is simply log on, find a tutor who suits your needs and contact them to find out more.

Many tutors will provide a free tutoring session for the first lesson so you can 'try before you buy'.

Once you've made a decision, and engaged the tutor of your choice, the only thing left to do is decide when and where your tutoring will take place — in person or online.

Superprof has an extensive online global community and, apart from this, it is straightforward to use and completely free! 

Many Superprof tutors offer online tuition. How awesome would it be to learn Japanese from a native Japanese speaker who lives in Japan? Or perhaps you are an ESL student and you want conversation practice with an Australian before coming here to study?

Being open to receiving your tutoring online allows you to have access to the best tutors from all over the world.

What are the advantages of online tutoring?
An online tutor will have much more flexible office hours. (Source: Visualhunt)

With no mandatory ruling on having to be a certified tutor, undertake tutor training or even have education certification before you can offer your services, more and more people are opting to supplement their income by tutoring in a subject or skill they love.

It really has never been easier to find a tutor, with the abundance of people tutoring students and online platforms, such as Superprof, facilitating access and communication between students and tutors.

From improving your academic performance, learning note taking skills or perfecting your guitar playing — your lessons can be either formal or informal, they can look like a coffee date, or a serious study session in the library. It's up to you and your tutor.

If we've missed anything, have a look at our tutoring FAQs.

Above all, make sure you are happy and comfortable with every aspect of your tutoring relationship — the cost, the location, the schedule, and the content. If you take the time to make sure everything is right, you have a greater guarantee of long term academic success.

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Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.