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The Basic Skills Centre - tutoring

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"My son has made so much progress that I'd like his younger sister to start with you as soon as possible."

Mrs J - Croydon


Beware of the word "Qualified".

If I decided to call myself a medical doctor and advertise my services, I would soon be in trouble. Similarly I am not allowed to pretend to be a gas fitter or a bus driver, and with good reason. It beggars belief then, that an estimated 80% (based on recent surveys) of people calling themselves teachers and working as private tutors in the UK are not actually qualified.

I can name two, and I'm sure there are more, tuition centres near to us who liberally abuse the word "qualified". One, in Beckenham requires their teachers to attend a seven day course and own a car; then they are "qualified". Another requires its teachers to "be numerate and literate and have some experience working with children." Both of these institutions claim that they use qualified teachers.

When selecting a tutor for your child you should always question what "qualified" actually means. When a professional teacher has successfully completed a thorough training course and demonstrated that they can do the job with real children, the Education Department awards that person Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and they are given a registration number. If in doubt, ask to see the person's documentation to prove both of these things. I trained for three years for my teaching certificate, another two years for my diploma in mathematical education, successfully completed a probationary year and went on to accumulate 30 years experience, in and out of the classroom. That is qualified!

In the current economic climate with rising unemployment for those leaving full-time education, many home tutoring agencies are using graduates as teachers. You may have read about this in the press. You may think, "Well what is wrong with that?" Just because a person is good at maths, English or any other academic subject, it does not follow that they can teach it. Teaching involves experience and awareness of the psychology of learning and appreciating the very varied difficulties that children encounter. It involves skilful pitching and pacing and a resourceful knowledge of alternative ways of explaining. In a subject such as maths, I firmly believe that the "dabblers" and the "quacks" can do more harm than good; I am constantly working with children whose difficulties are exacerbated by poor teaching, resulting in a lack of confidence or even a fear of the subject.

I am not suggesting you all come to The Basic Skills Centre, where all the teachers are real teachers (we are usually pretty full anyway) but I am saying please be careful and don't unwittingly support these charlatans: check that word - "qualified".

The Basic Skills Centre - tutoring

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