Tutoring ‘complementary to classroom education’

The Independent Schools Magazine article pdf

John Hutchison looks at how the activities and influence of The Tutors’ Association seek to maintain the highest levels of standards in an unregulated yet ever-growing sector.

The Tutors’ Association (TTA) was set up, first and foremost, to create a community for members of the tutoring profession. TTA exists to provide them with support in six areas:

  1. Recognition – of a commitment to behaving ethically and professionally
  2. Development – opportunities to learn and acquire new skills (or hone existing ones)
  3. Collaboration – opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience
  4. Resources – access to information and resources that assist with all aspects of tutoring
  5. Engagement – helping to shape the future of the profession
  6. Reputation – creating a voice for the profession and building bridges

The sixth of these is particularly important in relation to schools. TTA sees tutoring as complementary to classroom education and not as some kind of superior alternative. There are things that classroom teaching can achieve in terms of teamwork and social learning skills that tutoring cannot provide, and equally there are things that one-to-one tuition can provide that cannot be replicated in classroom teaching – no matter how small the class or how excellent the teaching. Tutors share a passion for helping children to learn – the core skill that that is needed long after school years are left behind. They actively seek to engage with schools and teachers and to work with them to help children achieve their full potential.

TTA held its second Annual Conference recently at which some 200 tutors and agencies, including Gabbitas Education, gathered to listen to an array of speakers on a range of topics that reflected the diversity of the tutoring and supplementary education sector. Speakers ranged from Mary Curnock Cook, who talked of the role that she believes tutoring has to play in the wider educational landscape, to Mursal Hedayat who shared the story of her journey from refugee to founder of an organisation that employs fellow-refugees as tutors to address language gaps. Delegates also had the chance to break up into groups and attend their choice of nine seminar topics on a range of subjects from understanding SEND and Generation Z, to the role of neuroscience in learning and practical advice on making lessons more interesting.

The conference represents a microcosm of the activities TTA undertakes in support of its other objectives of providing development, engagement, collaboration and reputational advancements for the profession.

Tutoring is a profession that employs hundreds of thousands of people as tutors and one that, consequently, touches and potentially transforms the lives of millions of children and adults as students. As one of the oldest tutoring agencies in the world and a founding member of the Association, we believe that with this level of influence comes responsibility. Membership of TTA is a significant reassurance to parents that a tutor or an agency takes that responsibility seriously, and we require all our tutors to have successfully passed a DBS check and to sign up to a code of ethical conduct.

When asked about the ambitions of the Association, its President Adam Muckle stated, “It is our aim to be a standard-bearer for good practice, and to demonstrate the highest standards of self-regulation. As part of this, we have also developed a tutoring qualification in collaboration with the University of Worcester that is starting to attract significant numbers of would-be tutors. In addition to developing varied tutoring skills, the diploma pays special attention to understanding appropriate safeguarding practices and how safeguarding, tutoring and learning relate to effective tutoring relationships.”

John Hutchison is Chief Officer and Director of Tutoring at Gabbitas Education.