Tutoring is a service – someone gives you or your child that one-on-one support that you need to get through that exam or into that desirable school / university. But, what happens if you start lessons and things don’t go to plan?

What follows are our tips on how to check out a private tutor, get the best out of them and how to address rogue tutors – those that are not who they say they are and / or take your money without providing the lessons they have committed to.

Check out the tutor beforehand

You would be surprised how many parents / students do not follow up on references, and where the tutors says that they are DBS or CRB checked, ask to see a copy of the paperwork.  If you were going to spend hundreds of pounds buying something you would check it out on Google first – you should apply the same caution to appointing a tutor.

If a tutor asks you to pay up-front for lessons think long and hard before you do it. If you feel that you have to, only pay for a small number of lessons. You should not to have to expect to pay in advance, unless there are compelling reasons for you to do so – maybe you will receive a discount or reserve particular dates and times. Many tutors will invoice you in arrears, and this suits both parties well.

Keep talking to the tutor

It’s best to have a one to one chat with the tutor before the first lesson. Tell them what you think the problem is and the results you are looking for. Keep the two way dialogue flowing – the tutor will value your feedback on how the lesson went and signs of progress.

If a problem occurs, do not ignore it on the hope that it will go away. If there is an issue tell the tutor about it – they may be completely unaware that something is not right. Sometimes it can be as simple as the tutor changing their approach or teaching style, we wrote about this recently. If it’s as simple as poor timekeeping – tell them the impact that this has on you and your family life, and ask them to start arriving on time – or maybe consider changing the time of the lesson.

If you encounter a situation where you as the student, or as the parent find that the chemistry simply isn’t there with the tutor. Let them know, and find another as simple as that. I hate to be brutally honest, but this is a business relationship – do not put up with second best, find another tutor. There are plenty of tutors out there.

Encountering a rogue tutor

Tutoring on the whole is a caring profession, with thousands of tutors providing help to students in a wholly professional manner. The vast majority of customers are satisfied and think that their cash is well spent. This is not always the case however.

Twice in the last month I have received telephone calls from parents with cause to complain about the behaviour of tutors. None of these tutors were introduced to tutors via this website, I must hasten to add, but from other tutoring websites. Cases like this are rare, rest assured, but to those involved there is a strong sense of being duped and the need to tell others about it, so that they won’t get drawn into the same situation.

The gist of the complaints are similar, although the details are different in each case.

The student contacts the tutor, makes arrangements for lessons and receives the first lesson, and then pays up front for a tranche of lessons.

In these two cases, the first lesson was held, money paid over. The tutor then starts making excuses as to why they cannot hold further lessons, eventually stops answering emails and does not refund the money. The parent is left out in the cold, with no tutor and having paid upfront for lessons that they have not received.

You can understand how the parent feels. My advice to these parents has been to:

Call the tutor, and try to reach an amicable settlement of the problem. Asking for your money back for lessons not held, is not unreasonable, unless you signed a contract, in which case you should take a close look at it.

– If this does not work write to the tutor, and ask again for a refund. If this does not work then you can go down the County Court route to get your money back.

Contact the introducing tutor agency – no agency wants problems like this to occur, and should do their very best to help you contact the tutor and resolve the problem. Do not be afraid of also asking the agency for a refund of the commission you paid them.

Contact the Tutors Association, and let them know your concerns. If these tutors are members, there may be things that they can do to remedy the situation.


I hope that this blog post helps you, should you come across similar issues in the future.

Please feel free to share problems you have encountered with tutors here along with what you have done to resolve it. Your stories will will help others who find themselves in the same position as you.









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