When the illustrious likes of W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh and Barnes Wallis passed through the doors of Gabbitas and Thring there was a very clear set of requirements and expectations for academic tuition. “Manners and appearance” were the main metrics which influenced whether these young graduates were offered positions. Their academic credentials were a given and families simply wanted assurance that suitable young graduates from the “right” sort of background would help their children achieve success.
Times have changed since then and with entrance tests, public exams, interviews, personal statements and more, students today face an unprecedented level of testing and academic milestones to pass. So what is the modern desire for tuition and where does it fit in?
Private tuition has been defined in recent years by both an increase in demand and a desire for diversity in the ways in which tuition can be delivered.
Traditional face to face tuition is still the favoured format of private tuition. The value of academically gifted and engaging tutors working in a one to one setting cannot be overstated. This is particularly true within London where an increasingly competitive schools market meets the continuingly healthy influx of young graduates. This form of tuition enables students to build up a close rapport with their tutors and can be used very successfully to target all levels of academic study.
Nevertheless, as global populations become more and more mobile the demand for accessible tuition 24 hours a day across different time zones has led to a boom in the provision of remote online tuition. As a relatively new form of learning there are some who have questioned the efficacy of students learning through the medium of the dreaded screen. On the other hand, recent research both in the United States by Cherie Mazer, a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Technology, Innovation and Education Program, along with interesting research from the Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) group in the UK have shown the tangible benefits that online tuition can offer.
Their findings show that students who accessed courses either wholly online or to support ongoing learning made marked progress with their studies. Furthermore, when students were questioned after the tuition, they valued being able to take advantage of the more flexible access it provided whilst still being able to speak directly to subject matter experts particularly to provide support with homework and project assignments.
Aside from the obvious benefits of convenience and cost, online tuition can also help students in other ways. It often opens up access to subjects or modules which students may not be able to access within local education systems. It also provides a unique approach towards peer to peer learning for students who are home schooled or enrolled on distance learning programmes through interactive courses and online classrooms.
Private tuition continues to be best employed in conjunction with a child’s regular course of study. Whether this is structured to target shortcomings in certain subjects or to stretch a child’s ability beyond the classroom, tuition is a fantastic way to develop a child’s learning and help them to achieve success at all levels.
The value of experienced and enthusiastic tutors to help deliver lessons to students is still as important as it was in the earliest days of the industry but it requires tutors with more than simply “manners and appearance” to help students succeed within the rigours of the modern education system. A flexible approach and the ability to deliver material to students through a variety of means such as through online platforms are clearly the most important factors to ensure success at all levels.