Music Education Expo on 7-8th Feb: free entry

January 17th, 2014, 0 Comments

Private music teachers should definitely consider attending this year’s Music Education Expo, held at The Barbican in London on 7-8th February. It’s the UK’s largest conference and exhibition for anyone involved in music education and is entirely free to attend, though you should register beforehand.

For independent music teachers, there is a huge amount on offer. For example, the ISM is presenting talks on your legal rights and how to price your tuition correctly, and the ABRSM’s chief examiner will be giving insights on how they assess musical performance. Moreover, the UK’s most popular online music store will be offering a wide selection of their sheet music at discount prices.

For teachers involved in classroom and academic teaching, Rhinegold publishers are showcasing their new digital versions of GCSE, AS and A2 Study & Revision guides.  And for teachers eager to get to grips with the latest delivery model for educational software in schools, a seminar on the advantages of cloud-based music software tools, such as those developed by MusicFirst, will definitely be of interest.

Finally, there are a number of interactive workshops – such as one on Japanese Taiko drumming – and even a celebrity appearance from the world’s most famous flautist, Sir James Galway.

With so much on offer, music teachers of all kinds are bound to go home inspired and well-informed.

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A Christmas deal for tutors from The Tutors’ Association

December 23rd, 2013, 1 Comment

New Year Tutor

Ok, so this isn’t really a Christmas deal, because it’s likely to be a long term offer. However, I’ve been informed of it in time for Christmas!

In short, The Tutors’ Association (TTA) is offering independent tutors a significant price reduction on membership if they apply as a cluster of 5 tutors. Under these conditions, membership which usually costs £102+VAT drops to only £60, including VAT.

This offer comes as TTA has been confirming some of the developments in their independent tutor membership package:

  • firstly, as with a number of similar organisations, a free legal helpline will be included in the membership fee;
  • secondly, TTA have negotiated an extremely favourable rate of only £50 for both Public Liability and Professional Indemnity cover up to £1 million each;
  • thirdly, it should be possible to apply for DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) certificates through TTA, though the details of this are not yet finalised.

For further updates on this, follow our discussions on The Tutor Pages Linkedin Group, and to apply as a group of five tutors for TTA membership, please contact TTA via their website


One Response to “A Christmas deal for tutors from The Tutors’ Association”

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The Tutors’ Association (TTA): time to get involved!

October 17th, 2013, 19 Comments


A new voice for the UK’s private tuition industry – The Tutors’ Association (TTA) – was launched last week at a lively event just off Parliament Square.

But what does this mean for independent, private tutors?

“I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”

There is a strong libertarian streak among private tutors, and long may this continue. However, to ignore or boycott TTA is a strategy which could backfire. As the founder of a website which advertises the services of over 2000 independent tutors, I would instead encourage signing up to TTA in order to shape this organisation from within.

Optimistic tutors will immediately see the advantages: the social and networking opportunities will be attractive to those who recognise that their work can sometimes be lonely or isolating. There will also be increased status (useful for marketing), as well as the usual ‘package of benefits': access to legal advice, DBS certificates, discounted insurance, learning materials, workshops and conferences. I have spoken to a number of tutors who have already signed up, and they are enthusiastic about these aspects.

Pessimistic tutors also have good reason to join: it is the best way to prevent TTA (and government, for that matter) from pursuing agendas harmful to their interests. For example, if TTA becomes dominated by private tuition agencies and starts speaking on their behalf, this could cause real problems for independents in the future.

A window of opportunity

The Tutors’ Association is at an extremely early stage of development, and it is therefore now the right moment to get involved. Here is the website with details of how to join:

Through our survey of private tutors reported in the Independent, we demonstrated that the voice of independent private tutors is a force to be reckoned with. TTA changed its approach in response to the criticisms made in our survey, and with a critical mass of independent tutors signing up, it will continue to respond. For example, TTA has now constituted a panel of independent tutors and will have one of them appointed to the board next year.

The bugbear of regulation

TTA has moved beyond its headline-grabbing agenda of ‘cracking down’ on bad tutors, which was a very sore point among its critics. TTA’s reformed, apolitical, nuanced and frankly much more realistic approach is in no small part thanks to the efforts of TTA’s new Chair, Tom Maher, who raised the issue of over-regulation in his launch address:

My own personal experience of being tutored back in Ireland was when I was 9 years old by Ms Hughes the local librarian. Ms Hughes was in many ways a typical tutor. She was a quiet self-effacing bookish woman. To regulate the Ms Hughes of this world out of tutoring children would be preposterous. It would also be damaging to children and deeply unpopular with families. Equally an industry body (no matter how well-intentioned) needs to be careful to not introduce clumsy criteria that would marginalise the Ms Hughes of this world. So just as the tutoring industry listens to pupils and their families, the Tutors’ Association too needs to be a listening organisation especially in the first couple of years.

TTA’s emphasis is now on best practice, representation, championing and providing a focus for this massive, sprawling industry of at least a million individuals. The mechanisms arrived at by TTA – miminum (but flexible) membership criteria, a code of ethics, child protection policy and complaints procedure – are hardly controversial. What may be controversial, however, is the proposal to introduce formal accreditation for private tutors. This will be discussed with the membership in 2014, and is another reason for independent tutors to join now to express their views on this topic.

Cautiously optimistic

TTA is currently in listening mode, and is sympathetic to the views of independent private tutors. I would therefore urge tutors to capitalise on this good will, since the balance could well shift in the future. The launch, which I attended, was lively and encouraging, with The Good Schools Guide representatives tweeting afterwards that it was ‘Not the protectionist clique we feared but a genuine educational initiative. Promising.’

Finally, if any libertarian tutors doubt that they have allies on TTA’s board, I suggest they read the following extract from a letter sent to The Sunday Times by Alexander Nikitich, Founder of Carfax Education Group, and founding board member of TTA:

The efficacy of private tutoring chiefly derives from a free and unhindered operation of supply and demand and the lack of any regulation. Many tutors do not go into teaching precisely because they cannot stand the overregulation that encourages mediocrity and blocks excellence in schools. Industry regulation is not the purpose of our association and I hope that no minister is planning to introduce it by stealth under our cover (Letters, The Sunday Times, September 8, 2013).

List of current member organisations of The Tutors’ Association

Founders: British Home Tutors, Carfax Private Tutors, Enjoy Education, Fleet Tutors, Harrison Allen, Knowledge Seekers

Associates: Tutorhub, The Tutor Pages

Corporate Members: The Education Centre, Gabbitas Educational Consultants, Keystone Tutors, Lotus Tutors, Maths Doctor, Osborne Cawkwell Educational Consultants, Quintessential Tutors, Tutor Doctor, Tutorfair, The Tutors Group, Tutors International, YoungEducation

19 Responses to “The Tutors’ Association (TTA): time to get involved!”

  1. Dan O'Connell says:

    I have looked briefly at the TTA website. I tried to find details of fees as indicated in their handbook – not there of course. I did find them under membership and saw that for small operators like myself, the annual fee is £102, not £85. Then I noticed an MP endorsing the set up which immediately roused my sleeping suspicions of an alternative agenda. I sympathise with Henry’s encouragement to join, but being registered with a national agency, I still feel little incentive to sign up.

  2. Henry Fagg says:

    Dan, I believe the fee is £85+VAT (the other price was including attendance at the launch).

  3. Dan O'Connell says:

    Which totals £102

  4. Henry Fagg says:

    Sorry Dan, I misunderstood!

  5. Jan Hughes says:

    Forgive my cynicism… I became a tutor after 30 years on and off in every kind of classroom. I’ve worked in all kinds of secondary schools, both maintained and private. After being shafted by the HM of an independent school when I had just turned 50, I decided that no-one was going to dictate to me ever again. I am proud of what I do and my customers’ and employers’ testimonials speak for themselves. Tutors do not need a regulatory body. Tutor Pages provide excellent advice and support. I have read the marketing hype about the new association and I remain sceptical, especially as an MP has endorsed it. That’s the kiss of death as far as I am concerned. Remember what a rip-off and con the GTC turned out to be? It lasted about 12 years and was disbanded by the current government, because it served no useful purpose. I cannot believe that the new body will be anything other than another bureaucratic institution, which will be loaded with red tape and won’t serve anyone’s interests, except the (no doubt salaried) “directors”. Parents can, and do, vote with their feet. My clients come back, and recommend me highly, because of what I actually DO. Not because of some meaningless “kite mark” on my website. Anyone can now be in charge of their own DBS (CRB). Of course it is important to promote child protection. But regulation by people who may themselves have no experience of tutoring and no idea how to deliver it? No thanks. Count me out. I’ll do my own marketing!

  6. DK says:

    I have been working as a tutor for a long time and I don’t see the benefit of joining the Association. I’ll wait and see how it goes and might reconsider in a year or so from now.

  7. Henry, thank you for an excellent post.

    I was a little dismayed by some of the resulting comments, although I can definitely see their thrust and less than a year ago would have agreed wholeheartedly.

    I have been an independent tutor for 24 years now and when I first heard about the TTA proposals I was – as you know – utterly dismayed and incensed. I wrote in many subsequent blogs on The Tutor Pages Linked In pages (that the other posters here may care to look over) in fairly sulphurous terms regarding my total distaste for the antics of the proposed TTA. Attempts at taming a highly successful sector operating in a totally free market devoid of the farcical ‘regulation’ that has resulted in the fiascos we see daily in ‘proper’ schools struck me as a deeply retrograde step and I said so in no uncertain terms via the medium that you had kindly provided.

    My (and others’) incessant carping, coupled with the amazing online tutors’ survey that you kindly organised seems to have hit its mark somewhere and TTA kindly decided to invite us both to attend a meeting at which the entire direction of the TTA seems to have been altered. This remarkable volta face (‘regulation’ was kicked into the long grass; the active participation of independent tutors was actively sought and the organisation was depoliticised – among many other things) was totally as a result of the members of TTA listening to their constituency and acting upon their concerns. The organisation that you see now is VERY different to the one that was originally proposed and many of your commentators do not seem to appreciate this.

    The main point as far as I was concerned, however, was that someone, somewhere was going to get in on the act of ‘tutor regulation’ at some point – to ignore this possibility was to bury one’s head in the sand. And some very unsavoury characters indeed were sniffing around this particular possibility with a view to making personal gain. The TTA (as now constituted after it had responded to the complaints of independent tutors) struck me as the most anodyne possible set of people to fill this particular vacuum. As one of your ‘pessimists’ I can’t say that I am delighted about the concept of any form of ‘Jam Label’ for tutors, but on the other hand if it has to exist (and believe me folks, it will in some form!) then isn’t it better that it should be in a form that can be shaped by and for independent tutors IF they can be bothered to get in there and make their needs known?

    My days of sitting on the sidelines merely sniping are therefore behind me and I have decided to get actively involved. I appreciate that £102 (the VAT element had escaped me I must admit!) is a lot of money, but on the other hand it is probably tax-deductible and, as investments go, in protecting one’s long-term interests from possible government interference it may not be a bad one.

    I could not agree more that the presence of an MP – any darned MP – is a total red rag to a bull. However, if one follows the background to this story (which could have panned-out in a VERY different way if independent tutors had not screamed loudly at an early stage) you may appreciate that TTA is struggling very hard to escape an unfortunate start at the hands of politically-motivated people and that it desperately needs the help and support of independent tutors. It will cause me physical pain to shell-out the £102, but on the other hand if I don’t participate at an early stage I can hardly bitch if things turn out in a way that I do not care for can I?

  8. Jan Hughes says:

    I’m not parting with £102 until I know where it is going and who will be spending it. I was previously forced, as a supply teacher in state schools, to fund my own GTC payments – for no personal gain whatsoever. I really think that this is a bit like buying a very expensive lottery ticket!!!! How do we know that this organisation isn’t just going to be a repeat performance of the discredited GTC. I don’t like Cameron, but he did see through the GTC. Hopefully, he’ll scrutinise the new organisation, and disband that too if its existence only provides “jobs for the boys” and serves no useful purpose.

  9. Jan Hughes says:

    Another thought – does anyone else know, as I do, of brilliant child-minders and lovely intimate little nurseries which disappeared when some meddling individual decided that they all needed to be controlled by OfSted? How many good tutors will just give up tutoring if it ever becomes a requirement to be registered with the Tutor’s Association in order to practise? Perhaps we should just call ourselves Free Schools instead, since these seem to be the flavour of the month, even with the Labour Party, which originally imposed them!

  10. Jan, I think that you have answered your own question. I do indeed know of a local childminder who was recently put out of business due to the imposition of fatuous ‘rules’ by government meddling with things they neither know nor understand.

    The whole point to TTA is that it has been set up by people who wish to RESIST such attempts to ‘regulate’ tuition and keep it as much in the free market as possible.

    You and I very much resent and dislike the meddling of ‘government’ but if this starts to appear as an agenda for tutors we can scream and shout as much as we like but our solitary little bits of protest will be ignored by the steamroller that is government. On the other hand if tutors stick together (and allegedly there are three times more tutors than teachers in the UK now, so they are a considerable force en masse) and speak with a single voice then they stand some chance of fighting off misguided government ‘regulation’.

    It is easy to sit on the sidelines muttering about ‘jobs for the boys’ and refusing petulantly to be part of something that isn’t of your making (as I used to do, believe me – I have been there!) but it takes a tad more effort and imagination to get in there and shape an organisation in the way that you would like to see it proceed – and this is the path that I am now taking.

    It may well be that if tutors ignore this initiative by very well-meaning and generous-spirited people (and they are, believe me – I have met them) then the former may suddenly wake up one morning, find that the latter have given up in disgust and have been replaced by the dead hand of government and/or people with rather more malevolent agendas.

    The presence of an MP at the roll-out was a terrible, terrible mistake and will alienate a lot of potential members – this was the legacy of TTA’s unfortunate start as the brainchild of the politically-motivated CMRE. Thanks to the lobbying of myself and many others TTA has now asserted its independence from CMRE and is devoted to being avowedly apolitical. This would not have happened without the very vocal input of independent tutors.

    NOW is the time to get involved in this initiative, which is fiercely determined to protect the interests of tutors, so that you can shape its goals and ambitions in the way that you see fit. Quite frankly, if you don’t get involved now and the whole thing fails or takes a direction you do not like then you really cannot complain.

    You won’t get a single argument from anyone in TTA in favour of idiocy such as the GTC (now, happily, a thing of the past) or indeed any other form of onerous regulation. There is no comparison of TTA with the GTC as the latter was a government-run initiative and therefore pretty much by definition, a piece of uninformed lunacy.

    TTA most certainly does not want to be in a position where, in order to practice as a tutor, you have to be a member! It is more a trade association along the lines of the National Farmers’ Union, which lobbies exclusively for the interests of its members and their rights to trade independently. There is not a candle’s chance in hell of Cameron (or any other darned politician) ‘disbanding’ the TTA as the later is 100% an independent organisation and beyond political control.

    As for ‘Jobs For The Boys’ that is wildly off the mark. The people who have got together to found TA have spent vast amounts of their OWN time and money trying to get this organisation going, precisely so that they can fend off cack-handed attempts to ‘regulate’ tuition by misguided politicos. However, they cannot fund this themselves indefinitely.

    In order to finance a very lean operation (effectively run by one individual, who is currently being recruited) they need to get in some membership fees or the thing will founder and doubtless have the void filled by some career-making politician who knows damn-all about tuition and wrecks it!

    It is terribly, terribly easy to be cynical (particularly given the proclivity of the UK to shoot itself in the foot at every possible opportunity in recent years) but for once this is an opportunity for a bit of ‘big society’ and to get in there and shape things as you wish, including controlling where your membership fees go. It’s entirely up to you, but I know which horse I would rather back. And, no, other than a burning desire for tutors to be left alone (one firmly shared 100% by TTA) I have NO vested interest in any of this I assure you.

  11. By the way, returning to your original post Jan you say: “I decided that no-one was going to dictate to me ever again” which is a sentiment with which I agree wholeheartedly. However, I am afraid that if TTA fails and the blasted ‘government’ steps in to fill the void that is EXACTLY what is going to happen to us!

    You also say: “…regulation by people who may themselves have no experience of tutoring and no idea how to deliver it? No thanks” and again I agree with you 100%. However, again, there is NO agenda of ‘regulation’ by TTA (quite the opposite – they will fight tooth and nail for tutors to remain independent, just as the NFU does so for farmers) who are, by the way, all people with many years of experience in our business and totally sympathetic to our viewpoint. And if you don’t like the direction that TTA is taking then if you aren’t a member you can’t do anything about it can you?

    It has to be emphasised that the founders of TTA want the active participation of independent tutors in shaping the agenda of the organisation (as indeed they have already, with remarkable success). There will be an independent tutors panel (you could become a member if you wished) which will have a representative on the board with full voting rights. But if this request for democratic input on the part of TTA meets with a resounding wall of apathy and indifference then TTA can hardly be blamed if it all takes a direction that is not to independent tutors’ liking, can it?

    The tutoring industry is now too big (regrettably) to escape the attention of wannabe ‘regulators’ and unless tutors have some heavyweight support on their side they are going to be easy meat to those with regulatory instincts. The TTA is the only credible means of providing that support as things stand and, in my opinion, it deserves to be given a chance.

  12. Mark Scates says:

    I do not feel that the tutors association has the professional standards set in place that it seems to be preaching. I have decided not to join for the simple reason that until they regulate the membership to only those that have been trained to teach exactly what is needed to cover a syllabus, i will not join. They do not consider the training of EAFL or SEN or even the understanding of coursework as important. I fail to see how a tutor can be effective if they do not know what needs to be taught or to take account of individual needs.

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