National Freelancers Day – why it matters for private tutors

November 22nd, 2014, 0 Comments

national freelancers day

Last Wednesday was the sixth National Freelancers Day – a celebration of freelancing right across the UK. Why is this important, and specifically why is it important for private tutors?

Freelancing as a way of life and working is snowballing in the UK, with almost 5 million people now self-employed. At the forefront of this change is IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, which has been campaigning on behalf of a certain cohort of freelancers for years. This year’s rebranding of IPSE (it used to be PCG – the Professional Contractors Group) embodies its desire to reach out and represent all types of self-employed people – indeed its competition 15 for 15, where it sought out 15 of the brightest and best self-employed people for 2015, demonstrates this. For example, a cameraman, business coach and cake designer (though no private tutor!) were among the finalists.

This year’s National Freelancers Day was particularly important because it coincided with an announcement by the prime minister of the appointment of an ‘ambassador for the self-employed’, David Morris MP. According to IPSE, economists agree that the move towards freelancing is structural, with the number of self-employed workers likely to top those working in the public sector by 2016. Yet recognition in the government, infrastructure, education and taxation systems are all lagging behind, making it harder than it needs to be for freelancers. IPSE – with its new manifesto, Britain’s Secret Weapon:Unleashing Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed in the New Economyis seeking to redress the balance.

So where do private tutors fit in? For a start, there are hundreds of thousands of them in the UK, and at least 84% are self-employed. Some aspects of IPSE’s agenda seem hardly relevant to tutors (such as simplifying government procurement processes, abolishing IR35, or cutting rates for workhubs) but there are a number of changes which private tutors can get behind. For example, the proposal to simplify taxation by merging National Insurance with Income Tax, or the demand to make it much easier for the self-employed to invest in their own skills. The latter is going to become increasingly important as foreign competition in online tuition heats up. Online tutors will also support the call for massive improvements in national broadband coverage and speed; in the words of the manifesto, ‘this would help address the rural–urban economic divide and make homeworking easier for independent professionals’. More broadly, of real relevance for many tutors will be the IPSE campaign to make sure the self-employed are treated equally when it comes to maternity and paternity-related benefits.

Finally, the manifesto highlights some areas of education which need addressing, such as ensuring that self-employment and entrepreneurship are on the curriculum at secondary and sixth form level. Mentoring in these subjects by private tutors seems like it could be a definite growth area.

There are, however, of course some specific challenges for private tutors which are not looked at by IPSE. Perhaps the most obvious obstacle for many is  the ongoing difficulty of obtaining a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certificate as a self-employed individual. Some Tuition agencies’ unreasonable terms and practices have also recently been highlighted.

Now over to you. If you’re a private tutor, are there any other structural changes you would like to see?

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Online Tuition Survey – Private Tutors take part!

November 13th, 2014, 0 Comments

If you’re a private tutor of any subject – academic, languages, musical instruments or anything else – do take part in our short survey about online tuition. Here’s the link:

Online tuition is a growing segment of the private tuition industry, and yet very little information is in the public domain.

The Tutor Pages is running this survey not only to find out what UK private tutors think about online tuition, but also to help them become better informed. For example, online tuition may help open up another income stream for you.

You don’t have to have tutored online to complete our survey – in fact, if you’ve never tutored online, this is a great opportunity to find out more.

We expect to publish the results in early 2015.

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Are private schools hypocritical over the 11+?

October 3rd, 2014, 2 Comments

The headteacher of a private prep school has claimed that many children who are tutored for 11+ exams go on to ‘flounder’ at grammar school.

Angela Culley, headteacher at The Mead School, Tunbridge Wells, was talking on the BBC’s You and Yours programme. These were her words:

…Our responsibility surely has to be to ensure that the child that gets to these schools through the tutoring actually thrives at these schools and at the age of 18 says, ‘thank you, that was absolutely right for me’. And the problem we’ve got is that for many children that is not the case. And they pass and they get in and then they flounder. And that is the most dreadful form of education.

Aside from being unsubstantiated, the problem with Angela’s criticism is that she runs a private prep school which boasts of its own success in coaching pupils for these same tests. To quote from her school website:

“85% of the [Mead School] children who took the Kent Selection Test transfered to Grammar Schools in 2013. In 2012, this was 82%, and in 2011 this was 71%” (

In 2013, over 400 places at Kent’s grammar schools were offered to pupils from fee-paying schools, with over a third of places going to children from independent schools in some cases. It is similar in Buckinghamshire, where around 70% of private school pupils pass the 11+, compared to 20% from local state schools.

Angela Culley cannot have it both ways. Either preparation for the 11+ is justifiable or not. The sophisticated coaching provided by private prep schools makes it much more likely that their pupils will pass the test, and yet we don’t hear concerns from private school headteachers that these children might have been set up to fail later on in their school careers.


2 Responses to “Are private schools hypocritical over the 11+?”

  1. Victoria says:

    I’m really glad to see that you’ve brought this topic to light. I find it quite bizarre that prep school teachers are so against tutors and tutoring but if not for the work of tutors, many of their students wouldn’t pass the exams. We do the work behind the scenes but are disregarded by schools and teachers alike.

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