Thinking of Hiring a Tutor Over the Summer?

Diane Duguid

Is your teenager finding the step up to Higher challenging? If they are then you may be thinking of hiring a private tutor over the summer holidays.

As Maths Teachers, we thought we would share some pros and cons of working with a Higher Maths tutor over the summer holidays.

But first we thought it was worth talking a little bit about …

Our unique Scottish school system

Scotland is unusual in moving up a year group before the long Summer break.  

The Students are back in school immediately after their external exams to start the Senior Phase.  At this point they tend to be academically exhausted and are expected to suddenly shift up a gear in their study skills.   Since the results won’t be released until early August, they also have little feedback on whether they feel they’ve chosen the right courses for their current ability.

While teachers understand this, and will try their best to support their pupils through this challenge, the system can end up undermining the academic self-confidence a student has.  After a rest over the Summer, plus a little more experience working at this level, students often find this early hurdle tends to disappear by itself.

This is something worth remembering before rushing to hire a tutor …

Pros of working with a tutor over the summer:

- Since the tutor industry is unregulated, finding a qualified tutor with the quality you’d expect, can be a bit of a minefield.  At least starting early you have a better chance of finding someone locally that comes with recommendations.

- A few extra weeks in the Summer will give your teenager and the tutor more time to develop a working relationship.  

- Working with a tutor can help build in the sense of study commitment they’ll need and can be helpful to a teenager who hasn’t fully developed their self-motivation yet.

Cons of working with a tutor over the summer:

- It may be unnecessary - think about simply giving your teen more time to get to grips with everything before jumping in. After all, you don't want to send the message that you don't have confidence in their academic ability!

- In the hour's slot a tutor typically works in, there is only time to be shown how to do a particular maths process, denying the student the opportunity to develop independence and their own, mature learning style. Just how important this is in the senior phase is described well in this article, Why tutoring makes things worse

- How a teacher delivers the Higher material can be different from a student's previous experience and building that academic understanding takes a little time. An alternative approach from a tutor, especially if not qualified, risks causing unnecessary confusion on their return to school after the Summer.

- The private tutoring market can be very costly and at this early stage, you cannot know if it is going to be effective.

Are there alternatives?

The Summer break maybe a good time to search through the range of online resources (e.g. You Tube, BBC Bitesize) to find one that suits your teenager’s needs.

Consider buying a textbook different from the one used by your school, to read through the same teaching presented in a different way, with even more practice questions.  Although this requires a lot of self-motivation, your teenager can begin to find their own study style, at their own pace.

The online resources provided by our App may be what they prefer; created by experienced teachers, the student has a range of ways the material is presented to them. And the bonus, they can take on how much they need, whenever they want, fitting in around all the other formative activities your young person is likely to meet over the Summer.

Bonus Bundle + FREE Tutor

Save £50 with the whole-course bundle and gain instant,
unlimited access to all topics.
Plus, unlocks time from a qualified tutor*, all for just £190
(*T&Cs apply)

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