“ Personal Tutors / Cheadle House / Cheadle / Cheshire / SK8 1AH / Tel: (0161) 428 2285 (24 hour service) / Fax: (0161) 491 5552 „
I agree with another dooyoo reviewer's assessment of the site as a bit of a con.
Having provided them with good references and paid for the CRB they requested, I started getting enquiries straight away. However, I was surprised that none of the parents who contacted me seemed to have any idea that there was any commission involved, and Personal Tutors had not explained the process clearly to me. At the time of writing, the commission stands at £5.10 per hour, for the entire duration of the teaching, which is pretty hefty - far the highest I have come across.
Personal Tutors' policy of recommending rates rather than allowing tutors to advertise their rates clearly at the outset is confusing for parents, and makes it difficult to charge a rate realistic enough to cover the commission as well as all the other hidden costs of tutoring. And, unlike other websites, they give you no support or protection whatsoever - they don't even put up some basic guidelines pointing out to tutees that they shouldn't, for example, cancel lessons without giving the tutor some decent notice.
The only time they communicate is to pass on introduction details and issue demands for money - I had an email saying my commission was overdue shortly after my very first lesson. Despite the fact I dutifully submitted my paperwork and commission on time, my few attempts to communicate with them - to request that they correct an error, for example - didn't even get the courtesy of a response.
Personal Tutors do get a high level of enquiries, but they do so by pulling the parents with the promise of a 'free' list of tutors, and leaving the tutor to try and make it work while paying them a handsome cut. There are plenty of other tutoring websites out there with a fairer, more transparent approach.
I began working as a tutor last year to support me whilst I was off work with a baby. They took two months to process my application. On their website they state that their tutors are fully CRB checked. However, all they wanted was a copy of my CRB certificate. When I pointed out that it was ten years old and I could have committed a crime since, they said that didn't matter, as long as I had one.
When I joined, I began receiving telephone calls. The busiest time was between November and March. I didn't receive any emails because they had written down my incorrect email address. They also had my incorrect postcode, which explains why many parents turned up ten minutes late with a puzzled expression on their face, after their SATNAV and taken them down a wrong street. I only discovered these errors when my husband pretended to be a parent and got my details from them. This is when I realised what a con the company really is.
If you earn £25, they take £4.95 of that. This means that if you tutor just one child for a year, they get approximately £250. So for 4 children, they receive about £1000. If you advertised on the website hometutors.org instead, you only have to pay £70, regardless of the number of children. For the commission, they put you on their website. When someone makes an enquiry about you, they send the client an unprofessional looking email, with a huge spelling mistake in the header "Your recent matchs" with your name, incorrect address, incorrect email and telephone number. They also post a letter to the client highlighting the importance of tuition with a tear-off slip. The slip says "in order to monitor tutor performance please tell us which tutor you have chosen and when lessons begin". Anyone with half a brain will realise that this is actually to monitor commission, rather than performance.
When you have to ring the office, nobody is quite sure what anyone is doing. I had a query about commission, but the women who deal with this don't arrive until after 1pm. They also have no idea what their email address is. My bank made a mistake and I paid them commission twice in one month, but they do not issue refunds.
As you do more tuition, you use Personal Tutors less, as people start recommending you to their friends. This was certainly the case with me. They have now suspended my membership with them as my 'ratios were too low' (basically I wasn't using them at all). The irony is that they now owe me money, as they haven't issued a refund for the month that I paid them twice. If you can self-advertise, you would save yourself the worry and stress of using this company.
Personal-tutors are an online National company for whom I have been working as a GSCE Biology tutor for approximately the last 18 months. Due to the time of year I do not currently have any clients although I hope this will change in the coming months as the school term gets underway.
I heard about them through a friend who was also tutoring and I really liked the idea of earning a little extra cash so I signed up.
Registering to Tutor
In order to tutor you will need to have one qualification ABOVE what you want to teach. For example I tutored GCSE Biology and I gained a B at A-Level Biology.
Registering is easy and can be completed online or you can print out the form and mail it to them. Additionally if you do not have internet access they will send an application form to you on request by phone or by letter (see details below).
Completing the application is easy and simple, all that is required is your personal details, list of educational qualifications, the details of two references who the company will contact directly and an enhanced disclosure CRB check, this will cost £25 and you should be aware that it can take up to six weeks for the check to be processed. You are also asked to supply photocopies of the certificates of all of your qualifications to ascertain that you actually have them.
You can tutor in as many subjects as you like, as long as you are qualified to do so, the most required subjects are all of the sciences and maths. Although there is opportunity to tutor in other areas there is a lot more scope for clients if you tutor in these subjects.
Once you are registered.
Once you are registered your tutoring details will be added to the personal-tutor website under your UK location and subject so that potential clients can find you easily and are able to contact you directly if they so wish. However, I have received phone calls from prospective clients in this way on only several instances.
Most commonly I receive e-mails about the clients to my inbox and I decide from there on whether or not I would like to contact them. I usually decide which clients to accept purely on the basis of location as I don't want to have to travel too far.
The most common period in which to receive e-mails with client details is between November and March. I have received many emails but most I disregard as I am not willing to travel 15 miles for an hours lesson. All of my clients have been within a ten minute drive of my house at the most but then I do live close to Newcastle city centre.
Both the tutor and the client can specify their preference regarding where the lesson will take place, either at their home or at your own home. I have always chosen to tutor at the client's home address which is also the option chosen most commonly by the clients themselves.
If I decide a client looks suitable from the e-mail details I contact them by phone and negotiate both pay and a suitable time and location to tutor. If we can agree on these things then I send an automated e-mail back to the company informing them of this decision.
If I decide the client is unsuitable I simply send an automated e-mail back to the company informing them of this and letting them know how many more available hours I have in which I am willing to tutor.
Rates of pay for one hour of tutoring at GCSE level is open to negotiation. Personal tutors suggest a rate of pay between £18-25. I was typically paid £20, cash in hand. If you are willing to tutor to A-Level standard then the rates increased to a suggested pay of between £22-30.
Of course personal-tutors are a company and therefore you have to give them a cut of this! The cut is £4.60 an hour. This still means I was making £15.40 an hour which is still fantastic and there is the potential to earn more if you can negotiate it!
At the end of every month you must submit a tutoring form to the company stating the number of hours you have worked for each client. You must work out the amount you owe the company and submit a cheque as appropriate by the 28th of each month at the very latest. To the best of my knowledge I can confirm that they do not check that this information is correct, the client is not asked to submit a record of tutoring in the same manner.
An important final note is that you must do your own taxes!! This is annoying but it is unavoidable. I simply send the tax company a summary of the hours that I have worked and let them work it out from there. You must do this as Personal-tutors will be required to give them your details and we all know how easy it is too get in trouble with the tax man!
You must go prepared. It was a while since I had studies GCSE biology, or any biology for that matter so I bought a GCSE revision guide for £15 before I started. I prepared worksheets from this and from information I obtained online before each session. This is very time consuming but now that I have done it I will never need to do it again and preparing the sheets was a good way to ensure that I learnt the material well.
The internet is full of revision sites for all subjects so you shouldn't have a problem finding resources that are fun and that make learning easier!
I also found that my clients were very keen to have past exam papers. These are a little harder to obtain if you do not work in a school. I found some example papers online and the others I ordered and paid for from the appropriate exam boards. I would personally say that past exam papers are an essential tutoring resource so that clients can get used to the standard required and the type of questions set.
My Experiences as a Tutor.
I have tutored three clients, two girls and a boy, all were from well to do families and all were intelligent kids who wanted to do well. I was very nervous when I arrived for my first session to say the least but I have never experienced any major problems mostly because I arrive well prepared. I usually tutor an over-view of the whole syllabus focusing on areas which the client is most worried about. I start by talking the topic through and asking questions and then I set exercises and go over the exam papers with them.
My first client was a shy Asian girl and I never even met her parents! I would be ushered into the dining room and I would never see anyone else, she would run upstairs to get the money when the hour was up but they never came down to meet me! She really wanted to do well and was very keen, I liked her a lot.
My second client's mother was a darling and she bought me an Easter egg and a leaving present which really touched me. She also asked me to continue tutoring her daughter to A-level standard but I declined because I did not feel qualified to teach this given the huge syllabus and the length of time it had been since I got my own qualification. I also got on well with Kate although of the three she was the least keen to learn.
My third client was from a very rich family and I found this intimidating to say the least, particularly given that his mother demanded progress reports after each session and wanted to know exactly how I expected him to do. It was one of the most spectacular houses I have ever seen and I am still in awe of the whole place. Sasha did not really need a tutor he was an intelligent lad but lazy and far too much of a charmer at 15 for his own good! I didn't tutor him for long because it was clear he didn't need the extra help and I never felt comfortable there.
Sadly I never found out how well my clients did do. I imagine they all gained a B grade or above. I certainly hope so!
I truly enjoyed tutoring and I hope that in the next month or so I will be able to start again. But if you are considering joining up please bear in mind that the company have little to do with you personally and you must manage yourself totally solo. Personally it comes with my complete recommendation, it is a great idea and a great way to earn a little extra cash!
Find them at : www.personal-tutor.co.uk
Tel: (0161) 428 2285 (24 hour service)
Fax: (0161) 491 5552
Established in 1970, Personal Tutors supply specialist private tutors for home tuition at all levels from primary through secondary (including Key Stages and SATS) to GCSE, AS Level and A level in Maths, English and other school subjects throughout the UK. Our full range of subjects is as follows: Basic Skills (i.e. elementary Maths, English and Reading), Biology, Chemistry, Computer Studies / Information Technology, English, French, German, General Science / Combined Science, Geography, History, Maths, Physics. About our tutors: The majority of our registered tutors are qualified professional teachers who are available to provide tuition outside normal working hours. We also check personal suitability through seeking character references and with the Department for Education. For your further reassurance we are CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) Registered and we use List 99 (The Dept for Education list of excluded teachers). When you request a list from us (see below), the registered tutors shown will be the nearest ones to you specialising in the particular subject(s) you require.