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Standard fact sheet.

Tutoring 

Tips for parents

Tutoring can help enhance your child’s performance at school. However, choosing the tutoring service that’s right for your child can sometimes prove a little challenging. It is essential that parents do some research beforehand.

Questions to ask

Parents should think carefully before signing up and/or paying for any tutoring service, no matter how good it sounds. Asking a range of questions about the service is a good way to help you decide if it is the right service for you and your child:

  • How long has the tutoring service been in business?
  • Does the service belong to a relevant industry association with an enforceable code of conduct eg. the Australian Tutoring Association?
  • Can the service give you the name of any other parents that you can talk to about the quality of its tutoring services?
  • Have the tutors been interviewed face-to-face by the tutoring service?
  • What are the qualifications and experience of the tutor who will be tutoring your child?
  • Are the tutors trained specifically in the subject area in which they are tutoring?
  • Is the form of proposed tutoring relevant to the NSW Education course requirements?
  • Have reference checks been conducted on the tutors?
  • Does the tutor hold the appropriate Working With Children check?
  • If the tutoring service is at a specific location is there an opportunity to visit the location?

Bogus offers

Question any deal, including tutoring services, that sounds too good to be true because it probably is. In particular:

  • be wary of overseas or interstate institutions promoting their services on the internet
  • be cautious when dealing with a company that relies on web-based communication and doesn’t offer telephone numbers or office locations 
  • read any contract carefully before signing, and be aware of any cancellation conditions
  • ask how ‘guarantees’ of success can be substantiated.

Contract conditions and fees

When you sign a contract for tutoring you are legally bound by its terms and conditions. Once you have signed, you usually can’t back out. Always read carefully any document you are asked to sign. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it. Find out about things such as:

  • whether the tutoring organisation has a refund policy (refer to Refunds below)
  • how much you will need to pay in total for the tutoring
  • what will happen if your child is unhappy or you want to cancel the tutoring, including what cancellation fees or charges may apply
  • how much notice you will need to give in case you need to cancel a tutoring session
  • whether you will be required to pay for any additional support materials or books
  • what is the preferred method of payment
  • whether you will be provided with a receipt for payments.

Types of tutoring

Face-to-face tutoring, either in-home or on-site, is a traditional and common method of tutoring. However, computer-based and online tutoring is becoming increasingly popular. 

Computer-based tutoring

If you decide to go with a computer-based tutoring course for your child make sure that it is compatible with your computer hardware and software. 

Many computer based training packages are made overseas and may not be applicable to Australian schools.

Ensure that you know exactly what the course involves and how it is expected to help your child. Check whether technical and/or educational support is available for the course and how and when this is provided.

Online tutoring

Before deciding on online tutoring ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the age of my computer matter?
  • Is my internet connection fast enough?
  • How often will I be required to download?
  • Are the system requirements of the online course materials compatible with my computer?
  • Does it make a difference if I’ve got a Mac instead of a PC?
  • How does the tutoring relate to the relevant curriculum requirements?

False and misleading advertising

Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics as well as false advertising. Advertising can be a useful source of information but it can also mislead the unsuspecting. 

You should receive accurate information about the tutoring service you want to purchase. It is illegal for the tutoring service to:

  • make misleading or deceptive claims about their services
  • advertise products or services with false endorsements
  • claim benefits they simply do not have
  • make false representations about the standard, quality or value of the service.

Refunds

By law you may be entitled to cancel your contract and seek a refund if an aspect of your child’s tutoring service was wrongly described or misrepresented to you. 

The Australian Consumer Law allows you to claim compensation when a service does not meet a consumer guarantee. You may be able to claim compensation for your costs in time and money because something went wrong with the service.

Not satisfied?

If you’re not satisfied with the service you have received or how you have been treated, the first step is to make every effort to sort out the problem directly with the tutor or the tutoring service. 

Be clear, firm and polite and state what the problem is and how you would like it fixed. Make sure you put your concerns in writing and keep all relevant documents, such as contracts, receipts, warranties and quotes.

Where to get help

If you don’t reach a satisfactory outcome, contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or visit our website. We provide free information about your rights and options to resolve the dispute. This includes mediation of the complaint by Fair Trading staff or referral to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) which provides independent, low cost and accessible dispute resolution in consumer disputes.

You can also contact the Australian Tutoring Association (ATA) at www.ata.edu.au They may assist in conflict resolution through mediation and negotiation, and have fact sheets available on:

  • Plagiarism
  • How young is too young?
  • In-home tutoring and agencies
  • Computer-based tutoring and online learning
  • Tutor and parent expectations.

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