Tutoring can help enhance your child’s performance at school. To help choose the right tutor, it’s essential that you do some research beforehand. You should think carefully before signing up and/or paying for any tutoring service, no matter how good it sounds.
Here are some questions you should ask to help you decide if it’s the right 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?
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 and you usually can’t back out. Always read any document you are asked to sign carefully. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it. Find out about things such as:
- whether the tutoring organisation has a refund policy
- 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. Computer-based and online tutoring are becoming increasingly popular.
If you decide to go with a computer-based tutoring course, make sure that it’s compatible with your computer hardware and software. Many computer based training packages are made overseas and might not be applicable to Australian schools. Make sure that you know exactly what the course involves and how it will help your child. Check whether technical and/or educational support is available for the course and how and when this is provided.
Before you decide on online tutoring ask yourself:
- 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 and false advertising. You should always receive accurate information about the tutoring service you want to purchase. It’s 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.
You are allowed to cancel your contract and ask for a refund if any part of your child’s tutoring service was wrongly described or misrepresented to you. You may be able to claim compensation for your costs in time and money if something went wrong with the service and/or it does not meet a consumer guarantee.
If you’re not satisfied with the service or how you’ve been treated, you should try and 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 can’t reach an outcome, contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20. We provide free information about your rights and options to resolve the dispute including mediation or referral to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
You can also contact the <Australian Tutoring Association (ATA)>. They can help with conflict resolution and have fact sheets available on:
- How young is too young?
- In-home tutoring and agencies
- Computer-based tutoring and online learning
- Tutor and parent expectations.