Home' Teacher : May 2010 Contents 32 TEACHER MAY 2010
Private after-hours tutoring has been regarded
with suspicion, or at least discomfort, by
many educators in schools, mainly because
it's unregulated for the most part, but tutor-
ing is an industry that can't be ignored. Recent
research suggests that it's booming; according
to a private study by the Australian Tutoring
Association (ATA), more than four million
students in Australia are regularly using a pri-
vate tutor. The greatest area of growth seems
to be specialist 'freelance' tutors, who set their
own prices, hours and arrangements.
These tutors may be current or retired
teachers, graduates, undergraduates, college
students -- just about anyone who feels they
have an aptitude in a particular subject and
feels that they can teach it.
There is a 2005 Code of Conduct of the
Australian Tutoring Association (ATA),
which aims to offer some formal business
arrangements for tutors, but other than
this there's no regulation or accreditation
for this growing sector. ATA members are
obliged to abide by its Code of Conduct,
but there are many independent tutors who
aren't members of the ATA.
Although this lack of regulation may
seem alarming, it can hardly be surprising.
There's no doubt that formal accreditation
would be time consuming, expensive and
difficult to manage. When tutoring is often
just a casual form of employment, would
this be feasible? Some tutors would com-
ply, but would price be as much of a factor
in tutor selection as accreditation? Word of
mouth and a good reputation is perhaps the
more valuable currency.
Ultimately, the goal of all educators is to
encourage students to excel in their study. If
they need additional tuition outside school
hours this needn't be considered a black mark
against the school. Indeed, school staff who
assist in identifying a need for tutoring and an
appropriate tutor to help a student to improve
are meeting their fundamental obligation --
to help their students realise their potential
and maximise their learning. Some students
respond more effectively to a tutor closer to
their own age, someone who is closer to their
own life experience. Some students respond
better to a different teaching style.
Despite its high profile and growing
workforce, there's surprisingly little data
about the tutoring industry -- particularly
from the school perspective.
That's why this month we're launching a
comprehensive survey into the relationship
between schools and tutoring. Do teachers
feel comfortable about tutoring? Do schools
endorse or ignore it? What are the inher-
ent problems with tutoring and how can we
encourage more harmony between tutors
To give us your views, go to www.active-
unlimited.com/sur vey.aspx?surveyid=1 and
complete the survey by 18 May. We'll pro -
vide a detailed analysis in a future edition
of Teacher. T
Karen Tearney is the director of Active
WHAT PLACE DOES PRIVATE AFTER-HOURS TUTORING HAVE
IN AUSTRALIAN EDUCATION. THE ANSWER? KAREN TEARNEY
DOESN'T HAVE IT, BECAUSE THAT DEPENDS ON YOU.
Friend or foe?
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