Tutors might well be trained to help your child catch up or excel, but this expert guidance comes at a price. And not just one price. Tutoring services begin at around $30 per hour for novice ‘homework helpers’ and reach up to $200 for subject matter experts.
It’s a huge range, and one which can feel overwhelming for parents navigating the tutoring terrain. So what exactly do you get at each price point? Are the top shelf sessions worth it? And when is paying more the right choice?
Expertise and eligibility
Like any profession, some skills are simply harder to obtain. Fewer people are experts in some fields and, as such, these providers are paid more for their time. Think heart surgeons, A380 pilots and astronauts.
Similarly, not everyone can teach. It takes a special person to be able to explain trigonometry to a struggling teenager. Qualified teachers, or those with degrees in the subject matter they’re teaching, will likely price their time and skills higher than, say, a university student without much experience. You might pay a first time tutor or relatively inexperienced student around $30-$40 per hour, whereas a qualified Maths or English teacher will charge upwards of $50 for private sessions.
Finally, a senior Chemistry teacher, or someone who can teach Maths Extension 2, is trained to help your child with high level equations and will command a higher fee than education all-rounders. These specialists can charge upwards of $150.
Supply and demand
Depending on where in Australia you live, the availability of well-trained tutors will influence the fee they can charge. A qualified tutor living in a remote section of WA is probably one of only a few providers in the whole region. Less competition means that prices often skyrocket!
On the other end of the spectrum, a tutor living in Sydney will be one of many teachers and academics in the area, forcing them to be much more competitive with what they charge. In this case, you might pay $50 for a tutor in an urban area, compared with $80 for a more remote provider.
The advent of online education powered by internet-enabled devices works to combat this, giving students in remote areas access to high quality tutors from anywhere in Australia. So if you’re a student in Mount Gambier looking for a HSC Chemistry tutor you’re suddenly no longer limited to that one bloke who operates in your area.
Tutors who travel longer distances to get to your house will factor travelling time and transport costs into their rate. Similarly, learning centres include their business costs (rent on the building itself, learning materials, training and paying the actual tutors) before they even make a profit so expect increased fees for more overheads and higher running costs.
Group vs one-on-one
Small group sessions can start at $20 per student, offering a budget-friendly alternative. However this isn’t always the best value option, especially if your child will take more from a one-on-one, personalised approach. In these cases, it might be worth paying $70 each week for a smaller number of private lessons instead of long term group sessions. That said, some children work well in small groups, so always consider the needs and abilities of your child when making a decision.
Tutoring company vs private arrangement
Is it cheaper to arrange your own tutor or leave it to a tutoring company? Some might feel that a private arrangement can save them money, however this isn’t always the case. Using a tutoring company presents a host of advantages and can actually offer better value for money in the long run.
Tutors booked via a company have already been vetted and often come with an arsenal of testimonials. With a larger catalogue of tutors, companies can also match individual teachers to students based on more than just expertise. This includes social factors like personality, approach, and teaching style, which all contribute to a quality learning experience. Think of the money this can save you when you book a tutor only to realise five sessions later that they’re the wrong fit for your child.
If your private tutor gets sick or goes away for a period, it can take time to find a replacement. This equates to lost learning time, which can come at a huge cost to your child, especially if they’re looking for extra support leading up to exams.