Friend or educator? Tutors International founder reports on the blurring of boundaries and professionalism in private tutoring

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Posted in: Education consultancy, Home schooling

In one to one private tutoring situations, it can be natural for tutors to build greater trust and rapport with their student, but Tutors International founder, Adam Caller, made a statement this week to warn against compromising respect and responsibility.

Private tutors, particularly those in full-time residential positions, walk a fine line between the role of professional educator, and a friend or mentor to their student, due to the increased level of personal involvement in the child’s life on a day-to-day basis, which is rarely possible in a traditional classroom. In these situations, it can be easy for tutors to unwittingly foster friendships with their students, which run the risk of overstepping the professional boundaries of the role and even compromising a child’s academic progress.

Adam Caller explained: “When you’re investing that much one-to-one time with a student, it’s easy to understand how boundaries can sometimes become blurred. It is a different relationship than that which we see in a classroom environment between a teacher and a student and tutors need to remain mindful at all times in order to maintain an appropriate balance between being a friend and mentor, and being respected and professional. It’s understandable to want your student to like you but, when a child starts confiding secrets or asking for your personal opinions on controversial topics, it is crucial for a tutor to recognise what is inappropriate, and to respond in a professional manner. Your first responsibility is to the parents, who have hired you to educate and mentor their child, according to their wishes.”

The best educators, according to Mr Caller, are confident and clear in the boundaries they set for themselves, and have no problem putting them in place from the beginning of any new tutoring relationship. During his own 25-year career in education, Mr Caller has collected first-hand experience of what can happen when friendship and professionalism clash.

“I’ve had students confide in me, and it can be hard to feel like you’re betraying that trust, but students need to understand that it’s not appropriate to put a tutor in that position. There have been times where I’ve had to issue ultimata or inform parents, particularly where a secret has broken the law and is detrimental to the student’s wellbeing, and all it does it put a strain on your future relationship with that child. Thankfully, most students realise, in time, that you have their best interests at heart. The fact is that, when you’re in a full-time residential position, you’re often one of the first to notice any anti-social behaviours or personal issues, particularly when parents are working or travelling. You get to know the child extremely well.”

Mr Caller stressed that it is possible to maintain professional boundaries, whilst also being friendly and approachable, and was keen to emphasise that the multiple benefits of one-to-one tutoring far outweigh any potential conflicts. Tutors International has placed talented educators with families all over the world, including full-time residential tutoring roles, with overwhelmingly positive results. The experienced team screens and recruits each tutor directly, and successful applicants are given ongoing access to a vast support system, including educational consultants and psychologists, to address any concerns, for the entirety of their placement.

To find out more about the services offered by Tutors International, visit

• Tutors International provides an unparalleled tutoring service that matches the right tutor with the right child, in order for the student to fully reach their personal potential and academic excellence. Providing a service for children of all ages at different points in their educational journeys, Tutors International is a reputable tutoring company founded on a commitment to finding the perfect tutor to realise the specific goals and aspirations of each student. Private Tutors are available for residential full-time positions, after-school assistance, and homeschooling.

• Founded in 1999 by Adam Caller, Tutors International is a private company based in Oxford, a city renowned for academic excellence. Our select clientele receives a personally tailored service, with discretion and confidentiality guaranteed.