When faced with the option to home-school your children or send them to boarding school, is it cheaper to hire a private tutor and what are the benefits?
As an independent education consultant I am asked these two questions all the time: How expensive is full-time home schooling and will my children get a better education?
Having worked in schools and in private tutoring, I can see the huge benefits that an excellent home tutor can provide – academically and socially – to a student and their family.
The majority of families I work with undertake extensive global travel, and the two main education options available to them are home tuition and boarding school. So in this article I will look at the costs and benefits of full time, live-in private tuition, in comparison with private boarding schools.
Comparing the cost of private tutors and private schools
A good live-in, full-time private tutor will be priced around halfway between the cost of sending two children to a good private boarding school and sending three. [use as pullout quote if allowed] Private school fees vary, as do private tutor fees, but if there are three children in the family, it is always cheaper to home school them with a dedicated full-time private tutor, if the children are close enough in age to share a tutor.
When considering whether to send one child to boarding school or hire a private tutor, there isn’t really that much difference in cost, when you consider the overall amounts we’re talking about. For a wealthy, privileged family who plan to spend a lot of time abroad, the benefits of having their child with them, to experience the world and learn about difference cultures ultimately outweigh the cost of bringing a tutor along with them.
With very good private tutors commanding salaries of up to £100,000, I would warn parents that lower cost private tuition can be a false economy. If you think you have found a good deal, consider whether that tutor has the required level of professionalism and self-respect to teach for that amount. When one considers the impact that person will have on a child the goal should always be to employ a professional tutor with excellent self-esteem and confidence in the quality of education they provide, and such individuals should be paid what they deserve.
Will they get a better education?
Parents realise that children schooled by home tutors benefit from more attention, greater help for exams and more support for university applications both at home and abroad.
While there are, without doubt, excellent schools and many children are very happy there and do very well academically, there are some children who do not flourish in that environment.
School-based education is competitive and stressful and often scary. These aspects can cause some students to grow independent and strong in character, while others retreat in to themselves, may start to fail academically, or become very anxious.
The great thing about home-schooling is that curricula can be tailored to suit the family’s lifestyle, the personality of the student, and their unique environment. Good private tutors have experience in a broad range of subjects and in different educational structures, and crucially, the ability to integrate teaching into all aspects of the student’s life. Not only do privately tutored students excel in their exams, as their tutors ensure they fully understand a subject before moving on to the next, but they are often better able to apply that knowledge to other situations.
What about social development?
The most common concern is about the social aspect of having their children home schooled by a private tutor. That’s always easy to answer; good tutors find a wide variety of clubs and activities providing ample opportunities for social contact, besides, the assumption that a school provides the best social environment is not always correct.
As mentioned earlier, some children may find a school environment particularly stressful.
Using anxiety as an example (although we could apply this principle to any social difficulty) it may be as simple as using public transport, but having a dedicated private tutor means the child gets the individual time and support they need to overcome their difficulties. The tutor is skilled enough to not only help them manage the anxiety, but also use the activity to contribute to their education on multiple levels.
Private schools don’t guarantee the best education for students. Many families assume that if they are paying for their child to attend the most prestigious private schools, the child will automatically get the best education.
Private tuition for your children, on the other hand, is closely monitored, broad-ranging and provides your family the opportunity to travel and learn together. It opens up a world of social and educational possibility, and if you have two or more children, can actually save you money.
About Adam Caller
I began teaching in 1987 and taught in the private and state sectors for many years, followed by a long period as a full time private tutor to prestigious families in England and around the world.
In 1999 I founded Tutors International LLP, a specialist private tutoring agency based in Oxford. The world leaders in custom-designed private education, Tutors International provides tuition to an elite and highly selective clientele. Tutors International works with both clients and their tutors to ensure a world-class private education of the highest professional and academic standards.