Minimising risk - the client
Trust is all-important when hiring a tutor. Having a personal recommendation is often a good start, but when this option is not available, other approaches are needed.
Employing a tutor through a reputable private tuition agency minimises risk because a good agency will interview tutors, check their credentials and take references. By law, tutors working through agencies will also have had their DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) status checked, meaning that there is no known reason why they may not work with children or vulnerable adults.
Employing a tutor without using an agency is also a popular option, not least because tuition agencies will charge fees for the services they provide. A proactive parent can do the same job as a tuition agency - asking for tutor references and to see DBS certificates. Using a directory of private tutors such as is a good way of finding a tutor with this approach.
Finally, notwithstanding the prior checks which the parent or agency have carried out on a tutor, there are simple precautions which parents should take for their child’s safety. If tuition is taking place in the home, parents should make sure there is another adult present. Also, ensure you have a safe and appropriate working space.
Minimising risk - the tutor
Private tutors have various legal responsibilities. Under health and safety law they must make sure that the tuition space they are working in is safe; for example, it must be free from trailing wires or other hazards. They have a duty to declare the income they earn to HM Revenue and Customs and must not falsely advertise their services - for example, by making exaggerated claims about the performance of their students.
Taking out can help minimise the risks for tutors. In general, this insurance covers two aspects: Public Liability Insurance protects the tutor against claims for accidental injury to a student or accidental damage to property and Professional Indemnity Insurance covers the tutor in the unlikely event that a claim is made for professional incompetence. Taking out insurance also sends out a strong message of credibility and professionalism.
Minimising risk - both parties
Both tutors and clients can minimise risk by signing a private tuition agreement. This kind of document raises expectations all round and sets the private tuition on a professional footing. Getting clear right from the start on the financial obligations of both sides - for example, what happens in the event of a cancellation - is important for establishing trust and a productive tutoring relationship.
Although a certain degree of flexibility is usually required on both sides, a failure to establish the financial framework in which the tutoring takes place can lead to resentment and/ or financial loss.
Although the risks may be small, private tuition is not a risk-free zone. Parents, students and tutors all need to be aware of the risks and can work together to minimise them.
In this regard, being aware of safety issues, having a proper private tutoring contract and purchasing private tuition insurance are all part of the solution.