top of page

Should Parents Pay For Tutoring?

Tutoring provides valuable one-on-one time for your child, and regular sessions also give your child an opportunity to work through homework assignments and help build self-esteem and self-confidence.

Parents often look to hire a tutor when their child is struggling or to address a learning gap. In Edinburgh many parents look for a tutor to prepare their child to sit the independent school entrance exams.

When planning and budgeting for your child's tutoring, it's important to consider not only your child's needs but also your budgetary restrictions.

Tutoring provides students with individualised attention with in-depth instruction and practice.

If you are looking to hire a tutor to prepare your child for an independent school entrance tests, it's important to establish your child needs early before the January deadline. It is important to ask a tutor how much tutoring is required to ensure your child will cope well when the time comes to take the test.

We asked George Hawkins MBE, Director of Step Ahead Tutoring and Educational Services, about his experience at preparing children for independent schools entrance tests.

How many pupils have you successfully tutored for a place at an independent school?

We have had over 450 successes. I have a team dedicated to this particular work (also we have other teams, for example, preparing students for Highers). I have been thrilled to have helped over two hundred myself.

In addition, we have had a dozen Scholarship winners and some with bursary and other awards, from seven leading schools including the 2018 and 2019 Scholarship winners at GHS, and this year’s named Cunningham Scholar at ESMS.

Some schools tell parents not to bother having tutoring. Why would you disagree?

The competition for places has increased greatly over the years, especially during, and as a result of, Covid. Many parents tell us that they are unhappy with current state school provision and have turned their attention to the private sector. Parents who do not realise that their children are not ready for the level expected in the independent assessment tests and also that many of their ‘competitors’ for places are indeed being prepared through tutoring, leave their own children at a significant disadvantage. Many parents have come to Step Ahead having had their children declined places, anguishing that they had not realised what was needed and that they should have come to us much earlier.

What do you think about the popular view that some schools only take the highest scoring students?

There is pressure to top the league tables and to justify what many parents believe are exorbitant fees. There is a danger that this can strip applicants of their individuality and can turn them into high achieving automatons. But maybe that is that what some want. There is even one school that chose many years ago not to interview or even speak to the potential candidates and still only appear to offer places on the highest aggregated scores.

What is your advice to parents who are considering sending their youngster to a private school?

As I have said repeatedly, especially in each year’s ‘School Guide’, the key to success is ensuring that sufficient time is made available for preparation. Start NOW. Plan months ahead. Parents taking their youngster to visit the schools, while in term-times, which are under consideration is very important. Devising and keeping to a study plan and building a rigour is necessary in order to start to attain the level required, and Step Ahead can advise on the kind and level of questions/tests.

Parents are welcome to call me – without obligation – for a chat:


bottom of page