Setting up as a private tutor in the UK: 4 top tips

Private tutoring is a rewarding and flexible career option. Here are some tips to get you started as a private tutor.

1. Get clear on the legals

It’s often said that the private tuition industry is unregulated in the UK. However, general aspects of the law still apply in this line of work.

First of all, you’ll need to keep records of your income, and pay tax and National Insurance. Even if you’re employed elsewhere, you must register for self-assessment if you do any part-time tutoring work.

Secondly, if you intend to teach at home you’ll need to make sure that it’s a safe environment for your students. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires that you do a simple risk assessment, so look out for trailing wires, frayed carpets or a cluttered work space.

Thirdly, if you advertise, you are required by law to describe your tuition services truthfully. For example, you cannot claim that all your students have received A grades if this was not the case. You can be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority if you advertise falsely.

2. Understand child protection

If you are intending to work with children, then it is essential to get clued up on the latest advice on child protection. The NSPCC runs online courses in child protection that are highly recommended.

Essential precautions when tutoring children include having the parent or carer present in the same room, or in an adjoining room with the door open. You should also avoid physical contact and social relations with children. For example, don’t email or message the student without copying in their parent or carer.

The so-called ‘enhanced DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) certificate’ proves that there is no known reason why an individual may not work with children. It is not a legal requirement for tutoring, although many tutors prefer to have a DBS certificate to show to parents or carers. You can read more here about DBS certificates for the self-employed.

3. Streamline your credentials

Before you set up as a tutor, you’ll need to get your CV in order. Think carefully about your motivation and relevant experience - you don’t want to be underprepared when you are demonstrating to potential clients that you’re right for the job.

You can enhance your credibility in various ways. For example, you could join The Tutors’ Association, which organises Continuing Professional Development (CPD), or join an organisation relevant to your teaching subject, such as the Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

References from employers or tuition clients can be invaluable, and setting up your own website, blogging or joining a well-respected tuition agency will all enhance your reputation.

If you don’t have enough experience or confidence, there are charities that will train you to volunteer as a tutor with under-privileged children. One example is Action Tutoring.

4. Stay safe

There are various safety issues that you should consider when you are teaching privately.

Private tuition insurance is a useful option for protecting you in the event of being sued by a client. It usually covers two aspects - public liability and professional indemnity - and is another marker of professionalism for private tutors.

Other areas to consider are personal safety, online safety and protecting yourself financially through the use of a tuition contract and strict terms and conditions. The following resources will help you to stay aware of potential issues:

Henry Fagg is an expert on private tuition, and founder of the private tutor directory

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