The tutoring methodology


Learning cogs largeWe have developed a comprehensive approach to tutoring based on work in business coaching, psychology, pedagogy and neuroscience.

The tutoring approach is specifically designed to promote a strong tutoring relationship between the tutor and the student, and then to find the right balance between guiding the student and providing them with opportunities to explore and express agency.

This balance is different for every student, it changes as tutoring progresses, and it can change with age.

Tutors learn techniques to follow this basic overall (cyclical) process:

  • Relate – Tutors make a positive first impression with students, ensuring they understand that the tutor is there to help them with whatever they want or need to focus on to improve their experience of school. Sometimes we work with students who don’t initially want tutoring. But often this is because of the student’s expectations of what tutoring involves, and a tutor can quickly overcome this fear in the first session.
  • Explore – Tutor and student explore the student’s experience of school, and find a way to establish a vision for the future. This might result in some written goals. Either way the student and tutor will establish a sense of agreement about why tutoring is happening, and where they hope to go over the duration of the relationship.
  • Organise – The tutor will assess the student’s understanding of what is required in school. This starts with a list of due dates for internal and external assessments. School is a closed system, where the criteria for success are clearly stated. Students (and parents) can make great gains by understanding how the school system operates, whether that is Cambridge or NCEA.
  • Deliver – By this stage tutor and student have a sense of trust in the relationship, they understand what is motivating the student to attend tutoring, and they know what assessments are due and when. In the deliver phase the tutor implements a range of tutoring techniques to address any areas where the student needs to develop. This may include an initial assessment, developing a plan of action, and then utilising some of the techniques mentioned above. This phase of tutoring usually lasts the longest.
  • Reassess – This phase of the tutoring process involves continuing to explore the student’s experience of school, and testing it against earlier discussions. Reassessing may happen more or less often depending on how the student is progressing. If a student is not making progress, and is not enjoying tutoring then reassessment will uncover this. At this stage the process may begin again, or return to Deliver if any issues are easily identified.

Usually this process will run smoothly and the Deliver phase will take up the bulk of tutoring. In any one session however the tutor will return to aspects of earlier phases, for example they might ask the student to reflect on their progress over the past month or two. This touches on Explore and helps solidify the tutor-student relationship.

Tutors will often finish the year with Reassess. Many students benefit from regular work with a tutor, in the same way that musicians will continue to work with music teachers for many years. This is one reason why we decided to move to a one off Relationship Fee – because it doesn’t make sense to continue to take a cut of the tutor’s earnings for many years. We have identified that the value that we offer resides in providing training for tutors, and a meeting place to help parents work with well-trained tutors.