100th Episode Special: An Analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the Tutoring Industry 2022: Podcast Transcript

Ludo Millar
Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.

Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.

The question is, what will you learn today?


Ludo Millar 2:40
Hello, and welcome to the 100th episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast, listeners. You won’t be able to see the huge smile beaming over my face or the smiles of my three guests here with me today. But this is a pretty momentous time at Qualified Tutor, the 100th episode of a podcast is no mean feat. And during some recent podcast industry research, I found out that out of the roughly 2 million podcasts out there and across the well over 48 million episodes, 64% of podcasts have fewer than 10 episodes, and only 17% have 50 episodes or more. I couldn’t even find stats for how many podcasts have over 100 episodes. I’m sure they’re out there, but I couldn’t find them. But you can imagine that the percentage will be much lower than 17%. So we’re proud of ourselves for reaching here. And we’re very glad that those of you who’ve been with us since the first episode are hopefully still here.

But me saying that is not to give us a nice big pat on the back. It’s to say that there is clearly an appetite amongst those in the tutoring and education industry to get talking and to discuss the key issues in this space for a podcast about tutoring, which has previously been a niche, hush-hush, ‘sidelined’ part of education, to reach 100 episodes and almost 8,000 downloads shows this industry has never been so important. And with Alex Asher here, we have another host of a hugely popular tutoring podcast. So there’s lots to share here. And what better way to celebrate this milestone than by gathering together three of the leaders in tutoring today, raising the bar and bringing about the change that’s needed. So here with me today, we have Founder of The Profs, Richard Evans, we have the CEO of LearnCube, Alex Asher. And of course, we have Founder and CEO of Qualified Tutor, Julia Silver. So over the next 40 minutes or so, we are going to be drawing on the expertise and insights of our three panelists to analyse the state of play in tutoring today, from the strengths and weaknesses of the industry, to the opportunities and threats facing the sector. And by the end of the conversation, all of us, me the panelists, you listeners, will hopefully leave feeling a lot more confident about the future of tutoring and how to tackle any problems that may arise. And as ever, hopefully, a whole load of pioneering ideas to take forward. You can thank us later.

Now, dear guests, you’re all familiar faces in this recording studio, as it were. So welcome back to the podcast. And thank you very, very much for joining us. What exciting news do we have this week? Something exciting is happening at The Profs this week, is it not?

Richard Evans 6:27
As always, something exciting happening at The Profs, we’ve just completed a very similar big strategic review, our own SWOT analysis ourselves and the industry. And we are investing massively actually in tutors, building a search team of going out to help find better on board than the train and share our knowledge with tutors. So we’re really excited to be trying to ramp up we actually got an ambitious goal to 3x the number of tutors from 1000 to 3000 athletes working with us. And that’s going to take quite a quite an investment that I’m looking forward to making a few more professional friends.

Ludo Millar 7:09
Well, the website looks, looks wonderful. And head over to theprofs.co.uk if you want to see how a rebranding is done. Alex, how are you doing?

Alex Asher 7:19
I’m going bloody well, actually. So I think one thing that is new for us is we’re really investing also in our community. So one of the areas that I’ve often talked about, and one of the areas that we’re looking at really helping with, particularly with independent tutors, is on marketing, and might be something we talk about later. But I’ll get more students started as a podcast moved in to workshop and webinar once a month. And now we’re building an actual community, largely inspired by you guys are qualified to do by the way, even using some of the technology because we think that we feel that we can have a much bigger impact and help people not just from the virtual classroom, online school technology, but also when they’re trying to get more customers and get more students again, that seems to be a major hurdle for a lot of people that end up using our technology. And we really want to help with that. So we’ve got a community and get more students.

Ludo Millar 8:21
Awesome. I’m sure we’ll be getting into that. And you can tell the appetite for learning about marketing from how well attended the kind of marketing events at Love Tutoring Festival, including principally yours, Alex was so yeah. Julia?

Julia Silver 8:37
I’m glad you asked, Ludo. We have a new delivery model that we’re really excited about rolling out and it is an on demand, self-paced delivery model for our CPD-Accredited and Level 3 training so that people can get started, get Qualified Tutor Membership, share badges and credentials with potential clients and really sort of learn at their own pace. We’ve learned a lot about online learning in the last two years. And combining that sort of high touch facilitated learning that we are so appreciated for with something that is quicker, easier to access. And great to be part of somebody recently told me that qualified tutor training feels like a warm hug. And so finding more ways to get people to enjoy that support is what we’re all about.

Ludo Millar 9:38
Well, I think those three responses have set the stall up for this conversation pretty, pretty well, because there’s a three different angles, three incredibly important angles. And with that, I think we’re going to dive straight into the first question. Well, actually, maybe the fourth question now, but the first question on the agenda, which is strength, so I’m going to set this up to Alex, you first, what do you see are some of the key current strengths of the tutoring industry?

Alex Asher 10:10
Well, there’s no shortage of amazing people is been my experience particularly going to love cheering festival. And I’m rich I’m sure you can attest this as well, like there’s there’s a real depth of incredible talent amongst those tutors. It sounds like a lot of teachers are also looking at tutoring as a as a profession, which is, again, something really exciting. So from that perspective, I see that as a huge strength as the people. If we’re looking at the UK, I mean, even just the people in this little virtual room that we’ve got going here, we’re all working on making cheering better and more efficient, more effective, and having a bigger, more positive impact on the world. So I think that also is a good sign of, of some strengths. Also, acknowledging rich also has some some work with the technologies that he uses and certainly learn cube does. And the technology I think there’s some real strength and you know, the technologies that tutors are now able to access and leverage. So I think those you know, where I would start and I’ll pass over to my my colleagues here to maybe back summers and find your own.

Richard Evans 11:19
Yeah, absolutely. I hadn’t even thought of that, because it’s so well integrated, isn’t it, but Tech, we are at the forefront of tech right when the whole world went to zoom. And I laugh at all the social media messages, we’ve been using zoom for however many years zoom had been going, I think it was five or six years before them. And I look at how. unfortunately, schools have always been 10-20 years behind on tech and that unfortunately really caught up with them, sadly, to the detriment of millions of students for the tutoring industry moved online, overnight. And I think the continued innovation and thought leadership and edtech of tutoring is amazing. And tutors are so willing to try out new tech and stay ahead of that. I read an interesting piece of research years ago saying that because classrooms haven’t really changed since the Victorian age. Students go from that home where they’ve gone iPad and iPhone, a nice TV. And then they go into this Victorian blackboard system. And schools are so physically out of date that they immediately switch off. And that’s actually a huge hurdle to really because learning so I agree innovation tech. Absolutely amazing. And more than that it’s a great growing sector. I have partners who used to work in the publishing sector and magazine sector and it’s a very sad when an industry is kind of struggling and maybe in its Twilight, it really feels like tutoring is continued to go from strength to strength. And I think that’s why there’s so much innovation, excitement, and people focusing on it right now. And lastly, I think flexibility and well paid work has been absolutely fantastic. For us, I think we are the good side of the gig economy. And that’s been something that is drawing more and more of those fantastic people. And most importantly, of course, the quality of the tools we do have and the positivity and the wants to help students. It’s just nice to at the end of the day know that you’re helping students and that feelgood factor and education, I think along with healthcare are probably the two strongest industries for that.

Ludo Millar 13:26
Yeah, there are smart and interested and interesting people in the tutoring industry. And just as you say it should, drawing on Alex’s points, it’s easy to forget that because you work with them, you speak with them every week, every day every month. But that’s that’s a really key point. Julia?

Julia Silver 13:44
I’m bubbling over with enthusiasm from what Richard and Alex have said and to reiterate and go deeper and actually inspired by your first idea is Richard and Alex about community and about bringing in more tutors at the moment. I really feel that there’s there’s a deep focus on what tutors need, and really developing the people who are supporting the students. And I think that that’s so so healthy. It’s another thing that schools struggle to do because there’s so much top down pressure. And the fact that we as a profession are nurturing our people is I think, a really, really healthy and sustainable approach. There are two phrases that I’ve become known for in our community. One is tutors need tutors, and the other is colleagues, not competitors. And I really think that we’re digging into both of those things. And when I see people reflecting that back to me, I think it’s terribly exciting. You know, I’m deeply involved in writing my book at the moment and I really feel this this vision of we’re moving away from Plan B tutoring, and we’re moving towards an idea that Plan A tutoring is like Richard said, flexible, but also fulfilling and that we can find our own ways to leverage what tutoring can allow us to do. And that’s really exciting.

Ludo Millar 15:15
Richard, can you talk a little bit, I know you’ve talked about this before on this podcast, but also I’m sure in lots of other conversations, but I think this will tie in really nicely here about the idea of tutoring as a career.

Richard Evans 15:30
Yeah, absolutely. I like to do my own tutoring and I like to see weaknesses as opportunities to learn. [LAUGHS] To move a bit down are SWOT analysis, I totally agree with where Alex and Julia are coming from in terms of the need for professionalisation and community. And I totally agree, Alex, that the tutors are a strength. We have fantastic tutors. But where I would disagree is the quantity of tutors. Yes, in the Love Tutoring Festival, I was happy to see hundreds of engaged and active tutors. But I think that’s quite a large fraction of the engaged industry. And we need 1000s, if not 10s of 1000s. We know that the National Tutoring Programme has made claims of going to shortages of tutors in the UK, I disagree with some of those claims and selection criteria. But more tutors is a better thing. We need better definition of what a professional tutor is. And even more importantly, your writing new that’s actually what a career tutor is. So I think one of the weaknesses of the industry is this misunderstanding of what tutoring really is it’s it’s so much more than just after school help is part coach, part cheerleader, part, mentor, part sort of older brother, or sister, part sort of counsellor, although obviously we should never take on serious mental health issues, that should always be passed on.

But there is an element of making people feel better about themselves. And that is what the investment in education, one to one really is all about is looking at your long term career trajectory, and helping students to find one that is best suited to them, hopefully on a higher trajectory. But I do think that there is a shortage of quality tutors in the UK, I think that we’re all working really hard on trying to attract more people in the industry. And I think we’re making great waves there. But I would like to see this accelerated further. Because whilst they have 1000 fantastic tutors, that’s less than 10% of those we’ve interviewed, and we have had to kiss a few frogs to get there. And there are lots of people I’ve seen who call themselves tutors of 10-20 years who certainly are not professional, and who I do not think meet the standards of education we’d like to see. So that is something that we want to see less of those people and more good people. And I welcome that Guardian article saying 25% of teachers are actually tutors, it’s really great to see that we are one and the same. And I’d like to see more teachers doing tutoring and of course, more tutors moving in to support teaching as well.

Ludo Millar 18:07
So Alex, how do we how do we go about this? How do we how do we find more and better tutors?

Alex Asher 18:14
At first, I sort of want to segue on Rich’s point on the professionalism and again, Julia, this is something you’re totally passionate about. But I hadn’t really thought about it. But it really raised a big discrepancy, right? We know like we work with some of the larger tutoring companies in the UK, we know that there are 1000s of people on their books. And Richard, you’ve kind of mentioned, there are 1000s on yours. But there aren’t always 1000s of people that are turning up to these professional development events. Why not? That’s a huge discrepancy in terms of the numbers that we’re seeing there, compared to the numbers of tutors that are turning up, and it does maybe indicate that there’s a bit of a- it’s a nice side gig and I get to make some money and then sort of move on, I think maybe that it creates a two-tier system. And I guess if we’re going to start talking about weaknesses or threats as well, once you do get into substandard tutoring, or yeah, ‘I’ll tutor for a bit of money’, then you can start seeing some eroding of trust and some eroding of value as well. So I think those are some areas that I’d like to touch on. But the professionalism is I think, one way because it I actually remember, my sister is a great example. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, seriously, I come from- my grandparents are both teachers. My grandpa was a professor of German. Grandma was a teacher and French but my sister didn’t actually feel she could do teaching as a plan. But you know, it’s not the same. But it’s similar in the fact that she didn’t feel that maybe that was a success outside, how can you not think that success? That’s totally success! And now she’s a teacher, she’s totally loving it. And I wonder if there’s a perception in the same way of tutoring, if tutoring isn’t seen as something professional or something that people should be really proud of, then maybe that kind of puts off the right kinds of people from getting into the top of the funnel as well. So I wonder if that’s something to think about.

Ludo Millar 20:26
Julian and Richard, what are your thoughts on that?

Julia Silver 20:31
Well, to think about weaknesses, and to loop back into what Alex was saying about professionalism, and recognising our own profession of feeling recognised for our professionalism, there’s a lot to address in terms of myths and misconceptions. What tutoring is, how tutoring is seen, by parents, by schools, and by teachers, even by students. And by tutors themselves, whether or not tutoring is respected and regarded effectively enough. And there’s a lot to unpack there, which, which I’m happy to do another time. But to put on one specific thread, I feel as a parent, and as a school leader, that the lack of transparency that we have when choosing a tutor is one of the key weaknesses. So it’s difficult for a tutor to assert their professionalism to assert their expertise. It’s difficult for a parent to know who to choose because that you’re always choosing a proxy, what university they went to, which agency they’re aligned with. And that’s not the same as finding out whether or not they’re going to do a good job for your students. Even whether or not they’re a qualified teacher is still a proxy. So giving us all a weakness is understanding that there is a mismatch here between what tutoring really can do and what we are able to prove and see right now some of our colleagues including you Richard have, are building a language around what quality is in tutoring, what efficacy is around tutoring. And you know that we are a little bit obsessed a qualified tutor about that. But really, it’s all coming from this understanding that to enable people to choose a tutor and to choose a tutor with confidence. There’s some work to be done. And that’s what we’re leaning into.

Richard Evans 22:36
I totally agree. And I think that that’s actually my opportunity. My quick notes on this was proving quality. So how’s that for a segue is removing rapidly you know me if nothing else I talk too quickly. I we need to be able to prove quality better. A few of you have heard this before but I like to keep saying it. You know I have been tutoring for 10 years and when I joined the industry as a tutor, it took me all of a week to realise that the problems were the travel, eating lunch every day online and optimise my timetable. Online tutoring has absolutely smashed out the park and shout out to my brother and BitPaper and Bramble and all the great whiteboards and online technologies that have have helped us to do that. So online was really ticked off. I found it very hard to get daytime hours. The Profs was set up to focus on university tutoring to allow for daytime hours and so like myself to work from the hours of nine to six, rather than the hours of six to nine, which really was difficult on having any sort of social life. So that has been worked on with internationalisation. Only a very small amount. Only a few of my tutees even live in the UK these days or based in it. So that’s number three, which I’m now trying to work on. It’s good to have some career goals. And it’s amazing to look back how quickly some of these things have moved as a whole industry. And I’m not the only person dealing with these problems. There’s hundreds of us working hard on this.

But number three is proving quality. How do I actually prove that I’m a better student? Yes, I went to a good university. Well done me, pat on the back. That doesn’t mean I’m a good educator and agree a lot of things we’ll see these are very for proxies in the process. We actually actively don’t provide CVs, we’re quite rare as a tutoring agency. We don’t give CVs because we think they give the wrong information. It’s all about our quantitative and qualitative measures of quality. So the biggest opportunity in industry now, for me is quantifying success. How do we actually set out objective criteria to show that tutors are better? And for me, it’s got to be results tracking. It’s got to be, are you getting the results? Yes, you can also track quality and competence improvements. Yes, it’s really important I think to have an agency or an external badge or Qualified Tutor or being an official TTA tutor. These are important too, but at the end of day, are you getting results and are you getting five star reviews plus from your parents and I think the whole industry and those of us a Qualified Tutor, those of us who are turning up at events, we need to be leading the vanguard because the best way to accelerate that is if all of us push our not just qualifications, but actually our certifications, and more importantly, our reviews and our results, then that’s going to make it, over 5-10 years, very difficult for new tutors to come do a part-time job and not have the evidence to say, I’m actually really good at what I do. So I think the biggest opportunity for us as an industry is to focus on proving that we are actually absolutely worth the money.

Julia Silver 25:37
Ludo, do you know that Richard and I have a story. Alex, I’ll pause in a sec.

Ludo Millar 25:40
I was just about to say something as well as just so much going on … [LAUGHS]

Julia Silver 25:43
Richard and I are having this fun game on LinkedIn that whenever anybody posts a cool testimonial, we tag each other because because people love it, it amplifies their reach and the feelgood factor is palpable, it really really is.

Alex Asher 26:04
I thought there was something there. And again, because we’re in this opportunity section, I thought there’s definitely a place for technology to come in there, like so we run LearnCube as a virtual classroom. And I think for more sophisticated users, they, first of all, we have our own feedback that happens at the end of every class. But I’m wondering if there’s a future opportunity where that can be quantified, right? Like, can we not? I mean, Richard, you might be doing this yourself already, like a number of reviews, is at least a metric that helps understand that somebody is not straight off the shelf last week, or they’ve been doing this for 10 years, like when I’ve met some tutors. I’ve got 4000 hours of online tutoring experience. Like, I want to know that. And I don’t feel that that is shown or verified in a very good way. And I feel that maybe, again, Richard and I are part of hopefully translation eventually. And from a technology perspective, can we create some confident measures where people can go, ‘Hey, look, you know, these classes actually happened, these ratings were actually verified at the time that they were created’. So they’re not like they can’t be kind of scammed. You know, there’s a timestamp attached to every review or piece of feedback after a session, that’s going to give, if I was a parent, that would give me a lot more, just like every day, that would give me a lot more confidence that somebody is a professional tutor that knows what they’re doing. And they get results compared to, hey, their profile looks nice, and they did a good video. I mean that and they went to the right university. And again, we’re using these proxies, which actually seemed to be very little to do about tutoring, and all about just some, quite frankly, maybe some lazy signal.

Julia Silver 27:50
You know, we’ve done a lot of work on Rachel Botsman‘s work about trust. And she points out that we used to trust authorities. And now we trust each other. And I wonder whether the opportunities are really about how we signal trust, and these testimonials, and these numbers of tutoring hours that you guys are able to collect and verify and our development in digital credentials. Those are the opportunities where we’re leveraging technology to create this social proof. And if we can, if we can really nail social proof, then that’s us approving each other, and who has more of a vested interest than we do.

Ludo Millar 28:47
Lots of head nodding.

Richard Evans 28:55
Yeah, I agree. We’re seeing more of this. The whole world’s moving towards more reviews. And I think that’s a good thing. It certainly can be gamed, and I totally appreciate, Alex, we’ve got to be looking at how to not game this. I mean, just this morning, we got two five-star reviews to be happy but it’s the whole team. This is part of the whole brand. It goes on to our Slack, everyone in the company sees that everyone has a nice kind of feeling. And we call it back and we share that and hopefully now on social media to help this campaign. Julia and I are getting tutors to share their positivity because it will be 1000s of us sharing these reviews. It will help people to better understand what tutor is about. But I also want to move beyond the social proofing and certifications which are very important and we are indeed got to make sure that those are good objective measures into that quantifiable and that for me is the future that we aren’t really doing. It is being seen in the one minute tutoring. I am seeing it in his windows binary outcome. I’m not sure probably maybe 11+ agencies and school selection maybe but in my end of the industry, the higher-end university applications, it is actually standard. So we have a 97% success rate, the first or second choice I think it’s 85% rate and first choice, we’re really happy with that. And actually, our competitors all share lesser statistics, shameless plug better than us. But it’s really important that your people understand you’re trying to get an outcome. So I think that’s where this idea has come from.

And we’re now trying to disseminate that into the way that you can market because maybe there’s weaknesses is, when I was in, I started out in the younger years tutoring, and I saw that some things I was quite uncomfortable with in terms of quality control. So I’ve started with some West London, VA agencies, charming and you go and talk to the father or the mother, and they were from Oxford, and Cambridge is very, very, very, very charming and charming. But was there any ability for the the younger child to know whether you’re actually any good apart from being a bit posh sounding? And I was uncomfortable that I suspected that there are a lot of people part timers, basically selling their qualifications without any experience. And I do think I’m trying to clean up the industry a bit, I do think is much less than now. And we’re moving away from that totally, we are doing a lot more widening participation as an industry, which is good. But when you move into the university sector, the average age of my students is 22. If I don’t know what I’m talking about, I will be chucked out and get a refund within the first 10 minutes. So that really opened my eyes. And my problem is when you’re teaching younger students that certainly predates GCSE, most kids are conditioned to not question the teacher in that way. So they don’t really have a voice. So that’s where I think we need to be tracking the outcomes of are you actually getting the results that back up what people are saying about you. And yeah, I’m keen to try and push the industry. And to back it up, a top tutor should have a string of amazing successes, they might not be results in terms of just qualifications. Some my best students got a C or a B, but from where they were coming from and the other challenges they had in their life that was life changing, and more impressive than getting someone from an age when they saw I’m not saying it’s just about grades, but I do want be able to quantify.

Julia Silver 32:16
So, so interesting, Richard, in terms of what to quantify, because we had a conversation on Clubhouse in the summer about KPIs and what your performance indicators are as a tutor. And we were speaking with Judy Brice, who’s a specialist in supporting dyscalculia and maths anxiety, and the conversation around KPIs stressed her out until we said well, going from ‘I hate maths’ to ‘I don’t mind maths with Judy’ is a huge thing. Going from ‘I can tolerate 10 minutes talking about maths’ to ‘I can survive an hour-long session’ is a huge thing. It’s only about our having the professional language to say, these are our goals, we will plan a route and we will measure measure whether or not we’ve been successful based on the goals. And yes, binary outcomes make it much, much easier. And as a primary tutor, I can tell you that one of the most difficult things to do is quantify your success and not getting feedback. And not being able to quantify your success is one of the loneliest things as a tutor. And it’s one of the things that makes you feel terribly uncomfortable because you’re in that role of the freelancer. And yet, it is difficult to prove value because learning is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. And if you don’t have an exam point to move towards, it can be really, really difficult to prove your value. So yes, please.

But since we’re in the threats section, let’s remember that we don’t want to turn tutoring into a top-down profession. We really, really want to stay in control of our own language of professionalism. We don’t want the same pressures that have squeezed teachers out of teaching to happen to tutors and cause the same, because then we’re back into that issue about not having the supply that we really need to help the students who need the support.

Ludo Millar 34:23
Alex, can I turn to you for my chance to formally ask about students? Not just what are the threats? Because that’s that’s not a nice conversation just to have and also not a good one to end on. But what are the threats and how do you see our way around them?

Alex Asher 34:45
I do see a threat in terms of I mean, how could you not bring up inequality in a kind of question like that, like tutoring has, at least until recently been only seen as something that wealthier people have access to. I mean, there are obviously some edge cases and some changes throughout. But I think most perception is, at least from where I’ve sort of come from, is that it wasn’t for everybody. And there was a pretty big price tag attached. And also that price tag was really associated with, I think even what you said, Richard, like the travel costs, like, if it’s not taking you an hour to do a session, and in fact, taking you three hours, an hour to get there and back, possibly more in terms of just the general kind of conversation that you might have with parents and so forth. You might need a price to kind of justify that, I think maybe the opportunity again, online tutoring was offering a more efficient option. But I think price, if it gets too crazy, is going to kill the industry. And I think also create a real sense of, you know, haves and have nots, which is not something that we want to perpetuate in the education system. So I think that’s a that’s a clear one. For me, that’s a threat to the industry have in terms of that perception. I think if tutoring gets expensive, but also lacks the professionalism with them, I think that is a major threat to the industry, because it erodes value, people spend crazy amounts of money get no results, they tell everybody else how few results they got with X amount of 1000s of pounds spent, like that’s a bad result. So anything that creates a bad taste in somebody’s mouth with tutoring, I think is a threat to the industry and erodes the virtuous cycle that it could have. I think tutoring really becoming very large group teaching without real individualisation I think is a major threat is we see that in the language area where we have a particular specialty. I think fortunately, online is kind of forcing the limits on those group sizes, because otherwise it really does start getting back to people turn up as bums on seats. And the business model is all about bums on seats rather than actually getting people to an individual goal. And also, this is a profession, like you cannot expect somebody just to turn up and deliver a great group, let’s call it tutoring session. It’s not going to happen without some real kind of like, experience real confidence with the technology. If you are doing it in an online environment. It’s not just turning up and then going clockwise around the room and spending exactly five minutes with each student. I think there has to be some sophistication there. And and I think it would be right for people to expect a higher standard of tutor if they’re going to be doing group classes.

Ludo Millar 37:41
Absolutely. Richard, can I turn to you next?

Richard Evans 37:44
Oh, yeah, I just wanted to jump in on all those points to pick out there. I think there’s very well said, I love and emphasise when one of us does badly in the industry, it hurts all of us. And particularly with tutoring. There are a lot of people in the press who don’t understand tutoring and like to take kind of pot shots at it and elements of it. I think that’s so important that we all hold that reputation. And you’re right when someone does something a bit uncomfortable. I think it is so important to be having these discussions to help inform, explain and hold each other to account. And in the spirit of that I’d like to continue the conversation with you Alex on the pricing because I agree but also I have a different point of view and maybe a solution I send to the students. So yes, prices tutoring I think was a lot higher and a lot more prohibitive. Maybe 10 years ago, I think a lot of social focus companies have come in and have deliberately pushed the price down. When tutoring went online, I was one of many proponents to say ‘Do not decrease your prices as tutors’, which we did as an industry and effectively gave us all pay rise. And I think that’s really important because what we’re seeing is something that’s very common in America. But tutoring is going down to like $10 or $15 an hour, it’s going down approaching minimum wage. And I don’t want my profession to be a minimum wage. I don’t think tutoring is the same as being a delivery driver, no insult to delivery drivers. But I don’t want to see it exclusively done by people who are expecting sort of a minimum wage or close to it, I don’t think that’s good for the students and families that we serve. So we obviously are very proud and talk on British as it is about being to the highest peers in the industry. And I think it’s really important that we are attracting professors, PhDs, academics, ex-bankers, ex-lawyers, and some really, really competent people, not any of those people, but separately some really competent people into the industry and we need a balance. So while I’m coming through actually from this big I think the third or fourth QT event, my realisation is I think we need that spread. I like the idea of newer tutors. I have my reservations as student tutors. But I do appreciate that. I assumed tutors coming in and starting on the lower end going through their qualifications coming to the events being inspired. But I think it’s important for them to have professionals, they do need to see that there are tutors earning £100. Now we do have tutors earning over £100,000 in our network and they’re self employed, they’re probably earning more elsewhere as well, I think that’s important to keep and retain top quality. So my question back to you, Alex is, how do we keep quality, if we are also trying to keep prices down for equity?

Alex Asher 40:33
I really liked the way that you distinguished a professional tutor, and let’s call them a ‘starting’ tutor. Just like every profession on the globe, you have different prices, depending on what you’re going to get, like the same reason that people choose private healthcare, rather than public healthcare. I don’t think there’s anything wrong necessarily about charging a lot. I think there’s a problem though, where the entire industry has a price point, which is really unattainable to most. And also if group classes are used as a way of giving a perception that people are getting the same, Oh, you know, you’re not getting, you know, Richard is your best tutor, or Julia is your best tutor. Again, I’m making things out of £100 an hour. But there’s an option that is still high quality at a level that you can afford. I mean, again, there’s some good opportunities with the government subsidising some of that. But equally, if the average pay for a tutor is that say £40 an hour, £50 an hour, do I think that’s achievable for most families? I would think absolutely not considering all of the other kind of cost pressures on them.

And then if you have, I mean, talk about China, and in terms of regulating tutoring out of the Chinese equation, like that was an example where it’s getting totally out of hand, the value maybe was questionable, like it was maybe they’re in terms of status, but was very questionable in terms of whether people were getting really good education outcomes. Again, do I agree or disagree with the regulations? It’s irrelevant. The main thing there was that here was an issue that was going berserk. There was so much social pressure to get tutoring, that was taking funds, like with no real results for parents that I think deserve to be able to use their money and other areas. So I think that’s where I’m coming from. But Rich, I really like this idea of paying professional tutors, what they’re worth. I totally agree with that point.

Richard Evans 42:39
Okay, great. We need to make it. I don’t like the idea that people can’t access tutoring, because we know it’s great. So it’s such an interesting balance, and I welcome the conversations across the industry.

Julia Silver 42:54
Blimey, this is rocket-powered, ey. So I’ll contribute this in terms of threats, who, though that if you’d asked me a year ago, I’d have said that I felt that the threat to tutoring was complacence. I feel that we were hidden behind a paywall. That phrase shadow-schooling was too close to home. And I think that the NTP has shone a light on tutoring, whether we like it or not, it has shifted things, it has brought the private and the public sphere very, very close together. And I think that the threat now is some sort of top-down regulation, that reduces our efficacy, because it asks us to be less responsive, less nuanced. You know, when Alex and Richard are talking about newer tutors and professional tutors, the language that we use a Qualified Tutor is expert and novice. And that journey from novice to expert is a progression route. And we as an industry have to develop our own professional progression routes. And if we have, you know, DfE, or government intervention that squashes that professional progression, it will lose its scope to become an international profession, it will start getting regulated to the point of just being to teaching outside the classroom. And really we in this room, are excited about tutoring as the future of education. So we don’t want it to be stifled by what people already know how to do. So I would say that the threat continues to be complacency, because really what we have to do is stay awake, stay aware, keep talking to each other and create this new profession together. It’s been around forever, but the changes are happening right now. And that’s exciting and it’s threatening. And we all have to stay awake and on the same page, because we’re riding the same wave.

Ludo Millar 45:08
Thank you, Julia, I think that was a really good way of summarising those threats and summarising some of the thinking around that. And it always feels like that when you gather people together, and you discuss these issues, that’s just a discussion. And it’s hard not to feel that, you know, once this recording is finished, and this podcast is over, well, we’ll just go back to doing what we’re doing. But the truth is that by saying out loud, a bit like how Richard talks about talking about the price, the high price that you may earn, as a tutor, talking about it implements it, and integrates it into people’s minds, including ourselves, you know, the way that we work each day is infused with the way that we think, the vision that we have. And I think, by talking about it on a public forum like this, we’re allowing people to reflect on that. And even if today, tomorrow, the next day, nothing changes in their lives, by hearing it a number of times or you know, or even by hearing it from multiple sources, that is a chance for them to act in a way that they feel is appropriate. And hopefully that way the act is a good and positive and kind of forward-thinking way. And to wrap up here, because I think we should, because this could- I don’t know where this would go if it kept going. But I want to give you each one sentence more around this final question around this magic wand that we always talk about, I wish maybe we could just invent one instead of just talking about it, but if, Alex, you had a magic wand and could wave over the education landscape, in one sentence, what would you see? Tying together what we’ve talked about here? What would you see?

Alex Asher 47:00
I would say a magic wand that can make education individualised, and students to really explore and find their own paths.

Ludo Millar 47:12
Excellent, amazing. Richard,

Richard Evans 47:16
I would see the National Tutoring Programme including a much higher percentage of professional full-time tutors absolutely smashing it out of the park so that the government, schools and families themselves are seeing the very, very best that tutoring has to offer to help it become a permanent part of the ecosystem of formal education.

Ludo Millar 47:40
Julia, a tough act to follow those two.

Julia Silver 47:44
And I would look at an education system that was more intentional about what learning was delivered individually, and what learning was delivered in groups, so that group learning was really collaborative, and team-focused. And anything that was a functional skill that you needed a student to crack and master, you gave them a tutor for, so a full timetable that combines tutoring, and classroom learning intentionally.

Ludo Millar 48:16
And pause for a moment for that to sink in.

You will find, dear listener, and also the three of you here, hopefully, listening back to parts all of this conversation, because some of the things that were said here are too big to take at face value, and to just be assumed into your brain and then to move on with, so drag the cursor back, listen to the parts of this conversation. If you’re listening to this on any podcast app, it should have the chapters of what we’ve discussed here. So that you can see where we talked about strengths or particular parts of this conversation. If you would like to find out more about what Alex Asher does, what LearnCube’s about, head to learncube.com or to the Get More Students podcast, type ‘get more students podcast’ into Google, it’ll come up with all of those wonderful episodes that Alex and his co-host Herbert discussed.

If you would like to find out more about Richard, he’s having a renaissance on LinkedIn. So you can either find him on LinkedIn or you can head to theprofs.co.uk. And of course if you’d like to find out more about Qualified Tutor, that can be done at qualifiedtutor.org, so that is where to head next. Probably take a few moments to sit down and have a little think after you’ve listened to this podcast because there’s a lot in there and it was just over 45 minutes long, over a cup of tea. Wonderful.

Alex Asher 49:44
I’m also going to jump in there to thank and congratulate Ludo and Julia on their 100th episode. You’ve got through it. What an amazing contribution to the tutoring sector. And you should both be feeling very proud and I hope your listeners continue to listen and maybe you’ll listen to the 200th episode sometime in the future …

Ludo Millar 50:08
Thank you Alex, thank you very much to the three of you. And we’ll see you all hopefully for the 101st episode.


Ludo Millar

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