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National Tutoring Programme Update: 3 tips to boost your September client list.

This week, the plans for Academic mentors were revealed. Here's what we know...

Lots of people put their hands into the centre to show solidarity and unity
Using your networks to spread the word about your business can be the most effective form of advertising for new students.

The National Tutoring Programme announcement seems like weeks ago, but behind the scenes some developments are taking place that will affect tutors nationwide. The first branch of the Programme has been fleshed out and it is Teach First that will be leading the Academic Mentoring programme. The recruitment drive begins in August and they are looking for applicants with bachelor degrees with an interest in or some experience of teaching. There are full-time and part-time positions and the starting salary is £19,000 per annum (pro-rata). For a full time job which requires you to be ay school 5-days a week, this seems a woefully inadequate payment which is at least £5000 below the starting salary for a newly qualified teacher. However, until we know the hours mentors are required to work per week, it is difficult to assess the disparity between work put in and payment received. And don't get me started on the abysmal salaries received by our most valuable key workers in the UK. That's a whole different blog.

But, there are benefits to becoming an academic mentor, and unsurprisingly, they are only relevant if you want to go on to work for Teach First. Firstly, you become an ambassador for Teach First after completing your mentorship, giving you access to their network and some resources. You also have a reduced admissions procedure if you want to go on to qualify as a teacher through the company.

Some of the smaller details include your employment which will be operate directly through the school you are placed in, meaning you qualify for the same benefits as any other members of staff at the school. If you are a qualified teacher already you will need to do one-week of training; whereas, those with a degree but no teaching qualification will be required to partake in two-weeks.

In the role, mentors will be working with small groups, providing revision sessions, 1:1 appointments, guiding students who are shielding or self-isolating, and this will be subject specific. Currently the subjects are English, Maths, Humanities, Modern Foreign Languages, Science, and Primary (literacy and numeracy). For those leaving university and thinking about getting into teaching this makes a really good opportunity to earn some money before committing to a PGCE course as well as giving those wanting a career change a taste of what education can offer as a new vocation.

What about tutors?

The current information shows that if you want to work in the school as a tutor and you match the entry requirements, then this might be a good match. Particularly if you don't want to sign up to one of the big agencies which seemed to have hiked up their commission rates by 10-15% in the last month. There are no real developments in terms of the tuition partners other than that the call for funding will go out to select organisations, rather than an open call. This is perhaps further proof that only the biggest tutoring organisations will be called to action, leaving smaller agencies with fairer commission rates out in the cold.

Keep in mind, though, that the purpose of this initiative is to provide tutoring for the most vulnerable children that are at the greatest risk of losing out to the school closures. This means that many state schools will not be the first port of call, and may not even be eligible at all, for the NTP funding. This is an opportunity in itself and thinking about how to approach these schools before September might be key to your tutoring business taking off.

3 points to boost your September client list

Here are some key points to consider when approaching schools in your local area:

Make your approach

Think about the schools in your local area - you can target the schools less likely to receive funding by looking at the league tables for GCSE. Those at the higher end of the spectrum will most likely not qualify for the NTP, but they will have faced the same learning gap in terms of missed time in school. Some schools may look to form their own tutoring scheme, or may want to provide access to parents to make their own decision about private lessons.

Once you have chosen some schools, you can send an email or call the headteacher, head of year or head of subject as a starting point, but be polite and don't expect an instant reply - teachers are under an inordinate amount of pressure to make things work in September. Another option is to book a meeting and have some flyers made up. If you do, make sure the flyers are professional and have key details including prices, subjects and qualifications.


Once you have made your approach schools will likely want confirmation that you are a legitimate tutor with experience and successes. You need to be able to turn around and show them several examples of glowing reviews from your star tutees. Every time you work with a student, you should always ask the parent for a testimonial and build a bank of these for occasions such as this. Being self-employed is difficult enough without not having a record of your working history, and you may even find it useful to include some short testimonials when making your first approach.

Word of mouth

Personally, I find referrals are the best way to attract new clients as the potential client will have received confirmation from a happy customer about their own experience with you. This is stronger than a testimonial as the referral will be between friends or acquaintances that are seen trustworthy sources. If you struggle to get referrals on a large scale, or even if you just want to get word out about your business, you can offer a discount or even a free session to the client that refers another student to you. Make sure you can keep up with the demand though as you don't want to disappoint.

Get in touch and let me know if these work for you!

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