The private tutoring industry in the UK has been supposedly valued at over £6 billion GBP and counting. It's difficult to put an exact figure as there are no real industry regulators to measure the output of so many self-employed teachers and small businesses. Add to that the current closure of schools for up to six months and you surely have a gap in the market the size of Antartica.
I have spent the last nine years private tutoring and homeschooling, beginning by working through a commission-based agency who advertised on my behalf and sent students directly to me. I then moved my profile online to a site that allows tutors to create a profile and manage their own clients and payments without charging commission. This platform was extremely useful as I tried to grow my client base alongside studying for my MA and then my Ph.D. I could never imagine tutoring could become a full time career, as much as I loved it, purely because I couldn't work out how to take on more clients without cloning myself. It was at this point, when I was turning clients away and creating a waiting list, that I started developing my plans for The Learn Lab.
Before lockdown became the buzzword of 2020, I had slowly been planning the content and structure of my education platform, buying the domain name, setting up social media channels, and finally having the website built for me. Up to this point I had no experience in project development, marketing, social media management and the numerous other skills it takes to create a business online. I agonised over colour schemes, logos, the way I would teach to groups and individuals, and how to get the word out that online education was the future. Then COVID-19 struck and all my plans had to be developed at 100mph.
Over the course of two weeks in March I had the website built, created content and began the difficult journey towards building a client base and an online following. There are no magic shortcuts - building an online community organically is very difficult and it takes time to grow trust in your brand. Since then, I have attended marketing webinars, I've read countless books on developing a start-up, and I have taken as much advice as I could possibly find from others working in the start-up sphere, whatever their industry. Being a great tutor isn't enough, you need a little bit of business acumen and a lot of perseverance. But that's for another post.
The online tutoring market is on the verge of going stratospheric and it's never been a better time to start using your skills and knowledge to encourage and educate the next generation.
So today we received the news that for many schools in England, it just wouldn't be possible to welcome back all their students before the end of the summer term. Many are concerned they won't even be able to reopen in September. Where does this leave an entire generation of children and young adults from all over the country, and some of the world? It is the responsibility of everyone: not just schools, not just the government, not just teachers, but of communities to help fill in the gaps these students are now facing in what is most likely a very scary time.
Being a super tutor has some powerful connotations and many associate private tuition with children from private schools being pushed to achieve the very best through the inexhaustible resources afforded through wealth and class. This can not be the case. Education is for everyone and this needs addressing - how do we give all children access to the internet and devices to connect to online lessons and material? What can we do to provide accessible and interactive lessons to appeal to the young minds that are currently facing huge uncertainty and social isolation?
If I knew the answer to all of those questions I am sure I would be on my way to an OBE. However, I can offer my experience and understanding of working with young people to achieve their goals and learn to be confident in their ability to learn and grow. From developing a curriculum, using online tools, working with parents and schools, to supporting the pastoral needs of students. I hope to post some advice and experiences from 'Behind the Learn Lab' to engage with and learn from other teachers, students, parents and community leaders to find a solution to some of the critical issues we face today.
"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."
- Malcolm X