The cost of maths tuition in the UK

By Rahim Hirji Wednesday, September 3, 2014

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We often reach out to students, customers and potential customers of our service. Over the last year I have been speaking to many potential customers of Maths Doctor about how much is the right amount to pay for tuition, to the point that I’ve been getting a bad name for myself amongst friends and acquaintances alike! Tuition is obviously something that not everyone can afford. I get that – it is something of a luxury, but I think that tuition – and quality tuition is something that is good value.

People often work out how much they should spend an hour for tuition and the range for the cost of maths tuition varies significantly across the country depending on the type of tuition you take. At younger ages, it may make sense to join a class of 20 or 30 children who are learning maths together from one teacher. I think this is more of the same as what you get at school. I’m not knocking the schooling system, but if you are looking at helping your child improve their understanding of maths, it’s better if you have dedicated one-to-one maths tuition. These are very different approaches to learning, and help explain the range of maths tuition prices in the UK, which can be as little as £5 per hour (for a group session), all the way up to £100+ (for a tutor who has a phenomenal reputation!).

Our prices for maths tuition at Maths Doctor fall somewhere in between this range. I think they are a fair price for what we provide which is personalised one-to-one maths tuition. There is efficacy in our approach and more than 90% reach their target grade or higher. I’m not sure if it’s possible to put a price on that! However, I think that parents shouldn’t be looking at a price per lesson. I don’t think everyone should have tuition, but where tuition is relevant for a child, to get the right grades to change their confidence in a subject, I think tuition can be significantly beneficial. What I do think, however, is that if you are considering maths tuition for your child, you should consider it as more of a longer-term commitment. Whether that commitment is three, six or even twelve months of regular lessons, that’s what it takes to really achieve deep grounded improvement and to really promote an understanding of maths that’s not only beneficial for the short-term exam or improvement, but also will hopefully help the student later in life.

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Tuition is considered expensive for many people – I get that – but I always suggest ways of thinking about your spend commitment to maths tuition in other ways – and I like to think of it as if you were to purchase an Apple product at equivalent price points such as an iPod touch, an iPad or Macbook? Those are very different price levels and they are, of course, very different products. An iPod Touch costs about £200; and iPad costs about £500; a Macbook Air costs about £750; and a Macbook Pro can cost anything from £1000 upwards.

It’s a different way to think about pricing, but a simple one. If you have decided that one-to-one tuition is for you, how much do you need to spend to get the level of improvement that you want? Throwing money at a problem is not the right way to think about it, but a commitment to efficacy and grade improvement is. Tuition is not a short-term fix and if you are thinking about tuition for your child you probably need to commit to an equivalent of an iPad as a minimum per year for a subject – and you should probably think about it in “Macbook Air” terms to really look at cementing improvements and confidence. Sure, an “iPod Touch” amount of tuition can help put a child back onto the path after being ill, for example, but regular, dedicated one-to-one support is how we achieve fantastic results for our students.

Affordability of tuition is one of the other things that comes up time and time again. I think it is fair to say that parents have to balance the costs of many different things these days, but we wanted to find out what parents are spending their money on, if it wasn’t tuition. Earlier this year we launched our after-school research project to review what parents spent their money on. We have had an overwhelming response from parents, especially from parents of children living in the London suburbs. I won’t spoil the surprise of what we found, but many parents, on average will spend significantly more than what you might be spending for a tuition service on many different after-school type activities such as piano lessons. We also found out that what we charge for maths tuition is not as expensive as some other discretionary after-school type activities.

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Another pricing equivalent that often gets brought up about tuition is the price of private schooling. Some parents are lucky enough to be able to afford private tuition for their children, but many parents don’t and will look to tuition to top up their children’s education and give them what they perceive as the best that they can. Private secondary education in the London area can cost about £15,000 per year. If we made some quick assumptions, that each term cost £5000, consisted of 10 weeks and had 5 one hour lessons a day, we could work out that each lesson costs roughly £20. I do appreciate that there are other intangible benefits to private education, but, on a rough estimate this £20 is a scale hour equivalent to what we charge per lesson for some of our packages. However, what I need to explain to parents is this – £20 per hour with Maths Doctor is for one-to-one tuition, not for teaching in a class of fifteen or twenty children.

Whether we charge £40 per hour or the private school class equivalent of £20 per hour - it makes what we charge for maths tuition incredibly good value. All our tutors are trained in our approach to teaching – and whist I acknowledge that teaching professionals can’t be compared like for like, with our dedicated focus on each individual student, our supplementary educational approach is one way to help students get the grade they deserve. And that’s the difference - personalised one-to-one maths tuition, I feel, is invaluable. A tutor is providing a bespoke service to help a child excel in a subject – and in our case - maths. You can’t put a price on that, because each service from each tutor to each student is different.

We all realise that tuition or maths tuition is something that is supplementary to what is received in school. There is a cost to it but it is something that many parents now feel is imperative that they undertake for their children, especially in maths. And for good reason, maths is the most important subject, not just for logic, but also what many employers look at for an indicator of capability i.e. it’s a small indicator of meritocracy. Hopefully I have demonstrated that the price that Maths Doctor charges for maths tuition is good value. And if you are thinking about maths tuition for your children, perhaps as they enter a critical exam year, you’ll maybe look at the potential grade improvement of two or three grades in equivalent terms to a brand new Macbook!

Categories: General | Maths | Tuition