Tuition Superpowers and their Hold Over London

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By Sophie Taylor-Barthorpe

23 July 2014

With a proliferation of successful tuition agencies and individual ‘super tutors’ charging up to £250 an hour, private tuition is clearly big business in London. Many may balk at these prices, but this money pays for one-on-one tuition from some of the brightest minds of our generation. Tutors today are not just graduates looking for some extra cash, but educators of the highest calibre. They have climbed to the top of their academic field, and are preparing to move into high-powered jobs in scientific research or investment banking. London parents are able to exploit this extraordinary and unique pool of talent to the enormous benefit of their children.

Earlier this month, the BBC’s Sean Coughlan declared London an ‘education superpower’, with less advantaged London schoolchildren outperforming their more affluent counterparts in other areas of Britain. However, this is not just true of the state sector. London is also home to some of the most prestigious independent schools in the world. From Westminster and St. Pauls to Wetherby Prep, British independent schools have a reputation for excellence which transcends our borders, attracting almost 25,000 overseas students annually. London’s universities are also world class, with esteemed institutions including Imperial, the London School of Economics and University College London drawing in the world’s brightest intellectual talent. It is no surprise then, that London is the world centre for private tuition.

London private tutors are educated to the highest level in their dedicated fields. About half of Simply Learning Tuition’s tutors have a postgraduate qualification, and many have PhDs. They

successfully combine work and study. A tutor on Simply Learning Tuition’s register provides Mandarin tuition alongside completing her doctorate in modern Chinese literature at SOAS. Others use tuition to fund writing and performing often of the highest calibre, including a tutor who this summer co-wrote and starred in the hit play ‘The Kindness of Strangers’ at Southwark Play House.

London’s parents and students are able to exploit this small window of opportunity before tutors go on to influential and highly-paid jobs. As Nathaniel McCullagh, Director of Simply Learning Tuition, describes, “we regularly lose them to the job they had been studying for. One brilliant statistics tutor, who had been on SLT’s register for 3 years, is now an analyst at Morgan Stanley. He’s earning considerably more than the £58 per hour he was charging as a tutor!”

Whilst London’s status as an ‘education superpower’ opens up tremendous opportunities for the next generation, it has also created a competitive scramble for places. With demand coming from all corners of the globe, entry requirements for our independent schools and universities are very high. There is ruthless competition for places. Private tuition gives children the best possible chance to access all of London’s incredible educational opportunities. About 60% of Simply Learning Tuition’s work is dedicated to preparing children for demanding school entry exams.

However, as families around the globe have come to recognise the expertise of the London’s tutors, demand for them no longer comes solely from Britain’s ambitious parents. Simply Learning Tuition receives several requests each month for tutors to live overseas working with families and schools. These families spend upwards of £100,000 annually on a tutor’s salary, who can enjoy lifestyles beyond the imagination of many. Word of London’s position as the global ‘tuition superpower’ is spreading far beyond British borders. The London private tutor is rapidly becoming a luxury export.

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