Do your students tell their teachers that they have a tutor?

In years gone by I always felt that teachers had little or no respect for tutors. I felt like I was working in some kind of secrecy.

It was like that between doctors and osteopaths for example. My father referred to his secret visits to the osteopath as ‘seeing The Quack’. Someone who was considered not very medically qualified who had the apparently inexplicable ability to relieve pain where a GP could not. When I developed back problems myself, my GP actually recommended a local osteopath! How times change.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to return to a successful GCSE student struggling with A-level English Literature.  The teacher had spoken with the parents and given them a list of topics which a tutor could help with if they wanted to use one. After just a few weeks the student was back on track and better motivated. The message from school was that improvements had been seen and the teacher told the student that she saw me as an extension to the schoolwork. The teacher was more than happy with my contributions.  

Another time I tutored a GCSE student whose mother was Deputy Head in a primary school. It was a little odd tutoring a teacher’s child, but I quickly identified his Meares Irlen problem and found he worked very well with coloured overlays and later tinted contact lenses. (He was a very good-looking lad, vain and refused to wear spectacles)

The parents told the school about his condition and about my input, but the student was not at all happy about school knowing he had outside help. They were all delighted when results day came.


One of my Year 7 students answered a question is class. 

The teacher asked, “Who can tell me what onomatopoeia is?”  

My student put his hand up and told the teacher, “It’s when we write down a sound, sir.”

The teacher asked, “How do you know that?”

Maybe regretting putting his hand up he replied, “Oh, er -my sister was telling my mum.”

He doesn’t have a sister. 


A recent GCSE student told me recently that his teacher had criticised some punctuation issues in his homework and added a note “You could discuss this with your tutor, to make sure you get it right in future.”  The student told me he had never mentioned having a tutor. It was interesting that the teacher could evidently see a tutor’s influence on his work.


Most of the time, I think my students do not tell people they have a tutor. They don’t tell friends or teachers. Students are often keen to keep this to themselves. It’s their secret. Maybe some students are embarrassed to tell anyone – it’s a sign they are struggling to keep up and need help, and a sign of weakness.

This is an odd thing. A student I was tutoring in English last year is a strong music student. He plays violin and was studying theory of music to enable him to progress in the practical exams. Whilst he kept my role to himself, he had no hesitation in telling his friends that he had violin lessons at home and that he could not play in the local football league match because it clashed with a violin exam. Reminds me of ‘Billy Elliot’.


Look where we are now. Tutors working in schools. How times change.