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Tuition websites – great advertising or exploitative?

I’ve been a private tutor for the last 10 years.

Originally, I started out in a small tuition centre - two in fact as the pay was so low - working for someone else teaching groups of 4 for £6.50 an hour. 9:00am to 7:00pm on weekends and 4:00pm to 9:00pm Monday to Friday.


The catch with that was not only did I have to pay for my travel and food – some days if there were not enough students, I didn’t teach. If I didn’t teach, I didn’t get paid. But I couldn’t leave. Just in case more students arrived late.

There were also times when I didn’t get paid the right amount as the owners didn’t have the money or had made a mistake with how many hours I had taught. Fighting for pay was mentally exhausting, on top of the time it took me to travel to these places to work and worrying about getting home safe at night when I didn’t have a car at that time.



Tutoring websites


Then someone introduced me to a tutoring website. I could place my profile on this site [for free] and gain more clients, leading to independence from the tuition centres. Not only that, but I could also charge a bit more money!


So, I signed up.


Then I read the terms and conditions.


For every student found through the site, I had to give a free lesson as the first lesson. Understandable, as we may not fit. But they were not required to sign up for a specific number of lessons and could then ghost me. So, my time was not worth much.


Not only that, for every lesson booked through their site they would take commission of the money I charged – 25%! If I charged £10, I would lose £2.50 and be not much better off than previously.

There was no cancellation policy or fines for missing lessons. If they didn’t turn up, and I was ready and waiting, I still would not be allowed to charge them. They changed that policy quickly when they realised, they were losing money too.


If I wanted more people to see me – I had to pay for premium spots. So, not free. Anyone who didn’t pay for the premium spots were lucky if they were on the first three pages – most of us were way down the list.



Exploitation


Most of these tuition websites are aimed at recruiting undergrads and recent graduates who are looking for more permanent work, so very few people complained or made a fuss.

It wasn’t only this site – I had investigated over a dozen and was not happy with them as they all had the same policies and practices.

Eventually, parents who remembered me from the tuition centre and liked my way of teaching, hired me privately and I slowly grew my clients and reputation without the help of the tuition sites.


Those sites are far too exploitative.


Still doing the same thing!


As for why I’m bring this up now – recently, I was approached with an Instagram DM about signing up to a site. Where the tutees can sign up and get their first lesson for free, from as many different tutors as they want. We, as tutors, need to give our time and expertise for free, without a commitment from the person who is getting our time and expertise.


How do we know they are an actual student who is genuinely interested in learning? What if they are another tutor who is hopping around and trying to get resources from other people, or scoping out how much we charge and the style we teach in?


I’m at a place in my life, where my time is worth something.


So please, new tutors if you are signing up to websites, see if perhaps you would be better off working with an agency that handles tutors. They follow stricter rules and protect those who work with them much better than an anonymous website.


Until next time!

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