The Good Schools Guide met with Teachers To Your Home staff. In addition, 61 clients and 77 tutors have completed an online survey (sent to 911 clients and 455 tutors) and we have followed this up with additional short phone interviews with some of those surveyed.
Run by husband and wife team Gill and Jim Dixon. For eight years, Gill (fast-talking, savvy, friendly) was head and CEO of a large co-ed, HMC, independent day and boarding school, where Jim was physics and maths teacher. But in 2015, this dynamic duo sought a different challenge in the educational sector – ‘naively, we thought it would be a good idea to start our own business – after all, how hard could it be?’ she laughs. it is now a thriving business and they are nicely settled in Oxfordshire.
Described by parents as ‘quick’, ‘caring’ and even ‘perfect’. We were told, ‘they’re always helpful and deal with queries very promptly’ and ‘they really listened to my requirements and got me two high-quality options’. Another called them ‘the best tutor company I have interacted with – you can really tell it’s run by former teachers’. Tutors report ‘a real sense of a relationship with the people that run it’ and that it’s ‘friendly’ and ‘professionally run’.
The clue’s in the name - only qualified teachers are on their books, all of whom come to your home (or boarding house for boarders and cafés or libraries for some A level students). Most work full-time in local schools, although a minority tutor full-time and are registered across several agencies.
TTYH claims it corners the market in terms of primary age tutoring, which forms about 60 per cent of their work. The rest is a mixture of all academic subjects at all stages, including preparation for SATs, 11+, 13+, CE, scholarship, GCSE/IGCSE, IB, Pre-U and A level. Parents say they find tutors with experience in the right exam boards (critical for subjects like psychology A level) and they will headhunt for more unusual subjects. A third of families have children in independent schools; the rest are in the state sector.
Many of the teachers have SEN qualifications and experience, some are SENCOs or educational psychologists. ‘They found us two candidates to interview with strong SEN backgrounds when other companies couldn’t find us anyone at all – a lifesaver during such an immensely stressful time,’ said one parent; ‘Our tutor really helped build our dyslexic son’s confidence,’ said another.
They do support around a dozen families with homeschooling, including for SEN and children who are elite actors or sports talents with lots of training and rehearsal commitments. ‘My son finds mainstream education too overwhelming due to his autism and I specifically wanted qualified and dedicated teachers, not smart young adults who tutor on the side – and that’s exactly what I got,’ said a parent.
The business has unusually strong relationships with schools (no doubt helped by Gill being an ex-big cheese in the sector), both providing teachers for one-to-one or small group work and liaising on behalf of parents – ‘ours liaised with the teacher and offered to attend parents evenings,’ said one parent.
The youngest age is four (can four-year-olds really need tutors, though?); the oldest is currently a 94-year-old having Latin tuition. They also provide tuition for businesses (recently for Mercedes Benz), as well as schools, hospitals, SEN solicitors and local authorities.
There’s no corner of the UK they don’t cover, although inevitably they take on more tutors in the south east and big cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham and most recently Edinburgh.
Described by parents as excellent’, ‘kind,’ ‘engaging,’ encouraging’ and even ‘a wonder woman’, we heard tale after tale of the tutors "reflecting my very high standards" and how they "really understood our needs and got under the skin of the areas our daughter was falling behind in".
This outfit is big and getting bigger still – when we met them, they’d had 18,000 tutors working with 15,500 families over the previous 12 months. ‘In any one week, around 442 tutors are working with 580 families,’ says Gill, who was expecting their tutors to teach 65,000 lessons over the next academic year.
The upsides of the sheer size include choice and speed. ‘It’s brilliant - you get two or three high-calibre teachers to choose from within just one or two days,’ explained a parent.
There’s a ‘belt and braces approach to safeguarding’ (the teachers only work in a supervised setting and all have an enhanced DBS) and because the firm remains personal (‘clients know they can ask us questions and for advice anytime - we are open long hours and over the weekend’).
Around 100 client requests come in each day – these are offered to all tutors who can teach that subject at the required level and who live within a 10 to 15 mile radius of the client’s postcode (or also offer online tuition). TTYH then whittles down those that fit the criteria (anywhere between 20 and 200) down to two or three, based on the quality of their profile, the location and the internal ratings that they keep on each teacher which reflect any previous roles they’ve had with them. The client then receives a shortlist and gets to scrutinise the teacher profiles (this is the time to check those credentials and get references if you want them), then interview by phone the ones they’re interested in.
The agency gets regular feedback from their families, which is posted on the website each week, while feedback from the tutor to the family is left down to them –‘I love that flexibility especially as so many agencies are so prescriptive,’ said one tutor.
Perhaps surprisingly, TTYH doesn’t belong to The Tutors Association. Gill says it’s ‘because we see ourselves more as dealing with teachers than tutors and as a business, not an agency’. There is a plan is to develop a charitable arm in the future (eg children in hospitals, language clubs in primary schools) – ‘what a legacy that would be,’ says Gill.
No registration fee. And what a joy to see prices so clearly listed on the website – starting at £40-46 for primary, going up to £46-50 for A levels. All travel expenses included. Unusually, you pay the teacher direct via an automated system at the end of each month. The teacher then pays TTYH a commission, ranging between £3-10. T&Cs are signed by both clients and tutors, but there are no contracts and you can stop the tuition whenever you want. Reasonable notice expected for cancellations, but nothing is set in stone and TTYH will sometimes foot the bill.
Teachers To Your Home say ‘We have big aims and want to establish ourselves as the market leader in the UK for high-quality homeschooling and home tuition,’ says Gill.
A big player in the market, yet one that (at least for now) has a personal touch. With an ex-head teacher at the helm and only trained teachers providing the tuition right across the UK, this feels a very safe bet.
We can find you qualified teachers in your area for home or online tuition