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The Tutors' Association: An Interview with President Adam Muckle

The Tutors' Association: An Interview with President Adam Muckle

Following his speech at Athena Tuition's conference 'Teaching Outside the Classroom', we caught up with Adam Muckle, private tutor and President of The Tutors' Association.

Adam Muckle is an award-winning private tutor and President of The Tutors' Association. Having trained as a Barrister, Adam has tutored over two hundred students from a wide variety of backgrounds over the past seven years. He teaches from his base in London and has also undertaken several placements abroad in Europe and Asia. We spoke to him about his role in the industry and his thoughts on private tutoring. Here's what he had to say:

You recently attended Athena Tuition’s conference in Edinburgh - Teaching Outside the Classroom. What was your role at the event and what were your particular highlights?

I was asked to speak about the role of The Tutors' Association and the benefits of joining to tutors. It is great that tutors have opportunities like this to share ideas and experiences. Tutoring can at times seem solitary and it is important sometimes to meet fellow-tutors to develop as professionals. I very much enjoyed the afternoon programme of talks and speaking with some tutors afterwards.

As an award-winning tutor yourself, you have worked overseas in several countries within Europe and Asia. From your personal experience, how does the industry in the UK compare to these other countries?

The placements I have undertaken overseas have been for families with children already at British-curriculum schools, whether preparatory, international or public schools. So in that way it is the same industry, different location. Families from overseas are often not as aware of the curriculum standards; they appreciate the guidance of someone who has personal experience of British schools of this type to help raise their children to the level required - typically for entrance exams.

The tuition industries in Asian countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong are markedly different to that of the UK. In the UK, there are a whole variety of reasons why parents look for tutors, all based on differing individual circumstances. In Asian countries, tutoring and supplementary education are far more prevalent as a part of their local educational systems.

In 2015, one of your students received a Harrow scholarship and two received conditional offers to Eton. And in 2014, all of your tutees for Eton received places at this prestigious school. What is your personal approach to tutoring?

I draw on my own educational experiences when I was 10 to 12 years old, a pivotal time for me. Without going into details here, I channel the negativity of that period of my life to create something  positive for my tutees. My motivation for tutoring is that I don't want them to go through the same educational difficulties I had at that age.

It's about building rapport and building confidence. Then, by fostering independence in learning, they can flourish for themselves at upper school. More generally, I understood the tuition dynamic as a teenager. I was privately tutored in Classical Greek four times a week before school for three years by a very inspirational Classics master. Without him, I probably wouldn't be doing this interview.

You’ve worked closely with some of the largest tutoring agencies in the UK. What do you think makes a good tutoring agency?

I have worked with tuition agencies not only because they make my life easier in finding work but also as a way of meeting others in the industry. There are many different ways in which to be a good tutoring agency, depending on your model, your target audience and your market. There is probably no generic answer to the question. I'm personally grateful for all the help the different agencies I have been associated with have given me, and my role now is to give something back to the industry.

Have you noticed any trends in the tutoring industry since you first started working as a tutor? If so, what have you observed?

Tutoring and supplementary education is a very broad sector. The single biggest trend is growth. The industry is bigger now in terms of companies involved in tutoring; there are more opportunities for tutors as demand has increased, mostly by parents seeking tutors. And it is not just after-school tutoring that is growing. Extra-curricular subjects are taken up as a hobby, maybe not provided by a school, and there are a growing number of adult-learners who are looking to build on their education.

You’re also President of The Tutors’ Association, can you tell us a bit about the organisation and the role you play in its development?

The Tutors' Association was founded in October 2013 as an industry-led initiative with four basic aims: First, to give much needed professional recognition to tutors; secondly to provide reassurance for parents on the first steps in selecting a tutor; thirdly to be a respected and responsible voice for the profession, and finally, and importantly, to give tutors a support network and community to share insights, challenges and exchange ideas.

Over the past decade or so tutoring has grown, both in the UK and abroad, into a multi-billion pound industry. It is difficult at this stage to glean accurate statistics, but there are hundreds of thousands of tutors all over the UK individually contributing to the educational lives and futures of others. Such an industry needs a coherent voice and we are establishing dialogues with schools, parents, the media and government.  As I see it, The Tutors' Association is both a standard-bearer for good tutoring and a support network and community for tutors.

My role as President is to represent the membership, which currently stands at over 360, including over 150 corporate members. From being elected as a Director I have just tried to throw myself into the role and lead by example. I took charge of the Association's social media and have led the Association's CPD Panel which has organised four professional development events since last summer: two workshops on Dyscalculia training, child psychology, and fostering happiness and heroism in children.

We are hosting an event on Tuition Business Growth in July and are about to record a podcast on the benefits of tutoring. We are also in the process of organising a whole day of workshops in the context of a mini-conference at Stowe School over October half-term. So, much to look forward to.

As President since March, I have represented the Association so far at the Education Show in Birmingham and at the Athena Tuition Conference. I have also spoken at tuition company events and will also be present at the Educational Festival at Wellington College later in June. I have also created a few more panels to develop membership engagement and participation. As ever, if any member has questions about the Association, if they would like to get more involved, or potential members are looking to join, I would be delighted to talk to them.

When The Tutors’ Association was formed in 2013 one of its initial key focuses was to discuss the potential benefits of tutor accreditation and what it might look like. I understand that as the organisation has developed, its focus is now on encouraging best practice and representation. What is the Association’s current position on tutor accreditation?

Our position is that this aspect should be demand-driven, principally by parents. If such a demand were to be evident, then the Association would be fully behind it and take the lead in creating a suitable programme. We are also actively looking at ways of creating a tutor course with a university for those seeking a career in tutoring, but based largely around professional development. Our focus at the moment is on ethics and good practice, where everyone already seems supportive.

Next month, The Tutors’ Association is holding a training seminar in London called ‘Successfully Growing Your Tutoring Business in 2016’, which is now fully booked. Can you tell us a bit more about the event and what attendees can expect?

It will look at what stage attendees are at in their own business journeys, what makes a business different, understanding customers, service, culture, influence and value. It will investigate the benefits of a social media presence to a business. It is lined up to be a great event. I will be there to discuss the professional advantage of being a member of The Tutors' Association, and throughout the day to present.

What can the tutoring industry expect from the Tutors’ Association in the future?

That it become the recognised voice for the profession and for tutoring be accepted as an established part of the education landscape in the UK. To build strong two-way relationships with both consumers of tutoring as well as providers - schools, heads, parents, parenting groups - possibly with representation for these on the Board. 

As mentioned above, we are organising a conference for October half-term and hope to have a national awards scheme focused on the outcomes of great tuition. We also plan to host even more events and create opportunities for tutors to exchange experience and knowledge.

The private tutoring industry has grown considerably over the last 10 years. What do you see as the future of private tutoring in the UK? Where do you think the industry is headed?

As demand rises, private tutoring will continue to thrive. I hope the ethics of tutoring are established so that it can be as good as it can possibly be. That tutors are more knowledgeable about the profession and others in it and they are recognised for all the good work they do.

If you would like to find out more, please go to our website: wwww.thetutorsassociation.org.uk.

  • The Tutors' Association
  • Adam Muckle
  • Athena Tuition
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