Good news for users of tuition services: complaints to the NSW Office of Fair Trading are down. The Australian Tutoring Association (ATA) has experienced an upsurge in membership over the past year suggesting that self-regulation has been very effective.
Mohan Dhall, ATA CEO said, “The news of a fall in complaints has been very encouraging. As the peak body for tutors we take consumer protection very seriously.” He noted that tuition businesses were more aware of their responsibilities particularly to vulnerable consumers.
However, despite the good news, there were a couple of areas that consumers still need to be more vigilant. This is particularly the case with respect to businesses offering tuition online or promoting their services online. “Consumers need to check the claims made on website very carefully”, Mr Dhall said. “We have had a number of complaints from consumers alleging that online tutor matching agencies do not always properly vet their tutors and that anyone can list with such services. We encourage parents to take appropriate steps to verify the claims made by tutors on these sites”.
Some of the questions that parents should ask prospective tutors are:
• Are you a member of the ATA?
• Could you tell me what your qualifications and experience are, that are relevant to the area I am seeking a tutor for?
• How long have you been tutoring/teaching this subject for?
• Do you have satisfied clients that I can call and ask about your tutoring?
• Have you been screened for child protection purposes? If no – why not? If yes – by whom and when? Can I see your paperwork?
• Is there any additional work expected of my child in the form of homework or after hours study?
Checking that the tutor you use is a member of the ATA is an important step as members are accountable to the ATA Code of Conduct. The ATA also provides relief by way of dispute resolution processes.
The rapid growth in private tuition, and its increasing support of mainstream education, has meant that parents are increasingly turning to tutors for support.