The teaching landscape in the UK is undergoing it’s most significant shift since 2020, with a growing number of educators exploring alternative career paths. Frustrated by the challenges within the traditional classroom setting, I believe that 2024 will see a huge surge in teachers opting to set up their own tutoring businesses, driven by the desire for more time and financial independence.
Let me tell you a story about a former client, Vicky.
Upon deciding to embark on a journey as a self-employed tutor in 2021, Vicky initially followed the familiar path she had started when tutoring on the side alongside her previous job as a secondary science teacher.
Sticking with “the going rate “in her area (a phrase I hate, btw!), when we met she was charging £30 per hour for her services, a common practice in 2021.
Vicky did some digging and realised that if she lived just 30 miles away in Oxford, she could easily charge an additional £20 or more per hour.
This revelation brought to light the inequity in pay based on her location, a challenge she found disheartening despite the fact that she was increasingly working with her students online . . . which rendered her location irrelevant anyway!
After months of persisting with the £30/hour rate, Vicky found herself at full capacity, squeezing in as many sessions as she could in the evenings and even on weekends. At the same time, she was grappling with the harsh reality that her hard work was merely covering her essential living costs.
By the time she’d factored in not working during holidays, that week when she’d had COVID and the fortnight when she found herself taking care of her mum – she basically had nothing left.
The dream of being self-employed and financially secure seemed to be slipping away as she toiled from 3.30 pm to 7.30 pm Monday to Friday, accommodating extra sessions on Saturdays for kids who were sick or had important “stuff they couldn’t miss” during their regular slot.
She had envisaged having time for the gym and coffees with friends, but she found with teaching KS3 science, GCSE physics AQA foundation paper, OCR higher paper, A level Chemistry Edexcel and OCR specs, A Level Physics AQA & Edexcel, oh and that KS2 pupil who she was afraid to turn down at the time….) her days were filled prepping and revising all the exam specs.
Despite her full schedule, Vicky discovered that a significant portion of her working week went unpaid. The hourly rate she charged only accounted for the time spent directly with the child, leaving her extensive session preparation, planning, and the business-related tasks completely uncovered. This left her feeling reminiscent of her teaching days – overworked, undervalued, and working for little more than paying the bills.
The situation echoed the challenges she faced upon leaving the teaching profession in 2020, marked by chronic stress and depression. Her promise to prioritise her wellbeing and avoid burnout seemed to be slipping through her fingers as she found herself working tirelessly, yet not being able to see a way out of the financial doldrums.
The toll of tutoring 16 hours a week, with an even greater amount of unpaid time spent on admin and planning, left her questioning if this was any more sustainable than her teaching job was. She knew deep down that she loved tutoring and felt far less stressed than she had in her teaching job. She wanted to make it work more than anything. Vicky found herself at a crossroads, seeking a solution that aligned with her original goals and values.
Vicky’s story is far from unique. Recent statistics indicate that the year 2023 witnessed a remarkable rise in the number of teachers searching for new teaching jobs on the TES. The reasons behind this exodus vary, including burnout, disillusionment with the system, and the hope that a better deal exists in a new school.
Rather than jumping from one teaching position to another, an increasing number of teachers are choosing to become entrepreneurs. Setting up a 1:1 private tuition business seems like an appealing option, promising autonomy and the ability to dictate one’s schedule. However, the honeymoon period often fades as teachers grapple with the challenges of attracting clients and building a sustainable, scalable business.
The Pitfalls of Independence:
As some teachers transition to entrepreneurship, we come up against unforeseen hurdles. The initial excitement of being our own boss may give way to the harsh reality of financial instability and the struggle to scale our business.
Many clients join The 2 Hour Tutor programme as tired as they were in their teaching positions, prompting the need for a more strategic approach.
Online Group Tutoring: The Answer to Sustainability:
Recognising the limitations of one-on-one tutoring, savvy educators are turning to online group tutoring as a scalable and profitable alternative. The shift to virtual platforms can allow you to reach a broader audience, breaking free from the constraints of geographical location. However, the question remains: How can teachers make a successful transition to online group tutoring?
Becoming an Online Group Tutor: A New Skillset
The journey to becoming a successful online tutor involves mastering various aspects, from marketing and client acquisition to the use of technology. To navigate the online group tutoring landscape effectively, you will need to learn how leverage technology like never before! Tutor management software, virtual classrooms, and effective marketing strategies become essential in establishing a thriving group tutoring business.
As the UK teaching landscape undergoes a transformation, teachers are exploring new avenues to not only escape the challenges of the classroom but to thrive as entrepreneurs. Online tutoring offers a viable and appealing option, which, when done well, offers scalability and financial stability.
By embracing tech and equipping yourself with the necessary marketing training and support (such as what we offer in the 2 Hour Tutor programme) you too can transition successfully and confidently into the world of online group tutoring, turning your passion for education into a sustainable and fulfilling business.