Group Tuition or Private One-To-One Classes? The New Debate

by Anna Michaelidou

A big question that often comes with private tuition is whether private one-to-one tuition is the best way forward - or is group tuition the way to go? More parents than ever are paying for private tuition to top up their children's education, to ensure they can compete with their peers and secure a better future.

Today's world is all about competition; young people competing for better jobs, businesses competing for better reviews and recognition, children competing for better grades and the list goes on. Education is the best place to start; by giving a child the best possible education we are giving them the best possible start in life and making that competition easier to attain.

Private tuition is something parents consider for many reasons including:

  • Extra help understanding school topics
  • Exam preparation
  • To learn something new (i.e. a musical instrument, an IT program, a new language, a sport)
  • To boost a child's self-esteem
  • To increase confidence
  • To catch-up on school work

When thinking about whether to opt for a one-to-one tutor or group tuition for your child, there are plenty of pros and cons that can be argued for each but the answer is simple. One-to-one tuition gets better results, but coupled with some group tuition could be the perfect solution.

What is one-to-one tuition?

This style of tuition is essentially when a child has the full attention of a tutor in that the lesson involves just the child and the tutor. These lessons are normally conducted in a home, either the child's or the tutor's, and can be as often as once or twice a week.

The benefits of one-to-one tuition

The benefits of one-to-one tuition are endless, but the fact that your child will have the full attention of his private tutor is probably the most prominent. This also leads to a stronger relationship with the tutor, whereby your child will be able to build up trust and feel more comfortable when attending his private classes. Other benefits include:

  • More focussed attention for your child
  • Personalised teaching for your child's needs
  • Reinforces knowledge learned in school
  • Your child can study at his/her own pace
  • No Travelling.The tutor will often come to your home so travelling is eliminated saving time for other activities
  • Flexibility with lesson scheduling
  • More emotional support
  • Customised lesson and exam preparation

What is group tuition?

Group tuition is defined as a tutor working with a certain number of students, which can typically be two to six students for small group tuition. The tutor focusses on teaching the students so that they have time to interact with the others, as well as working at their own pace. Group tuition usually takes place in a tuition centre classroom.

The benefits of group tuition

Group tuition has many benefits that are sometimes overlooked. Your child will have the opportunity to interact with other students and meet new people, which means they will be able to hear other peoples' opinions and listen to questions they may not have thought of themselves. The focus of the lesson will not solely be on your child, so they may have more time to digest certain pieces of information. Other benefits include:

  • Usually more affordable than one-to-one tuition
  • Tuition centres will provide well researched materials for the lesson
  • Tutors are often full-time workers, who are committed to teaching
  • Group tuition is usually at a centre with better equipment
  • Children are able to share their knowledge or problems with each other
  • Encourages interaction and enhances social skills
  • Children can make new friends
  • Encourages friendly competition
  • Offers a livelier environment for more enjoyable learning

Millions of UK children now have private tuition and the trend is An article from The Guardian earlier this year stated:"The proportion of tutored pupils has risen by more than a third over the past decade, from 18% in 2005 to 25% now. In London, 44% of pupils had private or home tuition last year, compared with 34% in 2005. The number of tutors offering their services has burgeoned, as has the number of tuition agencies."

Figures from the same source state that one in four children have private tuition. And in this latest debate on whether one-to-one or group tuition is best, we have seen the benefits that both private and group tuition offer.
The simple answer is - why not both? A new growing trend is for children to have their one-to-one private lessons and combine them with less frequent group lessons. This way, your child has the benefits offered by both types of tuition; simply put, they can have their cake and eat it.

How effective is mixing one-to-one and group tuition?

The general rule is the smaller the group the better, so one-to-one tuition has a higher impact than a group lesson would. Saying that, small group tuition does offer some advantages that cannot be gained in a one-to-one lesson.

By having weekly or twice-weekly one-to-one lessons, and adding a once or twice-monthly group lesson, you will be ensuring your child is one step ahead; gaining the advantages of both types of tuition. In this way it breaks up a certain monotony to their style of learning, and increases their chances of future success.

What are the costs of one-to-one and group tuition?

The costs of one-to-one and group tuition varies greatly depending on where you are based. In London, for example, the cost of any private tuition is substantially more than rates in Kent. Of course, rates also vary depending on the tutor.

First Tutors conducted research in 2014 that found the average hourly rate in the UK for one-to-one tuition was £24 per hour. This included preparation for the lesson, travel to the child's home and an hour lesson. Further research showed that while London is the UK's most expensive place for tutoring costs averaging £30 per hour, Plymouth accounted for the cheapest tutors with an average of £20 per hour.Group tuition can be moderately cheaper and varies from anything up to 40% cheaper than a one-to-one tutor. The reason is obvious; your child does not get the same amount of attention that they would if they were alone in the classroom. For some parents, where cost plays a major factor in their decision for a private tutor, trialling small group tuition as an introductory option before progressing to one-to-one tuition is a great option.

How do I find the right tutor for my child?

As we have seen, one-to-one and group tuition are both effective, so understanding your child's needs will be the most important factor when making a decision on a tutor. All children have individual needs, which you should consider when choosing a tutor. Some questions you may ask when thinking about the right tutor for your child are:

  • What recommendations do they come with?
  • Are they qualified enough?
  • Do they have the time?
  • Are they able to travel?
  • Can they work around your schedule?
  • Will they be compatible with your child?
  • Do they prepare their own lessons?
  • Do they have the right material or follow a curriculum?

First Tutors can help you to answer all these questions and more when selecting a tutor for your child. In addition to finding the perfect tutor for your child, be it home-based, at the tutor's home or online, it also allows you to search for nearby tuition centres should you wish to try out group tuition.

It can be argued that the choice of one-to-one or group tuition also depends largely on the type of lesson your child will be taking. For example, if your child needs extra tutoring in Maths or English, maybe one-to-one tuition would be the best option as they will have the full attention needed for them to concentrate on core information. Music, Arts & Crafts or IT lessons however may benefit greater from students directly, or indirectly, encouraging and motivating each other.


In many ways it is for the parent to decide which structure better suits their child. A positive conclusion would therefore be for children to continue with their one-to-one lessons, and integrate a group tuition lesson once or twice-monthly so they can have the best of both worlds. Your child will then have the opportunity to build a good relationship with their tutor, with the added benefit of experiencing other student's opinions from a group lesson.

Post By: Anna Michaelidou
Anna has been a private tutor of both English Literature and English Language for fifteen years having taught all levels from nursery school right through to university level. She is a writer, content marketing executive and a busy mother of four lovely children.