We sit down with Adam Muckle, President of the Tutors' Association, to learn more about the association's aims and practices, and to discuss the upcoming National Tutors' Conference in October.
For our next interview, we spoke with Adam Muckle, President of The Tutors' Association, a membership body that represents tutors and tutoring companies in the UK. We asked Adam to give us an overview of the Association and its practices, and to explain why parents should choose a tutor that works with the Association.
UK Study Centre: Hi Adam, thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Could you tell us a little about what the main aims of the Tutors’ Association are?
Adam Muckle: The Association as a professional membership body aims to be the go-to-resource and representative voice for the tutoring profession in the UK — for tutors, tuition companies, the wider public, the media and government. As a not-for-profit, membership-led, democratic organisation and community of tutors, the Association in its early years is a vehicle for its members to shape how the tutoring sector and we as professionals are perceived. We aim to support our Members in their work with professional services, resources, information, commercial deals, courses and events, enabling them to excel and be the best they can be. By doing so we are collectively raising our professional standards and getting tutoring to be seen as a normal part of the education landscape, with a commitment to providing tutoring for all who want it.
How did the Association get started?
It started in 2013, initially with a consultation of thousands of tutors and tuition companies as to whether they would like a professional body. This was affirmed by its launch in October 2013 and in its foundation by a small group of tuition companies the Association began to work out its identity. Professional bodies can mean different things to different people and there are many reasons for joining. We're now focused on growing the membership in the spirit of support and participation so members can be involved in shaping its direction. Since its foundation we have been developing things at great speed — in the past year and a half we have hosted many events, including our first very successful conference in October 2016. Resources, services and exclusive discounts have now trebled. Membership has now grown to well over 600 Members, 150 of whom are tuition companies, such as UK Study Centre. We value your support!
What’s your own personal background, and how long have you been associated with The Tutors’ Association?
I'm originally from Belfast, and I read Classics at Durham University and then trained as a barrister. A legal friend told me about tutoring in late 2008 and I pursued that alongside looking for legal work. I found it very rewarding that my students were getting such good results. It wasn't until summer 2012 when I was asked to tutor in China that I considered it as a realistic career path. When The Tutors' Association was founded in late 2013, I became a Member in early 2014 and was asked to join one of its Tutor Panels. When the Association held its first board elections in summer 2015 I thought that if an individual tutor were to be represented at the table, a tutor like me should stand. So I decided to stand and to my surprise I was elected a Director. Getting more of a feel as to the nature of the Association and the Board, I got involved creating events and leading panels of members in these endeavours. I was very honoured to be voted President in March 2016, we've made great progress this past year and I am determined for the Association to succeed in the future.
What kinds of events does the association run?
These are relatively broad in nature to appeal to the breadth of our membership. We have hosted events on business growth, child psychology, neuroscience, growth mindset, social occasions and now an annual conference. These are all led by volunteers among the membership so we welcome further participation and involvement in our mission to support the membership.
Can you tell us a little about the National Tutors’ Conference happening at the Barbican in October?
Building on last year's Conference, we have bigger ambitions for this one. We have treble the number of speakers and more than double the number of delegates, properly reflecting the education landscape. We are pleased to welcome the former head of UCAS Mary Curnock Cook OBE who will address the role of tutoring in education; Mursal Hedayat, founder of Chatterbox will be discussing the role of social enterprise in tutoring; authors of the Sutton Trust report on Shadow-Schooling will be discussing social mobility and their research on the Private Tuition Industry. There will also be speakers giving practical advice on tutoring different types of student as well as marketing advice, the role of technology in education and collaborating with others in education. Sponsors and service providers will be exhibiting throughout the day and of course refreshments will be provided.
What are the advantages of employing a tutor that’s a member of the association?
When parents and other potential clients employ you as a Member of the Association they have the reassurance that you are committed to your profession by signing a Code of Ethics, have a valid DBS certificate and have proven tutoring experience. The Association provides both a DBS service, a complaints resolution procedure and its own Members' Register. If a tutor is not a member yet, it is not to say a tutor is in any way a bad tutor. However, at the moment anyone can set themselves up as a tutor. In order to distinguish the ones of real value and who take tutoring seriously in the long run, we would encourage membership. Take the time to invest in your profession to see tutoring fully recognised and regarded in its own right, alongside the likes of law and medicine.
What do you think makes a good tutor?
The ability to build rapport with their student and clients, to be knowledgeable and comfortable in tutoring the subjects they profess to know, to be aware of developments in subject curricula and be empathetic to their student's needs, honing their strengths and training their weaknesses. To know their responsibility as a tutor, and that when the objectives of tuition for a particular student have been achieved, or if tutoring is for whatever reason not working, having the courage to advise the client accordingly and end the lessons. We as tutors seek to foster independent learning and develop independent learners, not for them to be dependent on us as a crutch to their learning and future development.
Do you see tutoring changing significantly as technology increases its influence in education in the future?
Technology in the past few years has created more opportunities for teaching and learning, whether tutoring online for students at home or abroad. British education as an export is benefiting greatly from its influence. Improved technology has made online tutoring easier and younger students are more comfortable with their electronic devices to find value in it. While tutoring in person I believe cannot be completely replicated, there is great value in online tutoring, which can break down potential geographical and income barriers.
UK Study Centre should like to thank Adam for taking the time to speak with us.