Wealthy parents are paying up to £1,000 ($1500) an hour for the services of an elite group of super-tutors in order to get their children into the best schools and universities
Some of these tutors are in such demand that they have year-long waiting lists. This new breed of highly paid teachers are almost all Oxbridge graduates and between them they boast an array of specialist skills.
Some are fluent in several languages, one is a professional writer and one of them has gained an international memory award. Their fame has been spread by word of mouth among the super-rich. Among their clients are children as young as three whose parents are desperate to get them into the reception classes of the top preparatory schools.
More commonly the tutors are hired to help children from the age of 11 who are struggling with their school work, or to help them get into the best universities. The phenomenon of the “super-tutors” who can charge such high hourly rates started in New York and Hong Kong, where some have almost become celebrities. Their faces are featured on billboards and an hour of their time can command four-figure fees.
British tutors have until now remained largely anonymous and usually charge about £30 an hour. One of the most sought-after is 27-year-old Topes Calland, an Oxford history graduate whose fame spread after he successfully taught the son of a British rock star who had managed to defeat nine previous tutors.
Calland usually charges up to £400 an hour for his services. But last October he was offered £10,000 for 10 hours of tuition to help a member of an Asian royal family get into Oxford. “I was already tutoring full-time when they approached me,” Calland said. “So they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
The Asian royal got his place at Oxford and Calland’s reputation was secured. He is now teaching the son of another British rock star based in New York.
Another super-tutor, Frog Stone, 33, a Cambridge graduate with a degree in history, became so popular that her agency was turning down jobs for her a year in advance. She now operates independently, usually teaching humanities, but with her 10 years of experience she can tackle most subjects. She has a 100 per cent success rate at getting her pupils grades of A and A* and can command hourly fees of more than £200.
Ed Cooke, 30, an Oxford graduate and part-time tutor who charges £300 an hour, is also a “memory grand master” who can memorise 1000 digits in an hour. He recognises that he is one of the new breed of super- tutors and said he can achieve spectacular results in a short time. He claims to be able to help a child learn all their times tables within two hours using a special memory technique.
Will Orr-Ewing, the founder of Keystone Tutors in London, said that in Britain the phenomenon has not yet reached the level it has in the United States. Nonetheless, there is a growing demand for professional tutors who get proven results. “People used to tutor as a stopgap and now they do it as a profession, like being a lawyer,” he said. “Demand for these sorts of tutors is hard to meet, so you get waiting lists and higher fees.”
One of Keystone’s biggest rivals is Bright Young Things, the agency that represents Calland. It was set up by Malachy Guinness, who started tutoring full-time after he graduated from Oxford University. He then recruited others when he became too popular to handle the demand.
He said parents are willing to pay higher rates when their children are facing crucial tests — for instance, the entrance exams for independent schools such as Westminster, St Paul’s or Eton — and for help with the interview techniques to get into the top universities.
The agency usually charges about £150 an hour for its top tutors, although there are some exceptions. Richard Bowdler, 31, specialises in improving memory and study skills. A former stockbroker with a degree in chemistry from New College, Oxford, his hourly rate can reach £400.
He said his clients are usually anxious parents with high incomes. “The super-wealthy approach me, but so do middle-class parents,” he said. “For them it is a significant investment, but they are willing to make it because they care about their children’s education.”
For some parents this anxiety sets in when their children are much younger. Marina Byrne, 33, is a tutor with the agency Bonas MacFarlane. A specialist in London nursery and pre-prep schools, she charges £240 to prepare children and their parents for the reception classes at the most sought-after establishments.
By Rosie Kinchen, from The Sunday Times.
Source: The Australian - http://goo.gl/GDdX8