Clara James Tutoring


What qualifications and experience does the tutor have?

The qualifications of the tutors vary, some are qualified teachers, some are teaching assistants, one is a civil servant, another a trainee doctor. We have always found that the personality of the tutor often is more important than the qualifications. I’ve got a mum who works with me, who prior to joining, her experience was working with her own children. She has been with me for several years now and is one of the best tutors I have. Having said that they are all amazing.

I have made mistakes in the past. I had a lady work with me who had been travelling the world teaching English for over 30 years. But she didn’t fit with the families that we support. Sadly, none of them wanted her back, her CV and experience was second to none, her ability to adapt to the individual that she was working with after so long teaching in a classroom wasn’t.

Sadly, we had to part ways. It’s taken a long time to build up our reputation and so I ensure that every tutor I recommend, now I do so with confidence.

How long have you been tutoring?

Again, this varies from tutor to tutor. If you get in touch requesting support, we will listen to the support that you need and then pair you with a tutor that we think will be the best fit.

We will obviously give you the details of the tutor so that you can decide whether you think this will work.

The first lesson is always free, so if it doesn’t work (though I think there has only been once or twice in the past 12 years that it hasn’t) we will find you another tutor that is a better fit for what you want.

It’s taken a long time to build up our reputation and so I ensure that every tutor I recommend, now I do so with confidence.

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What age range do you work with? Do you work with adults?

We can do. If you are returning to education or looking for a promotion at work and studying for a qualification that is GCSE level or equivalent, we will be able to help. Or even if it's just to boost your own confidence or knowledge rather than for a formal qualification, we will always do our best to help.

Where do the lessons take place?

If you had asked me that prior to lockdown I would have stated that every lessons takes place in your home. If your child is in an environment where they feel relaxed and comfortable, they will be in a better position to concentrate and retain the information.

However, Covid changed that. We now offer lessons either in your home or online. Either way, lessons are still always one-to-one and tailored to your specific needs.

How would you work with my child?

Every child that we work with is different.

From a very young age it was pointed out to me that I'm not as clever as my brother. As an adult, I've come to accept that very few people are.

But I also recognize that my brother and I are very different. I now have 3 children (pictured to the right with my grandson Alfie) who are also very different, how can we provide a generic program for everyone when we are all so different to each other? We are all entirely unique individuals.

What inspires us is unique to us alone, what motivates us, how we remember things, our starting point and our end goals. Every child is different so every child needs to be supported in a way that is appropriate to them.

We are here to adapt to your needs as much as we can. However, something I learned a few years back whilst on a course about dyslexia (though is relevant to every child) is that if we give a child worksheet to do, they will create a memory. If we give them a second one, we will make that memory stronger. However, by only providing worksheets, they are only creating one place in their brain where they can go to, to find the information.

However, if we provide a range of activities, we are creating a larger number of memories making it easier to recall the information when needed. In addition, by incorporating games, code breakers, word searches, etc. into the lesson we are also, hopefully, making it more engaging and interactive. More enjoyable and less stressful. Hopefully in doing so, they will be in a better state of mind to take onboard the information making the sessions more valuable.

However, as I have said before, every child is an individual. Not every child wants to play games, some like the repetition of worksheets, so for those children, we will happily support them in working through a range of different worksheets. We are here to adapt to your needs as much as we can.

Are the lessons all year around, or just term time?

We have some families who just work with us in term time, others carry on right through. Some families will get in touch and ask if we can just work with them during a specific school break. Because the children are at home during the school day it gives us a lot more flexibility which generally means we can definitely help.

If you do want to continue in the holidays, we can often be more flexible with the days /times. Again, just ask if that would make life easier for you. This is generally at your discretion. Obviously, the tutors will have their own holidays booked, family birthdays, etc. but on the whole, lessons are available all year if you want them. If you would like to break over the holidays, no problem, just let us know in advance so that we can plan accordingly.

What are the costs of both online and one-to-one lessons?

Online lessons are £35/hour, if we come to your home, we ask £50. However, if you pay for 4 or more lessons in advance, the price per lesson drops to £45/hour.

The first lesson is always free, as mentioned before, so if you are not happy, we can either find a plan b, or you can leave it there at no financial cost to yourself.

Can you do it any cheaper?

I'm afraid not, we already work hard to keep the cost of our lessons down. The time and effort it takes to prepare individual lessons means that we can't lower the price.

We aren't the most expensive, and I recognize we're not the cheapest either, but we will always do our upmost to do our best.

Do you offer a 'getting to know you lesson'?

As I’ve mentioned, the first lesson is free and varies greatly. In the first free lesson we will sometimes get stuck straight into the thing you would like to study, another time, some of it will be spent talking and getting to know each other. We are led by what your child will be most comfortable with.

This session however, is about starting to build a rapport so that if they do have any questions at any time, they feel comfortable to ask. Sometimes, especially for ASD children to meet the tutor in advance is advantageous, so we can come and visit you prior to the lesson to say hello and to introduce ourselves to you if you feel this would be beneficial.

How do I pay for the lessons?

How you pay is optional. You can either pay directly into the bank each time we visit, or we can send you an invoice on or around the 24th of the month.

It’s earlier at Christmas, as I suspect very few people check their emails on Christmas Eve. With the invoice, we ask that it is paid within 3 days. If you will need longer, again, let us know and we can make a note rather than chasing you each month. Some people like to pay by cash when we visit, again, that is completely fine.

If you decide to pay for the lessons in advance, we will send you an initial invoice with the bank details, then at the end of each month send you a overview of how many you have used and how many you have remaining. You can then decide if you want to purchase your next set, or start paying at the higher rate after the lessons instead of in advance.

What is your cancellation policy?

If you have decided you no longer need to support of the tutor you are working with, please can you give us a minimum of 1 weeks notice so that we are able to offer your time slot to someone else.

Cancelling an occasional lesson

If you want to cancel because of illness or some other unexpected event, please can you give us a minimum of 6 hours’ notice for a face-to-face lesson, or 2 hours online. If we receive less than this it will be at our discretion still to whether to charge you as we may have set off and had to cancel other events for your lesson. The time will already have been taken to prepare the resources.

If you are cancelling for a holiday, birthday, or other pre-organized event, please can you give us as much notice as possible, but the also remind us the lesson before.

Do you do an initial assessment?

This is something we are often asked and the answer, is no. I believe that if a stranger tested me on something I knew I struggled with, I would feel under pressure and wouldn't perform at my full potential.

I know many families who get in touch do so because their child has exams coming up, but the goal by the exam is to boost the child's confidence and knowledge so they feel less of that anxiety when the day arrives. Instead, what we will do is talk to you as the parent and the child when appropriate and establish what a good starting point would be. Is there a topic they are specifically struggling with or would working through a past paper together give us a better feel of their capabilities.

Very often I would recommend starting slightly below their level of comfort so that we can prove to them what they are capable of so that they have the confidence to move on, rather than setting them up for a challenge or a fall from the outset and building up greater barriers. Then through observations, school assessments, conversations, school curriculum we can work our way forwards until we are no longer needed.

How regular are the lessons?

That is completely at your discretion. Some families want weekly lessons, some want fortnightly. We occasionally have families who want them monthly, others want them two or three times a week.

You know what you want, what you can afford. We are willing to be as flexible as needed. Sometimes circumstances change and that's completely ok too, again, just let us know and we will do our best to fit in with what you need.

Additionally, the lessons are normally for 60 minutes, but if you feel that is too long, no problem we can shorten it. Some families choose to do 30 or 45 minutes with each of their children, again that is absolutely fine.

Do you have a long waiting list?

Generally no as there is now a team of us working at Clara James. However, when the tutors have reached their capacity I take care over who I employ to help represent the business.

It has taken 12 years to build up an amazing reputation and we have achieved that because those who work with me are amazing. I can recommend each and every one of them with confidence.

So, sometimes there may be a delay whilst I find a new suitable tutor, and I apologize about that, but I would rather recommend the right person than just anyone and damage our reputation because of a quick impulsive decision.

Are the tutors DBS checked?

The answer to that is, yes.

What do I need to provide?

For face-to-face lessons the only thing you may need to provide is a calculator if we are doing Math. However, for online lessons, if we can ask you to have a pen, piece of paper, and calculator to hand (if appropriate) that would be appreciated as it saves time during the lesson trying to find them.

Do you provide group lessons?

No, because each of us is so different, we generally find that one child may be more confident in one things, other children will be more confident in other areas. But if a child is already lacking confidence and they are once again presented with a friend, sibling, peer that is better than them, it can reinforce that idea that everyone else is better than them. That they can't do it. They're stupid.

Also, we often learn differently so whilst 1 thing may work for you, for the other child, something entirely different would be more productive so the time spent isn't as effective as it should be.

You may choose to split the time and do half and half with each sibling, or alternate the weeks. However, group lessons is definitely not something we would advocate for.

Note: We are increasing the number of workshops that we are providing which would be presented for group work.

Who wrote your testimonials

Good or bad, every testimonial you will find about us is 100% authentic and written by someone we have worked with or supported in someway.

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