Private tuition or tuition centres – which should you pick?

By Marcus Goh and Adrian Kuek

Grade Expectations is a weekly feature on education in Singapore. Expect fun activities, useful tips and insightful news on learning. It’s not just about your child’s grades – it’s about raising a great child!

The holidays are over, and students are back in school. The reality of the mid-year exam results have also set in – if your child has done well, then it’s just a matter of keeping up the good work until the end of the year. For parents of children who didn’t get stellar results, the next course of action isn’t so clear.

If your child’s school offers supplementary classes (most schools offer such classes for students who didn’t do as well as they would have liked), then that should be the first class you sign up for. After all, the role of the school is to ensure that students get a good education, and this is one of the ways they can help your child.

Thinking about teaching. (Pixabay)
Thinking about teaching. (Pixabay)


For other parents, they may consider tuition, be it hiring a private tutor or going to a tuition centre. Having given both types of tuition before, we believe that it is really down to a matter of the student’s needs.

Different students thrive under different conditions, and what works for one child may not be as effective for another. While getting recommendations from other parents is a good first step, remember to evaluate the class for yourself and decide if it is helping your child.

Here’s what you need to consider before choosing private tuition or going to a tuition centre.

Benefits of tuition centres

A good tuition centre will create their own material and worksheets, which will supplement what the student learns in school. If the materials are up to date with the latest MOE syllabus changes, then it will reinforce what the student learns in school, since he or she will be absorbing the same information, but presented in a different way.

For brighter students, tuition centres can also offer good enrichment classes for them to continue learning more about the subject, but at a faster pace.

The social element of a tuition class also benefits some students, as there is an element of healthy competition when there are other students in class. Some children are more motivated by competition, and may learn better with other students alongside them.

In addition, being in a tuition class exposes a child to students from many different schools. Besides the social element, students get to learn about different school cultures and hence, broaden their horizons.

Tuition centre classes are usually cheaper than private tuition. However, the higher-end centres can cost as much, if not more, than the average tutor.

For students who are self-motivated and enjoy social interaction, a tuition centre may be the better option.

Group tuition. (Pixabay)
Group tuition. (Pixabay)

Benefits of private tuition

On the other hand, a private tutor can customise each lesson to a student’s exact needs. Since their attention is entirely focused on the student, it means that they can hone in on weaknesses and spend less time on a student’s strengths. For example, a private tutor for Science can focus on topics that a student is weak in and devote more time and practice to those. For a student attending classes at a tuition centre, he or she will have to follow the scheme of work, and may not be able to spend as much time on as he or she would like on weaker topics. However, a student must be prepare for the level of intensity that private tuition entails.

For students who have tight schedules, a private tutor is more convenient, since they will usually travel to the student’s house for classes. To an extent, the timing can be more flexible than classes at a tuition centre, although parents should refrain from too many logistical changes with a private tutor.

All things being equal, a student will benefit more from a private tutor than if the same teacher were teaching in a tuition centre, simply because of the amount of time spent. However, parents must do their research before engaging a private tutor, to make sure that the teacher is qualified and experienced. Trustworthy tuition centres will vet their teachers to ensure that they are qualified and experienced, although centres with less stringent requirements may end up hiring underqualified staff to teach.

For students who require more attention and more specialised help, private tuition may be the better option.

Teach. (Pixabay)
Teach. (Pixabay)

It all boils down to the child

Ultimately, it depends on your child and what he or she needs. Knowing and being honest about your child’s learning styles will make sure that you make the most effective choice when it comes to choosing between private tuition or a tuition centre.

Marcus Goh runs Write-Handed, a creative writing studio. At the same time, he teaches Secondary English at The Write Connection. He has been a specialist tutor for English and Literature (Secondary) since 2005.

Adrian Kuek runs Joyous Learning, an enrichment centre that specialises in English, Mathematics, Science and Creative Writing for Primary. He previously served as the academic director of one of Singapore’s largest enrichment centre chains for over seven years.