There’s a been a fair amount of comment in the press recently, both positive and negative, regarding The Tutors Association (TTA), an initiative of the Centre for Market Reform (CMRE). Having attended a consultation session regarding TTA a couple of weeks back, I’ve been meaning to post initial thoughts on the whole thing.
I have to admit that to begin with, I was sceptical. I couldn’t decide if this felt like unnecessary regulation or some sort of back door political move. The CMRE folks assured me that they didn’t have a political agenda, although they did admit that they were pro-market and that whilst they’d received a hearing from the Conservatives, David Blunkett (opposition Education Minister) refused to meet. To be fair, I think the people involved are serious minded individuals who are looking at new ways to do things and on that count alone, I think they deserve a hearing.
It was a knowledgeable group of people that attended the consultation session that I attended: representatives from a tutoring agency, a former teacher and researcher turned tutor, a union representative and a representative of a similar initiative in Australia. A fairly wide span of topics were covered: from child safeguarding issues, the efficacy of tutoring, lessons that could be drawn from the Australian experience, the likely reaction of tutors union representation for tutors, through to a proposal for a Royal College of Teachers.
There were a fair few positives to be drawn from the meeting. I think education in this country needs at look at new ideas and whilst it would be easy to dismiss, I think The Tutors Association needs to be given the time to develop some ideas. It needs feedback and comment from the industry. To my mind, there are areas where the Association can add value, possibly by starting with some research into how effective tutoring is and what makes it effective. The other big surprise for me was the input from Voice, the Union ( http://www.voicetheunion.org.uk ). By it’s very nature, tutoring tends to be a solitary profession and I was really struck by the low key, but professional tone of the union and the useful services they had on offer.
I left with a better impression than I arrived: if they can get it right, the Tutors Association could represent a positive contribution to the tutoring industry and education in general.