As far as I know, all tutorial colleges are private and therefore fee-paying. Not only that, but they tend to charge about the same, if not more, than the average private school. That is at least £10,000 for a year, full-time. My own college in Brighton charges about £20,000 for a year, but that is for a full-time student taking up to 4 A levels and with entirely individual tuition. Most people would say therefore, that this puts tutorial colleges out of reach economically, unless they have been paying for private education previously. But this really isn’t the case.
The thing that you need to bear in mind is that most privately educated youngsters spend five to ten years or even more at private school which, indeed, only the very wealthiest can afford for one child, let alone several. However, most people don’t need the services of a tutorial college for more than a year, that usually being for their last year of GCSEs or for the last year of A levels, or for a re-take year. Bear in mind that a reasonably conscientious student can expect to learn a fair bit more in a year at a tutorial college than in the same time at school, as the tuition is more intensive. And in exam terms, students at tutorial colleges tend to continue beavering away at tutorials, rather than having time off for ‘study’ leave.
Essentially, if you can afford to spend £10,000 on a decent second hand car, you can afford to use a tutorial college for a year (but you’d have to keep your old car!). And for a part-time course it should cost much less. It’s a matter of priorities, but, in the right circumstances, using a tutorial college could be the best investment in your kids that you ever made.
Although I am obviously a supporter of tutorial colleges, naturally some are better than others. The really expensive ones that have been going for some time are probably the best, as they couldn’t recruit enough students to survive if they were inefficient. But if that really is too much, the best way to choose one is by personal recommendation. It’s not much use studying the testimonials in the college prospectus – they are hardly going to put any criticisms in there. Similarly, exam statistics can be misleading and so can interviews.
If you want a testimonial though, I would suggest that you look in the college records for a former student who hasn’t done particularly well (say, someone who got something like DDD for A (or AS) level) and ask if you may approach them for their views on the college. Clearly they won’t just give you the phone number there and then, but they should be willing to do so once they have asked permission. Someone who has done only modestly by them but still speaks well of the college is good testimony. If the answer is no, for any reason, enough said. One thing to check out is whether the college is an examination centre, or if their students have to sit their exams elsewhere. It’s so much better to sit exams at your own college, rather than have to arrange them yourself through other schools.