A growing number of students are turning to domestic tutors in order to boost their HSC result.

Tiff Tirtabudi finds out why.

Year 12 students across New South Wales will soon commence the final stretch of their high school journeys, beginning with their HSC trial exams in the middle of July. As this is a time often fraught with high expectations, anxiety and stress for students and parents alike, it is not surprising that many are opting to seek out extra help in a bid to secure the best marks and top positions within school ranking systems.

Last year’s statistics indicate that Australia’s domestic tutoring industry is valued at $1.2 billion – growing at an average rate of 11 per cent each year – with many children receiving some form of academic coaching even before the age of five.

However, this trend may be taking a downward turn as the Australian Tutoring Association (ATA) has revealed that the 2014 NAPLAN tests; undertaken by students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9, saw a surge in parents taking their children to tutoring only after the release of their child’s results, rather than prior to the onset of the benchmark national tests.

CEO of the ATA Mohan Dhall advises HSC students not to delay in asking for assistance, emphasising the need to engage in tutoring services as early as necessary if individuals are hoping to improve their academic performance.

Most decisions should really be made by the end, or even the start of year 11,” Dhall says.

By the time trials roll around, it’s arguably too late.”

He believes that for students who feel they require coaching in the period after the trial exams, it may simply be a matter of a lack in self-confidence as opposed to a lack of skill.

In most cases, these kids just need some positive affirmation because they have a fear of failure and have started comparing themselves with others,” Dhall says.

Parents who are confronted with this dilemma are often presented with an increasing temptation to enrol their children into HSC revision workshops or ‘boot camps’ that are held by coaching schools or universities and are priced anywhere between $25 to $150 per session.

According to Dhall, even school teachers who have previously urged their students against undertaking extra coaching are becoming less reticent in their approach to the issue, as they receive in-service training by virtue of their students attending such programs.

Walter Sprinke, founder and head tutor at Smart Moves Coaching in Roseville, maintains that one-to-one tutoring is more advantageous than a classroom-style approach.

Most of the time, 30 to 40 per cent of teachers [at revision workshops] have been given a text and a group of kids and they don’t know the kids or the text,” Sprinke says.

Whilst he believes that the atmosphere and environment of revision workshops can inspire students to do well, he insists that it is more important for students to receive individual attention and personalised help.

Similarly, Dhall says that the best private tutors are not necessarily teachers or students who have achieved the highest ATAR scores. Instead, an effective tutor will ask students how they can best help themselves and understand which particular set of skills a student needs.

When students engage in the right kind of tutoring, they can have a sense of security that all is not lost and they can build self confidence around the things they know.”