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The Trouble with Tuition

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

In Malaysia - and indeed, much of Asia - paid tuition is accepted as a normal component of a child's education far more than it is in Western countries such as Australia, New Zealand and England.

A combination of high levels of academic competition coupled with a perceived lack of quality of education in local schools means that many parents rely on extra, paid tuition as a way of ensuring their children have the best possible chances of the best possible grades.

Indeed, for parents unable to afford the lofty school fees of international schools in Malaysia, a combination of public or private local schooling and after-school tuition may seem the best option.

However, if you are paying a premium for your child to attend an international school, there should be no need to pay for extra tuition.

If you are worried about your child's progress or attainment in any subject, there are a number of different steps you should take before you consider paying for extra tuition of any kind.

  1. Speak to the teacher of the subject concerned. Ask them for a detailed report on your child's strengths and weaknesses, and how you can support your child's progress at home.

  2. Ask for details on how the teacher is differentiating their lessons to ensure your child can access the lesson content and make progress.

  3. Ask what extra support is available in school for your child - such as extra-curricular clubs in Primary or revision sessions in Secondary. These should be free.

  4. If you aren't happy with the information you have received by now and your child is still struggling, ask for your concerns to be forwarded to the relevant Head of Subject/Head of Faculty. Share your concerns and the steps you have taken to date. They should be able to intervene successfully to ensure your child gets the support they need in school.

  5. If your child still appears to be struggling, even with in-class differentiation and additional teacher support, they may need to be assessed by the school's Learning Support and/or English as an Additional Language (EAL or ESL) departments and possibly receive extra, specialised support.

In a nutshell: there are many steps to be taken in school before extra tuition is even considered.

In fact, there are very, very few situations where we would recommend tuition might be necessary. These include:

- When a student joins an examination course (e.g. IGCSE) part-way through the programme, and has missed key examination content that other students have already been taught.

- If a child has significant learning and/or ESL needs and needs extra support, outside of school time, to access the curriculum.

- If a child has recently transitioned from a local to an international school, and has missed such a significant amount of key content and skills teaching that they are finding it difficult to access lessons.

In fact, when parents hire academic tutors without prior consultation with their child's teachers, this paid tuition can often do more harm than good.

  • Unless tutors are in contact with a child's class teachers in school, they may have little way of knowing what is being covered in class and what exactly the child needs support with.

  • Exam syllabi change very frequently. Many tutors do not have sufficient understanding of the requirements of different syllabi & thus can prepare students inadequately or incorrectly for examinations.

  • Too often, tutors are not trained and experienced teachers. They therefore often give contradictory advice to what children are being taught in school, which can hinder rather than promote progress.

  • Many students in Malaysia already experience extremely long school days. Paid tuition, following an intense day at school, is often exhausting and can take up time that the child should be using for homework set by their subject teachers in school.

  • Many tutors simply do the work for the students rather than using effective questioning, scaffolds and resources to support children with their learning. This does not aid learning and obfuscates the child's true capabilities, prohibiting their class teacher from teaching them effectively.


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