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What is the Difference Between a Tuition Centre and Private Tuition?

Singaporean parents often consider the learning culture, the quality of the instructor, and the overall atmosphere when selecting a tuition centre or private tutor. The primary objective of enrolling their child in a tuition centre or private tutoring is to facilitate academic improvement.

This article will enumerate the key differences between a tuition centre and private tuition, providing an overview of what to expect and assisting you in making an informed choice on which is the more conducive learning environment for your child.

Group vs Private Setting

This is the biggest difference between the two. In a tuition centre, the setting is akin to that of traditional classroom learning, where other students are learning together, but the group size tends to be smaller than that in schools. Private tuition typically occurs on a 1-to-1 tuition setting. In a tuition centre, the setting is akin to that of a traditional classroom learning, where other students are learning together, but the group size tends to be smaller than that in schools. Private tuition basis, exclusively between the student and the tutor.

Which option would be most advantageous for your child? It ultimately depends on what they feel comfortable with. Some children prefer learning in a group setting, where they can engage with other students and benefit from their inquiries. On the other hand, some thrive in a one-on-one environment. Understanding your child’s learning preferences is crucial for their development. If the environment is correct, it could help their progress rather than enhance it.


a group of students in a classroom | tuitioncentre sg

Tuition centres typically operate within a set timeframe, offering a fixed number of classes over a few months at a specific cost. Due to the group environment of a tuition centre, the sessions may not be very flexible. Therefore, if your child is unwell or your family is planning a vacation, it’s unlikely that you can reschedule missed lessons, even if you’ve already paid.

Private tutoring, however, allows for a lot more flexibility. This is because the tutor is focused solely on your child during that particular time slot. Therefore, they may be more willing to offer extra lessons if your child is sick or in case of emergencies.

Hence, it’s essential to consider this from a long-term perspective and also reach out to the tuition centre or private tutor to understand their level of flexibility. Make-up lesson rates and policies vary among tuition centres and tutors, with no universal standard. Therefore, finding one that aligns with your preferences and needs is essential.

Travelling Time

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Another critical distinction between a tuition centre and private tuition is the time spent travelling. When attending group tuition, students are required to travel to the tuition centre. This could take a considerable amount of time, depending on the location and distance of the tuition centre from the student. Conversely, private tutors typically travel to the student’s lesson location, eliminating the need for travelling time.

In this scenario, it’s essential to consider the travel expenses and time involved. Is the extra money and precious time spent travelling to a tuition centre worth the overall savings compared to having a private tutor? Can your child travel there independently, or would you need to accompany them? If so, are you available to do so?

Although it may seem daunting, these are a few main distinctions that could impact your choice. Avoid making a hasty decision and, instead, consider these factors to determine the best scenario and environment for your child.

Cost Differences

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The average cost of tuition at most learning centres in Singapore is around $30/hour for primary school, $40/hour for secondary school, and over $55/hour for junior college (JC). Some well-known tuition centres may have higher fees.

Private tutors’ hourly rates vary depending on the qualifications of the teacher.

The rates for degree holders and NIE trainees are similar to those of learning centres. The usual hourly prices are about $30 for Primary School, $40 for lower Secondary, and $50 for upper Secondary. As for JC, the typical cost is around $55 to $60 per hour.

The private tuition rates for Primary school teachers trained by the Ministry of Education range from $40 to $70 per hour. For lower Secondary, the rates are between $55 and $70 per hour, and for upper Secondary, they are from $55 to $80 per hour. As for JC, the rates range from $80 to $120 per hour for MOE-trained teachers. You can learn more about the rates here.

Overall, private tutoring is pricier than attending a tuition center. This isn’t completely unexpected, considering that private tutors have to commute and can only instruct one or two students at once.

Registration fees for tutoring centers usually range from $40 to $80. Depending on the centre’s policies, some centres may also ask for a deposit of $80 to $120, which is refundable when you stop attending classes.

When deciding between the two, look at the following factors:

A person and another person looking at a piece of paper | tuitioncentre sg

Is there a “two for one” deal?

A potential arrangement with some private tutors involves tutoring two students at once, such as your child and the neighbour’s child, at a reduced rate. For instance, a tutor might agree to tutor two Upper Sec students for $110 per hour instead of the regular rate of $130 per hour.

Even though this is still higher than the average tuition centre fee of $40 per hour, your child is essentially receiving tutoring at a rate of $55 per hour. The additional $15 could easily justify avoiding travel, resulting in transportation costs and time savings.

Naturally, whether this option is suitable also depends on whether your child learns well in a group setting.

What happens when make-up lessons are needed?

What is the tutor’s stance on rescheduling lessons compared to the tuition centre’s approach?

Specific tuition centres may not be required to offer make-up lessons if the responsibility lies with you. For instance, if your child becomes unwell, they might not need to schedule a make-up class, even if you’ve paid for the entire month. Please review the terms and conditions before enrolling your child with them.

On the other hand, private tutors in Singapore tend to have more flexibility. Most are open to adjusting dates and providing make-up lessons at no extra cost. If you have a busy or unpredictable schedule, hiring these tutors might be more economical.

Nevertheless, it’s important to clarify the private tutor’s policies before making any commitments. Some private tutors may also not be obligated to offer make-up lessons. From personal experience, private tutors typically do not charge for sudden cancellations.

Is it wise to alternate between a private tutor and a tuition centre?

Consider utilizing private tutoring for concentrated study periods. For instance, you might engage a private instructor for individual lessons with your child three or four months before the final exam. Then, transition back to a more cost-effective tutoring centre.

Avoid suddenly changing tutoring methods, such as one month before the exam, as this shift in learning environment could negatively impact your child.

For specific subjects, you may also opt for private tutoring to focus on particular topics. For instance, private tutoring should be used solely for assistance with General Paper. Once the subject is mastered, you can return your child to a tutoring centre.

Considerations for travel time and transport fare

Tuition centres might be more affordable, but you should consider the practical implications of saving $10 to $15. If your child has to commute, the expenses aren’t just limited to transportation costs. Valuable time is spent travelling to and from the tuition centre, and most students already have excessive homework or extracurricular activities. It also means your child has less personal time, and remember that stress is more harmful than not having tuition. As a general guideline, it’s worth paying $10 to $15 more if your child can save over 45 minutes (round trip to and from the tuition centre) each time. If you must take a cab, it becomes much more challenging to justify the expense. The tuition centre would have to be exceptional to make you do that.

Student-to-teacher ratio

How many pupils does each instructor teach at the tutoring centre? With 35 pupils in the room, sixty minutes only provides a little time. Each student has less than two minutes if they all have queries. Remember that in private tutoring, your child has ample time to ask questions or go over a topic again. In a group setting, much less attention is given to individual students. Inquire with the tutoring centre about the number of students in the same class as your child. Please pay attention to their policy on the student-teacher ratio and the specific number of students in your child’s class. If there are more than 20 students in a class, consider evaluating whether the cost savings over private tutoring are genuinely worthwhile.

Does your child study well in groups or alone with a tutor?

It’s essential to recognize that not all children necessarily prefer one-on-one learning. Some children might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of being alone with a tutor and may be unable to learn effectively. Conversely, some students may not enjoy traditional classroom learning, which could be why they require additional tutoring in the first place.

Understanding what effective learning method works well with your child is crucial. If the learning environment is not conducive to their needs, investing in tuition, no matter how affordable, could be a waste of money.

Consider whether your child would thrive more in a shorter, individualized tutoring session that offers focused attention or in a group lesson at a tuition center where all concepts are covered. Interestingly, opting for shorter, less frequent private lessons might actually be more cost-effective than sticking to a set timetable at tuition centers.

Does my child need tuition?

a person in a school uniform is writing on a piece of paper | tuitioncentre sg

Enrolling your child in tuition can help build a strong foundation when they are in primary and secondary school. However, it may not be needed once they enter junior college. The school usually provides enough extra worksheets and self-study materials to keep students occupied and performing well. Answers are typically included, and teachers are often available for after-school consultations.

In Summary

When comparing the cost of Tuition Centres and Private Tuition, parents must initially consider the financial expenses.

Then, evaluate your child’s requirements and consider time, discounts, peer pressure, and curriculum coverage.

Once you have considered all of these elements, you can be confident that progress will be achieved. Ready to invest in your child’s educational journey? Book a tutor with TuitionCentre SG today!

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