Online Tutoring: A Complete Guide To Everything Schools Should Know Before They Start

Online tutoring in the UK had no choice but to grow in popularity with schools at the onset of a global pandemic, the physical shutting of schools and the need to keep education going. Since then, the ease and convenience of online tutoring have ensured it remains a popular choice for schools.

Like school staff, students have also changed their opinion of online tutoring. A survey found online tutoring is now considered the most effective approach according to students. This is likely due to their first-hand experience of remote learning during school closures, their increased digital skills and industry-wide improvements to the online tutoring offering.

If you’re new to the idea of online tutoring it can be a bit daunting to know where to start.

Online tutoring experts

Since 2013, Third Space Learning has provided online tutoring to tens of thousands of children in primary and secondary schools across the UK as part of a maths intervention programme. Drawing on experience and insights as online tutoring providers, this article acts as a guide covering all the aspects of online tutoring in the UK that you need to know about.

School leaders and teachers are recommended to look at this guidance to ensure you choose the most effective maths interventions for your school.

Hopefully, it answers all your questions. But if you have any more questions about online tutoring or want to enquire, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

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What is online tutoring?

Online tutoring is a form of teaching, usually one to one, that takes place over the internet in real time. Despite what some technology platforms claim, online tutoring must involve a ‘real person’. The online tutor can be somebody the student already knows in a real life capacity or somebody from the other side of the world.

Typically, online tutoring is best suited for KS2 tutoring and above, but it may also work for children in KS1. Over a decade of online tutoring experience has taught us that KS2 students and older can best make the most out of online tutoring sessions.

The requirements for online tutoring are usually just that the student and tutor both have an internet connection with sufficient bandwidth and a device to receive or deliver the online lesson.

What is online tuition?

Online tuition is the same as online tutoring. You can use either almost interchangeably. In this article we will refer to both.

How does online tutoring work?

How online tutoring works can vary immensely from person to person and from one tutoring organisation to another.

A few of the ways online tutoring works include:

  • Standard Skype or Zoom video chat with both the online tutor and the student showing their work / instruction to the webcam
  • A bespoke online virtual classroom environment where a tutor follows a carefully worked out programme of lessons often using functionality similar to an interactive whiteboard
  • A ‘shared screen’ type approach where the tutor screen shares and potentially annotates it for the student to follow, possibly with a messaging function
Third Space Learning's online classroom environment
Virtual classrooms, such as Third Space Learning’s online intervention, are one style of online tutoring. Each lesson includes easy quick click buttons, tools and mathematical symbols to help students and tutors communicate their verbal explanations.

What are the benefits of online tutoring?

The benefits of online tutoring are covered in detail below, but broadly schools and students choose online tutoring for one of four reasons:

  1. Improve exam technique and ultimately achieve grades, whether that’s tutoring for SATs, GCSE or A Levels
  2. Plug gaps in learning through catch up tuition, or support students who need it most
  3. Enable a child to accelerate their progress further and faster than they would in a class of 15-30
  4. Build confidence in a subject and develop the habits of learning so that they can respond better in all their lessons

All of these reasons apply just as much to face to face tuition as to online tutoring. That is deliberate. Online tutoring provides all the benefits of face to face tutoring but with much greater convenience as lessons can be scheduled at a time convenient to school schedules and to multiple students simultaneously.

One to one or small group online tuition?

Generally, when talking about online tutoring we’re referring to one to one tutoring lessons where one professional tutor teaches one student over the internet. However, online tutors can also provide group tutoring.

Once the group size reaches more than 5 or 6 students, this is referred to it as online teaching as many of the focused personalisation benefits of online tutoring are lost in a larger group size.

If you’re looking to invest in online tutoring one to one tuition is likely the best option. Personalised lessons suited to the pace and pitch of the individual present enormous benefits for the student. Plus, tutors can adapt lessons in real time based on the individual’s understanding and progress.

For younger children aged 5 to 12, primary school tutoring online is almost exclusively focused on maths and English. As children progress through secondary school, maths remains very popular but many tutoring companies today also see a large up take in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Languages.

More ‘physical’ subjects, like dance, PE or even Art, may be more challenging to teach online but you can find tutors for almost any subject online.

What does the online tutor do?

An online tutor does exactly what a face to face tutor would do: plans the lesson, teaches the lesson, and then ideally reports back on the lesson and student progress to schools.

With online tutoring, the difference is that with the benefit of technology a lot of the additional processes can be automated and improved to enable the maximum amount of time to be spent on teaching, rather than preparation and reporting.

For example, a team of curriculum and subject knowledge experts create all of Third Space Learning’s online maths tutoring lessons in advance. When a tutor knows what lesson they’re teaching, they don’t need to plan the lesson from scratch, they simply revise the lesson they’re trained to teach.

Thanks to an initial diagnostic assessment at the beginning of any maths programme and ongoing assessment for learning, tutors know where a child’s gaps are and what their educational needs are.

This means we can recommend the programme of national curriculum lessons the tutor should teach each student. Tutors then report back through the online platform on the child’s progress against their gaps after each lesson.

Third Space Learning's Session Report
Teachers and school leaders of students on Third Space Learning interventions get clear, accurate reports of each child’s progress in every lesson.

Online tutors should also work to build a relationship and rapport with each of their students. For online tuition to be most successful, the student must feel safe, relaxed and keen to do the work for their tutor. Respect on both sides is key.

Is online tutoring safe?

Online tutoring is very safe. Provided of course you do the right checks in advance. Every tutor must have a DBS or DBS equivalent, just as you would check for a face to face tutor.

In schools, students are supervised by a member of staff who oversees the sessions.

Moreover, when using a reputable online tutoring platform, they should be able to provide their recruitment and vetting processes to you to ensure the quality and background of the tutors.

How much does online tutoring cost?

Online tutoring tends to be a lot cheaper than in person tutoring. Costs with most tutoring services start at £15 per lesson up to about £35 for the most expensive tutors.

Third Space Learning is on a mission to make the effectiveness of one to one tuition available at a price point that everyone can afford. We always encourage schools to book a call with us so we can work out pricing for their specific situation and number of students requiring tuition.

The introduction of the National Tutoring Programme has made tuition even more affordable. This is catch up funding for schools to support children who’ve fallen behind during school closures. The tutoring organisations, including Third Space Learning, are all registered providers so you can be sure you will receive quality-assured tutoring at an affordable price.

10 benefits of online tutoring

1. Online tuition is convenient

Schools are a hub of activity, with lessons, interventions, after school clubs, sports days… It’s challenging to find a regular slot that schools and students can commit to each week.

Online tutoring helps alleviate some of the stress around scheduling by removing the travel, either for the student to a tuition centre or the tutor to the school or home. Online tutoring organisations are often more flexible with time slots because of this.

Flexibility at Third Space Learning

At Third Space Learning, we know how busy schools and teachers are. When schools choose to receive tutoring with us, they are assigned a dedicated account manager who will:

  • Guide schools through the onboarding process
  • Troubleshoot any issues that may arise
  • Be on hand to ensure the smooth running of your tuition

We know that flexibility is key for schools, and we have designed our tuition to account for this. Schools choose a regular time slot that fit in with their school day and are free to swap to a new time slot if it no longer works.

2. A greater range of the best tutors online

Finding a tutor who really knows their stuff is one of the biggest challenges for schools. Often, schools and families have already snapped up the top tutors in your area.

Recruiting experienced tutors with the right qualifications and located in a commutable distance is a real challenge, especially for subjects with a shortage of tutors, such as maths and science.

With online tutoring, the hard work is done for you.

Choosing an online tutoring organisation with a rigorous selection process will ensure that only the best tutors get through. This means that your students receive the best-quality tuition they can and avoid trawling through the vast pool of under qualified ‘tutors’ who set themselves up with few qualifications or credentials.

Are you a school looking for online tutoring? Here are the best online tutoring websites for UK schools.

High-quality tutors

At Third Space Learning, we take care of the recruitment, initial and on-going training and background checks to ensure only the best tutors are delivering our programme.

All of our tutors are high-quality graduates and undergraduates with strong academic backgrounds in STEM subjects. All our tutors have a genuine passion for maths and education and undergo rigorous background checks – only 2% of applicants are accepted onto the programme!

Tutors then undergo extensive initial tutor training, designed by pedagogy experts with experience working in UK schools. And once they join us as a fully-fledged tutor, they receive ongoing training, feedback and CPD.

3. Students can be matched to the best online tutors for their needs

Finding the right online tutor for your school’s context and your student’s needs can be difficult and time-consuming.

If you’re less familiar with tutoring, it can be even more difficult to know which tutor is right for your school.

  • Do you go with the one that you like the most?
  • Do you choose a recommended tutor?
  • Or do you pick the tutor with the best CV?

One of the benefits of online tutoring is that the hassle of picking the right tutor is taken out of the equation. Algorithms make finding the right tutor easy. Answering a few questions on a child’s likes, dislikes, confidence and other attributes or a computer could be able to match your child with the right tutor.

This saves the dozens of phone calls and meetings that can come with finding an in-person tutor!

Online Tutoring Benefits

4. Online tutoring is fun and engaging for children

Engaging lessons? Even in subjects like maths? Yes, it’s possible!

Some topics, including maths, can be tricky for many young minds. Having engaging lessons is crucial to help keep their focus firmly on the learning.

As teachers, you’ll already know how hard it can be to persuade a child to do their work or concentrate until the end of the school day, let alone another whole lesson after the school day. Fortunately, this is where online learning comes into its own.

Thanks to the versatile nature of online classrooms, each lesson is highly personalised to each individual child and the events of the day or week.

There is no need to read from old textbooks when learning online. The responsiveness and engagement of online learning is something that children love.

From over ten years of experience teaching maths online, it’s clear the high level of engagement that comes from using an interactive classroom is great for encouraging children to verbalise their responses too. This is crucial for learning!

Quote from teacher about pupil's engagement with their tutor

5. Learning takes place in a comfortable environment for each child

Depending on the age and confidence of your students, introducing them to a new tutor is sometimes an intimidating experience.

Face-to-face in person tutoring sometimes causes anxiety for a young person, especially if it’s in a subject they are not confident in. However, present them with the chance to head over to a computer to chat with a tutor over a headset and they will likely find the learning experience much more appealing.

One advantage of online tutoring is that it takes place in a familiar environment. If students are more comfortable in their surroundings, taking part in an activity they probably enjoy (working online), then they will get a lot more from the tutoring sessions.

6. Online tutoring sites tend to have more training options for their tutors

If you choose to work with a larger, established online tutoring organisation, many have their own tutor training programmes. However, be wary as this may only be a few hours initial training online.

Before online tutors qualify to teach with Third Space Learning, they must complete initial training on pedagogy, the UK maths curriculum, how to use the online classroom, and, importantly, how to develop rapport and work with different students.

Our curriculum team developed this full-time, 3-week training around UK teaching standards and practice.

We believe this is essential to ensure that what students learn in their tutoring sessions links with the national curriculum and what and how they learn in their main maths lessons in school.

7. Online tutoring is cheaper than in-person tutoring

While highly effective, in person tutoring can be costly.

Face-to-face tutoring can vary hugely in cost depending on where you live. Tutors and tutoring companies set their own rates, ranging from £30 an hour to £80 an hour for a tutor with a great track record in accelerating progress.

Weekly sessions keep up the learning momentum and ensure steady progress. Payment is usually taken in advance per half term or term, with all of this adding up to a substantial lump sum in one go.

With budgets growing ever tighter and intervention programmes usually costing about the same as private tutoring value for money is important for schools.

Thanks to the lower overheads and elements like travel costs taken out of the equation, online tutoring is competitively priced. This makes it a great option for schools who want a quality service that won’t break the bank.

8. Online tuition is safe and secure

As discussed above, sessions take place in the student’s school environment, which means that not only will students feel safe in a familiar environment, but staff members can oversee sessions.

Online tuition requires companies to firmly vet tutors to ensure that each one meets the high safety standards in place.

Once on board, online tuition allows companies to monitor and record lessons to ensure tutors follow safeguarding procedures carefully.

This transparency is not always possible with face to face tutoring and is an excellent way to uphold safety standards.

9. Online tutoring helps improve student’s technology skills

Students today have grown up in a world filled to the brim with technology. Another advantage of online tutoring is that it gives children another great place to practise their all-important digital skills.

While students focus on the lesson within the tutoring platform, they will also be inadvertently improving their digital and communication skills. These skills are useful in further study and transitioning into the world of work.

10. Online resources and homework between lessons 

With online tuition comes the other benefits the online world brings, namely a host of free resources and advice. The best online tutoring sites provide customer support to help you manage and troubleshoot your online tutoring, as well as teaching resources, worksheets and activities to support every student.

In addition to Third Space Learning’s one-to-one tutoring, we provide support to our community of over 100,000 teachers and school leaders through free, high-quality classroom resources in the Maths Hub for primary schools and the Resource Library for secondary schools.

The Premium Maths Hub provides full access to our library of over 4,000 KS1 and KS2 resources and is included at no additional cost with all tuition programmes. Most importantly, this helps teachers to raise maths attainment for all students in your school, not just those receiving the tuition. Everybody wins!

FAQs about online tutoring

Which is the best online tutoring site?

The best online tutoring site will depend on the requirements of the student needing the tuition, especially subject areas and age. The best online tutoring site for maths is Third Space Learning because we are specialists in tutoring many thousands of students online one to one. Thanks to our professional tutor training, diagnostic assessment of children’s gaps and then their progress, as well as our exhaustive curriculum coverage and quality of our lessons, we believe we now are the best online tutoring site altogether. At least that’s what our customers in school and at home tell us.

Does online tutoring really work?

Yes, online tutoring really works, but generally it works best if it’s one to one and focused specifically on an individual learner’s needs. Provided the technology is sound and you find a well trained, qualified tutor, it will be as effective as face to face tutoring – and often, if the child is more engaged online – then more effective.

How effective is online tutoring – what’s the evidence?

Online tutoring with Third Space Learning can double a child’s progress over a period of 14 weeks. We ran a trial using a standardised assessment test and children who received our one to one online maths tuition achieved double their expected progress. They made 28 weeks progress in 14 weeks. Find out more in our case studies from schools who’ve seen excellent success with our online tutoring.

Third Space Learning Upsell Section


Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online maths tuition designed to plug gaps and boost progress.


Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.


Learn how we can teach multiple pupils at once or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions [FREE]

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions in Key Stage 2.

Includes a 20 point checklist of techniques to improve your one to one teaching.

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