Ever get a funny feeling?

Do you ever get a funny feeling that a student enquiry just isn’t quite right?
What kind of red flags do you notice?

My red flags are when the student messages me instead of a parent, and when they give sob stories to ask for discounts (I am a higher price range, and there are plenty of tutors that have a lower hourly rate). Also, when a student wants me to give feedback for their schoolwork before the first lesson.


I’ve resorted to saying “I do not offer discounts of any kind” on my profile and honestly it has reduced the number of requests for discounts. A bit off-putting perhaps unfortunately but worth it to maintain the booking score…

If a parent is quite pushy regarding what they want me to do - or even if they ask me to explain what I would do for their child - those are red flags to me. Reading my profile should show that I have an approach already figured out and what it involves.


Why is a student messaging you a red flag? I would say that shows initiative that it’s the student going out their way to seek help rather than a parent. Can’t say I ever receive the discount messages (thankfully!).

Red flags for me are anyone that is trying to rush a lesson, I genuinely about 4 or 5 days ago had someone message me asking me to do a GCSE lesson with their son later that day on Jekyll and Hyde as though I have a stash of plans and resourcing for Jekyll and Hyde for a rainy day. That’s an extreme example but when parents try and push through a lesson for a day or so’s time, I baulk.

I’ve had it a few times and each time it ends up with them wanting free marking, or once trying to scam me out of a free lesson (long, convoluted story). I would consider it if it’s A level, but for GCSE I’ve never had a positive experience when it’s the student messaging me unfortunately. I guess a better way to word it is, I’d want to speak to the person paying for the tuition.
Ah I get that. I’ve had one like that who wanted a last minute evening lesson before a mock exam, which I did because it was when I was starting up, and she ended up keeping me on for a year and now I’m working with her sister, so that worked out well (although they are students who are a bit more of a handful) but generally it isn’t ideal.

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Yes! I’ve learned now to steer clear of pushy parents. I’ve only had 3 but all were so draining. One started calling me on my days off asking me to tell her kid to do her homework (which I always refused to do), or explain her homework to her. It was really hard to get her off the phone, so I started not answering and she started using different numbers. Her emails were huge essays, and I was constantly repeating my replies from previous emails and feedback in my replies. Never again!
(Just to clarify, I have other parents who email often and with a lot of detail and I genuinely don’t mind if it is necessary and helpful, but these were just really not. And calling me without an appointment at any time just isn’t OK.)

It’s interesting to see other tutors boundaries. I think I am a tolerant kind of person and really don’t mind a lot of things , I have had one or two that I just couldn’t gel with.

I take a front when the parent thinks I’m their employee! I left work so I could choose my hours and what work I did and I don’t like being told what to do. I’ve also been in education many years now and think I know what I’m doing.

I don’t charge for marking , reports or setting homework.

I never had any success with keeping students that are advertised on the job board, they either don’t show up or don’t stay longer than a couple of lessons.


That’s interesting! I’ve never got students from the job board, but hadn’t realised that it’d make a difference in that way.
Yes, I’ve had parents try to tell me what to do in my lessons and I just tell them if they want a different tutor, that’s fine, but I am the expert and I know what I’m doing. I’ve never lost a student for saying that, and it tends to make the parents believe in me a bit more, I think.
One I struggle with is parents sitting in with their kids. I don’t mind them in the room, but I’ve had them talking over me to explain things and giving answers to students. I always try to tell the parents that they can’t do that, but I think I struggle with that personality type, as I don’t think I say it forcefully enough and they usually continue.
I don’t charge for homework, but I have charged for regular whole exam marking outside of lesson. I usually add 15 minutes on to the lesson to cover this.
One other thing I don’t do is teach siblings at the same time. It just doesn’t help them nearly as much, as they are mostly different abilities and have different things they need to work on, and there’s always a dominant sibling. I usually agree to do half an hour each, but I’m going to stop accepting that as half hour lessons are a pain.

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For me it’s when a client doesn’t respect my boundaries e.g. calling me outside of my work hours/expecting an answer outside of my work hours or expecting me to stay in the meeting for lengthy feedback sessions long after the lesson time has finished.


I have to say, the least reliable/most awkward of my students have been adult students.
I’ve got all of my current longterm students via the jobs board.

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One red flag I’ve come across is the parent / child saying other tutors who stopped working with them after a short time or midway through the year, for one excuse or the other.

I found this to mean that the student regularly cancels in the last minute, doesn’t turn up (and gives you no warning), & does not value your time.

There is a reason why their previous tutor stopped working with them and most times, its because of them.


Ah yes, I didn’t think of this one, but I’ve found the same. Or they are just generally quite difficult to work with.