Waiting for the opening

Recap: EDUKWEST Live in London – The Booming Tutoring Market

On Wednesday, Jan 23rd our first EDUKWEST Live event of 2014 took place in London and based on all the positive comments and feedback I have received since I know that we are on a good way to serve our audience of education entrepreneurs and industry professionals also in the event space.

The audience
The audience

A nice crowd of 50-60 edtech professionals active or interested in the tutoring industry gathered at The Glasshouse.

Annette Thomas opens the evening
Annette Thomas opens the evening

Our partner for this event, Macmillan Digital Education, hosted us in their gorgeous new London Campus, and we were honored that Macmillan Science and Education CEO Annette Thomas took the time out of her busy schedule to open the evening and told us more about the building itself as well as how it illustrates Macmillan’s overall strategy for the future.

The evening then started off with a fireside talk of Daniel Cohen, freelance writer and editor, and Conor Ryan, Director of research and communications at The Sutton Trust. Both shared some interesting points based on their respective research on the tutoring industry in the UK and consequently compared and discussed their results.

Fireside chat with Conor Ryan and Daniel Cohen
Fireside chat with Conor Ryan and Daniel Cohen

The tutoring market saw a surge in private tuition by 42% in the last year, the average lesson costing between £20-24/hour for children and slightly more at university level.


Undoubtedly, private tuition is successful when it comes to learning outcomes although there hasn’t been enough comparative analysis whether traditional face-to-face tutoring has an edge over online tuition or whether both forms of teaching are equally as effective. An interesting point in the research carried out by The Sutton Trust was the effectiveness peer learning.



Points that should be discussed in the future are a possible need for more industry regulations, especially for younger children.

Kirsten Winkler gives an overview
Kirsten Winkler gives an overview

After having gained some good insight in the dynamics of the UK market, I wanted to give our audience an overview of what happens in tutoring worldwide in the form of some case studies and also set a focus on online tuition compared to the traditional offline solutions.

My three main theses were

  1. How do startups and providers deal with Google dominating search and how does it affect their business
  2. Do the best tutors seek independence and look to set up their own businesses rather than working for a tutoring agency or using a similar structure (platform, marketplace) online
  3. Do apps and software eat up the low end of the tutoring market.



These were among the questions I wanted to get answers from our startup panel and hear their opinions, and they didn’t disappoint in the having-an-opinion-department.

Lively discussion with the startup panel
Lively discussion with the startup panel

The panelists were Edd Stockwell of Tutorfair, Woody Webster of Bright Young Things and TutorCruncher, Mikaël Dia of Lingos, Rahim Hirji of Maths Doctor and Simon Walsh of Mactrac.

I think having put together such a diverse panel ranging from traditional face-to-face tutoring, over directories / marketplaces to tutoring solutions online and also having two B2B services with TutorCruncher and Mactrac contributed to the very lively discussion both between panelists and with the audience.




Although the entrepreneurs had some strong and also opposed views, there was common ground in the discussion around the importance of the personal relationship between tutor and student, the efficacy debate and the growing presence of technology in the tutoring space.

Matthias Ick closes the evening
Matthias Ick closes the evening

Matthias Ick, managing director of Macmillan Digital Education closed the event with his presentation looking back at the experiences he made as the founder of German-based tutoring service Tutoria and giving his take on how to use technology, especially data, to make the learning experience more personal and therefore guarantee better learning outcomes.

Our partnership with Macmillan Digital Education has been very positive for both sides and we are already looking forward to our next events and workshops together in 2014.

EDUKWEST will also come to other European cities with events this year. If you’re interested in getting updates on upcoming events, please subscribe to our free newsletter.

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at KirstenWinkler.com.

  • chinamike

    Interesting you called questions your theses. I don’t mean to be picky in fact, I really would like to think in terms of a thesis which I was taught should be written in terms that can be falsified. I suppose I wouldn’t be so picky if instead I had the opportunity to join this gathering. Kudos for putting this together. Lucky Europe. In the end, can anything be more crucial in the business of tutoring than the fight between man and algorithm?

    • You are right to be picky but in the words of Dr King Schulz, it is a second language. Would have been great to have you at the event. I for one welcome our new machine overlords 😉

  • Stefan Richter

    I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t make the event, I fell ill on the day and couldn’t travel…
    I’d be interested to know if you got this questions answered: “Do the best tutors seek independence and look to set up their own businesses rather than working for a tutoring agency or using a similar structure (platform, marketplace) online”

    As someone who provides a technology platform for tutors, and a new offering under development, I am very interested to hear the responses.

    Lastly, is there a video recording of the panel anywhere?

    • We planned to record the event, unfortunately the folks had problems to make it work. Next time I will bring my own recording facilities.

      This question unfortunately did not get a lot of attention. But from what I see in discussions there is definitely a big interest among tutors to get more independence. We can chat about this next time I am in London which should be soon 🙂

    • chinamike


      A lot of question here:
      1. Can the best tutors actually be identified? How do you decide if your sample is representative of the entire group of best tutors?
      2. How do you define independence? Is someone who works at one online tutoring agency independent? Someone who is listed at 3?
      3. Is a tutoring agency really the same as a platform or a marketplace? Could an argument be made that these are all significantly different?
      4. Is it possible for a tutor to both be independent and contract bound at the same time?
      5. Could an argument be made that for a tutor to work for a tutoring agency, or a platform and be a part of the marketplace is also compatible in his or her mind with seeking independence?

      Forgive me, but this question makes it sound a bit like you are barking up an imaginary tree.