How To Become A Tutor: A Guide On Starting A Tuition Business

The UK Education System

As a Tutor, it is vital that you have a strtong understanding of the UK education system and the expectations of each year group.

Within the UK, education is compulsory up to the age of 18. Children do not need to attend school, as they can be home educated by parents or others employed by parents. Similarly, prior to the compulsory age of education, parents can choose to send their children to nursery schools, where they can learn early skills and socialise with other toddlers.

From eighteen on, youngsters can go on to study additional courses, a non-compulsory element of the education system. Further education courses can be undertaken at education colleges or Higher Education Institutions (HEI), whilst other learners can move on to higher education, which most commonly takes place in universities.

The most crucial document to be aware of is the National Curriculum. This is often split between subjects and levels, but all documents can be found here.

Here is a breakdown of the different phases of educations, the year groups for each, the ages of pupils in each phase and the key examinations sat. We have included additional information we feel is important to be aware of.


Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS) or Reception (Age 5 and below)
  • Attached to (infant) primary schools or independently based in nurseries.
  • No compulsory exams.

The EYFS Profile is the statutory assessment of each child’s development and learning achievements at the end of the academic year in which they turn 5. The 2016 Handbook can be found here.

In Wales this is typically known as the Foundation Stage and in Scotland as Pre-school.

Primary Education in the UK:

The major aims of primary education are achieving basic literacy and numeracy, as well as a foundation in all other subjects. Teachers are largely ‘generalists’ who teach children in their classes all subjects.

Primary Key Stage 1 (KS1) - Years One and Two (Ages 5-7)
  • "Infants"
  • KS1 SATs at the end of Year Two
Primary Key Stage 2 (KS2) - Years Three to Six (Ages 7-11)
  • "Juniors"
  • KS2 SATs at the end of Year Six
  • 11+ Exam for those seeking to enter grammar schools
  • Common entrance exams for those seeking to enter private schools

In Scotland there is generally no distinction between infant and junior schools. In Wales, the Foundation Stage is combined with the Infant stage of education. In some areas, middle schools take children from the age of 8-14.

Secondary Education in the UK:

Secondary schools more commonly set pupils and teachers specialise in individual subjects. Comprehensive schools accept pupils within their area, whereas grammar schools are applied to through entrance exams, by which pupils with a high academic ability are selected. Academies are publicly funded independent schools, with more freedom in the curriculum they operate.

Key Stage Three (KS3) - Years Seven to Nine (Ages 11-14)
  • No compulsory exams.
Key Stage Four (KS4) - Years Ten to Eleven (Ages 14-16)
  • GCSE exams at the end of Year Eleven
Key Stage Five (KS5) - Years Twelve to Thirteen (Ages 16-18)
  • Sixth Form or College
  • A Levels at the end of Year Thirteen
  • BTEC for more vocational subjects

In Scotland, there are various levels of National Qualifications. Generally, most pupils take National 4/5s in S3-4, and Highers in S5. Those who continue into S6 take more Highers and even Advanced Highers. Students can go to university at the end of S5 but more commonly stay on into S6.

Tutors should make sure that they are aware of the year group, subject and level each of their students are working at and then refer to the relevant curriculum documents when planning their sessions.

 Scott Woodley, Co-founder of Tutorful.

Scott is a fully qualified primary school teacher who left teaching to set up Tutorful, a site which helps parents and learners find the right tutor for them.

If you are looking to become a tutor, you can easily create a profile with Tutorful. You can set your own price, offer online or face-to-face tuition and begin building your rewarding career in no time.

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