Indian maths graduates will now teach British children

Indian maths graduates are being trained by a tutoring agency to give tuition to British children via telephone and internet. The online tutors will be available round the clock.

education Updated: Sep 10, 2010 14:42 IST

Indian maths graduates are being trained to give tuition to British children via telephone and internet round the clock, a report said Friday.

A tutoring agency has hired 100 maths tutors in Punjab and coached them in British school syllabus so that they can teach children of all ages, The Guardian reported.

London-based BrightSpark Education says the tutors will be available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. They will be paid 7 pounds an hour. The minimum wage in Punjab is 2.52 pounds.

The agency says parents can cut costs by hiring an Indian-based home tutor, rather than one who lives in Britain. It is charging 12 pounds per lesson, less than half the amount parents would normally pay for one-to-one private tuition.

The firm is encouraging state schools to get on board, too. Ashmount primary school in Islington, London, has been taking services of the Indian tutors for an hour a week to supplement maths classes for 30 of its pupils, the paper said.

Last month, it was revealed that nine Primary Care Trusts were outsourcing part of their patient record services to India.

Maths teachers are in chronic short supply in Britain. Maths graduates are offered a golden handshake of 5,000 pounds when they enrol on postgraduate teacher training courses.

In 2009, some 5,980 students graduated in maths in Britain. While in India, 690,000 students graduate with degrees in science and maths each year.

The tutors use an interactive whiteboard to conduct lessons. They communicate with pupils through a headset. Students can see their tutor's face on the screen.

The agency takes bookings from parents and teachers, and timetables when the tuition will take place. Each session is recorded so that students, parents and teachers can replay it.

Tom Hooper, managing director of BrightSpark Education, said he turned to India because it was difficult to find maths graduates in Britain who wanted to be fulltime tutors. While the Indian tutors would be available at all hours, he expected the majority of lessons to take place in the early evening.

Ashmount's headteacher, Pana McGee, said the school used the tutors as though they were "another assistant in the classroom".

"We would have paid an assistant at least 30,000 pounds, so that's how much can be saved in a year," she said. "The teaching resources that are used and the quality of teaching are excellent."

Hooper said: "It's true that there isn't the emotional bond you might get with a teacher who is there in the room with you, but you also get an unintimidating environment if you are learning online."

First Published: Sep 10, 2010 14:28 IST