Life & Culture

Wheeling in need for private tutors

As schoolboys, they noticed the demand for tutors. Now their agency is going global.


They started off as two independent schoolboys dissatisfied with their private tutors. Now Marcus Ereira and Luke Shelley run one of the largest tuition agencies in the UK: Tavistock Tutors.

Ereira and Shelley, both 21, capitalised on the demand for one-to-one tuition from private and state school students while they were respectively studying for their AS-level exams at Immanuel College and Mill Hill School.

The duo, who grew up on the same street in St John’s Wood, estimate that 50 per cent of independent school students in the UK receive private tuition. The figure ties into a survey by the Sutton Trust, which reported that 40 per cent of London state schoolchildren receive private tuition at an average £40 an hour.

“I had a tutor for each of my AS-levels and everyone I knew also had tutors,” says Ereira, who set up the business in 2009. “But we all found that agencies were closed by the time we got home from school, were shut on weekends and then took a long time to respond to calls. Tutors were also unfamiliar with exam boards. That’s how Luke and I came up an agency that was better than that. I was more focused on setting this up than revising for my exams.”

Ereira decided to “take a gamble” and leave the Bushey school after his AS-levels. “My parents made it a condition that I go off and run something that would actually be a success.”

The duo spent evenings and weekends marketing the agency.

They retrieved a bicycle from a skip, painted in bright orange with the company logo and parked it outside schools and universities to market the agency (pictured).

“Initially it was hard,” says Ereira, who expanded the company from a £600 investment. “Most people don’t take 17-year-olds seriously.

“But we just tried to be as professional and creative as possible. We handed out leaflets outside schools and universities, and after one year, we got 60 people as tutors.”

The agency now has more than 400 tutors on its books and saw a £160,000 profit turnover last year.

The duo are looking to expand to big cities across the globe. “In the UK, we focus on London because that’s where there’s demand — especially from foreign students,” adds Shelley, who went on to graduate Regent’s Business School in London.

“Last year we saw a huge increase in students from international families and a lot come from the Emirates, Russia and China. They want their children taught by the best from British institutions and that’s what we provide.

“We even send our tutors abroad, from Hong Kong to New York,” adds Shelley.

“The tutors that are sent there during school holidays earn thousands of pounds a week and so it makes more sense for us to look to grow there.”

Tavistock Tutors

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