Today more than ever before, academic performance determines whether a child attends the school of their choice or the university degree they desire. In that context, tutoring has acquired a renewed importance. However, tutoring agencies need to focus on their legal needs as well as their educational goals. If you run a tutoring agency, you need an agency agreement. This article discusses what your tutoring contract should include.

1. Service Description

Your tutoring contract must carefully detail all the educational services that you provide. It needs to be clearly written and accessible.

For example, if your tutoring agency prepares students for the International English Language Testing System examinations, explain how it does so.  Be specific. Note the ways that your agency works on improving listening, comprehension and vocabulary. Similarly, how you teach English grammar and whether you conduct practice examinations for your students.

This level of detail in your agreement is necessary because most legal disputes concerning service agreements concern the scope of the agreement. In other words, a party feels aggrieved because they believe they did not receive the service promised to them. As such, the more accurate your agreement can be, the less likely you could be to experience legal disputes in the future.

Your agreement might also want to tell the client how you understand your ethical responsibilities as a tutoring agency. For example, agencies and individual tutors who are members of the Australian Tutoring Association abide by a Code of Conduct that obliges them to:

  • Use their resources for the best educational outcomes for students;
  • Use their teaching and learning practices to enhance student’s self-esteem and confidence to learn; and
  • Use their skills to the best of their ability to teach students so that they improve in the subjects in which they receive tuition.

Also, depending on the size and turnover of your agency, you may or may not be legally obliged to observe the Australian Privacy Principles. If your agency does follow them, either by law or choice, be sure to tell your clients. Your customers then know that you perform your tutoring services in a manner designed to respect every student’s confidentiality.

2. Payment/Terms of Payment

Your tutoring contract needs to clarify your prices and your terms of payment. In that way, your customers know what they must pay you if they engage your services.

How you express this is a matter for your agency. Some choose to give prices for individual lessons; some tutoring agencies charge for a term of lessons. If you require payment before a lesson begins, or at the start of term for the entire term, you need to specify that. Also, let clients know whether they can expect a refund if they fail to attend a class or stop attending mid-way through a term.

3. Liability

All service providers should limit their liability as much as is possible under the applicable laws. Conversely, your clients will want you to assume as much liability as possible.

Your tutoring contract must clearly outline how you limit your liability. For example, tell clients that your agency will prepare them academically to the best of its ability but that it does not accept responsibility for their performance in an examination. In that way, if a client does not attain their desired grade, they cannot hold your agency accountable.

On this point, you should be careful how you market your organisation because that will materially influence how you can limit your liability in the event of a dispute. For example, if you advertise that every child tutored by your agency will attain a particular mark in a subject, you might find it difficult to disclaim liability if they do not.

4. Child Protection

If your agency works with minors, it is best practice to tell clients in your tutoring agreement how you will protect them while under your care. Your agency needs to detail your policies to clients.

For example, the Australian Tutoring Association recommends that if a tutor or agency teaches a child in their home:

  • Tutoring can only happen in a public part of the house;
  • It can never take place in a child’s bedroom;
  • An adult must always be in the house; and

The adult must sign confirmation at the conclusion of the lesson attesting to these practices. Similarly, tutoring in a classroom situation must take place with:

  • Windows open;
  • Doors open;
  • Further, no tutor must ever discipline a child with the door shut.

You will also need suitable employment procedures for your agency. For example, requiring all prospective employees to provide a Working With Children Check.

5. Termination

Your tutoring agreement should specify how a party can terminate the agreement. For example, if a student needs to give notice, how much is necessary to avoid any further payments? Also, if the client has paid for some lessons, let them know if they would be entitled to a refund.

Final Note

Depending on the nationality of your clients, and the subjects your agency teaches, you may want to think about preparing your agreement in English as well as other languages.

LegalVision provides qualified and expert advice to businesses and has helped many companies draft agreements. It would be our pleasure to help you. Call LegalVision today on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Carole Hemingway

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