‘Private tutoring is booming and someone’s making a killing…’
All parents want the best for their kids and many are prepared to do anything they can to secure it. And that includes paying for extra help. Extra help that will bring their kids up to scratch and get them the grades. Extra help that will get them into the right school or university. Extra help that will give their kids the edge and keep them ahead. Extra help that will ensure they aren’t missing out on the extra help that other kids are getting
It’s estimated that at least one in four parents hire private tutors for their kids, and that when it comes to London that figure may be closer to one in two. I spent over thirty years teaching, the majority of them in the kind of school where you’d have thought those clever enough to go there wouldn’t need any private tuition at all. Wrong. Everyone was at it. It was so widespread that on several occasions I heard parents say their child had achieved something ‘without tutoring’ as if this made the achievement even more remarkable and unusual.
Private tuition. Everyone is doing it and tutors, it seems, are everywhere.
And tutors occupy a strange position in the lives of those who employ them. There’s something curiously intimate about the way they’re often invited into people’s homes. From this position they could get to know a lot about their students and, more worryingly, a lot about their families. And this is especially the case when, as so often happens with the very rich, families bring tutors with them on holiday.
It was thinking about this that gave me the idea for the second DI Garibaldi novel.
What would happen, I asked myself, if a private tutor was found murdered? You wouldn’t immediately think that their murder was connected to their work but in your attempt to find out what was going on in their life you’d look at who they’d been tutoring.
And that’s what happens in Private Lessons. The second in the DI Garibaldi series sees the bike-riding, Larkin-quoting, country music-loving detective Jim Garibaldi investigating the murder of Giles Gallen, a young Cambridge graduate, who is found dead in Barnes Old Cemetery.
Garibaldi’s investigation takes him to Forum Tutors, the elite agency for whom Gallen had been working, and to those he had been tutoring – students ranging from the son of a super-wealthy Italian family who have taken him away with them on holiday and a sixth form student on The White City estate. It also takes in other young graduates who have turned to tutoring as a way of earning money while they pursue other options.
And as Garibaldi investigates, he comes to understand the real cost of going private.