HRES sat down with Roland Witherow, one of the founding partners at Witherow Brooke, an elite international private tuition and homeschooling agency. Our children’s education is of the utmost importance and for those families looking to work with a full-time private tutor, the expertise of someone like Roland is invaluable.
Why do families come to you for help with their children’s educational needs?
Every one of our clients has unique circumstances, but generally they are looking for something which a traditional school education cannot provide. Sometimes a child is just not being stimulated or supported at school properly and they need a tutor to give their children the best chance to reach their educational ambitions, especially with the increasing competitiveness of top-tier higher-education institutions. Some families also have unique lifestyles, for example with a lot of travelling, and for them a traditional school schedule just doesn’t fit in. So we help families bring on board either full-time home schooling tutors with bespoke curricula, or tutors to work alongside their child’s school in an academic enrichment capacity.
There are lots of tuition agencies out there. How is yours different?
Both the recruitment and support services we offer to clients are unique. For each position we launch a bespoke global search to find the best possible candidate for each individual student and family. We usually receive hundreds of applications for each position and from these we narrow the candidates down to a final shortlist of three, through a series of interviews and selection stages. My business partner William and I also personally stay on hand throughout the engagement for both tutor and family, to provide support and guidance as educational consultants. This is a fairly niche area and as far as I’m aware we’re the only company that provides this service.
Have you noticed any trends or particular challenges in this space in recent years?
We are certainly in the middle of a period of huge change in education and indeed the world in general. A lot of families are moving towards full-time home-schooling, some to support a more remote lifestyle, others to give their students time to pursue extracurricular ambitions, since home-schooled students can typically cover the same material as their classroom peers in a fraction of the time. Another challenge lies in the advancements of technology and in particular AI. Schools are struggling to adapt to this in a way to best prepare their students for life beyond school, and with children today being digital natives there are further challenges helping them navigate this aspect of their life, in particular when it comes to the social and motivational effects such technology can have on their education.
Working for the rich and famous, you must have encountered some fairly extraordinary roles?
Of course we have strict confidentiality with all of our clients. Without giving any particulars we have recruited for royal families who require very particular profiles and characters of tutors. We have also helped students enter the worlds of filmmaking and oil trading with specialists in their fields, and even approached world-leading professors in psychology and philosophy to take on mentorship positions and introduce students to the broader philosophical aspects of life.
How did you get into this line of work?
I have been a lifelong educator, having worked as a private tutor for almost two decades. After graduating, I was enlisted by a travel agency to provide schooling to the son of a high-profile client of theirs while they travelled the world. After completing this role, the family put me in touch with friends of theirs and I set up Witherow Brooke to specialise in the bespoke end of tuition and education. It’s an unusual profession but always fascinating, and incredibly rewarding to witness the progress of our students.