Performing Arts Tuition; How Much Should I Pay or Be Payed?

Recently, with the support of Facebook group ‘Stage School Tutors UK’, (a great group by the way if you want to post job vacancies and last minute dep work) we conducted a survey regarding performing arts tutor pay. It is a hot topic as you may imagine and it seems, as you would expect, everyone […]

Recently, with the support of Facebook group ‘Stage School Tutors UK’, (a great group by the way if you want to post job vacancies and last minute dep work) we conducted a survey regarding performing arts tutor pay. It is a hot topic as you may imagine and it seems, as you would expect, everyone has an opinion as to the where’s and why’s that result in their preferred hourly rate.

The level of responsibility a tutor has should be considered when deciding on the level of pay.

The actual question asked was;

For a group class at a performing arts school what should the minimum hourly rate be for teachers?

The result- whilst still live looked like this:

£20ph (7 VOTES)

£25ph (67 VOTES)

£30ph (20 VOTES)

£35ph (5 VOTES)

Dependent on experience (50 plus votes)

So in the private sector (in this poll at least) £25per hour was most common, with experience based pay coming a close second.

There can be numerous factors for consideration when negotiating pay, including:

  • Amount of work being offered
  • Travel time and cost
  • Experience as a tutor or performer
  • Loyalty to your company
  • Role at your company
  • Amount of expected lesson planning
  • Number of students in the class
  • Level of responsibility to students and/or parents and co workers

In my past life as a school owner, a base rate of pay around £25per hour would be offered as a starting point. If the work was taken at the last minute as a ‘cover’ then we would pay a little bit more as a good will incentive. The rate would increase dependent on the factors outlined above. Additionally, whenever class fees increased so too would tutors hourly rates- even by just 50p an hour. This was always well received, however minimal and went some way to demonstrate appreciation to tutors loyalty and hard work.

Principal of The Playing Space and PAT member Gabi Maddocks commented “ It may depend on the number of consecutive hours’… if my teachers are doing a single hour drama club then the pay rate is £35… it wouldn’t be worth the travel time for less! But if they’re doing several hours back to back it might be £25. For holiday clubs, when they’re getting a full weeks work/ 6 hours a day then it’s more like £20…
It also depends on the number of children in the group (eg. a private tutorial with one student compared to a drama club with 20..) ..We have clear pay rates for all the different services and make sure our teachers are aware of what is expected and what is being offered in advance”

Sound, sensible advice.

What about bonus pay?

Whilst the norm with many companies with conventional employees, it can easily be implemented for freelance tutors too!

Bonus pay and ‘Thank You’ treats such as a meal out will obviously ALWAYS be welcome!

In past experience we may have offered a bonus meal for two or a John Lewis Gift Voucher awarded to one tutor at the end of each term, subject to continuity of attendance (obviously allowing for illness etc) and excellence in progress and achievement of the students under their tutorage. We found this built some healthy competition amongst the schools and tutors, especially performance or exam based terms.

And experience/calibre verses qualification? It seems this is one of the most sensitive subjects of all in performing art education and the profession as a whole! But surely the tutor who hasn’t worked as a lead singer in the West End but has a Masters in Vocal pedagogy is better suited to the role…?

Qualifications is a subject often questioned and I won’t cover in detail here, other than to say, based on experience of working with freelance tutors (and previously being one myself) valuable CPD and quality of the teaching can occur and improve via conventional study or practical experience as both a tutor and performer. So perhaps the best policy is to consider the person’s attributes, experience and references as a whole and what current CPD for teaching they are doing. An inadequate summary I admit, but one to revisit in detail later perhaps…

So how to pay? Promptly! Without doubt payment for freelancers should be made within 7 days of receipt of their invoice unless otherwise agreed IN ADVANCE. It is an embarrassing and unnecessary position for a freelancer to find themselves having to chase up fees owed and any discrepancies or delays should be dealt with quickly and honestly. Discrepancies do occur and with surprisingly frequency- Freelancers popping on £15 for travel there, £10 for the half an hour spent chatting to a parent about an exam result out of designated teaching time, a little to cover sheet music or photocopies. All fine as long as it’s been pre agreed. It is well worth having a contract for both long and short term freelancers. A sample (termly/ongoing) contract can be found ‘Backstage’ on PAT and could be edited down to a guideline document for a one off tutor coming in. Expectation, transparency and clarity is key when dealing with pay.

How to pay? PROMPTLY! That’s how.

Do I need to make pension contributions? If you are not employing anyone then no you don’t, however determining what employment status a tutor, school manager, admin assistant has can be a grey area READ HERE and I would urge anyone unsure to seek professional advice from an accountant. It becomes especially relevant if you have office staff working as ‘freelancers’ or tutors working for many hours each week. The government have really tightened up on pension contributions. Once you know your position and if you are working with people on a freelance bases, it maybe an idea to offer regular freelancers a guide to making their own contributions as self employed status…it is one of those things that freelancers in any profession tend not to give any attention to and it is a good duty of care move from your company to those you work with. See HERE.

We’re keen to implement some pay guidelines into our quality mark guidelines in the future as a public reference for School Principals and freelance tutors of performing arts. We would like to help set a benchmark for good practice and reasonable pay which members of PAT can refer to. Please do share any comments, experience or insight with us to help shape this potential quality mark provision at

With Special Thanks to Kirsten Moore at Stage School Teachers UK