Belfast Telegraph

High-flying NI teacher Valerie travels world to tutor kids of super-rich for £2,000 a week

Super tutor: Valerie Westfield
Super tutor: Valerie Westfield

By Natalie Corner and Claire McNeilly

You've heard of flying doctors, but what about flying tutors?

They do exist and a woman from Northern Ireland is one of the busiest ones.

Valerie Westfield gets flown around the world to educate the children of the uber rich who, she claims, order tutors like 'takeaway' because they want their kids to succeed.

And she revealed that it's super lucrative as the 56-year-old teacher, who has three decades' experience under her belt, can earn up to £2,000 a week, all expenses paid.

In the last 12 months, the jet-setting educator has been flown to Switzerland, Morocco, Dubai, Greece, France and Saudi Arabia. She has taught on yachts, mid-air, chauffeur-driven cars and by luxury pools.

Earning between £52,000-£104,000 a year with her tutoring gig, Valerie knows the pressure is on to prove herself and get results on each assignment.

"If you can't deliver then they will find someone else," the Lisburn woman told the Daily Mail.

"I have years of experience, I can guarantee to get them up to the level needed, and I know I can do it.

"It's an interesting lifestyle to step in and out of.

"It can be very glamorous, people are paying you big money and you have to live up to what you say you can do."

Valerie, who gained many years' experience as a teacher in north Wales before returning to her native Northern Ireland to help care for her father, switched to tutoring the super rich in 2017.

She signed up to two agencies in London - the Duke and Duchess International and The London Governess Agency - who both cater specifically to royals, millionaires and billionaires.

She explained that they negotiate the teaching packages with the families before the tutors are informed, so the prices vary from client to client depending on the intensity of the studies.

And Valerie said she has become accustomed to travelling at short notice, depending on where her skills are needed, preferring the flexibility of short-term stints with families over long-term placements.

"I was contacted on a Wednesday for a seven-day contract in Switzerland starting on the Friday," she said.

"So I flew to Zurich the next day to spend seven days teaching and preparing a Swiss boy for the 13+ common entrance exams for a top Scottish boarding school."

That assignment was a success after six-hour days of Valerie's intense tutoring, but sometimes her education missions can be more challenging.

"Most of the time it's okay and I kind of have a schedule of what I'm doing, but sometimes on a whim [the family] will just decide they're leaving," she said.

"They will say 'we're leaving tomorrow'. I was in Dubai twice in one week, you have to pack up and go too, otherwise they can just cut your time short."

Families are prepared to pay high prices for Valerie's services because she has "a solid record of getting pupils through their GCSE level and entrance exams for example at Eton, Harrow, and Merchiston Castle".

And she knows she's unlikely to ever struggle for work in a world where parents will do anything to help their child succeed.

"Sometimes it's assumed that parents who pay a lot of money for tutoring are also disconnected from their children, and want to pass the burden to the tutor," she said.

"I have come across that. I have had one pupil who said to me 'Mummy orders tutors all the time, like ordering a takeaway'," she said.

There's a lot of hard work involved, but for Valerie, it's certainly rewarding.

"Teaching is the best job in the world as far as I am concerned," she said. "And if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life."

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