More parents hiring private tutors in hard times

 

Growing numbers of parents are hiring private tutors to help their children through exams despite the recession, according to research published today.

A survey of 2,700 11 to 16-year-olds by the education charity the Sutton Trust reveals that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) have received some form of private tuition. The figure compares to just 18 per cent four years ago.

Experts believe this could be as a result of well-off parents putting a higher premium on exam results because of the recession.

It could also be as a result of the coalition Government’s constant claims that standards in the state sector need to be improved to provide every child with a decent education.

“Private tuition appears to be booming despite the recession,” said Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust.

“While it is natural that parents should want to do the best for their children, it does give well-off families an advantage – particularly when money to help children from poorer homes is being cut.”

There was a wide gap between the percentage of children from the most affluent homes (25 per cent) who received out of hours coaching and the percentage from the least well-off families (15 per cent). Some of these may have had coaching paid for by their local authority.

The trust is planning to test the effectiveness of private tuition by funding a pilot scheme to give 100 students from poor homes in London one-to-one tuition to boost their GCSE maths scores.

It then plans to compare their results with those who have not received extra tuition.

If the trial shows tuition does have an impact, the Trust may extend the scheme to cover more poor pupils in ensuing years.

A breakdown of the figures show that parents in Greater London are the most likely to resort to private tuition for their children – 38 per cent said they had opted for it compared with 34 per cent in 2005.

Asian and black parents were also much more likely to hire private tutors, according to the survey, with 42 per cent of Asian children and 38 per cent of black children said they had received help. Only 20 per cent of white families had resorted to private tuition.

The children were asked why they had received private tuition. More than half (57 per cent) said it was “to help me do well in a particular exam” while 42 per cent said it was “to help with my school work in general”.

Of the 23 per cent who had received private tuition, seven per cent said it had been this year, eight per cent during the past year, six per cent the year before last and 10 per cent three or more years ago.

The latter figure raises the spectre that many children received private coaching during their primary school years – either to help them keep up in class or do well in their national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds – the SATs exams.

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