One in four parents pay tutors to coach their children

Emphasis on league tables means poorer pupils are losing out, researchers warn

One in four parents are now paying for private tuition for their children to top up their education, according to research published today. The finding will add to worries that the most able students are being neglected in schools – and that poorer students are missing out on help afforded to the more privileged.

The figures, published by the education charity the Sutton Trust, show there has been a steady rise in the number of parents seeking outside help to improve their children’s chances of getting good exam grades. Across the UK the proportion doing so has risen from 18 per cent five years ago to 24 per cent this year.

The research also indicates a widespread variation between regions. In London 40 per cent of parents pay for extra lessons – a higher proportion than anywhere else in the UK. In  Wales, by contrast, only 9 per cent of parents pay for private tuition.

One of the reasons for the rise was said last night to be the Government’s emphasis on exam league tables, in which schools are ranked according to the number of pupils getting five A* to C grade passes at GCSE including maths and English.

“The accountability measures tend to turn attention on the borderline C/D grade pupils,” said Professor Alan Smithers, head of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham.

“It may be that some anxious parents who believe their children are capable of getting A* and A grade passes are concerned that they don’t seem to be getting the attention they deserve as a result.”

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is already reviewing the league table measures, and it is possible that he might ditch the idea of ranking schools according to the five A* to C grade criterion.

However, headteachers’ leaders are worried that the pressures will continue if league tables are based on an alternative measure, in which schools would be ranked according to the percentage of pupils getting A* to C grade passes in the core subjects of maths and English.

The Sutton Trust, which was set up by the millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl to promote a fairer chance in education for students from disadvantaged areas, is worried that the rise in private tuition could discriminate against pupils from poorer homes.

“Private tuition is booming, particularly in London, despite the fact many families have been forced to tighten their belts,” Sir Peter said.

“Parents naturally want to do the best for their children. Providing private tuition for them puts those children whose parents can’t afford it at a disadvantage. That’s why it’s so crucial that we find a successful way to ensure that the learning gap is narrowed for less advantaged children.”

Analysis by the private tutoring website First Tutors suggests that the typical cost of a private tutor is now £22 an hour, with the national average ranging from £20 for primary and secondary tuition to £26 for help with university degrees.

In its survey, 31 per cent of better-off families resorted to private tutoring compared with 15 per cent of less well-off families.

The Sutton trust’s sister charity, the Education Endowment Foundation, is testing the impact of offering free tuition to children from low-income backgrounds through its £263,000 funding of an evaluation of the work of a Manchester-based charity, the Tutor Trust.

It selects and trains able university students and recent graduates to provide tuition in challenging schools.

Some schools are also understood to be using their pupil premium – the extra cash they get from the Government for taking in pupils on free school meals – to pay for private tuition for their disadvantaged pupils.

Meanwhile, The Independent has learned of one school where a parent was fed up with the standard of biology teaching and turned to a local college to help provide private tuition in the subject for his child.

Other parents heard about his decision on the grapevine and decided to follow suit. All the pupils ended up with extra coaching and gained excellent grades – with the result that the teacher whose lessons had been deemed shoddy was praised for what her class had achieved.

Case studies

I have recommended private tuition to others

Nabila Elahi, a secondary-school teacher from north-west London, used private tuition to help her daughter Wafa, 18, with her physics A-level. She found a company  which offered lessons online for a reduced fee.

“Wafa was having some difficulties. I could not find a tutor who could come to us, so I rang an online tuition  service. Something is lost without the face-to-face interaction but I still found it very useful. If you don’t like it you simply don’t book it again. That’s a more awkward thing to do in person.

“Wafa found it very helpful. It boosted her confidence and it helped her to enjoy the subject more. She got an A in the end and I have recommended it to others.

Ms Elahi, who teaches in an independent secondary school, says many of the parents there pay for private tuition.

“The parents are more affluent and they take an active interest in their children’s education. Perhaps they are not representative.”

Some students need one-to-one with a teacher

David Gibson, from Newbury in Berkshire, got a tutor for his  daughter Cara, who was having some difficulty with a number of her GCSE subjects.

“We paid for maths, geography and physics lessons because Cara was struggling,” he said. “We went through a company called MyTutorWeb, which employs university students. We had great people, we were really lucky. They were of a similar age to Cara which really worked well for her. In fact she’s still in touch with some of them, talking about her results.

“She passed her GCSE in maths with a C and without the tuition she definitely wouldn’t have passed.

“I’ve got two other daughters and I’ll probably do the same when they’re of a similar age.”

Mr Gibson said that his choice to pay for tutors was not due to the failings of Cara’s school. It is simply that some students sometimes need one-to-one time with a teacher.

“We did it because we needed extra help. The school did what they could but they can’t make individual arrangements for each pupil, he added.”

I had to help them to keep up

Juliana Birch and her two children, Galiliea and Miranda Juliana Birch and her two children, Galiliea and Miranda
Juliana Birch, from north London, paid for a tutor for both her daughters, five-year-old Galilea and 11-year-old Miranda.

“Miranda was getting ready for the 11 plus and English is not Galilea’s first language so I needed someone to help her with homework,” she said. Although her children are educated privately, the level of competition makes private tuition “a necessity”. “I had to get a tutor to help them to keep up.”

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teaching Assistant required in ...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam