Schools should use pupil premium to give disadvantaged children's private tuition, charity says

Move would help close gap with privately educated kids

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The Independent Online

Schools should use the extra cash they get for taking in disadvantaged children to pay for private tuition, a leading charity says.

Research by the Sutton Trust, set up to campaign for equal access for all children to education, shows parents who send their children to private schools are twice as likely to pay for extra private tuition as those who send them to state schools.

In addition, richer parents are four times more likely to fork out for extracurricular activities such as sport, music, drama and visits to museums and art galleries.

“The richest parents are most able to afford private tuition, either to assist [their children] with schoolwork or to help them gain entry to selective schools,” says the research.

“It is particularly notable that it is parents whose children already attend private school who are the most likely to also provide private extra tuition, illustrating the extent of financial investment some parents are able to make to secure god outcomes for their children.”

“Inequalities in education don’t just stop after the school bell has sounded,” said Conor Ryan, the trust’s director of research. “They extend to the range of private tuition and extracurricular activities available to children whose parents can afford to pay for them.

“If we are serious about improving social mobility we must narrow the gap in educational opportunities outside of school as well as within the classroom. Offering low-income families vouchers to spend on extracurricular activities or private tuition would be a step towards this.”

Up until now, the “pupil premium”, the extra money given to schools for educating disadvantaged pupils, has been used in the main to provide those struggling to keep up in class with extra one-to-one coaching to help them catch up in class.

The research reveals that more than a fifth of parents in the higher income brackets reported paying at least £500 a year on extracurricular activities for their child, compared with just 10 per cent from the lower income groups.

“By using private tuition both to help with day-to-day schoolwork and to gain admission to selective schools, richer parents are able to give their children a large academic boost,” it adds. “This will likely make a big difference to their access to the most selective universities and subsequently to the highest paying careers.”

The trust recommends that the Government should introduce a means-tested voucher as part of the pupil premium which would give lower income families the chance to purchase extra educational opportunities for their children.