Report calls for means-tested vouchers to plug rich-poor divide in England and Wales

More than one in four secondary school pupils have a private tutor, research shows.

Young people from wealthier homes are significantly more likely to have additional help than their poorer peers, according to the Sutton Trust report.

The social mobility charity is calling on the government to introduce means-tested vouchers to help lower-income families access private tuition for their children.

In total, 27% of the 2,800 11- to 16-year-olds questioned said they have had private tuition. This proportion is up compared with 18% who said the same in 2005, but down slightly from a peak of 30% in 2017.

A breakdown shows 34% of those from “high-affluence” backgrounds said they had private tuition, compared with 20% of those from “low-affluence” homes.

Young people in London are more likely to say they have had a private tutor than any other part of England.

Secondary school pupils from black, Asian and minority-ethnic backgrounds were about twice as likely to say they had private tutoring than those from a white background (42% compared with 22%).

The report also found that nearly a quarter of secondary school teachers say they have taken on private tuition in the past two years. Teachers were most likely to have taken on tutoring after direct contact from parents, it says.

Sir Peter Lampl, the Sutton Trust founder and chair, said: “Private tuition is widespread. About 27% of teenagers have been tutored, rising to 41% in London. A quarter of teachers have provided tutoring. With costs of at least £25 per session, many parents cannot afford it.

“The government should look at introducing a means-tested voucher scheme to enable lower-income families to provide tuition for their children. Schools should also consider the implications of teachers offering paid tuition outside of lessons and how this is promoted in school.”

The charity said research showed one-to-one and small-group tuition is a cost-effective way to bolster pupils’ achievement. It recommended that schools consider using their pupil premium funding – extra money given to schools for the poorest pupils – to prioritise these methods.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We have invested an extra £2.4bn this year alone through the pupil premium and schools have flexibility over how they use this funding, which can include providing one-to-one or small-group tuition to ensure disadvantaged pupils get the extra support they need.

“While we believe families should not have to pay for private tuition – and with standards rising in schools we believe in most cases private tuition to be unnecessary – it has always been part of the system and parents have freedom to do this.”

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Increasing use of private tuition reflects the worries that the government has unnecessarily created in so many parents’ minds about school standards and students’ prospects.

“Although offering support to students whose parents cannot afford private tuition may seem appealing, any extra funding available for disadvantaged students should be directed at addressing the shortfalls in pupil premium funding and the government’s decision to favour schools in less disadvantaged areas in its own recent funding announcement.”

The Ipsos Mori survey of pupils questioned 2,809 children aged 11-16 in secondary schools in England and Wales between 12 February and 24 May.

The National Foundation for Educational Research Teacher Voice Omnibus survey polled 1,678 practising state school teachers in England between 1-6 March.

Source: The Guardian

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