Coronavirus: Class divide in online learning

Sutton Trust calls for voucher scheme after poll reveals less than half of parents feel confident teaching children at home

Amy Gibbons

Online education: A third of FE students unable to access online lessons

A charity is calling for a voucher scheme to fund "high-quality online tuition" for disadvantaged pupils, as a new poll reveals the impact of inequality on home learning.

The survey, carried out on behalf of social mobility charity the Sutton Trust, found that just over a third (37 per cent) of working-class parents feel confident teaching their children at home, compared with almost half (47 per cent) of middle-class parents.

The charity is therefore recommending high-quality online tuition is made available for disadvantaged pupils "to level the playing field".

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It says this could be funded through a voucher scheme or a network of quality-assured tutoring providers.

Between 1 April and 3 April, research specialists Public First asked 1,508 parents about their experiences with home learning, and what support they had received from their school.

Almost half (49 per cent) of more affluent parents said they were satisfied with the learning support provided for their children, compared with four in 10 (40 per cent) of working-class parents.

The survey also found that 60 per cent of children from working-class families are likely to have nothing spent on their education, compared with 45 per cent of middle-class pupils.

Overall, less than half (42 per cent) of parents said they felt confident teaching their children at home.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: "Parents across the country are grappling with the challenge of homeschooling their children.  

"The home learning environment has never been more important, but as today’s polling shows, less than half of parents feel confident about teaching their child at home.

"Better-off parents are more able than poorer families to spend money on resources and support for their children.

"To reduce the impact of school closures on the most disadvantaged pupils, we’d like to see high-quality online tuition available to the most disadvantaged pupils."


Commenting on the poll, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the results were unsurprising, but also concerning:

“We are not surprised that many parents do not feel confident about teaching children at home as they have been put in a completely unexpected situation very suddenly. We are particularly concerned about the impact on disadvantaged families and the potential for this situation to further widen educational gaps between rich and poor.

“We would reassure all parents that there is no expectation to home-school their children, and their efforts are best directed at supporting learning by helping children to structure their day with breaks for exercise, and activities such as reading, using learning resources like BBC Bitesize and watching educational TV programmes. Schools will continue to provide pupils with schemes of work and teachers are doing a very good job at delivering these remotely.”

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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