Location, not social class, is biggest factor in whether a child has private tuition, study finds

15th September 2016 at 00:01
private tuition, bera, research, newcastle university, pupil premium, grammar schools
Primary pupils in London are more than eight times as likely to receive private tuition as their counterparts in Scotland, research has revealed.

The divide is greater from region to region than between middle-class and disadvantaged families, the study of more than 11,000 pupils reveals. 20 per cent of less-affluent families hire private tutors, compared with 26 per cent of middle-class families.

Almost half – 43 per cent – of London schoolchildren receive out-of-school help with their studies, compared with only five per cent in Scotland. Within England, a child in London is almost four times as likely to have received private tuition as one living in the North East, where only 11 per cent of children have tutors.

Researchers from Newcastle University and from social-research institute NatCen Social Research analysed data from 11,759 pupils aged 11. They found that the proportion of children receiving private tuition varied significantly from region to region.

In the West Midlands, 26 per cent of pupils received out-of-school lessons. In the North West, this figure was 22 per cent, in the East Midlands 21 per cent, and in the South West 20 per cent. In Yorkshire and the Humber, 15 per cent of pupils had private tutors.

Good for pupils?

Wales, like Scotland, had much lower rates of private tuition than any region in England: only nine per cent. By contrast, 25 per cent of Northern Irish pupils had tutors.

The academics will present their findings today at the British Educational Research Association conference, held at the University of Leeds.

Liz Todd, professor of education inclusion at Newcastle University, said that the study raised important questions with regards to the recent government decision to expand grammar-school education.

“The impact of expanding grammar schools will be to expand the private-tuition market into areas of England which have relatively low levels at the moment,” she said. “This will be a boost for private-tuition companies, but is it good for pupils?”

She added that this could lead to pressure on schools to spend their pupil-premium funding on coaching for the 11-plus exam. “Do we really want schools to be doing this?” she said. “It is a questionable use of public funding, with no evidence that it will help close the attainment gap between rich and poor.”

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