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Tuition top-up is waste of fuel

In some parts of London the afternoon school run is now followed by a largely middle-class phenomenon - the tutor run. Kates and Jakes are ferried in their parents' 4x4s to private tutors charging pound;30-plus an hour.

But how much advantage are better-off state school parents buying by hiring tutors? Judy Ireson, the academic who has parted the lace curtains that screened this front-parlour industry, says it is less than many thought - perhaps half a GCSE grade.

That news will be welcomed by those state school teachers who resent the involvement of tutors. But will it help to reduce the demand for tutoring? Almost certainly not. In a competitive education market, most parents (not just those driving 4x4s) will always try to give their children even the slightest "edge". If you doubt it, ask the mothers at the school gate.

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