A quarter (24%) of secondary school teachers have taken on private tuition outside school in the past two years, according to new polling published today (26 Sept).

The survey of 1,678 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) through their Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey, found that two-thirds of the teachers who had tutored had done so after direct contact from parents. A much smaller proportion had tutored through an agency, or a non-profit organisation. This highlights the importance parents place on tutoring.

The teachers were also asked if their school had promoted paid-for private tuition to parents. Despite secondary school teachers being more likely to have tutored outside of school than primary teachers (24% vs 14%), heads in primary schools were more likely to say that their school had sent parents information about private tutoring (18% vs 11%).

Also published today is the Sutton Trust’s annual barometer of how prevalent private tuition is in England and Wales. The polling by Ipsos MORI of 2,809 11-16-year olds in England and Wales finds that 27% of 11-16 year olds say they have had tuition, up from 18% when the survey first began in 2005. This figure rises to 41% in London (up from 34% in 2005), where young people are more likely to say they have had private tuition than in any other region of England.

However, students who receive private tuition disproportionately come from better-off backgrounds. Those from ‘high affluence’ households are more likely than those from low affluence households to have received such tuition at some point (34% and 20%, respectively).

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the Sutton Trust’s sister charity, has identified one-to-one and small group tuition as a very cost-effective way to boost attainment. To level the playing field outside the classroom, schools should consider prioritising one-to-one and small group tuition in their Pupil Premium spending. The government should also look at ways of funding access to such tuition sustainably, for example through a voucher scheme.

The Trust would also like to see more private tuition agencies provide a certain proportion of their tuition to disadvantaged pupils for free, as well as an expansion of non-profit tuition programmes that connect tutors with disadvantaged schools. Agencies like Tutorfair, MyTutor and Tutor Trust operate innovative models in this area.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said today:

“Private tuition is widespread. 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 can’t 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.”

Dr Mary Bousted, 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 can’t 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.”

Slava Kremerman, co-founder and CEO of Zen Educate, said:

‘‘The survey results focus on the proliferation of private tuition for secondary school pupils – highlighting that schools definitely need more resources to help deliver education for everyone, as they are currently under-staffed and under immense financial pressure.

"One way to generate resources and improve teaching standards for all students, is cutting costs in areas that don't impact education. Such as agency fees for supply teachers, which are one area that deliver little value to schools but a substantial part of their budget. From our own internal data on 400 schools, the average school wastes £750 a month on agency fees, compared to using an education staffing platform solution. By removing the middleman, teachers and schools can cover staff absence with ease, reducing uncertainty, increasing wages and saving costs".

The Sutton Trust is committed to improving social mobility from birth to the workplace. Founded by Sir Peter Lampl in 1997, the Trust has supported over 30,000 young people through evidence-led programmes and published over 200 pieces of agenda-setting research, many of which have influenced government policy.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) evaluation of Tutor Trust found that children who received tutoring from Tutor Trust made three months’ additional progress compared to children in control schools. It is now an EEF ‘Promising Project’.

Tutorfair has used proceeds from its online marketplace to fund free tuition for more than 9,000 students. It has recently launched Tutorfair On-Demand, a text-based online platform available to schools with a high pupil premium eligibility that will allow their students to connect instantly with a tutor during homework hour.

The NFER runs Teacher Voice Omnibus Surveys three times a year, in the autumn, spring and summer terms. The robust survey achieves responses from over 1,000 practising teachers from schools in the publicly funded sector in England. The panel is representative of teachers from the full range of roles in primary and secondary schools, from head teachers to newly qualified class teachers. 1,678 practising teachers in the publicly funded sector in England completed the survey online between 1st-6th March 2019.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is the leading independent provider of education research. Our unique position and approach delivers evidence-based insights designed to enable education policy makers and practitioners to take action to improve outcomes for children and young people. Our key topic areas are: accountability, assessment, classroom practice, education to employment, social mobility, school funding, school workforce and systems and structures. As a not-for profit organisation, we re-invest any surplus funds into commissioning self-funded research to further contribute to the science and knowledge of education research. www.nfer.ac.uk @TheNFER

Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,809 school children aged 11-16 in secondary schools (excluding special schools, fee-paying schools and sixth form college) in England and Wales. Pupils were selected from a random sample of schools, and self-completion questionnaires were completed online between 12th February and 24th May 2019. Data are weighted by school year, gender and region to match the profile of school children across England and Wales.

Pupils were grouped into high, medium or low family affluence scores based on their answers to six questions in the survey relating to the number of times they had been on holiday with their family in the last year, whether they have their own bedroom, the number of computers owned by their family, the number of cars, vans or trucks owned by their family, whether they have a dishwasher at home, and the number of bathrooms in their home. This categorisation is taken from the World Health Organisation’s Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study.

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