Only two-fifths of parents (42%) feel confident about teaching their children at home, according to new polling from the Sutton Trust that looks at how parents are coping with school closures. Almost half (47%) of middle class (ABC1) parents say they feel confident teaching their children at home, compared to just over a third (37%) of working class (C2DE) parents.

1,508 parents, surveyed by Public First between the 1st and 3rd of April, were asked how confident they feel about teaching their children from home, and the support they are receiving from their school. Almost half (49%) of better-off parents reported being satisfied with the learning support provided for children now at home. A slightly smaller proportion (40%) of working class parents said they were either quite or very satisfied.

Children from working class families are more likely to have nothing spent on their education than those in the middle classes (60% vs 45%). Just under a quarter (23%) of children have had at least £50 spent on them on materials to support their learning at home. One in six (14%) have had more than £100 spent on them, while almost one in 10 (8%) have had over £150 paid out on their education.

However, the banning of face to face meetings appears to have reduced the use of private tuition, with more pupils stopping having tuition (8%) since the shutdown, than beginning it (4%). More affluent parents are however more likely to have started new online tuition for their children.

Today’s polling highlights some of the challenges faced by parents and schools in dealing with school closures. These create a learning gap between affluent and less-affluent pupils.

To level the playing field, the Sutton Trust recommends that high-quality online tuition is available for disadvantaged pupils, funded through a voucher scheme or through a network of quality-assured tutoring providers.

The Education Endowment Foundation, the Sutton Trust’s sister charity, will be providing direct support for schools through guidance and resources.

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

“Parents across the country are grappling with the challenge of home schooling 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.”



  • The Trust has recently released a research brief looking at the possible impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on social mobility. Read this here.
  • 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.
  • Public First surveyed 1508 UK adults with children aged 2-18, from 1st – 3rd April 2020. Those with multiple children were asked to answer questions about both their youngest and oldest. Results are weighted to Nationally Representative proportions on the basis of gender, social grade and region. Public First is a member of the BPC and abides by its rules.

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