Over a quarter (27%) of secondary school pupils in England and Wales have had private tuition, a figure that rises to 41% for pupils in London. This is according to new polling published by the Sutton Trust today and reported by the BBC.

These new figures, taken from the latest annual Sutton Trust / Ipsos MORI poll of 2,381 11 – 16 year olds in state schools across England and Wales, highlight the growing prevalence of private tuition in the past thirteen years. In 2005, 18% of young people had had tuition, compared to 27% in 2018. In London, 34% of pupils received private or home tuition in 2005, compared to 41% this year.

Over one in 10 (11%) pupils of the pupils polled his year said they had had extra tuition this year (2018), while a similar proportion (10%) reported having had private tuition in 2017.

The pupils were asked why they had received private or home tuition.  Almost half (47%) said the main reason was to help them with their work in general, while a third (33%) said they have had private or home tuition to help them do well in a specific GCSE exam. Just over one in four (27%) said their extra tuition was to help them do well in a school entrance exam, a rise from 18% in 2016.

According to the Sutton Trust / EEF Toolkit, one-on-one tuition can boost learning by five additional months. With the typical cost of private tutoring about £24 per hour excluding commission, £27 per hour in London, the Sutton Trust is concerned that the growing private tuition market is further exacerbating educational inequalities.

The Trust recommends that the Government should introduce a means tested voucher system as part of the pupil premium through which lower income families could purchase additional educational support. Evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation shows that good teaching skills are crucial in improving the attainment of disadvantaged students, so it is vital that the quality of provision is high. Tutors should be experienced and well-qualified.

The Trust is also recommending that more private tuition agencies provide a certain proportion of their tuition to disadvantaged pupils for free, as well as an expansion of non-profit and state 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, said today:

“Our polling shows that private tuition has become much more common in London over the past decade. The fact that it’s predominantly used to help children do well in a specific test or exam means that those who can afford it are able to give their children a significant advantage over those that cannot. If we are serious about social mobility, we need to make sure that the academic playing field is levelled outside of the school gate by the state providing funding for private tuition on a means-tested basis.”


  • The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 150 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  • Ipsos MORI interviewed 2,381 school children aged 11-16 in schools in England and Wales. Pupils were selected from a random sample of schools, and self-completion questionnaires were completed at school and online between February and May 2018. Data are weighted by school year, gender and region to match the profile of school children across England and Wales.
  • The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement.

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