Parents from the richest fifth of households are four times more likely to pay for extra classes outside school for their children than those in the poorest fifth of households, new analysis by the Sutton Trust reveals today.

The new analysis by the Trust of Office for National Statistics data shows children from the most advantaged households benefit from significantly more spending on extra-curricular activities and private tutoring than their poorer peers.

The data from the ONS’s UK Living Costs and Food Survey (LCFS) shows that 35% of households in the top fifth of incomes – those earning more than £52,000 a year – have paid fees for extra-curricular activities for their children in the past three months, compared with only 9% of households in the bottom fifth – where incomes are below £14,000 a year.

The analysis is part of a new Sutton Trust Research Brief, Extra-curricular inequalities, which also includes new polling data on private tuition and enrichment activities. The latest annual Sutton Trust/Ipsos MORI survey of 2,800 11-16 year-olds shows that 23% of young people nationally, and 37% in London, say that they have received private or home tuition. The national figure was 18% in 2005 and 24% in 2013.

On private tutoring, Extra-curricular Inequalities also reports that pupils at private schools are nearly twice as likely to get private tutoring as those from state schools (27% compared with 14%).

The brief also includes new Ipsos MORI polling of parents of children aged 5-16 in England showing that just over three quarters (76%) of parents across all social groups involved their children in some form of regular extra-curricular social activity over the last year. However, there were significant differences in participation between social groups.

Participation in extra-curricular activities is around 15 percentage points higher among parents in professional or administrative A, B, or C1 (84%) occupations than among those in manual or routine groups C2, D, or E (69%).

The Sutton Trust is urging that a proportion of the pupil premium should be used to provide vouchers to low income families to widen the range of extra-curricular options available to them.

The Trust’s sister charity, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is also trialling initiatives designed to offer extra tuition to disadvantaged pupils. For example, The Tutor Trust in Manchester trains undergraduates to provide pupils with individual and small group tuition in English, Maths, and Science. Schools pay for this tuition for their pupils at well below market rates, usually with Pupil Premium money, making the scheme more affordable for disadvantaged schools.  The EEF’s evaluation of this project is due in 2015.

Conor Ryan, Director of Research at the Sutton Trust said;

“Inequalities in education don’t stop after the school bell has sounded. They extend to the range of private tuition and extra-curricular activities available to children whose parents can afford to pay for them.  While many schools offer a range of sporting and other activities outside regular school hours, there is still a substantial advantage available to those who can afford it.

“If we are serious about improving social mobility we must narrow the gap in educational opportunities outside of school as well as within the classroom. Offering low-income families vouchers to spend on extra-curricular activities or private tuition would be a step towards this.”


  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 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.
  1. 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 £135m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £46.7 million to 87 projects working with over 500,000 pupils in over 2,400 schools across England. More details of EEF’s work with the Tutor Trust can be found here.
  1. The pupil polling forms part of the Ipsos MORI Young People Omnibus Surveys. The 2014 survey for the Sutton Trust included 2,796 respondents in schools in England and Wales, with pupils filling out paper self-completion questionnaires under supervision by trained interviewers from February to April this year. Data are weighted by school year, gender, and region to match the profile of school children across England and Wales.
  1. Sutton Trust parent polling, carried out by Ipsos MORI, surveyed a total of 309 parents (or legal guardians) of a child aged 5-16 who lived with the child or contributed financially to their upbringing. Of these, 144 were in social groups A, B, or C1 and 165 were in groups C2, D, or E. This was part of a larger survey of 1,728 adults aged 16-75 in England carried out from the 13th-17th of June 2014 via the Ipsos MORI Online iOmnibus Survey. The survey data were weighted by age, gender, region, social grade, working status, and main shopper to the known profile of the GB population aged 16-75.
  1. Social groups based on occupation of main income earner. A: higher managers, administrators or professionals; B: intermediate managers etc.; C1: supervisors, clerical workers, and junior manager and administrators; C2:skilled manual workers; D: semi and unskilled manual workers; E: casual or lowest grade workers, unemployed people, and state pensioners
  1. The Living Costs and Food Survey, conducted by the Office for National Statistics, is an annual survey which collects detailed information on spending patterns and the cost of living that reflects household budgets across the UK. It is the most significant consumer survey undertaken in the UK and is used in the construction of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The present research used the most recent publicly available data which is based on the 2012 survey. This survey included 5,593 households. The figures reported here are based on the 1,758 households which included dependent children. The figures were based on the proportion of household questionnaire respondents with dependent children (total N=1,758) in each income group who reported that in the last three months they had paid a fee for courses, classes, or private tuition for a child in their household in: crafts, dancing, music, or drama; photography, painting, or art; sports, aerobics, keep fit, or yoga; DIY or car maintenance; creative writing; or languages. Figures were weighted using LCFS quarterly population weights.
  1. Parent Power by Professor Becky Francis and Professor Merryn Hutchings for the Sutton Trust used YouGov polling in November 2012, which surveyed 1,173 parents of children aged 5-16. It included a boost sample of parents in social group A in order to allow effective comparisons across groups.


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