Report Overview

Private tuition and out-of-school study, new international evidence

This report by John Jerrim combines our long-running polling series of 11-16 year olds with new information available for the first time from PISA. This shows how private tuition and out-of-school instruction compare internationally. Talented young people from less well-off backgrounds receive substantially less extra help than those from more advantaged backgrounds. Also stark is the inequality in access to parental help with homework. This shows how much more needs to be done to support parental engagement for those from less well-off backgrounds.

Our polling with Ipsos MORI surveyed 2,612 young people aged 11-16 in England and Wales, along with 269 in Scotland, about private tuition. It finds that almost one in three 11-16 year old state school students in England and Wales have had private tuition at some point in their life. In London, the proportion is now almost half of young people.

Extra Time received substantial media coverage, much of which is linked on the right. In addition, it was covered by the Daily Mirror, Metro and Talk Radio. Press Association coverage was used in print by local papers including the Yorkshire Post, Basildon Echo and Colchester Gazette.

Key findings
  • On average, Year 11 pupils in England spend 9.5 hours per week in additional instruction – extra tuition outside the normal school timetable which may either be provided by the school, the family or by private tutors. Out of the 22 countries included in our study, 15-year-olds in six countries spent significantly less time on additional instruction than in England, while there were 12 countries where 15-year-olds spent significantly more time.
  • There are big gaps between socio-economic and achievement groups in England in time spent on additional instruction. For pupils of the same levels of achievement, well-off pupils receive 2.5 hours more additional instruction than less well-off pupils.
  • Better-off families create a ‘glass floor’ for children in danger of low achievement, a barrier to social mobility. Bright but poor pupils receive much less support than their better-off peers. Whereas around a third (32%) of low-achieving pupils from advantaged backgrounds receive one-to-one tuition in science or mathematics, this falls to around one-in-twelve (7%) of high-achieving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Poorer pupils get less help at home with their homework. Only half of 15-year-olds from disadvantaged social backgrounds in England regularly receive help with their homework from their parents, compared to more than two-thirds of those from the most advantaged backgrounds. This socio-economic gap of 18 percentage points is significantly bigger than in most of the other
    countries that completed the PISA survey.
  • 15-year-old pupils in Scotland (17.8 hours) and Northern Ireland (17.2 hours) spend more time on non-compulsory study per week than their peers in England (15.6 hours). This difference is most pronounced in mathematics and English, with pupils in England spending around half an hour less studying these subjects outside of core school hours than 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Sutton Trust/Ipsos MORI polling:

  • Almost one third of young people (30%) aged 11-16 say they have received private or home tuition at some stage, substantially up from 25% last year and 18% in 2005.
  • Young people from more advantaged households (35%) are twice as likely as less well-off households (18%) to have ever received private tuition.
  • Young people from minority ethnic backgrounds have a much higher rate of private tuition, with 56% of Asian pupils and 42% of Black pupils compared to 25% of White pupils. Those from two parent families are also more likely than those from single parent households (31% compared to 24%)
  • Almost half of pupils in London (48%) have had private tuition. Young people in the capital are more likely to have had private tuition at some point ahead of any other part of England and Wales.
  1. Implement a means-tested voucher scheme for tuition

The government should introduce a means-tested voucher system, funded through the Pupil Premium, enabling lower income families to purchase additional educational support. Limited trials of such voucher schemes have shown them to be successful. 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.

  1. Expand non-profit and state tuition programmes

Charities, such as the Tutor Trust, supported by the Education Endowment Foundation, connect tutors directly with disadvantaged schools. Such schemes have the potential to offer the advantages of tutoring to more disadvantaged students.

  1. Encourage best practice for private tuition agencies

Some private tuition agencies provide a certain proportion of their tuition to disadvantaged students pro bono, in an effort to make tuition widely accessible – such best practice should be encouraged as widely as possible in order to combat the role of tutoring in increasing educational inequalities.

  1. Schools should establish ‘homework clubs’

Disadvantaged students should have additional encouragement and support to enable them to engage in self-directed study and do sufficient homework, activities that provide extra academic dividends. Schools should provide such opportunities where they are unlikely to be available at home, such as through the provision of homework clubs. Such schemes could also be funded through the Pupil Premium.

  1. Schools should support parental engagement in their child’s education

To support the home learning environment, schools should take a ‘whole school’ approach to communicating with and involving parents actively through partnership. In particular, this should be supported by a key member of staff, and involve use of innovations in digital technology where possible.

  1. Establish a ‘highly able fund’ to support high attainers who can’t afford extra tuition

High attaining pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds receive less support than those from well-off backgrounds in danger of slipping back. The government should establish a dedicated fund to trial the most effective support for high achieving but less well-off pupils to reach their full potential. Different approaches to extra tuition for the highly able are an important area for potential support.

  1. Ensure grammar school tests do not disadvantage low-income students by providing a minimum ten hours test preparation for all pupils

28% of private tuition is for grammar school tests (although only 5% of all pupils go to grammars). So long as those who can afford private tutors are paying to ensure their children do well in grammar school tests, it is vital that there are opportunities for all applicants. There should be a minimum of ten hours test preparation support provided on a free or subsidised basis to all potential grammar school applicants to help level the playing field.