Report Overview

This report by Philip Kirby provides an overview of the private tuition market in the UK, focusing on England and Wales. It considers four main aspects of the industry – extent, purpose, people and delivery – and reviews how these intersect with issues of social mobility. It finds that the private tuition market has expanded substantially over the last decade and is now worth up to £2 billion. But there is differential access to private tuition – pupils from lower socio-economic are less likely to receive such support, despite being amongst those who would benefit the most.

Key Findings
  • Across England and Wales, about 25% of state-educated 11-16 year olds have ever received private tuition (rising to 42% in London).
  • Across England and Wales, about 10% of state-educated 11-16 year olds received private tuition in 2015 (rising to 18% in London).
  • Over the last decade, the proportion of 11-16 year olds who have ever received private tuition in England and Wales has risen from 18% to 25%.
  • Calculations for this report suggest that the private tuition market for 5-18 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland is worth between £1-2 billion per year.
  • Privately-educated students are about twice as likely to receive private tuition as state-educated pupils, according to multiple estimates.
  • Poorer students are less likely to receive private tuition. Of those aged between 11-16, 17% of students who receive free school meals (FSM) have ever received private tuition, 26% of students who do not receive FSM.
  • Nearly half (43%) of state school teachers have tutored outside of their main teaching role at some point during their lives.
  • In London, of state-educated students aged between 11-16, over 150,000 (42%) have received private tuition at some point in their lives.
  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
  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.
  1. Ensure grammar school tests do not disadvantage low-income students: Grammar schools should carefully assess their testing system to ensure that the 11+ tests they use for selection do not act as a barrier for high-achieving students from certain communities.