Private tutoring hinders fight for social mobility


The extent to which the richest families gain educational advantages for their children by paying for private tutoring and other extra-curricular activities has been laid bare in a new study.

The findings have sparked calls for schools to consider using some of their Pupil Premium funding to give disadvantaged students the same access to extra-curricular opportunities.

The analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, conducted by the Sutton Trust, finds that 35 per cent of the richest fifth of households have paid fees for extra-curricular activities, compared to just nine per cent of the poorest fifth of households.

Households in the richest fifth are those earning £52,000 a year or more, whereas the poorest fifth are those earning less than £14,000 a year.

The research also reports that 27 per cent of pupils at private schools receive private tutoring compared to 14 per cent of students attending state schools.

A Sutton Trust/Ipsos MORI poll of 2,800 11 to 16-year-olds also found that 23 per cent of young people nationally and 37 per cent in London have received private or home tuition.

Meanwhile, a second Ipsos MORI poll discovered that 76 per cent of parents of children aged 5 to 16 in England involved them in some form of regular extra-curricular activity.

However, participation is around 15 percentage points higher among parents in professional or administrative occupations (84 per cent) than among those in manual or routine groups (69 per cent).

The charity is now urging schools to use part of the Pupil Premium to provide “vouchers” to low-income families to help them access more extra-curricular opportunities for their children.

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.”



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