* Article written by Will Paterson - Founder & CEO, EdPlace *
The Sutton Trust recently published its report on private tuition and social mobility in the UK. It’s by far the most comprehensive and insightful report of its kind and highlights a critical social equality issue: private tuition use is increasing the attainment gap (the achievement gap between higher and lower incomes) because only those with means can afford it.In fact, as highlighted in the report 37% parents don’t use private tuition because it’s too expensive. As an aside over a third (36%) of parents don’t use private tuition because they believe their school is doing enough (it’s not all bad!).
Most parents and teachers will be unsurprised to read from the report that more and more families are using tuition and therefore the effect on the attainment gap is increasing.
Unless valid solutions are proposed it’s set to get worse with the Government’s plans to roll out grammar schools. Grammar schools will be good if done right. One critical factor is addressing how to level the playing field so the brightest kids can get the best grammar school entrance prep wherever they are from.
This means providing strong out of school tuition and support for all. There’s a lot of focus on 1-1 tuition however further research needs to be done on the efficacy of small group tuition as a viable alternative. This is a model followed by the growing number of tuition centers in the UK.
One obvious benefit of group tuition is lower cost, but there are learning advantages including peer to peer learning.
Technology also plays a critical role. It’s incredible how much class technology and content has improved in recent years, but we’re really just at the tip of the iceberg. The key is successfully adopting new technology and blending it with effective tuition/teaching. This will further reduce cost and increase teacher effectiveness.
Another great benefit of group tuition is teacher quality. Affordable 1-1 tuition is typically staffed by unexperienced or unqualified teachers. A small group sharing the cost can afford an experienced qualified teacher. In the majority of cases, investing in well-structured small groups delivered by great teachers is better than lower quality 1-1 tuition.
Within school they could endorse afterschool tuition clubs/groups. This would be paid for out of pupil premium budget for those on free school meals and a reduced rate for paying parents if referred by the school. This already exists in some schools but there could be much greater support for afterschool tuition groups as a viable and cost effective alternative to 1-1 tuition, helping to reduce the attainment gap and put less pressure on family budgets.