Posted on 17th January 2010
Poor schools fuelling boom in private tuition
From The Telegraph
By Martin Evans
Millions of children are receiving extra tuition as parents become increasingly desperate to give them a head-start in the competition for school places, new research has found.
Despite the recession, families are paying up to £40 an hour to further their offspring’s education and give them an advantage over their contemporaries.
It is estimated as many has half of all children in London have received some form of private lessons, while tuition agencies have also reported increased business in other cities including Manchester and Birmingham.
While in the past most private tuition has been focused on teenagers preparing for vital GCSE and A-level examinations, the increasing competition for secondary school places has seen a big increase in the number of primary school aged children having extra lessons.
With private school fees on the increase, some parents are choosing to invest in extra tuition in order to prepare their children for selective state school entry exams.
The boom is also being fuelled by a big rise in the number of unemployed graduates offering their services while they look for work.
Sue Fieldman, regional editor of the Good Schools Guide, which reported the phenomenon said: “It has reached epidemic proportions in London. The boom area in 2009 - and we anticipate the same for 2010 - was tutoring to get into grammar schools. There is now so much difference between the best grammar schools and the worst comprehensives that parents are tutoring for the 11-plus from an earlier age.”
Kate Shand, founder of the Enjoy Education agency in west London said she had seen business double over the past 12 months.
But she said many parents saw it as a necessary expenditure.
“It is not about irrational fears and pushy parents. If you have a choice of one, two or three schools in your are, you have to get them into those schools, especially when you are managing two, three or four children.
“It’s about quality of life so parents can avoid having to spend the whole time trekking from place to place, spending most of their life in the car,” she said.
With cuts in university funding threatening places, there is also growing concern that only youngsters with the top grades will get into the college and onto the course of their choice.
Mylene Curtis, managing director of Fleet Tutors, which has seen a 15 per cent rise in the number of children on its books over the past year, said many parents were losing faith in the schools system and were deciding to take the matter into their own hands.
She said: “There is a fear factor among parents. They are unsettled by constantly changing initiatives, lack of confidence in local schools dropping standards and underqualified teachers.”
Figures published last week revealed how many comprehensive schools were failing their pupils in English and Maths, with hundreds of thousands getting worse grades at 16 than in comparable exams they took at aged 11.
According to the latest league tables the majority of children at 965 state secondary schools - almost a third in England - fell behind in either English or mathematics.
Meanwhile fees at some of the top public schools have now broken through the £30,000 a year barrier leading to warnings that unless fees are capped private education will become a “luxury” available to only the richest of families.