Private Tuition: the best way to help overlooked, underachieving kids?

by Dexter Findley

We were saddened to see a recent BBC article highlighting how the state education system is failing some poor pupils ("Invisible poor children let down by schools", BBC News 20/06/13). This is something we're particularly aware of in the private tuition sphere, where we see families with a broad spectrum of incomes and social backgrounds seeking tuition for their children.

To combat the issue the Chief Inspector for Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, is calling for a team of "National Service Teachers", who would be parachuted in to problem schools to help kids left by the wayside.

Schools are already provided with the Pupil Premium - a monetary package for every child on free school dinners - and many of them already use that money to hire local tutors to give those pupils the one-to-one boost they need, a trend that is on the rise. One head using such a tactic is Phil Harte from an RC school in Salford - interviewed for a recent Guardian piece - who acknowledged "schools cannot always give individually tailored help to each pupil".

A head from a school in Somerset - one of our clients - commented the following to the Guardian:

"We pay the tutor £25 an hour, which is cheaper than a teacher would cost. I think it is a good and innovative way of using the pupil premium. Sometimes the fresh face of a tutor can help more than an existing teacher can. A tutor is someone who may not be tired at the end of the day and with whom the child has no previous history. It can be very successful indeed."

So perhaps other schools could use the Pupil Premium to combat the problem directly? By empowering schools to hire tutors to help poor struggling kids - or use the money to pay willing staff to conduct one-to-one sessions - the problem can be tackled from the ground up.