High Take-up Of Private Tuition By Primary School Pupils Revealed

by Sarah Adams

Nearly half of 11-year-olds among some minority ethnic groups in the UK are receiving private tuition outside of school. Researchers from Newcastle University and from NatCen Social Research have been studying how a cohort of 19,000 primary aged children spend their lives outside of school. They analysed data for the children - collected when they were aged five, seven and eleven.

Children categorised as from Chinese, black or Indian backgrounds are more than twice as likely to be tutored as their white peers.

The Newcastle University/NatCen study revealed differing levels in the use of private tutors according to pupils' social class, although the variations were smaller than those based on pupils' ethnic backgrounds. Extra tuition was most common, at 30 per cent, among those children whose mother had a postgraduate degree, and least prevalent among those whose mother had no qualifications, at 19 per cent.

  • By the age of 7, private tuition was most common among children of Indian backgrounds. 20% of children regularly took part in tuition outside of their school studies.
  • In comparison, only 3% of white pupils had a private tutor.
  • The highest take up of private tuition (at 48%) for 11 year olds was 'other ethnic origin', which includes Chinese pupils.
  • Some 47 per cent of black children received private tuition, while the figure for Indian pupils was 42 per cent.
  • For white children, it was 20 per cent.
  • 5% of Primary Pupils received private tuition by the age of 7.
  • By the age of 11 this figure rose to 22%.

Liz Todd, Professor of Education Inclusion at Newcastle University, who will outline the research study, said the findings raised questions about possible differing attitudes to school provision between different ethnic groups.

"Clearly some ethnic groups are feeling a greater need to supplement the work of schools than others. Does this mean some parents are lacking confidence in what goes on during school hours? Or are they just more likely to see tuition as a worthwhile route to help their children succeed? It is not clear from the numbers themselves, but the figures for private tuition are certainly high among some groups."

The time spent on homework also varied significantly by ethnicity. The majority of 11 year olds spent two hours per week on homework. Some spent five hours or more, but this varied on ethnic lines:

  • white - 7%
  • Pakistani or Bangladeshi - 8%
  • black - 20%
  • Indian - 24%
  • Chinese or other minority ethnic - 25%

We also need to look at the gains in pupil attainments across groups and ask to what extent these are due to changes in teaching, school reforms or the provision of tuition at home.

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Categories: Research