Revealed: Half of London school pupils have received private tuition

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The number of London school pupils who have received private tuition is at its highest level since records began, new figures will reveal.

Almost half the secondary-school pupils in the capital have been helped by a tutor, the highest rate in the country, in what has been described as an “educational arms race”.

Experts have warned the rise in private tuition is fuelling social inequality and creates a “glass floor” which stops richer pupils from failing while putting poorer children at a disadvantage.

The Sutton Trust research to be published tomorrow shows that 48 per cent of 11- to 16-year-olds in the capital have had private tuition in their school life.

Mother-of-two Larisa Nesderova with her daughter Sophia

This has risen steadily since the charity started recording data in 2005, when the London figure was 34 per cent.

The parent: I’m investing in her future

A mother whose 15-year-old daughter has a tutor said pressure on pupils to achieve top grades and get into the best schools and universities was driving up numbers seeking private tuition.

Mother-of-two Larisa Nesderova, originally from Russia, who moved to London from Hong Kong, first hired a tutor for her daughter Sophia to help her pass an entrance exam to get into private school.

Now in Year 11, Sophia continues to be tutored in maths, English and French ahead of her GCSEs to ensure she is getting personalised help.

Mrs Nesderova, who lives in Bayswater, said: “It’s more competitive these days and getting harder for kids. They can get help from school but it’s not so personal.

“With a tutor Sophia is able to work on things she personally doesn’t understand. It’s expensive but a good investment into their future.”

In the past year, the number of children who said they have had a private tutor jumped from 42 to 48 per cent.

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: “Outside of the classroom, an educational arms race has entrenched advantage for those who can afford it.

“This is especially true in London, where pupils are much more likely to have received private or home tuition.”

Sir Peter called for the Government to step in to level the academic playing field.

The director of London-based Über Tutors Tania Khojasteh

A spokeswoman for the Sutton Trust said: “The Trust is concerned that the growing prevalence of private tuition is harming social mobility by creating a “glass floor” for pupils from richer homes in danger of low achievement. 

“Students who receive private tuition disproportionately come from those who are already advantaged and our past research has shown that about twice as many attend private schools as in the population as a whole.”

The Sutton Trust is calling for the Government to pay for private tuition for poorer children on a means-tested basis.

The tutor: Support for critical period

The director of London-based Über Tutors said she had seen a surge in demand from parents of 11 to  16-year-olds in the past five years.

Tania Khojasteh, a law and politics academic who launched the private tutoring service in 2013, said: “There are now a lot of entrance exams and GCSE exams, and we provide support for a critical period of school.”

Ms Khojasteh, also a tutor, added: “There’s lots of pressure students receive from school to meet certain kinds of results and to be able to apply for very competitive universities. It’s the whole system that is almost inspiring this culture.”

Her company charges from £30 per hour for home or online tuition with discounts offered for lower-income families or students with debts. 

She recognises “how important filling that gap is” and said the sliding-scale rate gives parents of all backgrounds access to the tutoring.

It would mean lower-income families could buy tutor time using means-tested vouchers, funded through the pupil premium. It also wants non-profit and state tuition programmes to be expanded, and private tuition agencies to be encouraged to provide a proportion of their tuition to disadvantaged students for free.

The Sutton Trust, dedicated to improving social mobility through education, commissioned an Ipsos MORI survey of 2,800 young people.

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