As Yahoo News explains, private tuition is booming as competition in the classroom is fiercer than ever.
Parents naturally want to give their children the edge and as one-to-one tuition has been proven to really make a difference in a child’s education, lots of parents are turning to this different model of teaching. It builds a child’s confidence whilst reinforcing and broadening their knowledge.
However, does this tuition boom risk tutoring becoming a ‘middle class arms race’? Conor Ryan, Research Director of the Sutton Trust says that, double the amount of children from better off homes are getting private tuition than ones from less advantaged families. As a solution to this, he proposes that “we would like to see more initiatives where young people from disadvantaged homes get access to the sort of one to one tuition that others are able to pay for.”
This is Tutorfair! ‘For every student who pays, we give tutoring to a child who can’t’
That’s the fair bit of Tutorfair. We partner with schools where a high proportion of students are on free school meals. The class teachers then choose the pupils who will benefit the most. Tutorfair’s tutors then go into these schools to help the students and we have had very positive feedback so far:
- Alexander Lee from Wilbury School said, “[the tutors] have been fantastic – really committed to helping the children in their progress. Thank you again for all you’ve done.”
- Karen Meers (IOE tutor) and Lisa Wise (DHT) said, ‘Children made outstanding progress over the course of lessons. All tutors showed an excellent relationship with the children.”
- Globe Academy said, “It has been fantastic having the tutors here, so thank you.”
The Department for Education wants to support disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap because at the moment there really is a noticeable difference in education between the two ends of the socio-economic spectrum. Nearly half of children claiming free school meals achieve no GCSE passes above a D-grade (1); about a quarter get 5 good GCSEs (2); and only a sixth get to university (3) whereas 96% of pupils from independent schools make it to university(4).  This is what Tutorfair is trying to address. We believe that tutoring can benefit everyone.
It’s not about tutors versus teachers though. As Edd Stockwell, a co-founder of Tutorfair explains, “whole class learning simply can’t be the complete answer in education, tutoring should augment and support teachers.” Schools themselves realise that as the tutoring industry is booming, both parties should communicate so that children are supported in their learning as best as possible.
Mark Maclaine, who has been a tutor for fourteen years recounts how when he first started tutoring, it was treated like a “dirty little secret” but now things are changing and he attends parents-teacher evenings. This is the way forward. Everyone needs to work together to get the best from education. As Andrew Ground, another co-founder of Tutorfair explained, “feeling confident in yourself really is the key thing” and if tutors can help install this in children, that can only be a good thing.
 (1) Cassen and Kingdon, 2007. (2) Department for Education, 2008. (3) Sutton Trust, 2010. (4) Sutton Trust, 2010