Why Making Tutoring Available to All Can Provide the Missing Link in Education Shortfalls

The problem that our teenagers face when they build up to exam day is that the weight of expectation can bring them to their knees and if there was the opportunity to have that extra time with a tutor, it could just make all the difference.

When you are a parent of a school child there is one main aspiration for them and that is your offspring achieve the grades they require to keep them on their chosen path. For a great deal of students, it is the field of dreams that contains five GCSE's with Grades A-C that seems to keep the door to all possibilities open.

The problem that our teenagers face when they build up to exam day is that the weight of expectation can bring them to their knees and if there was the opportunity to have that extra time with a tutor, it could just make all the difference.

Of course, paying for a private tutor can be an expensive solution to a problem that is exasperated by a parent's life pressures that can lead to homework and focus on revision taking a back seat. To this end, a new organisation called National Tutoring Conference is looking to bring together the field of tutoring so that there can be a way through the trees for those students that feel lost in the woods.

More homework has been the answer for some and as Toby Young recently pointed out at an event that was delivered with National Tutoring Conference, "A recent OECD survey found that children perform best where they do the most homework, such as Singapore and Shanghai, China. It also discovered that there is a strong correlation between the amount of time children spend on homework and how they do in school."

So how does private tutoring fit in to this scenario and would this be a better, more focused option than plying a stressed generation of students with hours of work at home that may fall by the wayside as outside influences and tiredness get their foot in the door?

For an answer to this conundrum, we can turn to Tom Maher of the Tutor's Association as he believes that supplementary education is a responsible way of providing the extra that is required to bridge the gap to the grades that you want to achieve. He said that this "is far from a judgement on the standard of teaching in classrooms. There are many and complex reasons why families turn to supplementary education: it's not all about exam grades. A society in which people are moving around more, needs a supplementary educational support service of some kind. There is a market for it, it's popular and it's needed."

It seems that there is no other alternative than to embrace private tutoring. We all want the best for our children and it would be irresponsible to deny them every opportunity. Of course there is one main problem with this view.

Other countries have invested in tuition centres which is how South Korea and Singapore have jumped above the UK in the 2012 PISA rankings and despite this country spending more per head on education, the results are now flat lining and the demands on those in the established educational system has become too great to ensure that this can be reversed.

Private tutoring is still an expensive way forward that excludes a high proportion of families from making it decision that they can take, especially as costs are typically between £25-£100 an hour. This hasn't stopped there being an explosion in tutoring provision.

Alexander Nikitich of Carfax Education explains, "an ecosystem has sprung up outside the traditional state and private educational systems with such an incredible number and diversity of tutoring providers, from independent tutors to tutor agencies, tutor cooperatives, tuition centres, online tutoring businesses, and tutor management software developers, such as TutorCruncher. All of this is highly exportable stuff and should be nurtured and supported as a British industry that is much valued around the world."

With so much becoming available to those that need that little extra, there is just one major step left to take and that is to make this affordable to all. At the moment there is a distinct advantage towards those that can afford private tutoring and those families with children on free school meals and a income of £16,200 per year or less are pretty much priced out of the equation.

Susannah Hardyman of Action Tutoring is one of the organisations that is trying to bridge this gap for the families that require it. "Given the evidence shows tutoring can work, the imperative to make it available to those that need it most, whatever their background, is surely all the stronger."

We may be some way off this promised land but there are in-roads being made but until society starts viewing the supplement of education in the same way as its need for satellite television, then the gap between aspiration and achievement may continue to grow.


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