The Blog

Why Are Parents Turning To Private Tuition? And At What Cost?

The OnePoll survey of one thousand parents of 10-16 year olds across the country found a staggering 45 per cent - nearly half - believe paying for a private tutor is crucial to guarantee success in exams, rather than relying on schools alone.

Why are parents turning to private tuition? And at what cost?

It seems to be an increasing trend: British parents are making huge financial sacrifices to pay for private tutors for their children.

A recent poll has shown that a quarter of parents don't believe their children are being taught properly at school. As a result, many are prepared to re-mortgage their homes, borrow cash, and give up on family holidays to fund extra tuition.

The OnePoll survey of one thousand parents of 10-16 year olds across the country found a staggering 45 per cent - nearly half - believe paying for a private tutor is crucial to guarantee success in exams, rather than relying on schools alone.

With a new exam season fast approaching, it also found one in eight parents (12.9 per cent) polled had borrowed money to pay for an academic tutor, while one in ten (10.6 per cent) have given up on a family holiday in order to fund additional tuition.

And it gets even more extreme: one in 20 (5.7 per cent) have considered re-mortgaging their homes to boost their child's chances of success.

As you may expect, urban-dwelling families are feeling the pressure the most: families in London are the most prepared to make sacrifices for their child's education, with one in five admitting they had borrowed money to pay for extra help, and 17 per cent in the West Midlands. While those in the North West were least likely to do so (5.4 per cent).

The survey, carried out on behalf of the UK's only virtual tutor site,, comes amid an escalating row over funding for education, with schools required to make £3billion of savings over the next three years .

A study by the Education Policy Institute published in March warned every school in England faced real term's cut in funding per pupil during this time frame. This will be equivalent to £74,000 for primary schools, and £291,000 for secondary schools. This translates to an average loss for each pupil being £403 at primary schools and £554 at secondary schools.

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee say the funding shortages - the biggest since the 1990s - will affect education standards.

If you want to see how funding may be affected in your area, this site has been set up to show you what's happening at your child's school.

But the OnePoll suggests parents already believe the standard of education is dropping with younger parents under the age of 34 more likely to have borrowed money for a tutor (24 per cent, compared to around 10 per cent for older age groups).

The same age group (25-34) are also more likely to give up a family holiday for their child's education.

The evolving education landscape is proving both more complex and challenging - new GCSEs are being ushered in this year, starting with maths and English but rolling out across other subjects from next year. They're expected to be more challenging and the new 1 to 9 grading system which does away with the alphabetical system is expected to reward less students with top marks.

Already this is causing confusion: there's reportedly a lack of awareness and concern about the longterm effects; less A-level applications and a knock-on to sixth form signups.

For parents increasingly out of touch with how differently education is being conducted now than when we were children and coupled with an increasingly competitive jobs market, no wonder stress levels are high. I know from personal experience - two years ago, my daughter started asking me for help with maths. I would try to help and she'd say: 'but we don't do it like that daddy!' It's easy to feel overwhelmed therefore.

However tuition is extremely costly and can certainly add up very quickly: up to the age of 14, rates are around £30 per hour, for GCSE the cost is around £32.50 per hour, and for A-level tutors are charging £36 per hour on average.

I wrote about this new parental angst recently on the Huffington Post as it was the inspiration for setting up which offers an affordable alternative to tutors

I hope we can provide a level playing field for everyone. A quarter of parents don't think schools are teaching their children well enough, but don't know where to turn if they can't afford to pay for extra tuition.

It's shocking, and a sad reflection of the state of our education system, that more than half of parents in some places believe extra tuition is essential for exam success. It's even more shocking that families are making such significant financial sacrifices to make up for a poor quality education.

This isn't fair, and it shouldn't just be the elite who can afford to help their kids in this way.