Is it really true that a quarter of children are being tutored?

Not even having her portrait painted was going to get Lady Mary Fairfax out of her tutoring session.

Not even having her portrait painted was going to get Lady Mary Fairfax out of her tutoring session.

The short answer is no, despite what the media might report.

Hysterical news stories about the rise of tutoring, the death of childhood, the tiger parent and the super tutor seem to dominate the media discourse surrounding tutoring. A common statistic often used to back up these stories is the claim that around 1 in 4 children are receiving tuition (derived from a study by the Sutton Trust).

New analysis by the Tutor Pages, however, reveals that the true figure is likely to be far lower than this – more like 15% at the very most. Of that 15%, 8% would be receiving tuition from a private tutor at home, 6% would be attending a tuition centre, and 1% would have online tuition.

Wait, you mean that not ALL tutors get to go on holiday to Malaysian beach paradises with their students' families?

Wait, you mean that not ALL tutors get to go on holiday to Malaysian beach paradises with their students’ families?

Media reports on private tuition tend not to differentiate between children receiving one-to-one tuition in their home, and those visiting a tuition centre. Yet it seems that there is a growing, unreported demand for group private tuition. It is also conveniently sensationalist to say that private tuition is all about rich parents employing  super tutors to give their offspring an unfair leg up in the world, but how different does the story sound when we realise that children from diverse backgrounds receive tuition?

We can only hope that a more accurate understanding of the figures may lead to a more nuanced interpretation of the world of private tuition; one that recognises the many and varied reasons for it, and the positive outcomes it can lead to.