A toxic mixture of austerity, academies, and attacks on teachers have forced more and more children to rely on private tuition to paper over the cracks. But this is out of reach for many working class families.
The private tuition industry’s profits are soaring as Tory cuts continue to decimate the education system. Parents are having to fill the gap in education left by inadequate funding, academisation, and more ‘rigorous’ examinations. Children in Tory Britain are being left behind in the pursuit of profit.
The private tuition industry in the UK is now estimated to be worth £2bn. The cheapest tuition available from large companies such as Explore Learn starts at £119 a month for nine sessions. Some tuition costs up to £40-£90 an hour.
27% of students in England and Wales now receive private tutoring, rising to 41% in London. Increasingly we can see an ‘arms race’ as parents with the means to do so look to give their children the competitive edge for university applications and the job market.
It is self-evident that the ongoing crisis in state education funding is fuelling this. With a 4% decrease in real-term spending per pupil, parents and carers are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap. But ultimately it is the poorest children in society – those already impoverished by eight years of vicious Tory cuts – who are losing this educational ‘arms race’.
Working class parents who rely on foodbanks cannot cough up the £119 a month required for private tuition. Children is these households are being left behind by a system that values profit over education.
Children with special educational needs, in particular, are being left behind. The Sutton Trust reports that the growth in private tuition can only lead to further attainment gaps between rich and poor, negatively impacting social mobility.
Over 7,000 schools are being sold off to academy trusts. This is part of an ongoing process of marketisation of education – one where exam results are an increasingly valuable currency.
Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. 34-49% of teachers are forced to tutor in order to supplement their income, in part because of the freeze on public sector pay. While the real earnings of teachers falls, Explore Learning have reported profits of £31.6 million. It is clear to see that private enterprise is benefitting from the cuts to education under the Tories.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Why should parents have to rely on private tuition in order to ensure their child receives a quality education?
There needs to be an increase in pay in the public sector to boost teacher retention, and a reduction in workloads in order to ensure more time is spent with students rather than other tasks.
Schools should be brought under the control of teachers, their unions, parents and students to ensure the needs of every child are met, instead of the pursuit of profit.
We need a socialist Labour government that can provide education as a tool for the masses, helping us to realise our full potential and contribute to society in meaningful ways, instead of just passing exams.