The trend of the tutor

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Research by the Telegraph this week has revealed that children as young as three are having private lessons with tutors to gain an advantage in English and Maths.Lessons are on average costing parents up to £30, with each session lasting roughly an hour.

The average age of tutored children is between 15 and 16 when they are preparing for GCSEs, however extra tuition is becoming more common for younger students. One tuition company in Hampshire has shown a 19% increase in the number of four to five year olds on their books, showing that children are experiencing formal learning even before they start school.

The Telegraph reports that 31% of children from affluent backgrounds used a tutor this year, and a total of 18% from less affluent families, a figure which has risen by 4% over the past year. But does this new trend cause the youngsters to burn out in the later years of primary?

Mrs Morrissey, spokeswomen for the Parent Teacher Association stated that her concern was that pushing children at such a young age can put too much pressure, causing them to lose the will to learn by the time they get to the age of 10 or 11. Are the dwindling numbers of available school places driving this trend of tutor? Either way one in four parents are now paying for extra lessons to help their children’s learning.

Most of the top primary and preparatory schools are linked to highly selective senior schools, so done to increase a child’s chance of success is considered by their parents. However even though these schools are selective, are they really looking for academic talent or is it a mixture of academia and social skills? Most “gently selective” pre-preps are looking for general brightness and ‘teachability’ – traits which cannot be “tutored” into a child so young, no matter how much extra tuition is provided. Sue Fieldman of The Good Schools Guide stated that “if children as young as three need tutoring, they haven’t a hope of keeping up once they are there.”

What do you think about this trend of tutoring such young children? Is it worthwhile? As a teacher do you notice a difference in children who have been tutored? Please share your views with the eteach community!

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