Monday, June 22, 2009

Education’s dark duplicitous secret

Despite more than doubling the spend in UK schools, only marginal, measurable improvement has been seen. Yet even this may not be down to schools themselves. Interesting data is emerging about the dramatic increase in that same period of private tuition. The Sutton Trust has found that 43% of 11-16 state pupils in London have been tutored. Could it be that schools are delivering less and that private tuition and parental support are the real causes behind the measured improvement?

Is tuition legal?

Teachers who fight tooth and nail against the influence of the private sector in schools are coining it of an evening through private tuition. And how many of those thousands of tutors declare this on their tax returns? The acceptance of middle-class 'cash-only crime has always been part of British culture. How many have done a risk assessment when they deliver this service from home? How many have a contract (as they should with the parents/carers)? How many have insurance? What would happen if there was an accusation of assault or inappropriate conduct?

Schools spend unbelievable amounts if time on this stuff (Governors meetings are largely about reading and approving such policies), yet how many tutors pay even lip service to these issues when moonlighting? How many have even checked with their employer that they’re allowed to do this, especially with students from the school in which they teach?

Duplicity?

I’m fine with teachers doing private tuition, although I’m not fine when it’s combined with complaints about long hours and being worked too hard. If you don’t have time to mark homework, or commit wholly to your main job, I’m not sure you should be topping it up with more teaching. I’m also against the anti-corporate views expressed by teachers in schools, who are quite happy to play the game themselves outside of the school gates.

Get it into the open

Wouldn’t it be better to get this all of this into the open? Why doesn’t the school openly offer these services on behalf of the teachers who want to make some extra cash? It’s all so ‘cloak and dagger’ at the moment. I suspect that it’s all a bit of an embarrassment.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Mark Frank said...

Let's get this in proportion.

43% of pupils in London had private tuition at some stage in their school careers. This could be a single session preparing for an exam.

Outside of London the figures are much lower. The next highest being the South East with 28%. It is 22% over the country as a whole. In other words nearly 80% of children report that they never had a private lesson of any kind during 11 years of school.

Finally there is no statement about who was giving the tuition. It is a popular way for graduates and post-grads to earn a bit on the side.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Fair enough. But these are still huge and significant numbers. At these percentages it could account for the marginal improvements seen. The legal issues remain.

Locally, in Brighton, it's common and all the examples I know of personally are teachers.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Kim Thomas said...

I tend to agree with Mark, in that it's probably slightly more complicated. Have the figures for children being tutored gone up since 1997? Do we know who is being tutored and in what circumstances? It's a fair bet that most working-class kids aren't being tutored, for example. Are they also doing better educationally, or not?

And who's doing the tutoring? I know some parents who take their children to Kumon classes. I also know some non-teachers who tutor.

Currently, I know two primary age children receiving tuition - one to take an entrance exam and the other to improve his literacy. Both will (I think) be for relatively brief periods.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

I agree that there's a skew towards middle-class childeren in tutoring. Perhaps that's why working class kids (boys especially) are showing no real improvement.

Still doesn't answer my points about bthe duplicity of attitudes and whether waht they're doing is legal.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

I agree that there's a skew towards middle-class childeren in tutoring. Perhaps that's why working class kids (boys especially) are showing no real improvement.

Still doesn't answer my points about bthe duplicity of attitudes and whether waht they're doing is legal.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Donald!

Something to chew here! Thanks for that.

There's ethics and there's legality. Frankly, a lot of the ethics is over to the individual teacher though they should be tied by their professional body/union/association/league etc.

In New Zealand a teacher does not accept tuition fees from a student attending the school they teach. But it's okay to provide tuition. I've been guilty of this - but always on school premises or associated grounds. It's coaching after all, and I'd prefer to call it that.

Catchya later

7:04 AM  

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