Private tuition is known as the hidden secret of British education and is known as shadow education in the UK. They have been precursor and alternative to the schooling and were established for teaching children of wealthy families. It is defined as academic teaching outside of state provision for which tutor is paid in salary usually by tutee’s parents. The tutee’s education usually takes place at their home, where tutor assists their student in improving their knowledge related to the respective subject or for other competitive exams. It has largely remained in the shadow of private schools and home schools which were considered best for British students. Estimates have suggested that the industry is worth several billion pounds, but it lacks regulation as it is an unregulated industry and much of tutoring is informal. Therefore it is difficult to get an accurate picture of the UK market of private tuition.
A survey conducted by UK government found that tuition industry is generally a small scale industry. However, contrary to the belief, private tuition market is expanding and has changed as per changing economic factors and has become increasingly structured and commercialised. It has now been rendering teaching services to millions of students throughout in the UK. Many surveys have found that most of the tutors are university students who are seeking additional income by teaching children at the secondary level. Another group of tutor includes state-employed teachers, as well as, retired teachers from their respected government school. They work either individually or through an agency.
Private tutoring provides an opportunity for parents to help their children to get better academic success. Usually, it is associated with one on one instruction, but in recent years, Small-group and large-group instruction methods and online type of private tutoring have also come into existence. Small-group class tuition ranges from 3 students per tutor, whereas large-group class tuition has >=10 students per tutor. According to a recent survey, half of the private tutoring in the UK is conducted through one on one instruction, which is 78% followed by small-group class tuition which occupies 12% of private tuition. In a recent survey, it was found that average cost of one to one tutoring in a subject like maths is £21 per hour and in English is £24 per hour. The average cost of online tutoring was found to be £32 per hour. The majority of tuition arranged by private agencies takes place in student’s home and normally lasts for one hour.
In recent years and with the advancement of internet, the online internet is gaining popularity. In the UK, online tuition is conducted majorly through either Skype or MSN messenger. Tutors who teach online teach mainly at the secondary level with maths and science being dominant subjects. Other subjects which are taught online are English, humanities, arts and foreign languages. Furthermore, greater numbers of tutors in the UK are in favour of giving online tuition as there is increasing trend of income generated through teaching online as most of the students have access to the internet and are capable enough to get coaching online instead of going to tuition class for their studies. Moreover, it is convenient for tutors also to teach online as it saves their cost and time incurred in travelling. In addition to this, parents of students also are in favour of online tutoring because of convenience and lack of tutors in their local areas.
As private tuition is an unregulated industry, tuition agencies are bracing themselves to change by going online. They have tried to bridge the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students by providing coaching to later one at nominal fee online. So to evaluate private tuition agencies in the UK, some models were developed. The first model developed is Tutor Hunt which was founded in 2005 with the objective of providing affordable tuition to everyone in the UK. It has over 50,000 tutors. It is a web-based service which allows tutees to directly access to tutors which they feel is most suitable to them. It charges tutees one off fees which is nominally £19.99. Tutor Hunt has created a foundation, which uses some of the profits made through the website to sponsor various school clubs, programmes and events. It ensures that private tuition does not become reserved for the elite group but is readily available for needy students and its benefit is spread as far as possible.
Another is Tutorfair which was founded in 2012 as a marketplace to put tutors in contact with potential tutees. Currently, Tutorfair has over 30,000 tutors on its database, with about 8,500 fully registered. Through Tutorfair’s web platform, tutees contact tutors with no charge and help them to locate an appropriate local tutor. Since its inception, thousands of tutees have found tutors through this organisation. It is mostly funded directly by sales made on Tutorfair website. An optional 5% price is paid by the customer who undertakes and coordinates tuition programmes in London’s under- privileged students in lieu of providing free tuition for one of their children. This free tutoring covers preparations for 11+ exams, A-level and university preparations. Moreover, it provides facilities for students from economically low background to get good tutors for their studies.
Thus, although private tuition is a shadow education in the UK, yet it is gaining popularity in the country. If effectively implemented, it has the potential to reinforce an education system which would be easily available for each and every student from different backgrounds. Public sponsored education policies fell short of meeting expectations of parents of the students. In this case, a private tuition is a viable option as it would provide an option to parents to fulfil their goal of increasing academic performance of their children. With the adaptation of innovative ideas using online method of tutoring, it has created for itself an opportunity to grow into a mature and stable market generation huge amount of profit.