Ethnic minority pupils more likely to receive private tuition

Primary pupils from ethnic minority groups in the UK are more than twice as likely to receive private tuition outside school than their white peers, research has revealed.

Children from Chinese, black or Indian backgrounds also appear to be doing more homework than white children.

These findings will be presented by researchers from Newcastle University and from NatCen Social Research at the British Educational Research Association conference today.

The researchers have been studying how a cohort of 19,000 pupils, all born in 2000-1, spend their lives outside school.

They analysed data collected when the children were aged five, seven and 11.

Breaking down the figures by pupils’ ethnic backgrounds revealed stark differences.

At seven, private tuition was most common among children of Indian backgrounds, with 20 per cent taking it up. Only 3 per cent of white pupils were tutored at the same age.

By 11, the ethnic group with the highest take-up was “other ethnic origin”, which includes Chinese pupils, at 48 per cent.

Some 47 per cent of black children received private tuition, while the figure for Indian pupils was 42 per cent. For white children, it was 20 per cent.

The time spent on homework also varied significantly.

A quarter of Chinese and “other ethnic origin” pupils, 24 per cent of  Indian and 20 per cent of black children spent at least five hours a week on homework. For white children, the figure was 7 per cent.

Professor Liz Todd, professor of education inclusion at Newcastle University, said the findings raised questions about possible differing attitudes to school provision between different ethnic groups.

“Clearly some ethnic groups are feeling a greater need to supplement the work of schools than others,” she said.

“Does this mean some parents are lacking confidence in what goes on during school hours? Or are they just more likely to see tuition as a worthwhile route to help their children succeed?”

Professor David Gillborn, centre for research in race and education, University of Birmingham, said that for several years, research has consistently shown that pupils in some minority ethnic groups spent longer on their homework, and were more likely to be encouraged to aspire to high educational achievement.

“Partly this reflects the fact that parents in many minority groups view education as a powerful way of children bettering themselves and achieving social mobility,” he said.

“The greater up-take of private tuition also reflects the fact that the state system has not always served minority ethnic groups very well.”


“Unequal access to Out of School Activities and the education gap” is being presented to BERA by Professor Liz Todd and Karen Laing of Newcastle University and by Dr Emily Tanner, Jenny Chanfreau, Meg Callanan, Amy Skipp and Jonathan Paylor of NatCen Social Research on Wednesday, September 16

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  1. !. In all probability a high % of these children are having tutors for the 11+ an/or entrance exams to independent schools ( for with and without scholarships places ). An article that looks at the BME% of pupils at grammar schools in London/Trafford/Birmingham/Redbridge would be useful here. People would be amazed how high the % is ( I saw the figure for Trafford recently but cannot quote it )
    2. In a more general vein, this shows another big difference between the BME and white British view of tutoring ( excluding 11+ tutoring ). BME parents see it as a way to ‘get ahead’ , non BME parents think of tutoring more in terms of ‘catching up’.