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 Learning starts at £119 a month for nine sessions, with some tuition costing from £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 in the university and job market.
The ongoing crisis in state education funding is fueling this ‘arms race’ in private tuition. With a 4% decrease in real terms spending per pupil, increasingly parents and carers are stepping in to fill the gap. But ultimately it is now the poorest children in society, those already impoverished by 8 years of vicious Tory cuts, who are losing this educational ‘arms race’.
Working-class parents who rely on food banks, find it impossible to cough up the £119 a month for private tuition, and their children are being left behind in a system which values profit over education. With over 7,000 schools being sold off to academy trusts we see an ongoing process of marketisation of education where exam results are an increasingly valuable currency. Particularly, children with special educational needs 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 and negatively impact social mobility.
Education is not merely the site of the production of a new generation of workers for the labour market, but a market of consumers also. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves with another 34%-49% tutoring to supplement their income in part because of the freeze on public sector pay. While the real earnings of teachers drops, Explore Learning have reported profits of £31.6 million. It is clear to see that private enterprise is benefiting from the cuts in education under the Tories.
But it shouldn’t be this way! Why should parents have to rely on private tuition in order to ensure their child receives quality education? There needs to be an increase in pay in the public sector to boost teacher retention, reduction in workloads in order to ensure more time is being spent with students. Bring back control of schools under the authority of teachers, their unions, parents and students to ensure the needs of every child is being met, without regard to profit. We need a socialist government, in which education will be a tool for the masses, to realise our full potential, and to contribute to society in meaningful ways, not just pass exams.
by Olivia Rickson, Sheffield Marxists