Why do parents employ private tutors for their children? Exploring psychological factors that influence demand in England

Judith Ireson, Katie Rushforth

Abstract


As parents play a key role in their children’s education, this paper considers psychological factors that may influence parents’ decisions to provide private tutoring. It draws on the notion of parental involvement in their children’s education and examines relations between parents’ views of striving for achievement, family support for learning and the employment of tutors. Data was collected through a questionnaire survey of 1,170 parents whose children were in Year 6 (age 10–11 years), Year 11 (age 15–16 years) and Year 13 (age 17–18 years) and from interviews with 58 parents. All questionnaires contained measures of home support for children’s school work and parents’ views of striving for achievement, together with questions on extra classes and private tuition and reasons for providing these. More home support is provided for children in Year 6 and by parents with higher educational levels. Parents who value educational achievement and self-regulation tend to provide higher levels of home support. The employment of private tutoring is predicted by parents’ educational level and their views of self-regulation and achievement. Evidence from interviews suggests that the employment of a private tutor may be seen as part of the parental role and that parents calibrate the need for private tutoring against the family’s intellectual capital and resources. These findings suggest that psychological factors deserve consideration alongside contextual factors when seeking to understand the uptake of private tutoring.

Keywords


Private tutoring; Parents; Shadow education; Psychological factors; Tutors

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Journal for Educational Research Online/Journal für Bildungsforschung Online (ISSN 1866-6671)