Bridging the Divide: A Parent’s Perspective on the Vital Role of State-Funded Tutoring Provision 

In this blog post, Lorraine Spence, parent to a student supported by Get Further at London South East Colleges in 2021-22, recounts her daughter Naomi’s educational journey, from struggling to access support when she fell behind in maths to the transformative impact of state-funded tutoring on Naomi’s academic success. This poignant account was recently highlighted by Munira Wilson MP in a debate on the continuation of tutoring provision in parliament. 

My daughter, Naomi, first began to fall behind in maths during secondary school. As a working-class parent who struggles with maths and didn’t go to university, I soon realised that my children were at a distinct disadvantage. We strived to equip her with all the textbooks, flashcards and other materials she needed, but without someone to help her apply the information she was revising, the extra time and resources we were spending on her studies did little to help. 

I watched her lose confidence in her abilities, and I became increasingly frustrated that, despite our best efforts, my capable daughter was not getting the support she needed to thrive. This became even more challenging when the pandemic hit, with school closures and the move to online learning causing significant disruptions. Ultimately, she was given a teacher assessed grade 3 in GCSE Maths at school. She enrolled to retake the subject the following autumn at our local further education college. 

"Despite the quantity of textbooks and online resources available, a good tutor is irreplaceable. They motivate young people to believe in themselves and push beyond their perceived limits, and they remove their fears about learning".

This is where things changed for her. In response to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Government introduced dedicated funding that would enable children like Naomi to access tutoring at their local school or college. At my daughter’s college, this was delivered in partnership with the charity, Get Further, who matched her to a tutor who supported her with weekly, hour-long sessions. 

With her college providing high-quality tutoring to my daughter free of charge, she now had the time and space to ask questions and receive tailored support. Before long, this had a transformative impact. The personalised approach meant that she enjoyed and even looked forward to her sessions. I saw her become increasingly able to grasp challenging maths problems that previously she would have struggled with, and her confidence skyrocketed. When she sat her exams at the end of the year, she secured the pass she needed to progress to her next steps in education.

I am grateful that there was funding in the education system to make tutoring available to Naomi. If there had not been, this type of support would have been out of reach. However, nationally, this funding is due to end this summer. It fills me with sadness that young people who may benefit from extra support, like Naomi did, may no longer have this within reach.  

Despite the quantity of textbooks and online resources available, a good tutor is irreplaceable. They motivate young people to believe in themselves and push beyond their perceived limits, and they remove their fears about learning. Parents get this, so it’s no surprise that more and more are paying for private tutoring on top of a child’s standard schooling over the last two decades. However, until recently families on low incomes were priced out of accessing this valuable support for our children should they fall behind. This is something that I experienced firsthand.  

"Should tutoring return to being a luxury for the rich and a sacrifice for the poor? I urge the Government not to allow this to be the case. Instead, let’s make a more equitable educational system where tutoring is accessible to all."

Tutoring at schools and colleges has the potential to be a bridge between the haves and the have-nots. It is an absolute necessity for enabling young people from less advantaged backgrounds to reach their full potential. 

My daughter is now thriving at university but without the extension of this kind of funding, countless young people from low-income families will miss out on securing the gateway qualifications they need to unlock opportunities like this. Should tutoring return to being a luxury for the rich and a sacrifice for the poor? I urge the Government not to allow this to be the case. Instead, let’s make a more equitable educational system where tutoring is accessible to all – and one positive legacy to come out of the pandemic. 

By Lorraine Spence

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