Meet the private school parents who are paying twice over

<h2>We spent a fortune on school fees… and thousands more on tutors: Meet the private school parents who are paying twice over in the new educational arms race</h2>
<ul><li><strong>Parents who send their kids to private school are also paying for outside tutors </strong></li><li><b>Olivia Turnbull has spent £14,500 on private tuition for her two daughters</b></li><li><b>Alice Enders hired two tutors to compliment son Benedict's private schooling</b></li><li><b>Puja Hassan has forked out thousands for extra tuition for her son Adil  </b></li></ul>
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<p>Jade Turnbull (right) says she has shelled out £14,500 on private tuition for Olivia (left)</p>
<p>Bright and articulate, A-Level student Olivia Turnbull has been entirely educated in private schools — first at a leading day school in Northumberland, and now at a boarding school in York.</p>
<p>With class sizes of just 12 pupils, and whopping annual fees of £33,690 a year, you wouldn’t imagine any student here could possibly also need additional private tuition.</p>
<p>But you’d be wrong. Because in the past ten years, Olivia’s parents Jane and John have also forked out eye-watering sums on private tutors. In total, they say, they’ve spent some £14,500 on tuition for Olivia, 19, and her sister Rebecca, 17, who’s also studying for A-Levels, having recently moved to a £46,000-a-year private boarding sixth form in Surrey.</p>
<p>Understandably, Jane admits she’s niggled and believes schools should take more responsibility, including additional backup for students if needed. ‘There was never any question that we’d privately educate our daughters, both for the academic and extra-curricular possibilities,’ explains Jane, 46, who now lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, vice-president of an IT company.</p>
<p>‘However, despite paying a fortune for them to have the best education possible, we’ve still had to finance private tutors to plug gaps in their learning.’</p>
<p>They first hired a tutor for Rebecca when she was seven to assist with mild dyslexia, and for Olivia when she was forced to miss years of school owing to glandular fever aged 13.</p>
<p>Rebecca switched to her current ‘phenomenal school’ to do A-Levels where she now ‘wants for nothing including one-to-one teaching’, and hasn’t needed a private tutor since taking her GCSEs.</p>
<p>Meanwhile, Olivia still has two or three hours of extra tuition a week.</p>
<p>‘Despite Olivia having two teachers at school for biology, her favourite subject, they can’t seem to teach her to her full potential. She was still a grade behind where she should be in her recent mock exams,’ Jane says.</p>
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<p>Alice Enders (left), has hired not one but two tutors to complement her 16-year-old son Benedict’s extensive private education, spending some £15 an hour — more than £7,000 so far (Benedict, right)</p>
<p>‘But in our experience, small class sizes make no difference if kids are being taught by teachers hanging around for their pensions, or who don’t engage with the children, regardless of whether they’re in independent or state schools.</p>
<p>‘It’s also quite competitive at Olivia’s school, with a lot of very academic girls.</p>
<p>‘Hence, Olivia has long benefited from having a tutor to explain things to her in a more relaxed environment and at her own pace, rather than being left with a textbook or notes on a blackboard.’</p>
<p>For many of us, it will seem almost beyond belief that despite spending more than the average national income on a single year of schooling, that you would then still need to hand over more cash to make sure your child’s education was up to scratch.</p>
<p>How much, one can’t help but wonder, can you possibly hope to recoup from such an investment? And isn’t it more important, some might argue, that a child enjoys their school years rather than being intensely ‘hot-housed’ with expensive tutors?</p>
<p>But it seems the Turnbulls are representative of a soaring number of middle-class families resorting to paying for private tutors.</p>
<p>In September, a poll of more than 2,800 children aged 11-16 in England and Wales (commissioned by the social mobility charity the Sutton Trust) found 27 per cent have received private tuition, up from 18 per cent in 2005, with a higher number coming from affluent homes.</p>
<p>The report also found nearly a quarter of secondary school teachers say they’ve taken on private tuition in the past two years, many after direct requests from parents.</p>
<p>Private tutors aren’t required by law to be registered with any regulatory body, but The Tutors’ Association estimates there are up to 100,000 full-time tutors in the UK.</p>
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<p>Dentist Puja Hassan (left) is another mother who has hired private tutors for her two children – despite paying close to £300,000 to date on their fee-paying schools. She had forked out thousands for Adil (left)</p>
<p>While Jane doesn’t begrudge paying for her daughters’ independent education, on the contrary she is keen to highlight a common misconception. ‘There’s an assumption that if you’re paying for an education that should negate the need for a private tutor,’ says Jane. ‘But, as we’ve found, independent schools aren’t immune to poor teachers, or teaching methods that don’t suit every child.’</p>
<p>Jane insists that Olivia’s tutor — a medical undergraduate called Ned, whom Jane pays £45 for three one-hour sessions a week — has transformed her daughter’s confidence, not to mention her exam results.</p>
<p>‘When I interviewed him, he told me: “It’s only five minutes since I did my own A-Levels, so I know what Olivia is experiencing and what’s expected of her,” and that’s exactly how it’s worked out.</p>
<p>‘He focuses on biology but also touches on chemistry and physics, and picks up on things I feel the school should be on top of.</p>
<p>‘In her mock GCSE exams, she mostly got B and C grades despite being an A-grade student in class. But with Ned’s support, she achieved As and Bs in her GCSEs.</p>
<p>‘There’s no stigma attached to hiring a tutor. In fact, some parents almost wear it like a badge of honour.’</p>
<p>That said, Jane is critical of a system which tacitly accepts parents paying through the nose for their child to succeed: ‘I almost feel like some schools are riding on this wave of parents like us, who will throw money at any problems, whereas we should be pushing back and asking more of the schools.’</p>
<p>Dr Fiona Miles, Head of Loughborough High School, an independent fee-paying school, echoes Jane’s concerns about the high demand for private tutors.</p>
<p>‘I firmly believe if learning is taking place effectively in the classroom, parents and students shouldn’t have to pay for extra tuition,’ Dr Miles says. ‘Learning should be joyful. I worry about what we’re doing to children’s wellbeing if they’re required to spend even more of their time in one-to-one tuition on top of their regular school day.</p>
<p>‘If pupils or their parents feel like they are falling behind in specific subjects, they should be engaging with their teachers to find a solution.</p>
<p>Despite such concerns about overloading children, the demand for tutors shows no sign of abating, according to Alex Dyer, formerly head of psychology at a top London school who founded tutorhouse.co.uk in 2012 to help people access affordable tutoring.</p>
<p>‘Our clients are evenly split between state and independent schools. Many families save money specifically for private tutoring,’ he explains.</p>
<p>‘It’s not uncommon for them to spend as much as £5,000 a year. There’s still a stigma that tuition is for children who are “failing” at school, but in reality, students may need private tuition for a huge variety of reasons.</p>
<p>‘Private schools can be seen as highly competitive, and because children are now tested from age seven, this may be pushing families into getting support early and keeping a tutor for longer.’</p>
<p>Dentist Puja Hassan is another mother who has hired private tutors for her two children – despite paying close to £300,000 to date on their fee-paying schools.</p>
<p>So convinced is she of the benefits that, between them, her son Adil, 12, and daughter Tanya, 19, have clocked up more than 200 private, face-to-face online tutoring sessions with mytutor.co.uk in the past 18 months — costing around £6,000.</p>
<p>At up to £24 an hour, Puja admits her husband, also a dentist, was sceptical.</p>
<p>‘Yes, we’ve spent thousands, but it’s an investment in our children. I told my husband: “Just you wait till you see the results!”’ says Puja, 44, who lives in Bedfordshire.</p>
<p>She was proved right when Tanya achieved A grades in A-Level maths, biology and chemistry, winning a prized place to study dentistry at King’s College London.</p>
<p>Meanwhile, Adil breezed through his 11-plus exams last year — Puja had insisted he sat the exam for the local grammar school just in case ‘things didn’t work out’ with getting into his private secondary school.</p>
<p>She needn’t have worried, however, and is now paying around £15,000 a year for his education. Which begs the question, why the need for private tuition on top? ‘You can’t just rely on school education, even in the independent sector, because of the pressure teachers are under,’ Puja explains.</p>
<p>‘Private schools tend to be better organised and structured with much smaller class sizes, and the teachers are of a good standard, but tutors work one-to-one where teachers can’t, which can put children at an advantage.’ Puja also turned to online sessions on Skype with mytutor.co.uk for her kids, and Adil has been having science tuition with Stefan, a medical student.</p>
<p>‘There are lots of pushy parents who might hire tutors for the wrong reasons, but Adil is a typical boy and can be naughty sometimes, so he benefits from one-to-one lessons,’ Puja says.</p>
<p>‘He might get a bit silly, but Stefan knows how to have a little laugh and then get back to being serious again. Hopefully he’ll reap the benefits the same way Tanya did.’</p>
<p>Alice Enders, meanwhile, has hired not one but two tutors to complement her 16-year-old son Benedict’s extensive private education, spending some £15 an hour — more than £7,000 so far.</p>
<p>She credits it for him sailing through his GCSEs earlier this year — despite the fact she was already paying around £6,500 a year in private school fees.</p>
<p>‘A child’s GSCEs are a hill that we all have to climb as parents, and they can cause havoc with a young man’s mind,’ says Alice, 61, director of a research company, who’s married to Lord Charles Bruce and lives between Scotland and Maida Vale.</p>
<p>‘We used private tutoring to over-focus on the subjects he could have failed. It worked, because he got an A in Spanish and Bs in maths and physics, plus the As he was expected to get in history, English and the classics,’ says Alice.</p>
<p>As well as the expense, this extra tuition required a significant amount of time, too, with Benedict at first being tutored for two hours every weekday in the school holidays last summer by Louis, hired from tutorhouse.co.uk.</p>
<p>Then, from last Christmas, tutor Abdullah — who specialises in maths and science — was hired, with Benedict receiving a combined total of ten hours tutoring on Saturday and Sunday.</p>
<p>As well as the considerable expense, such a lot of extra work may seem harsh, but Alice says Benedict thoroughly enjoys it.</p>
<p>‘Louis tutors him at our home, which Benedict prefers, and he became an immediate role model for my son and taught him how to pass an exam.</p>
<p>‘My son is very bright and is brilliant at English, classics and history, but those things don’t mean anything when you fail maths.</p>
<p>‘Abdullah took him through every problem he may encounter and gave him confidence to master maths and science.</p>
<p>‘Benedict is naturally full of bonhomie, but more so because he felt that Louis and Abdullah were his team and that they were on a little campaign together like a military mission. His school was supportive of him having the extra help.’</p>
<p>Benedict is now studying for A-Levels at a state school in West London, which Alice says is better equipped than his old private school to assist with his mild dyslexia: ‘But nothing beats one-to-one tuition when it comes to learning and you won’t get that in any school — fee paying or not.’</p>
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