Private tutoring is abhorrent says private school head

The Telegraph is reporting a claim that parents are making children act like “performing animals” by putting them through extensive private tutoring to gain places at leading independent schools…

Being tutored in an attempt to make children appear brighter than they really are in interviews and entrance exams is “abhorrent”, according to Andrew Halls, the headmaster of fee-paying King’s College School, Wimbledon.

“It is really important parents choose a school where their child will be valued for the sort of boy or girl they are, not crippled by the idea that they have not lived up to your ambitions,” said Mr Halls.

“What sort of childhood is that and what sort of basis for adulthood? The preparation to do for an interview is to be interested, it is not to be taught how to look interested.”

Mr Halls is one of a number of independent school heads to speak out against parents who try to push children into school places through excessive tutoring and admissions interview preparation.

Dr Andrew Mayfield, director of admissions at St Paul’s School, in Barnes, West London, said children can be “crushed” by getting in to schools that are not appropriate for them…

More at: Private tutoring is abhorrent says private school head


Very strong words from Andrew Halls, but can you ever see it going back into the bottle – especially when there is competition for places at the best schools?

I have a slightly different concern about tutoring and that is the inequality that may arise from its ‘hidden’ nature.

In other words, when a school, university or employer is assessing a candidate, they will know something about their school, background etc to help them weigh up how good they think the candidate really is. But the student may have received extensive tutoring to get the grades they achieved and this may never be revealed. Surely that becomes extremely unfair on those not receiving tutoring?

The only two ways I can see round it are to ban tutoring or making it some kind of offence not to declare it. A ban would be impractical and there are lots of situation where tutoring is beneficial, but could we insist people declare when they’ve had it?

Please give us your thoughts and feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


Should any student who has had private tutoring have to disclose it when applying for a course/job etc?


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  1. birch_david

    SchoolsImprove Why is someone who charges for education surprised that parents seek to buy further advantage?

  2. andylutwyche

    birch_david SchoolsImprove I have to say that I wondered the same thing… Slightly naïve to think that his students haven’t used tutors

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove LancingLearning You could look at it the other way: private tutoring shows a willingness to improve from the student

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove LancingLearning If a child willingly goes to private tutoring then I see no problem. Counter-productive if forced

  5. PeterHutchinso5

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove LancingLearning Good point. I tutor occasionally, but only take on kids who really want to be tutored.

  6. andylutwyche

    PeterHutchinso5 SchoolsImprove LancingLearning Quite – I think “choice” is the crucial thing. Waste of everyone’s time if no choice

Let us know what you think...