How common is it for schools to recommend private tutoring for six year olds?

22nd April 2016

Last week, a disturbing conversation with another parent who was returning from parent’s evening got me thinking: has our education system become so competitive that it pitches not only pupil against pupil, but parent against parent? And, faced with that reality, should parents be prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure our children succeed, even if that means helping children compete with their peers?

I am wondering if it is naïve of me to be so appalled by what I heard and I’d be interested to know if this is a case of a rogue teacher (or at worst a rogue school) or if the practice is more widespread:

Jane has a six year old son called Isaac[1], and they live in leafy North-West London.

Jane recently attended Isaac’s second parents’ evening where the teacher recommended that she consider private English and Maths tuition, such as the majority of other pupils in the class received, to prevent him falling further behind.

According to Isaac’s “school bumpf” (this wasn’t specified and I’m not sure what it would be at 6), he is making good progress and is on target, so Jane asked if the teacher actually meant that the other students were pulling away from Isaac rather than him falling behind, to which the teacher responded “the semantics don’t make any difference”.

When Jane told the teacher that she didn’t agree with privately tutoring a six year old and wanted him to spend his free time running around outside, she was told to remember “just how competitive the secondary schools are around here.”

How common is private tutoring for six year olds, and how frequently are schools pressurising parents into it in this way?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter if this is something you’ve experienced as a parent or a teacher, or if you have any thoughts on what happens if this becomes the precedent in schools before pupils have even reached Key Stage 2.

[1] Names have been changed