In Australia more and more families are making use of private educational tutoring. As a result, private tutoring businesses now represent a $2.6 billion industry. The use of private tutoring has sparked concerns about the (1) inequity between families that can afford the service and those that cannot; (2) effects on the results of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN); and (3) social differences between groups that make extensive use of tutoring and those that do not. In this context, this project investigates the place of private tutoring, especially in literacy, in Australian primary education.

This project seeks to investigate several issues:

  • Which groups in the Australian community are purchasing what tutoring services;
  • Why they do or do not make these purchases; and
  • The implications of the widespread purchase of private tutoring for national and state educational policy.

The project has four phases:

  1. An analysis of tutoring advertisements in various public media;
  2. Interviews with parents of Year 5 students attending primary schools;
  3. A survey of parents regarding families’ use of private tutoring in two states; and
  4. An international policy scan and development of policy advice.

‘Private Literacy Tutoring: A sociology of shadow education’ is funded by the Australian Research Council.