School refusal in the UK has become a huge problem, one which schools and the Government are working hard to address. But are the proposed solutions effective? That parents are turning to private home-schooling instead suggests not.
A child’s refusal to go to school due to anxiety has become the number one issue for parents and carers seeking advice, according to children’s charity, Action for Children.
During lockdown, children who hated school, who were bullied or lonely or struggling with lessons, suddenly found themselves at home 24 hours a day. They felt safer and happier and when lockdown was over, they didn’t want to go back to school - and who can blame them?
Some 1.7% of all pupils are severely persistent absent compared with less than 1% pre-pandemic, while the overall absence rate has risen to 7.6%, up from around 4%–5% before the pandemic. A pupil is classified as a persistent absentee if they miss 10% or more of their schooling and as a severely persistent absentee if they miss 50% or more. (Source)
This escalation highlights the challenges families face, including difficulties in accessing specialist support and a lack of clear guidance on how to address the issue.
Some schools claim that hybrid education - a mix of in-school online teaching - are all that’s needed to get school refusers back into school, but in reality it’s much more complex than that. Every child’s case is different, and the reasons for refusing school are myriad. It therefore follows that offering more school - whether physical or virtual - is not going to be the right solution for everyone.
The pandemic led some parents to reevaluate their educational choices, weighing the financial costs against the educational experience offered by different types of schools. Some moved their children from state to private schools, while others opted for full-time home tuition.
The interest in private tutoring continues well after the end of the pandemic. Tutors International saw a rise in enquiries about full-time tuition after Covid-19, which we attribute to the benefits that lockdown presented to both children and their parents.
Children said they were happier at home, they didn’t like all the travel to and from school, the boring assemblies, queuing in the canteen, noisy lessons, miserable teachers, unwelcome peer pressure…
They wanted more of the things they enjoyed: more time with friends, more time playing sports, more of the lessons that interest them, and the teachers they connect with.
Parents enjoyed spending more time with their children, and they can see the opportunities for more travel, the flexibility of home tuition, and the emotional and academic support a private tutor can offer children who may have neurodiversity, behavioural or learning difficulties, mental health issues, or were being bullied - or indeed one of the many other reasons for school refusal.
Tutors International has had several clients whose children are labelled “school refusers”, and private tutoring has been able to support those individuals with a personalised, empathetic education.
Getting the student back on their academic track - and perhaps, with the confidence and emotional tools to return to their previous school - is a goal for some families. For others, providing a broad education without pressure, focusing on specific interests or hobbies, or simply providing a mentor to guide a child through a difficult adolescence, is the primary aim of home tutoring.
About Tutors International
Tutors International provides full-time private tuition, part-time tuition, one-to-one online tuition, and live-in home-schooling, supporting all academic stages, subjects, and international curricula.
Founded in 1999 by Adam Caller, Tutors International provides high-net-worth families with a bespoke private tuition service. Tutors International recruits and employs qualified teachers with verified qualifications, impeccable employment records, and security screening clearance. Our tutors are highly committed, trustworthy, and motivated, enabling students to achieve their aspirations.