In light of recent Conservative Government proposals to expand numbers of academically selective (‘grammar’) schools in England, Dr Sonia Exley considers the possibility that such a policy could fuel further what are already rising levels of private tutoring in England, with implications for inequality and for disadvantaged families. One way to explore such a possibility is to examine whether selective schooling has been important in driving private tutoring trends in other societies. The presentation drew on interviews with experts and stakeholders in the ‘extreme case’ of South Korea – a country with some of the highest family spending on private tutoring in the world and also a long history of selective schooling. Interviewees for this project were in many respects critical of a 1970s ‘equalisation’ of Korean schooling, though they also viewed recent moves back towards selection as being instrumental in fuelling ‘shadow education’. Concern about this issue has driven governments to try and curb schools’ selective powers for a second time in Korean history. Although Korea and England are two different countries with different education systems, there are some reasons to hypothesise on the basis of Korean experience that expanded selective schooling in England may contribute to an expanded private tutoring industry.
Podcast available here.