Coronavirus: Working-class parents are less confident home-schooling, survey finds

James Carr – Working-class parents are less confident about teaching their children from home than their middle-class counterparts, a new survey has revealed.

A poll of more than 1,500 parents conducted by Sutton Trust and Public First found that just 37 per cent of parents in the C2DE social grade were confident teaching their children and explaining things when they are learning from home, compared with 47 per cent of those in the ABC1 grade.

The home learning environment has never been more important, but as today’s polling shows less than half of parents feel confident about teaching their child at home

Overall, 42 per cent of parents feel confident teaching their children at home, while 36 were “neither confident nor unconfident”.

The findings, released as families and schools grapple with home learning during the coronavirus lockdown, have prompted calls from the Sutton Trust to “level the playing field” and ensure high quality online tuition is available for disadvantaged pupils.

The charity said the initiative could be funded through a voucher scheme or through a network of quality-assured tutoring providers.

The poll highlights “some of the challenges faced by parents and schools dealing with school closures” which could “create a learning gap between affluent and less-affluent pupils”, the Sutton Trust said.

The Education Endowment Foundation, the trust’s sister charity, has also announced it will provide support for schools through guidance and resources.

Sir Peter Lampl, who chairs both organisations, said: “Parents across the country are grappling with the challenge of home-schooling their children.

Sir Peter Lampl

“The home learning environment has never been more important, but as today’s polling shows less than half of parents feel confident about teaching their child at home. Better-off parents are more able than poorer families to spend money on resources and support for their children.”

He added: “To reduce the impact of school closures on the most disadvantaged pupils, we’d like to see high-quality online tuition available to the most disadvantaged pupils.”

The survey also found that children from working-class families were more likely to have had nothing spent on their home education, at a rate of 60 per cent compared with 45 per cent of middle-class children.

It follows calls from Teach First for tech firms and internet providers to help poorer children get online, after a survey discovered only two per cent of teachers working in the poorest communities believed all their pupils can access the internet when at home.

The Sutton Trust survey found 49 per cent of middle-class parents reported being satisfied with the learning support provided for their children, while 40 per cent of working-class parents felt the same.

Earlier this week the Department for Education released a list of free online resources to help pupils’ learning from home during the lockdown.

However, safeguarding concerns were raised over the list will education suppliers criticising the “lack of tender process” in producing the list.