UK tutoring businesses are seeing a surge in enquiries from parents looking for online services as schools across the country prepare to close, this publication can reveal.
Even before the government’s announcement last night that schools and nurseries would close on Friday 20 March, tutoring businesses were experiencing a “substantial increase” in enquiries from parents, The Tutors’ Association told EducationInvestor Global.
Chris Lenton, chief executive of the association, said that online tuition providers are “seeing a surge of between five- and 15-times the normal use”.
He said that, while it’s too early to say exactly what the impact will be, it is anticipated that “demand for support with home schooling will surge and that demand for preparation for examinations will plummet”.
The UK government also announced that GCSE and A-level exams would not go ahead as planned in May and June as schools would close indefinitely in an attempt to stem to spread of covid-19.
However, tuition centres are likely to be “profoundly affected”, especially those that have no online services, he added.
Since the government’s announcement last night, parents have been concerned about the implications of their children’s exams being cancelled and schools shut.
Chris Tiernan, chief operating officer at Enjoy Education, a private tuition and home-schooling company, said a number of families have been in touch to voice their concerns.
“Over the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in demand for online and home tuition and a number of our clients and tutors have already made the transition to online,” said Tiernan.
According to UNESCO, nearly one billion children are out of school worldwide due to nationwide closures.
Global private tutoring businesses are likely to boom as wealthy parents – particularly in Asia – look for ways to help their children with exam preparation during the school closures, the Financial Times reported.
Will Orr-Ewing, director at Keystone Tutors, said that the impact on the UK sector will depend on the quality of online provisions from schools. Some schools, such as Marlborough College, have already announced they will be taking tuition online amid the coronavirus crisis.
Orr-Ewing said: “If parents react in the UK the same way that they reacted in Asia, we expect that they will be looking to tutoring firms for support to structure learning at home.”
All state and private schools – including those with boarding facilities – will be forced to close on Friday 20 March, prompting further uncertainty around what will happen to boarding students whose parents live overseas in countries that have imposed international travel bans.
Boris Johnson said that the government would try to keep the duration of closures “to an absolute minimum”, but could not offer a firm timeline around when UK schools and nurseries may be permitted to re-open.