Third of UAE Parents Say Kids Need Extra Tutoring

Newly released data from shows that a third of parents in the UAE feel their children require tutoring, in addition to school-based learning. Does this trend signify something lacking in UAE schools? Or is it more indicative of a culture of competitiveness and parent pressure? explores the data in detail and speaks to leading experts to find out more.
Third of UAE Parents Say Kids Need Extra Tutoring
By Susan Roberts
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According to data from’s Parent School Survey, 34% of parents of secondary school aged children feel they need to give their child additional tutoring to supplement learning within school. Perhaps more surprisingly, the number of parents of primary school aged children that also felt this was necessary was not far behind, at 29%.

Does this trend signify something lacking in UAE schools? Or is it more indicative of a culture of competitiveness and parent pressure? explores the data in detail and speaks to leading experts to find out more. 

A Matter of School Quality?

According to Rajani Nalla, Founder and CEO of UAE online tutoring company Trusity Innovations Learning"Schools are usually designed to cater to a diverse group of students with varying learning styles, abilities, and needs.

"Large class sizes and restricted schedules may pose challenges for managing each and every student’s unique needs. Supplementary tutoring can fill this gap by offering personalized guidance, curation of content and delivery according to the learning pace and style of the student, thereby enhancing the overall educational experience."

An examination of the data does, to an extent, appear to align with Ms Nalla's assessment, with parents with children attending schools at the lower end of the fee range being particularly likely to view supplementary tutoring as necessary. Some 35% of parents whose children attend value fee schools stated that their children require supplementary tutoring, 32% in mid-range fee schools, and 25% in premium fee schools.

While it would be unwise to assume that a higher fee necessarily signifies superior academic support, it could certainly be argued that the likelihood of having smaller class sizes, highly experienced teachers and specialist support increases at the higher end of the fee range. 

A Competitive Edge

Interestingly, the percentage of parents of children attending schools in the ultra premium fee bracket, shoots up to 35%, equaling that of value fee schools. This perhaps suggests that seeking out a competitive edge academically is also a common reason for this. 

Ms Larissa Milne, Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Dwight School Dubai, was able to confirm this, stating that a child falling behind academically is one of the lesser common reasons for a parent to consider supplementary tutoring in her experience:

"The more common reasons  are families having a strong emphasis on academic achievement at home and seeking a competitive edge, coupled with having a busy lifestyle, resulting in challenges in devoting the required time to help children with their home learning."

Mr Elliot Satur, Head of Mathematics at Nord Anglia International School Dubai, shared a similar assessment:

"Predominantly, parents who seek out tutoring for their child want to gain an edge on students who don’t. As students move through school, external examinations are used as a benchmark for students’ progress, and parents try to seek out any extra marginal gains that can be had."

Curricula and Culture...

The figures suggest that the school's curriculum plays a part in influencing the likelihood of parents feeling their children require supplementary tutoring, with parents of children in US curriculum schools being the most likely to feel tutoring is necessary (38%), followed by Indian curriculum (35%), IB (30%) and British curriculum (26%). 

Cultural and linguistic differences and needs appear to also have a significant influence, with only 20% of British families feeling the need for supplementary tutoring, 32% of Indian families, 31% of Egyptian families and at the highest end, 40% of Russian families. 

Individual Support Needs

Mr Emmanuel Keteku, Principal at GEMS Winchester School Fujairah, highlighted that parents may explore tutoring as an option if their child has particular struggles academically:

"One of the most common reasons is that the child may be struggling with certain subjects in school and may need additional support and guidance. Sometimes, children may find it challenging to keep up with the pace of the classroom or they may need extra time to grasp concepts." 

Parent, Amanda Moore, whose seven-year-old daughter attends a Dubai primary school rated Outstanding, provided some insight into her reasons:

"My daughter had a challenging start in school, moving from one schooling system to another. While her current school has gone to great lengths to provide her with additional support, she is still not at the reading level expected in the British curriculum. I fear this could start to affect her self esteem, as she compares herself to other children, and so I have arranged for a one-to-one tutor after school to get her up to speed."

What Do the Experts Recommend?

Ms Larissa Milne, Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment at Dwight School Dubai, told us:

"The academic research conducted about the impact of tutoring on academic attainment shows that the benefits of tutoring is mixed, that for students with a strong work ethic, tutoring can be of benefit, while for students who need more encouragement to actively engage in learning, it has less benefit and makes little impact to attainment." 

Ms Milne continued:

"There are, however, circumstances when tutoring could be beneficial, for example if a student is joining a school with the instruction in a new language, initial language support could ease this transition. Likewise for students who have spent some time out of school, tutoring may ease their re-entry."

Mr Elliot Satur, Head of Mathematics at Nord Anglia International School Dubai,  added to this:

"Tutoring may also be beneficial if a student is studying for a specific exam such as a university entrance paper (MAT or STEP)."

Mr Satur warned however of the negative impact that intensive tutoring can have:

"A lot of students in the UAE already have a long school day. It is important that students have downtime to relax and allow time for their brain to rest. I know of some families who have back to back hours of tutoring for their children which means that students are not able to go to bed early and end up studying for as much as 10-12 hours per day."

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