One to one tuition

Moderate impact for high cost, based on extensive evidence.

Cost Per Pupil Cost estimate: Up to £1,200 per pupil. cost per pupil
Evidence Rating Evidence estimate: Three or more rigorous meta-analyses. evidence rating Average impact: + 5 additional months. Impact +5 months

What is it?

One to one tuition is where an individual pupil is removed from their class and given intensive tuition. It may also be undertaken outside of normal lessons, for example as part of after school programmes or summer schools.

How effective is it?

Evidence indicates that one to one tuition can be effective, on average accelerating learning by approximately five additional months’ progress.

Short, regular sessions (about 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week) over a set period of time (6-12 weeks) appear to result in optimum impact. Evidence also suggests tuition should be additional to, but explicitly linked with, normal teaching, and that teachers should monitor progress to ensure the tutoring is beneficial. Studies comparing one to one to small group tuition show mixed results. In some cases one to one tuition has led to greater improvement, while in others tuition in groups of two or three has been as or more effective as one to one. The variability in findings may suggest that the quality of teaching in one to one tuition or small groups is more important than the group size, emphasising the value of professional development for teachers.

Programmes involving volunteers or teaching assistants can have an impact, but tend to be less effective than those using experienced and specifically trained teachers, which have nearly twice the effect on average. Where tuition is delivered by volunteers or teaching assistants there is evidence that training is beneficial.

How secure is the evidence?

Overall, the evidence is consistent and strong, particularly for younger learners who are behind their peers in primary schools, and for subjects like reading and mathematics. There are fewer studies at secondary level or for other subjects.

In recent evaluations of one to one tuition interventions (see Catch Up Numeracy and Switch-On Reading) pupils made an average of three months’ additional progress, showing that positive impacts can be successfully replicated in English schools. 

For full references, please click here

What are the costs?

Overall, costs are estimated as high. A single pupil receiving 30 minutes tuition, five times a week for 12 weeks requires about four full days of a teacher’s time, which is estimated to cost approximately £700 per pupil. Costs could be reduced by trialling groups of two or three (see Small group tuition). 

What should I consider?

  • One to one tuition is very effective in helping learners catch up, but is relatively expensive. Before you commit to one to one tuition, have you considered trialling groups of two or three and evaluating the impact?

  • Tuition is more likely to make an impact if it is explicitly linked to normal lessons. Have you considered how you will support pupils and regular class teachers to ensure the impact is sustained once they return to normal classes?

  • Training is likely to be particularly beneficial when tuition is delivered by teaching assistants. What training and support have you provided?

  • Have any programmes you are adopting been evaluated?