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Industry Expeditions: what's happening today in private tutoring?

First in a new four-part series where we explore the future of industries. Starting with the world of private tutoring, which is likely to play an increased role in future education ecosystems.

Hi folks, welcome to a new Muir Wood & Co feature where we deep dive into the industries of our clients. We’ve just started doing some research for a tutoring platform client, so our newest teammate Trisha began there.

Why is Tutoring interesting?

Tutoring is a global education movement attracting massive investments worldwide. The future of tutoring is intertwined with cutting-edge tech like AI and mixed reality, promising personalised learning experiences.  But it's more than just fancy gadgets. Tutoring is having a growing, diverse impact on societies globally, from an essential component in the competition for admissions  to providing a middle ground between state and private education. It's clear: tutoring is no longer a luxury, but a key player in shaping the future of our education system.

Tutoring around the world today

Around the world South Koreans are the biggest spenders on private tutors. In 2023 parents of children taking private lessons paid an average of 553,000 won ($400) per month per student – with some households spending more on tuition than food. With their vast populations and expanding middle classes, India and China have enormous total spends on tutoring. Per capita, the UK is up there, and with private school fees increasing by 55% in real terms since 2003, price sensitive families will look for more affordable solutions to give their kids a leg-up.

Private tutoring is a component of some fascinating social dynamics around the world, here are a couple of examples:

Cram schools in Japan

In Japan, education has its own version of the pre-competition training camp: "juku" or cram schools. These academic dojos are a defining feature of the system, where students don't just cram, but rigorously train their minds for the intellectual Olympics of high school and university entrance exams.

Underground tutoring in China

Despite China's ban on for-profit tutoring to reduce educational disparity and financial strain, many parents still invest heavily in underground tutors and covert study trips. It's like academic speakeasies in the 1920s: officially off-limits, but if you know the right password (or have the right connections), you can still access this forbidden educational elixir that parents believe is crucial for their child's future.

💡 China's situation is unlikely to play out in the UK, but it raises key issues of cost and fairness, which we'll examine more below and in our upcoming posts.

3 key trends we’ve been tracking in the UK

Increased Focus on STEM Subjects 

Hold onto your calculators, folks! While parents are going gaga over STEM tutoring to prep their kids for a future of lab coats and tech empires, there's a plot twist. Science lesson prices have shot up by a whopping 26%, but maths tutoring costs are actually on a downward slide. It's like the ultimate academic seesaw: as everyone scrambles for those Einstein-level science skills, the price of cracking the algebra code is getting more wallet-friendly.

Online Tutoring Growth

The rise of online tutoring is redefining education. Once, private tutoring meant pricey face-to-face sessions. Now, tech-savvy platforms offer personalised, on-demand learning from home. It's not just convenient—it's highly effective. With the online tutoring market set to grow 7.7% globally (Grand View Research), it's clear: top-notch education is just a click away.

Personalised Learning and Adaptive Tutoring

Building on the online tutoring boom, there's another game-changer on the horizon: adaptive learning tech. Imagine a tutor who knows exactly how you tick, customising lessons to your learning style and pace. That's what these smart systems do, using AI to pinpoint your strengths and gently guide you through your weak spots. According to Tutorspot, this tech is weaving its way into online platforms, offering real-time feedback and personalised study plans.

💡 Technology will provide more tutoring options at lower costs, but how will this affect schools and teachers?

Mapping the beneficiaries

The diagram below sheds light on the interconnected web of tutoring. At its heart are the students, but parents and schools are also key players. In a more expansive view, we'd see local governments, policy-makers, regulatory bodies, and increasingly, tech providers. The outer circles highlight what each party values and what challenges they face.

Here are some examples that stood out for us:

  • Private tutoring potentially undermining regular teachers
  • The impact of all this academic pressure on the mental health of students
  • Inequity that results from access to paid additional help

In our upcoming posts, we'll trace these drivers and disruptors into the future, painting a picture of what tutoring might become. It's not just about predicting; it's about understanding the forces shaping this evolving landscape.

Tutoring isn't just about after-school maths help anymore. It's a global phenomenon reshaping education, driving technological innovation, and even sparking societal debates. From Japan's academic dojos to China's underground knowledge speakeasies, the lengths parents will go to secure their children's futures are astounding. And we've only scratched the surface.

In our next three posts, we'll dive deeper into the future of tutoring in the UK, so stay tuned! We'll explore how emerging technologies could transform learning, examine the potential social impacts of personalised education, and envision scenarios that could redefine knowledge acquisition. But why stop at tutoring?

If you're curious about what's next for your industry, let's talk. We are making foresight research more accessible to small and medium businesses, crafting future industry scenarios, and running provocative workshops that'll have your team seeing your business in a whole new light.

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