Almost half of parents and more than a third of grandparents in the UK have spent more on their children or grandchildren’s education over the last 12 months amid fears that they have fallen behind.

A survey of parents of grandparents of school-attending children aged 3-13, carried out on behalf of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS), found that 44% of parents and 35% of grandparents revealed they invested more on education compared to the previous year.

More than half (52%)  acknowledged that one of their children or grandchildren has fallen behind at school since the first Covid-19 lockdown.

The poll of 1,037 parents or grandparents by Censuswide between 25 March 2021 and 29 March, 2021, found that among those who have spent more money on their children or grandchildren’s education over the last year, 90% believe the investment has already made a difference.

With concerns of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on education ongoing, more than two thirds (68%) of parents and more than half (56%) of grandparents said they would consider investing more money in their children and grandchildren’s education over the next 12 months.

Investing in education

The poll found that most parents and grandparents spent money on educational books (56%), followed by online resources (50%), and IT equipment (48%), and nearly a quarter invested in professional tutoring (23%). Nearly one in five (17%) invested in private education, and 13% in informal paid tutoring from a family member or friend.

The focus on tutoring and private education is set to continue, with almost two in five parents and grandparents who are contemplating investing more money in education over the next 12 months considering professional tutoring (38%), one in five (20%) considering private education, and 14% considering informal paid tutoring from a family member or friend.

Help from others

Over last year, nearly one in five parents and grandparents (19%) have invested an extra £501 or more in education, with 11% investing an additional £1,001 or more compared to the previous year.

For nearly half (45%), they are getting financial help fro others, including another family member (44%), an employer (27%), a friend (23%), or a charity (18%).

Welllbeing concerns

The series of national lockdowns over the past year have also seen a rise in concerns around wellbeing of children. Before the first national lockdown, nearly half 46% of parents and grandparents said they were concerned about their child or grandchild’s wellbeing. That has now risen to nearly three in five (58%).

Similarly, parents’ and grandparents’ confidence in children reaching their full potential at school has dropped over the past year. Before the first lockdown, almost three quarters (74%) of parents and grandparents said that they were confident their child or grandchild was reaching their full potential, with just 10% feeling unconfident. That has changed, with confidence dropping to 66% and lack of confidence rising to  16%.

Despite that,  70% of parents and grandparents who think their child or grandchild has fallen behind at school over the last 12 months are confident they will be able catch up over the next year.

Christopher King, Chief Executive Officer of IAPS, said: “The challenge of home-schooling for both parents and children should not be underestimated.

“Throughout the pandemic, there has been a lot of focus on the issues that parents have faced, but we must not overlook the obstacles that pupils have had to overcome to learn in a new environment without the same support or resources, as well as the increased efforts many will now need to put in to make up for ‘lost’ time.

“At school, we learn the skills that set us up for our future. It is not an infinite amount of time that we are given to do so – essentially, we are ‘up against the clock’.

“Unlike when you’re an adult, where you can take a little longer to aim for a promotion or retake a professional exam, it is not always possible at school. These years are therefore invaluable.

“We believe that with the right support, every child can catch up, and reach their potential. IAPS schools opened their doors to children of key workers, stayed open during school holidays, offered summer catch up courses and classes to local children, and are now looking to open sports facilities to local communities to support wellbeing.

“The education community needs to pull together and increase its efforts now to ensure that this generation is not hindered by the impact of lockdowns in the long-term.”

An additional survey of 75 IAPS schools found more than half (58%) have experienced an increase in enrolment enquiries from parents over the last 12 months, compared to the previous year. Around half (49%) have experienced an increase in enrolments and of these, more than nine in ten experienced enquiries (91%) and enrolments (91%) from parents and pupils from the state school sector.