Music lessons and private tuition give richer children 'significant advantage'

4 September 2014, 20:15 | Updated: 4 September 2014, 20:16

Children from high-income families are more likely to take extracurricular classes, and have an edge over other children from poorer backgrounds, a new study reveals.

The study's authors say the class divide must be reduced, recommending that poorer families receive vouchers to pay for tutors and after-school hobbies.

Research by the Sutton Trust found that children from the richest fifth of households are four times more likely to attend extracurricular classes than those in the poorest fifth. 35% of households in the top fifth of incomes – those earning more than £52,000 a year – have paid fees for extracurricular activities for their children in the past three months, compared with 9% of households in the bottom fifth – where incomes are below £14,000 a year.

Conor Ryan, Director of Research at the Sutton Trust said: "Inequalities in education don’t stop after the school bell has sounded. They extend to the range of private tuition and extracurricular activities available to children whose parents can afford to pay for them.  

"While many schools offer a range of sporting and other activities outside regular school hours, there is still a substantial advantage available to those who can afford it.

"If we are serious about improving social mobility we must narrow the gap in educational opportunities outside of school as well as within the classroom. Offering low-income families vouchers to spend on extracurricular activities or private tuition would be a step towards this."