Private Tutoring As Educational Strategy in Australia

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Karen DOOLEY, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
This paper reports the second phase of a four-year study of Australian families' investments in private academic tutoring (or 'shadow education') for their primary school-aged children. Private tutoring is a burgeoning industry in Australia, although the phenomenon is far from the saturation point reached in the Asian regions from which the country draws much of its migrant intake. In the context of the marketisation and privatisation of Australian schooling, studies have provided insights into demand for private tutoring, suggesting that some migrant families invest in this educational service to assuage anxieties about their children's progress, and to secure prestigious placements for high achieving children and remediation for children who are struggling academically. That body of research speaks to ethnically charged tensions in public discourse about private tutoring and equity, the de facto ethnic segregation of socially 'desirable' schools, and the distribution of academic achievement in Australia's multi-ethnic society. However, other groups in Australian society are now making use of private tutoring as parents are responsibilised for their children's educational success (Doherty & Dooley, 2017). The first phase of this study identified a differentiated field of production (Bourdieu, 2005) of tutoring that made available services targeting both academic skills and knowledge and the engagement and commitment of children to learning. The phase reported here probes homologies with the field of consumption of tutoring. It asks: Who is buying what tutoring products? Data are drawn from interviews with the parents of 10-11 year old children approaching transition into secondary school. The analyses describe families' educational strategies and the place of academic tutoring in these.


Bourdieu, P. (2005). The social structures of the economy. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Doherty, C. & Dooley, K. (2017) Responsibilising parents: the nudge towards shadow tutoring, British Journal of Sociology of Education (published online 21/09/2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2017.1377600