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article imageHobbies and tuition put rich children at ‘substantial advantage’ Special

By Sam Wright     Sep 17, 2014 in Lifestyle
Dancing, sport and music lessons put children at a substantial advantage over those who do not take part in extracurricular activities, according to a recent study from Sutton Trust.
The study focuses on the long-term advantages of private tuition and extra-curricular classes for children between 11 and 16 years old. The benefits include higher grades, better exam performance and a greater chance at being accepted into selective schools — but the price tag is more than most families can afford.
While over a third of households in the top 20 percent of incomes had paid for after-school classes for their children, less than one tenth of families in the bottom 20 percent had done the same.
Sutton Trust believes that narrowing the gap in extra-curricular learning opportunities is an important step towards improving social mobility, and suggests that vouchers be provided to less affluent families to help cover the cost of private tuition and after-school classes.
Other organisations appear to have the same idea. The Strength Asylum Gym in Hanley, UK has this week begun offering free martial arts classes to children in care — stating improved self-confidence and physical health as reasons why they believe the scheme will be a positive thing for disadvantaged children.
The PE and Sport Premium, launched last year to improve the quality of physical education in UK primary schools, has resulted in a wider offering of free after-school clubs. But, while these free activities may not be available at all schools, or appropriate for children who prefer a more creative hobby, there are other things that can be done to increase self-confidence and school performance.
Andrew Meek of craft supplier AlwaysHobbies.com believes that model-making, woodwork, and other craft-based hobbies can also give children a much-needed confidence boost — all while costing significantly less than weekly dance or language classes.
“Any hobby, be it aircraft kits, bird-watching or learning to play the clarinet, will give kids a sense of achievement. It teaches them how to work towards a goal in a positive way, and they’re going to apply this to other areas of their life,” says Meek.
While private tutoring and after-school classes remain out of budget for many British families, this may be a viable alternative.
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