While you’re here… help us stay here.

Are you enjoying open access to policy and research published by a broad range of organisations? Please donate today so that we can continue to provide this service.


Tackling under-achievement: why Australia should embed high-quality small-group tuition in schools

Educational evaluation Educational quality Student support Educational achievement Australia

Grattan Institute analysis of 2022 NAPLAN data shows the learning gap more than doubles in reading and numeracy between Year 3 and Year 9.
In reading, for example, students in Year 3 whose parents did not finish school are two-years-and-five-months behind students whose parents have a university degree. By Year 9, this learning gap has grown to more than five years.
Small-group tuition – where teachers or other educators work with about three students at a time in short, focused sessions about three times a week over one to two school terms – can add, on average, an extra four months of learning over a year, helping many students catch up.
The economic and social benefits of getting this right are enormous, because people who do well at school have access to a broader range of opportunities and go on to earn more.
If one in five students received high-quality small-group tuition in 2023, they could collectively earn an extra $6 billion over their lifetimes – about six times the annual cost of Grattan Institute’s proposed small-group tuition program.

Key recommendations:

  • Improve guidelines for schools on how to embed high-quality small-group tuition, including a focus on prevention and early pinpointing of learning gaps.
  • Review schools’ capacity to do this well, then give schools and tutors the support and training they need, especially to provide evidence-based literacy and numeracy tutoring.
  • Fund rigorous trials and evaluations to identify the most cost-effective ways to deliver high-quality small-group tuition.

A special guide for principals and teachers, which accompanies this report, identifies the steps schools can take now to embed high-quality small-group tuition for their students.

Publication Details
License type:
Access Rights Type:
Grattan Institute Report No. 2023-01