This paper seeks to contribute to the growing research base about the extent and significance of ‘shadow education’ through drawing on data from a national survey of over 1000 key stage 2, 3 and 4 pupils in Wales and over 200 of their parents. Wales provides an important lens to look at shadow education because of the political commitment by the Welsh Government to universal public education and equality of outcomes.
Our data indicate that the incidence of private tutoring is both like and unlike that found in England. In terms of individuals, the patterns of uptake are similar, with private tutoring being an investment made largely by more educated and advantaged parents. However, there are interesting differences at the institutional and national level which may reflect the distinctive features and priorities of the Welsh education system. These findings underscore the importance of examining the growing phenomenon of private tutoring as a system effect as much as an individual decision.