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24 May 2023
by Jennifer Liston-Smith

Why tutoring for employees’ children has become a top benefit

Leading employers are providing access to virtual tutoring as part of their employees’ back-up care provision

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Parents in banking/financial services and in legal, consulting and professional services are more concerned about their children and young people’s educational catch-up and mental health than the overall UK population of parents and carers.

That’s according to Bright Horizons, which has started publishing ‘sector cut’ reports from its Modern Families Index.

Educational catch-up concerns were up by 8 to 9 percentage points above the (already worrying) UK norm of 48%. On mental health, these sectors’ concerns are 6 to 7 percentage points higher than the high UK norm of 50%.

A recent sector-specific Peer Council meeting of banking and financial / professional services employers hosted on Canary Wharf by Bright Horizons executive director Denise Priest and head of client relations Victoria Cottee confirmed talent retention as a leading concern, followed by employee wellbeing, diversity equity and inclusion and talent attraction, along with interest in the employer’s role in childcare.

Tutoring money gone unspent

This combination of parents’ worries and employers’ focus on talent comes at a time when about one-third of the £594m earmarked for tutoring to help children catch up after Covid-19 lockdowns has gone unspent, according to a BBC investigation.

The reason appears to be that schools must top up any government money from their own budgets, which some headteachers say they cannot afford. It is not surprising, then, that leading employers providing access to virtual tutoring as part of their employees’ back-up care provision.

As to the employer’s involvement in childcare, this was explored in Bright Horizons’ recent HRreview webinar: Post-Budget Childcare: What is the Employer’s Role? I was joined by Amanda Weekes, procurement and contract manager, University of Surrey; Sarah Ronan, early education and childcare coalition lead, UK Women’s Budget Group; and Victoria Cottee in a panel chaired by James Marsh, L&D Manager, The Guardian and former Editor of HRreview.

Getting ahead of demand

Many employers are asking how to get ahead of demand for the new funded places coming in, in phases, between April 2024 and September 2025.

Ensuring that employees have access to affordable, accessible, quality care is not only about labour market participation. In a recent Act for Early Years report from global children’s charity Theirworld, the foreword by chair Sarah Brown (wife of former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown) says: “For a child, the first five to six years are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That is when 90% of brain development occurs and patterns of learning and behaviour are set for the future.”

The report reminds us that in 2019, UNICEF developed a set of family friendly policies that every government and business can put in place to redesign the workplaces of the future, with four core principles:

  • Paid parental leave to care for young children
  • Support for breastfeeding
  • Affordable, accessible and quality childcare
  • Child benefits

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