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‘The National Tutoring Programme will fail young people unless it reforms’

Ben Gadsby, Head of Policy and Research at Impetus

Changes to the flagship catch-up programme would transform the lives of the young people it was designed to reach

Youth charity, Impetus – a founding partner of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) – has today published a report with a package of reforms that it says must be implemented by the Government in order for the NTP to reach the thousands of children who have fallen behind at school.

A high quality tuition provider can be transformational – it is one of the best evidenced interventions for supporting young people to make accelerated progress.* But according to the Impetus report, the quality of these providers varies, and the best provision is still not always available to schools, particularly those that need them most.

Earlier this month the government closed the loophole that meant schools could use potentially sub-standard tuition. They can now only use accredited tuition partners who have met a rigorous set of quality standards.

But schools are still struggling to find quality tuition. More high quality accredited tuition partners are needed, and it is clear that schools also need more support than the NTP is currently providing to make the scheme work.

The National Tutoring Programme was set up in Summer 2020 to make high-quality tuition available to help those whose education has been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. These are overwhelmingly young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, who were already only half as likely to pass GCSE English and Maths.

Impetus believes that for the NTP to work as it was intended, the Department of Education now needs to:

  • Explore higher subsidy rates for higher quality tuition providers – to encourage the take up of the best quality tuition.
  • Require the new NTP contractors to include a capacity building element in their programme – to grow the availability of quality tutoring.
  • Make NTP management information available to drive improvements in the scheme, and allow it to develop to meet more schools’ needs.

Ben Gadsby, Head of Policy and Research at Impetus, and author of the report said:

“Tutoring is one of the best-evidenced interventions for supporting young people to make accelerated progress but, two years on, quality tutoring still isn’t available to every school that needs it.

“The National Tutoring Programme has the chance to transform the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. But without better data, and the ability to attract more, higher quality tutors, there is a real risk that this potential will never be met.

“Our report today outlines the steps that the new contractor, along with the Department for Education need to take to make the programme a success, so that all schools can secure the tutoring they want for their pupils.”

Sector Response

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is very clear that the NTP did not got off to the best of starts. Over the last year problems associated with the administration of the programme, as well as access to and quality of tutors led to a loss of confidence amongst many school leaders.

“The freedom to be able to use school staff that already know the pupils well, and interact with them on a daily basis was a step in the right direction and it is no surprise that many schools chose to go down that route.

“The announcement that three new organisations have now been chosen to run tutoring represents a fresh and vital opportunity to begin to realise the potential that tutoring has. The government simply cannot afford to get this wrong again.

“From a school’s perspective, it is crucial they continue to retain the flexibility to make decisions that are right for their pupils, that the scheme is as simple to navigate as possible, and that tutors are of the highest quality.”

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