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National Tutoring Programme simplified to reach as many pupils as possible

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi

Children and young people will benefit from more tutoring through their school from next year, with all funding going direct to schools to simplify the National Tutoring Programme and reach as many pupils as possible.

In plans announced today (Thursday 31 March), all £349 million of tutoring funding we are providing in AY22/23 will go directly to schools. This will simplify the system and give schools the freedom to decide how best to provide tutoring for their children, which could include one on one or small group tutoring through teachers or teaching assistants, or continuing to work with external tutoring specialists and academic mentors.

The move will build on the success of the School-Led route in 2021/22 as the Department for Education continues to follow the evidence of what works.

The new model follows feedback directly from schools and will embed tutoring into children’s education where they need extra support to progress. 

New estimates published today show an estimated 887,521 courses have started so far this academic year – with 674,941 through the School-Led route and 1,198,239 in total since the programme began – as the Government remains on track to deliver the ambitious target of up to six million courses by 2024.

Today’s announcement follows the launch of the Schools White Paper on Monday, which pledged that any child who falls behind in maths or English will get the evidence-based support they need to reach their potential – including through tutoring.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

“The National Tutoring Programme is transforming the way schools provide support for the children and young people who need it most, with 1.2 million courses now started across the country since the programme began.

“It’s also pivotal to the pledge I made to every parent as part of my Schools White Paper, that if their child falls behind in English and maths, that child will receive the high-quality support they need to get back on track.

“It’s teachers and schools that know their pupils best, which is why we are building on the success of school-led tutoring so far – with evidence as our watchword – so that as many children and young people as possible can feel the huge benefits high quality tutoring provides.”

As a result of the changes to the programme, the Department will launch a procurement process in April for a potential new supplier(s). The supplier will be responsible for quality assurance, recruiting and deploying Academic Mentors and offering training, which will support schools to make best use of their funding.

Schools that are currently working with Tuition Partners will be able to continue to do so in the next academic year. Similarly, eligible schools can continue to employ Academic Mentors who are on their staff this year, and will also still be able to recruit Academic Mentors directly.

So far this academic year, an estimated total of 83,805 courses have now started as a result of schools employing Academic Mentors, whilst 128,776 courses have started through schools working with a Tuition Partner. Evidence suggests that small group tuition can boost progress by an average of two months in secondary schools and four months in primary schools.

Schools will also be given the flexibility to deliver tuition over the summer holidays, as the date to utilise the enhanced School Led Tutoring funding has been extended to the 31st August. This comes as new research published from the department into the successful Summer Schools programme last year highlighted positive feedback from schools in support of delivering relevant provision over the summer period.

Almost 2,800 English schools took part in the Summer Schools programme, with over half of schools (53%) surveyed as part of the research indicating that they believed summer schools were ‘extremely effective’ at improving pupil wellbeing and over two-thirds (68%) indicated they were ‘extremely effective’ for improving transition.

Data published earlier this week from the department shows primary pupils have already recovered around two thirds of progress lost due to the pandemic in reading, and around half of progress lost in maths, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Government’s wider, ambitious education recovery programme, worth nearly £5 billion, along with pupils returning to school.

As part of the Spending Review, the Government announced an additional £1bn to extend the recovery premium over the next two academic years (22/23 and 23/24).Primary schools will continue to benefit from an additional c.£145 per eligible pupil, with nearly double that amount in secondary schools. This extra support in secondary reflects evidence showing greater learning loss for older pupils, and these pupils also have less time left in education.  The Department will publish further detail around rates, allocations and conditions of grant shortly.

Schools, Tuition Partners and Academic Mentors already engaged in the programme will be contacted on next steps.

Sector Response

Bridget Phillipson MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, responding to reports that the Government has sacked National Tutoring Programme provider Randstad, said:

“The Conservatives’ flagship tutoring programme has failed our children and wasted millions of pounds of public money.

“The Education Secretary is finally catching-up but this is too little, too late, for too many children.

“Labour’s ambitious recovery plan would deliver tutoring, breakfast and after school clubs and mental health counsellors in every school, supporting every child to learn, play and develop.

“Children have been an afterthought for this government. It’s time Ministers matched Labour’s ambition for children’s futures.”

Responding to the news that ministers will overhaul the National Tutoring Programme, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome a restructuring of the National Tuition Programme so that all funding goes directly to schools. We have argued since the outset of the programme that this is what should happen and that the way it has been structured through various funding streams and providers is overly and unnecessarily complicated for something that should really be very simple.

“There is good evidence that small group tutoring helps students to progress, and it makes perfect sense for the entirety of the funding to go to schools so that they can decide how this would best be delivered.

“Experience has shown that by far the most popular route is through the use of existing staff rather than via private tutors. This is not surprising as existing staff know the students and their needs already whereas private tutors do not.

“We await further details about exactly how this scheme will work next academic year.”

Commenting as the government announce that Randstad will not have the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) contract next year, and that schools will recieve tuition funding directly next year, Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is unquestionably the right decision to direct tutor funding directly to schools from next year. The success of the school-led route shows that the appetite for tutoring is there. Likewise, it is right to refocus the National Tutoring Programme on growing the supply of high quality tutors everywhere, particularly in areas of the country currently poorly served.

“To succeed, this needs to be led by schools, not done-to schools; it needs to be for pupils, not for profit; it needs to be seen to be part-and-parcel of schools’ work to narrow the achievement gap, instead of a sticking plaster for Covid recovery.

“Schools will start setting budgets and shaping pupil premium strategies for 22-23 over coming weeks. If the opportunity is to be seized then schools will need to know sooner rather than later how much tutor funding will be coming their way, and the top-up required.”

Responding to today’s announcement on the National Tutoring Programme, Natalie Perera, Chief Executive of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: 

“The decision to give schools more autonomy over how they use the NTP has the potential to reduce some of the problems that the programme has been beset by since its launch. Over the last two years, we have seen significant regional disparities in access to tutoring and evidence that the programme has failed to reach disadvantaged pupils who are most in need of support. 

“The success of the NTP over the coming years will be pivotal to supporting pupils’ education recovery from the pandemic. Our research has shown that pupil learning losses are more heavily concentrated in parts of the North and Midlands, so it’s vital that the programme makes improvements to both the quality of its interventions and their reach.”

Commenting on the National Tutoring Programme, Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter, said:

“A reboot of the national tutoring programme has been long overdue so this change is welcome. The future success of the programme rests on two non-negotiables: ensuring that tutoring is of the highest quality in every school, and that support is targeted at the poorest pupils who have fallen behind the most during the pandemic.

“The biggest test for the government is whether it can establish high quality tutoring as one of the evidence-informed good bets that all teachers should consider when using the pupil premium funds for disadvantaged pupils.  

“The only way of convincing teachers is to provide approaches that work in practice – that’s why we are developing a university-led tutoring programme, providing trained undergraduate tutors in specific areas to help schools who will know best what their pupils need.”

Commenting on changes to the National Tutoring Programme announced today, James Turner, Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, said:

“Today’s announcement provides an important opportunity to re-boot the NTP to ensure it delivers on its moral imperative. The welcome flexibility being given to schools must not come at the expense of quality or in reaching the most disadvantaged students who need support the most. 

“The evidence is clear that tutoring can make a huge difference to pupils.  It would be a tragedy if private tuition once again became the preserve of the better-off.  The refocussed NTP must have clear targets around reaching low income students and underserved parts of the country, as well as a workable mechanism for ensuring high quality provision is supported. All tutoring is not the same, and to have maximum impact on the attainment gap we need the NTP to focus on evidence-based approaches which are ultimately most likely to benefit children.

The Department should urgently publish data on the numbers of pupil premium students who have benefited from year two of the NTP so that we can see where the gaps are and what more needs to be done.”

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