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Tutoring expert welcomes extra cash for schools

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The boss of an online school which was born out of the COVID-19 crisis today welcomed plans for the Government to double catch-up money for secondary school pupils impacted by the pandemic.

Under the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), from September, secondary schools will receive £276 per pupil — with the average school receiving £60,000 compared with £30,000 last year.

Schools will also be given more money for direct tutoring after the government ended its contract with Dutch company Randstad. Schools will now receive funding to organise tuition themselves.

It is a move that has been welcomed by Minerva’s Virtual Academy, which called for an overhaul of the NTP after reports suggested only a small fraction of children had taken up places. 

Data released this week showed Randstad delivered only a third of its tutoring targets – 165,000 courses – compared to 913,000 courses organised by schools.

Hugh Viney set up Minerva’s Virtual Academy during the height of the pandemic. The school was born from award-winning Minerva Tutors, which Hugh also founded.

“Millions of pupils have fallen behind as a result of fractured teaching during the pandemic, putting us in a situation where we’re teetering on the edge of a growing skills gap,” said Hugh. 

“I wholeheartedly support tutoring as a tool to help students catch up on the learning they may have missed, but I said some time ago that the National Tutoring Programme needed reassessing to ensure its focus was on providing a quality education and not teaching to empty classrooms to meet pupil retention targets. 

“This extra funding and a change in the way that money is spent is a step in the right direction. We’ve seen first hand that there is a need amongst schools, and, outside of the NTP, schools are seeking support through UK based organisations like ours to offer catch-up tutoring for their students.

“We are already working with a number of schools and are fielding other enquiries on a regular basis. It’s something that we’re incredibly passionate about.”

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