From education to employment

Lib Dems Tutoring Announcement: Sector Response

person pointing at students note pad

Liberal Democrats are launching a groundbreaking initiative, providing free small-group tutoring to 1.75 million struggling students annually. Recent analysis by the party highlights that over one in seven teenagers face challenges with English or Maths in secondary school.

In her keynote address at the Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, Munira Wilson MP criticizes Rishi Sunak for discontinuing school-based tutoring. In contrast, the Liberal Democrats advocate for permanent tutoring in schools, allocating £390 million annually to help students catch up.

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Sector Response

Carl Cullinane, Director of Research and Policy at the Sutton Trust, said:

“We welcome this commitment to a permanent national tutoring scheme in England. Tutoring is a powerful intervention, and the establishment of the current National Tutoring Programme has had a substantial impact on improving access to tutoring andmitigating pre-existing inequalities in access. But there’s still much more to be done. To seriously address the attainment gap, which is now higher than at any point in the last decade, any long-term scheme should be targeted at the most disadvantaged pupils, for example by setting stricter targets for uptake by students eligible for the pupil premium.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We are very pleased to see this commitment to education by the Liberal Democrats. There is strong evidence for small group tutoring as an effective intervention to support young people who need additional help.

“ASCL has campaigned for more action to support the ‘forgotten third’ of young people who fall short of the gateway qualification of at least a Grade 4 in GCSE English and maths at the age of 16. Targeted tutoring funded on a permanent basis would help to improve their educational outcomes and life chances.”

Sarah Waite, CEO of Get Further, a charity that supports further education students from disadvantaged backgrounds retaking GCSE English and maths, said:

“Ensuring all young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in schools and colleges can access high-quality tutoring is an essential part of the strategy to close the country’s attainment gap. With such a positive impact on confidence and skills, it is vital that tutoring policies are extended and scaled up beyond August 2024.

“It’s fantastic that the Liberal Democrats are announcing their commitment to embed access to tutoring for disadvantaged young people into the education system long-term.”

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, a nationwide education charity that provides tutoring to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, added: 

“Tutoring is one of the best-evidenced ways of supporting disadvantaged young people to achieve academically, levelling the playing field between those that can afford private tutoring and those that can’t. The benefits of tutoring extend beyond just academic attainment, with evidence highlighting that it also increases wider confidence, motivation and engagement in education. Tutoring unlocks the potential of children and young people, which ultimately benefits not only their future but wider society too.

“We are delighted that the Liberal Democrats have announced plans to make school-based tutoring a permanent fixture in England, especially targeting those that need the support most.”

Julian Gravatt, Deputy Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, said:

“We are pleased to see the Liberal Democrats call for tutoring to become a permanent fixture in England’s education system and pledge £390 million for intensive small-group sessions for students who have fallen behind in class.

“As things stand, the Department for Education’s 16-19 tuition fund is set to end in Summer 2024. Unlike with the National Tutoring Programme, the department distributed this fund directly to colleges and other providers, and since 2020, tens of thousands of students have benefitted from extra English and maths support.

“The need for extra funding to support post-16 English and maths will only grow. This September has seen 16-18 enrolment increase in many further education colleges, which means that an estimated 40,000 more students than last year need to resit their English GCSE, and 20,000 more need to resit their maths GCSE.

“It is clear that next summer would be a particularly bad time to end the 16-19 tuition fund, and therefore, we welcome discussion about extending or improving it.

“We know that the pandemic has had a negative impact on young people right across all stages of education. It is better to take action to help them while they are still in education, rather than letting them move into adult life without the skills they need.”

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