October 2020 edition: Providing a Sustained and Flexible Source of Tutoring Support to Schools

Providing a Sustained and Flexible Source of Tutoring Support to Schools

Gratitude has been hugely important this year. During lockdown, the Clap for Carers provided a much-needed positive moment every week. NHS rainbows dotted outside homes and schools brightened our daily opportunity to exercise. Teachers and school leaders were equally deserving of praise. "School closures” is a misleading shorthand, as schools stayed open for the children of key workers and established systems to support students learning at home.

Throughout this academic year, teachers will need two things: thanks and additional support. In particular, we know that the impact of lockdown on children has been substantial and that, on average, the most disadvantaged children will have lost most. Projections from the Education Endowment Foundation indicate that progress made to narrow the gap over the last decade could be lost.

The aim of the NTP is that, for the first time, pupils and teachers in deprived parts of the country will have access to the kinds of tutoring support their peers in better-off areas have long taken for granted.

Robbie Coleman

The National Tutoring Programme has been created to address this need, based on a very simple idea: providing effective, additional support to help disadvantaged pupils affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The programme comprises two pillars, NTP Tuition Partners and NTP Academic Mentors. It is designed to ensure that tutoring and mentoring can be provided to as many pupils as possible over the course of the next academic year, in a flexible way that meets the needs of different schools and trusts. Both pillars are funded as part of Government’s £350m allocation to tutoring, through the £1b coronavirus catch up package.

Through NTP Tuition Partners, schools will be able to access subsidised high-quality tuition from an approved list of providers. The Education Endowment Foundation will be leading the delivery of this part of the programme and has been provided with £76m from the Department for Education to fund activity in 2020-21.

In mid-September, the EEF closed its call to find the best schools-focused tutoring organisations in England to become Tuition Partners. Hundreds of applications from experienced organisations were received, including from charities, universities, partnerships of schools and existing tutoring providers. They cover every region of England, with over 100 national applications and others focused on specific regions. The applications encompass a range of different delivery models, including online and face-to-face, as well as both small-group and one-to-one.
 
The applications are now being assessed against a set of rigorous safeguarding, evaluation and quality criteria.
Through NTP Academic Mentors, trained graduates will be employed by schools in the most disadvantaged areas to provide intensive support to their pupils. Teach First will be supporting the recruitment, training and placement of the first cohort of Academic Mentors, with the salaries of Academic Mentors being funded by the Government.
Across both pillars, the guiding principle in ensuring that tutoring makes a difference is that it must be guided by teachers and aligned with the curriculum. High-quality teaching is the strongest lever schools have to support learning. Tutoring funded through the NTP is designed to supplement what happens in the classroom, supporting teachers by providing extra help to disadvantaged pupils who need it.
 
Evidence tells us that tutoring sessions can be one of the most effective interventions for students from less well-off backgrounds, but only if it is high-quality. That means that tutors need to be well-trained and, crucially, the work needs to be directed by teachers and linked tightly to subject-content and curriculum planning.
 
Both pillars of the programme will start in November and run for the remainder of the academic year, providing a sustained and flexible source of support to schools. Again, we hope that this timeline will increase the impact of tutoring – for example by ensuring that tutoring builds on teachers’ assessments of need and judgements about where additional support would be beneficial.
 
The aim of the NTP is that, for the first time, pupils and teachers in deprived parts of the country will have access to the kinds of tutoring support their peers in better-off areas have long taken for granted. While we know that tutoring can only be one element of the response to the challenges facing schools and students this year, we hope that it can be a valuable part of the solution.

See National Tutoring Programme.