As lockdown was lifted, the government turned its attention to education – and the children who missed out on proper schooling for three months. To ensure pupils don’t fall behind, schools in England will receive an extra £650m to fund coronavirus catch-up plans. Meanwhile an additional £350m has been set aside for the national tutoring programme – an innovative way for tutoring agencies and charities to help the most disadvantaged students.
What is the National Tutoring Programme?
This year-long scheme will make high-quality tuition available for primary and secondary school children who have missed out the most as a result of school closures.
Research shows that there is a substantial attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their classmates, and lockdown is feared to have made the gap wider. The National Tutoring Programme hopes to combat this – and many a tutoring agency is keen to help.
How the National Tutoring Programme will work in practice?
Some of the details are still being worked out, but in essence, schools will be able to access heavily subsided tuition from an approved list of tutoring agencies, individual tutors and volunteers. Everyone involved will be subject to stringent quality checks and will strive to reach pupils who are most in need of extra support.
The programme can only be accessed by schools – not by parents – and will consist of either one-to-one tuition or small group sessions. All lessons will be subsidised by up to 75% and the remaining cost will be paid by the school, as opposed to individual families.
In terms of when the tutoring will take place, it is up for schools to decide whether to timetable to sessions in their pupils’ normal school day, or outside of school hours.
Who will receive tuition?
The programme is targeted to reach the most disadvantaged pupils in primary and secondary schools. However, teachers will be able to exercise their professional judgement to determine if support from a tutoring agency is right for each student.
Privately educated children will not qualify for the scheme and the package will not extend to 16 to 18-year-olds.
Where will the tuition come from?
The government is due to run an open call to find suitable tutoring agencies. More details will be released soon, but all organisations will have to meet quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards – DBS checks, for instance, will be compulsory. While some tutors will be paid, others will operate on a voluntary basis.
The tuition will also come in two forms. While some schools will enlist the help of an established tutoring agency, others will use ‘coaches’ – specially trained graduates who will provide intensive catch-up support to pupils in the most disadvantaged areas, allowing teachers in these schools to focus on their classrooms.
The Tutors’ Association, a professional body for tutoring with 30,000 members, is in discussions with various educational charities and has helped to design the scheme. Hampstead & Frognal Tutors is a corporate member of The Tutors’ Association and has it’s own Find a Tutor tool for requesting tutors.
Why has the scheme been set up?
A recent study has found that around 2 million children in the UK have done little or no schoolwork throughoutlockdown, and there are fears millions of school children will be permanently hindered by the lack of teaching.
The Sutton Trust, Education Endowment Foundation, Nesta and Impetus launched a new online tuition pilot earlier this year to support disadvantaged pupils as schools began to re-open, and the results have been positive.
Launching the pilot, they quoted evidence supporting the idea of one-to-one and small-group tuition as a cost-effective way to help pupils who are struggling. It is believed that regular 30 minute session, three to five times a week over six to 12 weeks, achieve the best results, adding five additional months’ progress.
Younger learners are thought to particularly benefit from tailored support.