Introducing the National Tutoring Programme

Robbie Coleman
Monday, October 26, 2020

Despite the inspiring efforts of teachers and school leaders since March, the impact of coronavirus on learning has been severe, particularly on children from low income families.

Analysis by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has indicated that school closures could reverse the progress made to narrow the attainment gap over the last decade.

What is the NTP?

The National Tutoring Programme has been developed by five independent charities, working with government, to support schools and disadvantaged pupils this year.

Schools can access the NTP in two ways.

Through NTP Tuition Partners, schools will be able to access subsidised high-quality tuition from an approved list of providers. The EEF has been provided with £76 million from the Department for Education to fund activity in 2020-2021, and has conducted a rigorous selection process to identify high-quality providers.

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 is supporting the recruitment, training and placement of Academic Mentors, whose salaries will be funded by government.

Both pillars of the NTP will be available to schools from November and run for the duration of the academic year.

Why tutoring?

Tutoring is supported by a wealth of evidence. The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit identifies tutoring as an approach that, on average, can improve learning by an additional five months.

In particular, the two pillars of the NTP have been built on successful tutoring projects trialled in English primary and secondary schools. One study saw tutoring provided by trained university students boost maths outcomes of Year 5 and 6 pupils identified by their teachers as likely to benefit from additional support. A second project saw Year 7 pupils make significant gains when tutored by graduate coaches.

Tutoring is most effective when it is a teacher’s tool. This ensures it is tightly aligned with the curriculum and focused on the areas where pupils are most in need of support.

However, as research by the Sutton Trust shows, access to tutoring for the most disadvantaged pupils has been limited, a gap that widened during lockdown. There are also clear regional disparities in the provision. Pupils in London are over twice as likely to receive tutoring than their peers in the North of England.

The flexibility of tutoring is also an advantage this year. Schools will be able to access both small groups and one-to-one tutoring, provided online or face-to-face. Tutors might be trained university students or volunteers or experienced educators, for example, supply teachers or retired teachers.

Tutoring purchased from an approved provider through the NTP will be subsidised by 75 per cent in 2020-21. This means that schools buying a block of 15-hours tutoring for a single pupil will receive three free places for other pupils. To pay for the first place, schools could use funding from the pupil premium or the “Covid catch-up premium”.

Supporting teachers

The NTP has a simple aim: to provide an additional resource for teachers supporting disadvantaged pupils. Tutoring is not a panacea, but it can play a valuable role in helping schools through a challenging year.

More information about the NTP is available here

Robbie Coleman is secretariat director at the NTP.

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