The National Tutoring Programme: Why could the relaxation of these qualifications be positive for children?
Friday, July 29, 2022
The National Tutoring Programme (NTP), through its use of 1:1 tuition and targeted catch-up interventions, aims to close the attainment gap widened significantly by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NTP has seen limited success, with take-up rates reportedly far below targets.
Many of our Catch22 schools struggled to find face-to-face tutors through the programme’s providers.
Indeed, figures from the DfE indicate that most schools taking up the NTP chose the school-led tutoring route, sourcing their own tutors through external providers or existing teachers.
For the 2022-23 academic year there will be a relaxation in the qualifications required to deliver this tuition, alongside changes in the programme’s delivery contractors and the way schools can manage their funding. Many people could see this as an underhand way for the government to deliver more catch-up lessons of poorer quality in an effort to fill quotas. This concern is validated; disadvantaged students receiving support of a high standard should always be our priority.
However, for many schools, much like ours, such a move may well be of huge benefit in getting our students to engage with the tuition in the first place.
Catch22 runs alternative provision (AP) and specialist schools for young people displaying a wide range of complex barriers to education. These barriers include those who are excluded or at risk of exclusion and those with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs or special educational needs (SEN). Many of the young people we work with have come to us with a deeply negative experience of education. Our students have lacked praise, encouragement and incentive from the adults in their life, and hence typically present with low self-esteem and a fear of engaging in challenging academic work in anticipation of failure.
The teachers, teaching assistants, support staff and advocates in our schools, through positive reinforcement and encouragement, develop trusting relationships with these students, and work to demonstrate that “not getting something right the first time around” is not failure, but part of the learning process. It is these positive relationships that instil ambition in our students, allowing them to open up to education and engage with learning.
The associated stigma of “catching-up” can make it challenging for a young person to leave their classroom for intervention or tuition. Introducing a tutor who is not known to a student to deliver this work can often be as damaging as it is unproductive; with students reverting to their original mindset of not being “good enough” and believing that the tutor expects them to fail. Only through high levels of trust and encouragement will a student accept any “catch-up” support at all.
It follows that, for our students, it will be of huge benefit that existing TAs and support staff will now have the opportunity to become accredited tutors of this scheme. The staff know the needs of their students, and can provide continuity of learning. Yes, under the previous scheme schools could employ their own qualified teachers to deliver the catch-up, but often this would involve taking them away from a classroom, and adding to their already overburdened workload.
The National Tutoring Programme is about filling gaps in pupils’ knowledge and understanding. It is essential that tutors are able to teach them well and have a good understanding of the subject. If we follow this model we must ensure that we are confident staff have sufficient professional knowledge to enable students to catch-up.
Yet, high level Teaching Assistants have already been delivering successful 1:1 tuition in AP and specialist schools for years. Schools being provided the funding to integrate this properly into the system will be hugely beneficial, particularly for the students that need trusting relationships to be at the centre of their learning.
Catch22 runs alternative provision (AP) and specialist schools for young people displaying a wide range of complex barriers to education