Covid-19: £76m National Tutoring Programme launches

Neil Puffett
Monday, November 2, 2020

An intensive tutoring programme to help disadvantaged children whose learning has been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic has launched.

The programme is planned to provide around 15,000 tutors. Picture: Adobe Stock
The programme is planned to provide around 15,000 tutors. Picture: Adobe Stock

A total of 32 organisations, including charities, a school partnership, and private firms have been selected as "Tuition Partners" by the Education Endowment Foundation, which has received £76m to run the initiative, part of the National Tutoring Programme, on behalf of government.

Schools will be able to choose between different providers and a variety of models, including face-to-face and online tutoring and will be able to book tutoring with Tuition Partners from 10am today. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 tutors will be available through the scheme.

Tens of thousands of pupils are likely to be enrolled in the first six weeks, with provision increasing further after Christmas. As tutoring capacity across the country grows, schools serving the most disadvantaged communities will be prioritised.

Meanwhile, as part of the second element of the programme, the first 188 "Academic Mentors", recruited and trained by education charity Teach First, will also be starting in schools as part of its mission "to build a fair education for all".

Mentors will support teachers by providing intensive academic support to the pupils most in need. In total, Teach First, which is receiving £6.8m from government to run the initiative, will recruit and train 1,000 Academic Mentors, with the further cohorts starting in schools in January and February.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We need to do everything in our power to help pupils make up for any lost time, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Tutoring provides tailored teaching support to individual pupils, and can be transformational in boosting academic progress. This is about levelling up those opportunities across the country and I urge schools to make the most of this subsidised scheme.”

Professor Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said tuition partner providers have been awarded funding based on the quality of their tutoring model, their evidence-based approach and their ability to support a large number of schools.

“By harnessing tutoring capacity within the education sector - from undergraduates and trained volunteers to qualified specialist educators - we’ll be able to build supply across the country to support tens of thousands of disadvantaged pupils,” Francis said.

“Tutoring can only be one part of the response to the severe impact of the pandemic on learning. But it’s an approach supported by an extensive evidence base, which can provide an important boost during a difficult year,” she added.

Approved Tuition Partners include:

  • The Brilliant Club, a national education charity who will be using PhD tutors to deliver curriculum-focused tutoring.

  • Schools Partnership Tutors, a group of schools from Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and East London offering face-to-face and online tutoring to schools across the country.

  • Targeted Provision, an organisation providing tuition exclusively to pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs.

  • The Tutor Trust, a Manchester-based charity that trains university undergraduates to provide tutoring in local schools, with proven impact on pupil outcomes.

  • White Rose Maths, a Yorkshire-based company that provides support, training and resources about teaching mathematics in primary and secondary schools.

Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “For too long, low income pupils have not been able to afford tutoring. This is an important step in enabling them to access it.”

Russell Hobby, chief executive of Teach First said: “We’re thrilled to see the first wave of Academic Mentors start in their schools today. Teachers are already working incredibly hard to restore pupil learning after such a challenging period outside the classroom. Trained mentors will provide much needed back up.

“We look forward to working closely with schools serving disadvantaged communities across the country to ensure that young peoples’ futures are not further blighted by this pandemic.”

Both elements of the National Tutoring Programme are funded as part of government’s £350m allocation to tutoring, through the £1bn coronavirus catch up package, which was announced in June.

However, headteachers unions have warned that the scheme could be “severely constrained by the number of tutors available” after it emerged that just 250,000 children would be able to receive tutoring. 

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said allocations must not be made on a “first come, first served basis”.

“Schools aren’t booking concert tickets here, hoping for the best seats, so allocations must come down to more than timing and good luck,” he added.

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