National Tutoring Programme head defends ‘ambitious’ targets
Thursday, January 13, 2022
The National Tutoring Programme's (NTP) director has defended the scheme’s ability to reach two million vulnerable children this academic year despite figures revealing it has hit just 15 per cent of its goal.
Karen Guthrie, programme director at Randstad which is contracted to run the government’s flagship tutoring scheme, defended the NTP to MPs, saying its “ambitious” targets will help the programme reach its aim of helping the most “disadvantaged” children.
Guthrie told the committee: “We are under no illusion that there is still work to do,” and “it is 100 per cent correct that we have ambitious targets”.
When quizzed by MPs on the success of the programme for reaching those most disrupted by pandemic, such as those in receipt of the pupil premium and those eligible for free school meals, Guthrie praised the programme’s ability to reach disadvantaged children but added that more children were becoming eligible for the pupil premium and therefore, prioritised for the NTP.
“It’s right that this programme is trying to reach disadvantaged learners and learners with additional needs,” said Guthrie. “What we have seen is the number of pupils in receipt of pupil premium has increased compared to last year, and that is increasing month on month.”
When Conservative MP Tom Hunt pointed out that “disadvantage manifests itself in different ways” and pushed Guthrie on how children with special educational needs (SEN) are supported, she moved to reassure the committee that “the expertise exists in the framework”.
“Over half of the providers that we currently have on the framework have the capability to support students who have special educational needs,” Guthrie said. “Actually we also have a cohort of providers on the framework who are specialists in this area, and if we look at how the programme has been set up, there is additional funding for special schools to provide support.
“We have a cohort of providers on the framework who are experts in this space, who have worked with special schools and alternative provisions, and have that real capability to support those people.”
Guthrie also assured the committee that the specific data for SEN leaners and pupil premium pupils accessing the programme will be shared once they are finalised and processed by the Department for Education, in the upcoming weeks.