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Schools criticise ‘failing’ Government tutoring programme for disadvantaged children

A flagship programme to help disadvantaged children ‘catch up’ in school has been criticised by education leaders as they say they are struggling to access the tutoring promised.

05/05/21

Schools criticise ‘failing’ Government tutoring programme for disadvantaged children

A flagship schools programme for disadvantaged children has come under fire as the Shadow Education Secretary says the Government is failing to deliver on its promises.

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) encourages schools to bid for a share of £200 million in Government funding to design summer schools for students who have experienced the most disruption.

However, education leaders say they are struggling to access the scheme due to a lack of qualified tutors in some areas.

Last week the Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb said that 110,000 students had started receiving tutoring under the programme, adding that 44% of those receiving tuition were eligible for pupil premium, including those on Free School Meals, or were children in care.

However, Kate Green, Shadow Education Secretary criticised the programme’s “woefully low reach” saying this was equivalent to 48,400 pupils – just 2.4% of the total number eligible for pupil premium in the country.

Nick Brook, Deputy General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the Government's ambition should be for tutoring to become a permanent part of the education landscape for everyone, not just the privileged few that can afford it.

“There is a wealth of evidence that suggests one-to-one and small group tuition can significantly help accelerate progress of pupils that have fallen behind,” Brook said, adding: “Unfortunately, right now, we are a long way from this ambition becoming reality.”

“The NTP is on track to engage 250,000 pupils in tutoring by the end of this term. This is a significant achievement but is still a fraction of the total number of children who could benefit from tutoring support.”

“The Government needs to provide considerably greater funding and flexibility to schools, to dramatically expand the availability of tutoring provision, with a determined effort to improve provision in our most marginalised and deprived communities. This requires long-term commitment and investment and a genuine willingness to work with the profession to train and accredit new tutors, in every part of the country.”

The Government says the National Tutoring Programme is “designed to reach the most disadvantaged pupils in England” with an estimated 15,000 tutors offering tuition to children most affected by the pandemic.

Asked at an Education Select Committee why, when the programme is targeted at the most disadvantaged pupils, less than half of those receiving tutoring are eligible for a pupil premium, the Education Secretary said the figure was still higher than the national picture.

“We want to make sure that these catch up programs are targeted on those pupils who are in the most need – and that will be some disadvantaged children,” Gibb said.

“It will also be pupils who have not coped with remote education, or who have mental health issues, or who have special educational needs, but are not necessarily eligible for the pupil premium.”

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