Schools urged to adopt maligned National Tutoring Programme | Department for Education

The education secretary will write to schools this week to urge them to use the government’s flagship national tutoring programme (NTP), which has been criticised for failing to help disadvantaged pupils.

The department for education (DfE) also announced it would publish data showing how each school is using the programme, and that this would be shared with Ofsted.

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It said that during this academic year, an estimated 40% of schools are yet to offer any tutoring sessions through the NTP, a key part of the government’s £5bn post-pandemic education recovery programme.

In a letter to schools, published on Monday, Nadhim Zahawi wrote: “Starting this week, my department will contact those schools yet to offer tutoring support to discuss their plans and offer further support to ensure they can offer tutoring to their pupils this term.

“As part of my desire to ensure greater transparency of the impact of the programme, I am planning to publish data on each school’s tutoring delivery at the end of the year alongside the funding allocations and numbers of pupils eligible for the pupil premium.”

The tutoring programme has previously been criticised as “dysfunctional”, with schools and tuition providers reporting problems accessing the scheme managed by Randstad, a Dutch human resources firm awarded £25.4m to run it.

It links schools with approved tuition providers via a platform that many schools have struggled to access.

More than a million tuition courses have been started during the 2021/22 academic year, but just over 100,000 of these were started through the Randstad route.

The majority were through the schools-led tuition route, where schools were awarded funding to spend on tuition directly.

In March the government severed its contract with Randstad for the next academic year, with the DfE announcing schools would instead receive direct funds for tutoring to “simplify” the programme, something headteachers had been calling for from the outset.

A total of £349m has been allocated for the NTP for 2022/23.

The government has previously said it aimed for its tutoring programme to help 90% of pupils leaving primary school to meet expected literacy and numeracy targets by 2030, as set out in its Levelling Up paper.

A “parent pledge” announced in the Schools white paper also assured parents that any child falling behind in English and maths would be given targeted support.

A report by the education select committee in March said MPs had “huge concerns” over Randstad’s ability to meet the targets it was set and that the NTP is said to have reached just 15% of its overall target so far.

Anne Longfield, the former children’s commissioner, said the report showed the government’s response to Covid catchup had been “haphazard, unambitious and mired in bureaucracy”, with deprived and vulnerable children at risk of being left further behind.