National Tutoring Programme: how to take part

The National Tutoring Programme is being rolled out – but how do you get the cash? And who do you select to be tutored?
17th January 2021, 6:00am
Grainne Hallahan


National Tutoring Programme: how to take part
Coronavirus Catch-up Funding: How Can Schools Make The Most Of The National Tutoring Programme?

Students' experiences of remote learning at home were never going to be uniform.

It was one of the first considerations for many schools when the announcement came last year that schools were closing. But what about our students who can't learn at home?

When students came back after the summer, it was clear that there were learning gaps, with some students having gone backwards in their writing by more than a year. 

And now, with schools closed once again, it seems the problem is only going to grow.

So the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) has a lot to do. It is part of the £1 billion catch-up package offered by the Department for Education to try and compensate for the learning lost between March and July, and now January and February.

How does the National Tutoring Programme work?

This isn't money given to schools to spend as they wish. Instead, they choose from a list of NTP partners, and the costs are split, with the school paying for 25 per cent and the remaining 75 per cent covered by the programme.

The school picks from two options around tuition: academic mentors and tuition partners. Tutoring from tuition partners will be booked in blocks of 15. Schools will be able to choose tuition partners who offer one-to-one tuition or small group tuition in pairs or threes.

Schools can also choose whether tuition takes place face-to-face or online. It is the preference that tuition takes place at school. However, this may not always be possible.

Will it be delayed by the latest lockdown?

Thankfully, no. Even though lockdown has prevented schools from opening to all, the NTP will continue its rollout of tuition. You can read more about the plans on its website.

What are the conditions?

There is no limit on the number of students who can be put forward for the scheme, although they will usually only be tutored in one subject. Secondary school leaders can opt to have their students tutored in English, maths, science, humanities or MFL, whereas their primary counterparts will have the option of literacy, maths or science. 

With all of these options, choosing how to use your discount could prove challenging for school leaders.

These schools have shared how they are using theirs:

Case Study A - Kingsmead School, Enfield

Julian Kozah, senior assistant head

How did you assess where your needs were?

Before we decided how to spend our money, we looked at our school data to see which students were underachieving prior to the lockdown, because they would likely be the worst affected.

We also took into account reading ages and low baseline data, because we felt those students would potentially struggle with the use of technology. 

Which options have you chosen?

We are using TalentEd for tuition in English, maths and science. We had used them before, and felt happy with the existing relationship. 

They are tutoring around 60 of our Year 11 students in English, maths and science. We decided to run the tuition online and at home in groups of three. This means that no student will miss out on classwork because there is no need for them to be withdrawn to receive tutoring.

We hope to now to ensure that students in all the other year groups have the same opportunity. Unfortunately, the London NTP allocation for our chosen Tuition Partner has run out so we will have to pay full price for the sessions if we want to use them, or we can find other NTP providers available in the area.

What advice would you give others in your position?

I have found that external tutoring has many positive benefits. Students who are on free school meals or Pupil Premium, whose parents or carers would not normally be able to afford such a luxury, get to experience what it means to have a high-quality personal tutor.

It increases the motivation of the student to learn across all of their subjects, perhaps because they feel successful or perhaps because they feel special and therefore engage more with school. It is an expensive but powerful tool which can be used for a select number of students.

Case Study B: St Mary's Primary School, Bridport, Dorset

Kate Batorska, headteacher

How did you assess where your needs were?

Because we were able to partly return in the summer term, our teachers performed informal diagnostic assessments to assess key gaps in learning. This was reviewed in October once all pupils were in school, and we identified pupils with the widest gaps.

Which options have you chosen?

We prioritised Year 6 to ensure that they received support as quickly as possible, given that they have only one year left of primary for us to address identified gaps. 

We have chosen to focus on reading, writing and maths. Some pupils will have 15 sessions in one subject area and for other pupils the sessions are split between two subjects.

We have used a range of providers, with one-to-one, face-to-face provision from specialists for those children with additional needs.

We opted for the small group (one-to-two or one-to-three) face-to-face provision for those children who were previously working within year group expectations but where gaps had widened due to closures.

And then small group online tuition for some of our FSM pupils who had been on track to exceed national expectations but where the school closures had adversely affected their progress.

For our younger pupils, we have opted for small group face-to-face reading tutoring as we feel this is the best approach for them, and closing the gap for reading is essential for progress across the curriculum.

What advice would you share?

I think the best advice for any school is to have identified the pupils you want to target, the type of provision they need and the specific gaps you hope the tutoring will address. 

With this information, tutoring partners can match tutors to meet these needs, allowing provision to be put in place as quickly as possible.  

It's also important to consider who is best placed to liaise with the tutors as this will help the tuition to be as effective as possible.

Case Study C: Abbeywood Community School, Bristol 

David Howe, headteacher

How did you assess where your needs were?

We used a combination of key stage 2 assessment and in-school assessment (diagnostic tests, mock exams, Hegarty Maths and so on) to identify students who are below target and not likely to be on a trajectory to catch up without additional interventions. The students identified are mostly students who are in receipt of Pupil Premium funding.  

What have you decided to spend your money on? 

We opted to use the money solely for maths tuition, and entirely face-to-face tuition.

What advice would you give to others in your position? 

It's really important you work out exactly which students need additional support, and what that support should be. You need to forensically analyse where the gaps are so you can make a precise diagnosis of their needs.

It's also important that you are clear with your tuition partners about what you've found in your analysis, and exactly what interventions are needed to close the gaps.

Don't leave anything to chance. Regularly measure the impact to ensure that it is having a discernible positive effect on the students' confidence and progress.

Case study D: Thorntree Primary Academy, Middlesbrough 

Mike Foster, headteacher

How did you assess what your needs were?

After welcoming the children back, we used a mixture of formative and summative assessments to diagnose cohort and individual pupil need. Question-level analysis data, alongside class teacher assessment information, began to indicate priorities within school.

To support this, we used the PiXL transition package. Most year group data indicated that there had been a decline in maths. Teachers reported that they were seeing skills in writing and reading being effectively used at pupil level (because there are less key strands within those subjects) but that there were significant gaps in mathematics due to being away from school for such a prolonged period of time and missing a lot of subject content.

Serving in a largely disadvantaged area, we are always aware that we need to close the gap between pupil groups. However, because of Covid, it was even more vital that the funding was being used to impact the life chances of our children.

What strategies have you used?

We are using Third Space Learning. We have used this in school over the past three years and it does impact on pupil outcomes. Maths attainment at key stage 2 has improved by 30 per cent in three years. While this can't all be attributed to the programme, we feel it has supported our children who are on the borderline in terms of achieving the expected standard. More importantly, it has given them the opportunity to be able to articulate maths for a long period of time.

Teaching staff report that those who have had the tuition are much more articulate in their responses because of the constant discussion within sessions. Above all, the pupils love the sessions and we want our pupils to enjoy everything they do in school.

What advice would you give others in your position?

Don't jump in. Consider what you want to achieve through the use of this funding. One size does not necessarily fit all and Third Space allows us to dictate what coverage each child gets. We will regularly gather evidence to prove the impact of the work and interrogate the data accordingly.

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