Education secretary Gavin Williamson was quizzed today over the reports that the government is preparing to award the next phase of the National Tutoring Programme to Dutch company Randstad.
Kate Green, the shadow education secretary questioned Mr Williamson during a Commons debate on the Queen's Speech earlier today. She criticised the DfE's for having the 'wrong priorities' following the impact of the pandemic, including the academisation drive announced last month.
"Prioritising favoured structures at a time when schools’ role in helping children to bounce back from the pandemic could not be more important once again shows the secretary of state has the wrong priorities," she said.
"Especially when schools are struggling with a stealth cut to their budgets because of changes to the Pupil Premium, - while it’s rumoured that the National Tutoring Programme is being taken out of the hands of experts and given to Randstad, a multinational outsourcing company.
"Can the Secretary of State confirm the media reports that Randstad will be running the NTP next year?"
The i newspaper has previously reported that Randstad is "being lined-up" to take over the contract in 2021-22 academic year.
"They could have set out how they will transform the National Tutoring Programme, creating the space for children to socialise and recover the time they need to develop and grow, ensuring no child loses out because of the damage that ministers’ failure to manage the pandemic has created," Ms Green added.
"They could have addressed the horrifying rise in child poverty – a phrase not mentioned once in the Queen’s Speech – yet which is the driving cause of the widening attainment gap.
"They could have ensured that education professionals and school and college leaders’ expertise and hard work during the pandemic were recognised with a fair pay rise.
"Instead, the Secretary of State has decided that it’s more important to focus on free speech on university campuses."
The DfE has been contacted for comment.