This government scheme can be a little confusing amid all the other Covid-19 programmes. Here’s an easy explanation of what it is and how it works.
Ryan Lockett, director of studies at online tutoring company TLC LIVE and former head of Year 10 and 11 at a state secondary school, explains the nationwide scheme.
The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is a government scheme that aims to provide additional support to primary and secondary school pupils whose education has been disrupted by the Covid pandemic.
The programme is aimed at students aged between 5 and 16, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds (approximately 1.74 million pupils), and involves three types of support. The government is providing schools with academic mentors – individuals that act as an ‘in school’ resource and work directly with pupils in the classroom, as well as funding for ‘school led tutoring’ allowing class teachers, teaching assistants etc. to provide tutoring sessions. Finally, the government is subsidising the cost of private tuition, which enables a school to pair a student with a private firm for a 15-hour block of targeted support.
This year, tuition is subsidised at a rate of 70% and at the time of writing there are 41 approved private tuition firms schools can partner with. So, for example, we ordinarily charge schools £22 per hour, but the NTP cuts the cost to just £6.60 for the school, enabling more students to catch up on core subjects.
All tutors and academic mentors have to be checked by the Disclosure and Baring Service (commonly referred to as a DBS check) and tuition partners have had to state how they support and manage training, recruitment and reporting processes.
The programme kicked off in November 2020 and ran to the end of the last academic year. The first round did not reach its target of a quarter of a million pupils tutored, simply because school uptake was lower than anticipated. Schools in the South West of England were the strongest adopters.
The tuition itself proved very effective with the pupils we were partnered with for example, showing an average of five months progress over the 15-hour block. Attendance and drop outs were the main issue and schools have been issued with a 95% target completion rate for all sessions.
We are currently in the second year of the NTP (re-commenced in September). The first year, sometimes called ‘NTP1’, ran during the 2020-21 academic year. This round, NTP2, covers the 2021-22 academic year, and NTP3 will cover the following academic year – it will run at least until the end of the academic year 2023/24.
The programme is accessible to all government-funded schools (private schools are not included), and each school has discretion when it comes to which students receive tutoring as part of the NTP. However, the government requires that 65% of the students receiving tutoring must be disadvantaged students i.e. those that qualify for free school meals.
Tutoring through the NTP takes place in groups of two or three students to every tutor. One-on-one tuition is only available where teachers believe it would benefit a student’s individual needs (such as SEN) but one teacher to three students is the most common set up. The vast majority of the tuition is taking place online due to the natural Covid complications involved with face-to-face tuition.
There is flexibility on the timing of the sessions, but the NTP recommends that they take place during school hours. This is proven to increase engagement.
Most of the tutoring partners can provide their services flexibly, including over weekends and school holidays where necessary. As with many of the elements of the programme, it’s up to schools to decide when to hold the sessions that will deliver the best results for their students.
The schools decide which pupils to include. However, if you suspect your child is struggling with their schoolwork, it is sensible to email your child’s tutor or head of year with your concerns. The school’s office should be able to provide you with their contact details.
The most common way that schools use the NTP is by working with a government-approved tuition partner, such as ourselves. These partners deliver 15-hour blocks of tutoring.
Academic Mentors are the alternative. They are qualified, government-approved individuals who attend a school in person to deliver tuition. They also work in 15-hour blocks, and the government subsidises 95% of the cost of their time.
Foster dads should be aware that there has been an increased focus on looked after children (LAC). Whilst it is recommended that schools organise the tuition for students with a school place, Virtual Schools can now refer students if they feel it necessary. This is useful for LAC who may currently be unable to attend school full time.
While the number of students reached by the first round of NTP tutoring was limited, the programme has bold ambitions. It’s set to reach six million pupils across the country over the course of the three years that it runs, delivering high-quality tuition to help them catch up and build the confidence they need to succeed academically.