If you cast your mind back to the warmer and lighter days of June, you might well remember that the government announced a large package of support to help children catch up on the lost learning from Covid-19, including announcing the introduction of a National Tutoring Programme (NTP).
Action Tutoring played an active role campaigning for this initiative, culminating in giving evidence to the government’s education select committee in early June on the impact of Covid-19 on pupils and how a programme like ours could be scaled up.
To get a programme of this size and scale off the ground inevitably takes time, but today we are thrilled to share that Action Tutoring has been approved as a National Tutoring Programme Tuition Partner.
We know the NTP received a large volume of applications, only taking forward a small number that met the quality and scale criteria and we are very proud to have made the final provider list.
Closing the attainment gap through tutoring
Long before the NTP was announced by the government, Action Tutoring’s mission was to make the benefits of tutoring available to those that couldn’t otherwise afford it, ultimately to help narrow the attainment gap and give pupils the best possible chance of progressing well to further education, employment or training. That’s always been our mission and the NTP doesn’t change that.
We believe though that what it does change is the public recognition of the importance of this mission, why it’s a good idea not just for the individual, but for society as a whole and the potential to scale it to have a national impact.
Since we registered as a charity in 2012 and particularly since we began working with Impetus in 2014 we have developed and refined an impactful, proven tutoring model that’s delivering results for children from disadvantaged backgrounds at risk of not succeeding in English and maths.
To do that hasn’t been easy. Understandably, pupils don’t always want extra lessons in a subject they are likely finding difficult. Schools have a lot of pressure and demands and making partnerships between schools and external organisation work well requires effort on both sides. Finally, none of our work would have been possible without the huge numbers of high quality volunteers signing up to tutor with us.
“Our children need champions. Champions – who never give up on them, who understand the power of relationships and insist they become the best they can possibly be. That’s just what the volunteers from Action Tutoring are doing.”
– Lynne Gavin, Headteacher, Pakeman Primary School
But over the years, we’ve learnt what works and we’re excited to now be able to deliver that on a much larger scale, including expanding our geographical reach and significantly expanding our online tutoring.
Expanding Action Tutoring’s work across England
Our ambition through the NTP is to double our reach and the NTP is giving us the support to do this, and indeed the scale for other organisations too, to help us grow at a rate we couldn’t on our own in order to make the benefits of tutoring as widely available as possible.
A recent Bloomberg article has highlighted the scale of the NTP as a great education experiment that could be the game changer needed for social mobility. At Action Tutoring, we certainly believe that has the potential to be the case.
There is fantastic evidence that tutoring works; that’s precisely why so many parents will pay for it for their children. But the tutoring industry will only be a driver of widening the gap in social mobility if it is not made available to those that can’t afford it too, especially those that are struggling most in their education.
That’s why Action Tutoring was founded and we’ve built strong evidence we can make tutoring work for disadvantaged pupils to drive results and close the attainment gap.
Action Tutoring commissioned an external evaluator, NIESR, to carry out an evaluation of the work we do with our pupils. The headline results, from this piece of work, suggested that:
- The programme has a positive impact on GCSE point scores equivalent to 1/3 of a grade with just 5-6 sessions.
- For those pupils who attend 7-8 sessions an additional 1/2 a grade progress was found.
For context, typically, in a whole academic year, schools would expect pupils to make one grade of progress outlining the impact tutoring, and in particular, our work has been having on disadvantaged pupils.
Now, through the NTP there is an opportunity for this work to be delivered on a significantly bigger scale.
The National Tutoring Programme must continue beyond next summer
In order for the benefits of the NTP to be embedded and make a game changing difference to social mobility, it will need to run for more than a year and while we’re delighted today to be beginning our journey as an NTP Tuition Partner, we hope it won’t be one that finishes next summer.
The NTP has been kickstarted by the need for covid catch up; with covid highlighting just how big the inequalities in our society are for children and young people. But prior to covid the UK already had one of the largest attainment gaps in the developed world and evidence from the EPI has shown that in recent years the progress to close that gap has slowed. If the NTP is extended, it has the potential not just to support covid catch up, but to actually help close the UKs attainment gap significantly further. Progress on that really would be something huge to celebrate, benefiting wider society as well as individuals.
So as this new ‘education experiment’ gets underway, we look forward to playing our part for the long term, to ensure that all pupils, regardless of their background, are supported to achieve the best they possibly can.
For more information about the National Tutoring Programme, please visit our dedicated page.