News & Insights 22 October 2020

Online tutoring can be a powerful tool to help pupils affected by school closures, study finds

A successful pilot project conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation, Impetus, The Sutton Trust and Nesta has shown that online tutoring can be extremely effective in supporting pupils’ learning that has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The project aimed to test the feasibility and promise of online tutoring as a way to support learning under lockdown during summer term and holidays. Action Tutoring and four other charities took part in the study to support over 1,300 primary and secondary school pupils earlier in the year.

In total, more than 7,000 lessons were delivered to a variety of year groups, ranging from Year 5 to Year 11. The EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, an accessible summary of educational research, shows that high-quality tutoring can deliver approximately five months of progress on average.

Implementing learnings from this initial test phase, Action Tutoring then launched its first full online programmes in October. The study showed that online tutoring had a positive impact on the disadvantaged pupils supported.

Online tutoring

Nine in ten children say tutoring helps with their schoolwork. Pupils say what they particularly like about tutoring is the one-to-one support for issues they are struggling with, the reduced fear of peer judgment and the flexibility to learn at their own pace.

In the 65 schools that took part in the pilot project, the majority of pupils supported were disadvantaged children – 81% of those in primaries and 69% of those in secondary schools.

The pilot project was co-funded by the EEF, alongside Wellcome Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Hg Foundation, the Dulverton Trust and the Inflexion Foundation and was independently evaluated by NatCen Social Research.

“Online tutoring with Action Tutoring has allowed pupils to get personalised intervention in maths, increasing their engagement in a subject they don’t find easy. The few weeks of online tutoring has made a huge difference in their confidence and attainment in key topics in maths.”

Rakhee Dattani, Head of Maths at Arts and Media School, Islington, London

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP), which aims to make high-quality tutoring available to schools to help disadvantaged pupils whose education has been affected by school closures, will build on the pilot’s findings when it launches on 2nd November.

Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “This study shows that online tutoring can be an essential tool to support pupils and teachers this academic year. Until social distancing restrictions relax, online tutoring offers a flexible and much needed way to get tutoring into schools across England.”

Professor Francis added: “Schools are best placed to decide which pupils need help the most and what type of support is suitable. Each child will have different needs – some will respond better to online tuition others to in-person support. This is why the NTP will provide teachers with a menu of options from an approved list of high-quality providers that schools can choose from.”

To join us as an online tutor to help support with the Covid-19 catch up, apply now through our application form.