With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening pupils’ learning, there has been significant coverage on the attainment gap widening and the impact of lockdown on disadvantaged children in particular.
Action Tutoring has been collaborating with politicians and campaign groups on behalf of our pupils during this period, to ensure a united and effective response to this crisis.
Read on for a round-up of news, policies and research since March…
How we’ve been active in the education policy space
Action Tutoring is engaging politicians and policy makers in the work carried out by its volunteers and the barriers to a fair education faced by its pupils. We have been emailing your local MPs with our latest Impact Report, asking them to take action for disadvantaged pupils in the current crisis.
Our CEO Susannah has been in conversation with Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon MP, to draw attention to the benefits of tutoring and contribute to proposals for a National Tutoring Service and “catch-up premium”.
We are collaborating closely with other organisations – such as Impetus and other members of the Fair Education Alliance – to respond to the crisis and campaign for disadvantaged pupils to get the support they need.
Action Tutoring gives evidence to MPs
On Wednesday 3rd June, Susannah, our CEO will appear before the House of Commons Education Select Committee. Susannah was invited by Committee Chair Robert Halfon MP to present evidence which will inform the committee’s inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services.
To find out what Susannah has to say, you can follow our Twitter account during the session or tune in directly here to watch live. The sessions start at 9:30 and Susannah will give evidence at 10:30, appearing alongside the Education Endowment Foundation and the Sutton Trust.
Action Tutoring has also submitted full written evidence to the inquiry this week. We look forward to sharing this after the hearing via email, online and on social media. Read our key recommendations here.
The Fair Education Alliance – a coalition of charities campaigning for a fairer education system – will be submitting a collective response to the inquiry, to which Action Tutoring has also contributed.
Calls for a National Tutoring Service
Tutoring works. There is consistent evidence that tuition adds progress to a young person’s schooling, regardless of their background. Action Tutoring’s own programme has a strong track record of impact for the young people we support.
We have been encouraged by calls from experts, politicians and policy makers in support of nation-wide access to tutoring for disadvantaged young people, mitigating the impact of the pandemic. Lee Elliot Major, the University of Exeter’s first Professor of Social Mobility and former CEO of the Sutton Trust, has proposed a National Tutoring Service – a coalition of charities including Action Tutoring which, with government support and signposting, could reach 100,000s of pupils across the country. Read the full report here.
In April, Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee Robert Halfon MP also called for an army of tutors, made up of retired teachers and university graduates, to tutor disadvantaged pupils after lockdown ends – a similar model to the volunteer workforce set up to support the NHS.
The proposals have attracted the interest of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson. Action Tutoring is part of conversations with Impetus, Nesta, the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation exploring ways of scaling up and acting together to reach significantly more pupils. Read the full story here.
“Catch-up premium” to get disadvantaged pupils back on track
Many pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are falling behind while schools are closed. Whilst teachers have continued to set work and check in, pupils still have to overcome hurdles to access education at home and may be intimidated by remote study without support. Evidence suggests that pupils from better-off backgrounds have been 30% more engaged in learning during lockdown. By September this disparity could look much greater and will have long-term consequences. Read the evidence here.
Teachers face a significant challenge when schools resume to assess pupils’ learning and make up for lost time – especially for pupils who have had less access to education or whose families have struggled. This will be compounded by the impact of stress, hardship or bereavement on many pupils’ wellbeing.
A number of politicians and charities like Action Tutoring have called for the government to make additional funding available to schools to cope with this challenge. Fifty MPs from Northern constituencies wrote to the Education Secretary calling for these extra funds. A “catch-up premium” would enable schools to access extra support for their disadvantaged pupils in the months and years after lockdown. This additional funding could go towards tutoring programmes like those run by Action Tutoring.
Action Tutoring has been hard at work adapting our model and speaking to schools, so we can be ready to offer whatever support is needed to enable pupils to catch-up.
Other stories you may find interesting…
Impetus, our largest funder, recently published a report outlining the importance of English and maths GCSEs in particular for predicting outcomes in further education, employment or training. The power of these grades in unlocking opportunities is why Action Tutoring focusses its support in these subjects.
- Will this year’s GCSEs be calculated fairly for disadvantaged pupils? Impetus and the Fair Education Alliance responded to Ofqual’s consultation on the grading system for this summer’s GCSE results. As a member of the FEA, Action Tutoring contributed to the response.
“There is no evidence to suggest that this year would have seen a significant change in [the] attainment gap, had exams gone ahead. Therefore, any fair grading process must also result in a similar attainment gap.”
The Education Policy Institute released an excellent report on ways to prevent the disadvantage gap widening due to COVID-19. It offers a number of insightful recommendations for the government, including suspending Ofsted inspections and the expansion of vital out-of-school services like mental health support.
“[The EPI recommends] allowing schools to make their own, evidence-based judgements about how best to use this extra funding… including by using supply teachers and tuition available from both private and charitable providers.”