Inclusion

Setback, not stopgap: Funding cuts won’t end the fight for equitable access to tutoring

6 March 2024

In disheartening news, the Government has decided not to renew funding for the National Tutoring Programme and the 16-19 Tuition Fund, as confirmed in today’s spring budget. While acknowledging the difficulties this presents for schools facing very significant budget constraints, we at Action Tutoring remain resolutely steadfast in our commitment to support pupils facing disadvantage. We predate the National Tutoring Programme and have a long history of providing vital tutoring support.

We believe every child deserves the opportunity to thrive, and that’s why we have been actively exploring alternative funding options. To this end, we will subsidise 60% of programme costs through philanthropic activities next year, significantly reducing the burden on schools and ensure continued access to this crucial support for disadvantaged pupils. We will soon release further details about our customised programme offerings for 2024-25. In the meantime, please share this information with any colleagues facing concerns about affording vital tutoring support. We stand ready to help more schools in the face of this funding gap.

The founders and CEOs of Action Tutoring, Tutor Trust and Get Further have worked in collaboration throughout this time, campaigning for tutoring to be accessible to pupils from all backgrounds. They have come together again to produce the following statement in response to the spring budget:

Today is a truly disappointing day for education in England. In the face of the evidence, the Government has chosen not to renew funding for the National Tutoring Programme and 16- 19 Tuition Fund.

Both were launched in 2020 with much fanfare, to address lost learning due to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Tutoring was chosen, because, as ministers have repeatedly pointed out, we know it works. An evaluation of tutoring by the Educational Endowment Foundation has proved it. The aims of the programme were to build back from COVID-19, to embed tutoring in the education system, and to help tackle the attainment gap. We know tutoring has had an impact, but COVID-19 still casts a shadow over our education system, more time is needed to embed tutoring into the system, and the attainment gap is yet to be tackled. Indeed, former Education ministers Lord Blunkett and Robin Walker, and experts on social mobility such as Professor Lee Elliott Major and Alun Francis, the chair of the Social Mobility Commission, all believe tutoring for the poorest young people should have its own dedicated funding stream.

What is more, research has shown that 85% of parents believe tutoring had positively impacted their child’s mental health and self-confidence. In the face of a crisis in school attendance, there, too, tutoring has an impact: 68% of parents said it had improved attendance. Economic modelling has suggested a £4.3 billion benefit to the economy from the NTP between 2021-2023. For every £1 spent on tutoring, there was a benefit to the economy of £6.58.

In short, tutoring closes the attainment gap, makes society more equal and, properly invested, helps solve the crisis in productivity. Implementation has not always been straightforward, but 5 million courses later, we’re confident that the NTP and 16-19 Tuition Fund has made a real difference.

Between our three organisations, we have worked with over 50,000 pupils, from primary schools to colleges. We are acutely aware of the pressure schools face, and how stretched the Pupil Premium has become. In the absence of dedicated funding from the NTP and 16- 19 Tuition Fund, the Pupil Premium will be squeezed further, and there is no Pupil Premium post-16. Colleges, sixth-forms, and schools will be forced to significantly scale back or cease tutoring altogether, and four years’ worth of tutoring infrastructure is now set to crumble.

The NTP and 16-19 Tuition Fund had taken huge steps towards making tutoring accessible to all who need it, not just the wealthy. In its absence, an all too familiar story will continue: young people from low-income backgrounds will miss out.

We call for an immediate reversal of the government’s decision.

Susannah Hardyman (Action Tutoring)
Abigail Shapiro (Tutor Trust)
Sarah Waite (Get Further)

Black History Month: Breaking barriers in education for better outcomes

26 October 2023

October is Black History Month in the UK – a time to celebrate the historic achievements and contributions of the Black community. For us, it’s also a prime opportunity to take a closer look at the state of education for young Black people and explore ways to make it more fair and inclusive for the future.

Before the pandemic’s disruption to learning, pupils from Black ethnic backgrounds, on average, scored the lowest GCSE pass rates among all major ethnic groups. However, the most recent GCSE results show remarkable progress, as Black students achieved English and math pass rates similar to their peers from other ethnic backgrounds.

How can we ensure this positive trajectory continues to enable even better outcomes for young Black people in education and as they progress into employment or training?

As part of our Black History Month activities at Action Tutoring, our PR, Media and Policy manager, Henry Derben had a thought-provoking chat with Hannah Wilson, co-founder of Diverse Educators, development consultant, coach, and trainer of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practice. With Hannah’s extensive background in education, including roles such as head of secondary teacher training, executive headteacher, and vice-chair of a trust board, the conversation delved into the critical issue of enhancing educational outcomes for young Black students.

Here are highlights of the dialogue:

Do you think the UK curriculum adequately covers and teaches Black History extensively today?

Many schools are trying to improve, but they are also longstanding gaps. The issue of focusing too much on celebrating Black Americanness during Black History Month often comes up. We tend to emphasize the American civil rights movement and well-known Black figures. But many schools miss the mark by neglecting the rich history of UK Black identities. While it’s encouraging that schools are making more efforts, we should aim for a future where Black culture and identity are integrated throughout the curriculum.

We need to focus on the complexity and intersectionality of Black identities, including Black women, Black queer individuals, and Black disabled people. Our celebration of Black History should be more specific and inclusive.

Referencing a 2020 House of Commons briefing paper, which stated that Black ethnic students had the lowest rate of attaining standard passes in English and math GCSEs among major ethnic groups. What contributed to this performance trajectory?

When we look at the data, it’s clear that there is a performance gap, and it’s not just about grades. It’s also about the career satisfaction and the salary gap that many Black individuals experience. The challenge lies in the lack of representation, diversity, and inclusivity in various sectors, including education and employment. Schools need to be more intentional about who they present as role models to show what is possible. If we want to change these patterns, we need to disrupt the status quo and create a conscious investment in mentoring, coaching, and advocating for individuals to access opportunities that might not have been available to them otherwise.

Representation within the workforce is another key aspect. We need to address the lack of Black representation in leadership positions, not only in schools but also in higher education.

Research has shown that disadvantage starts very early in a child’s life. Children from low-income backgrounds often begin school four and a half months behind their more affluent peers. What can be done in the early years to help break this cycle of disadvantage and ensure that young Black people make progress and catch up?

It’s important to start with the curriculum. The curriculum in the early years should be diverse and inclusive. We need to focus on representation and ensure that Black children see themselves reflected in the materials, stories, and experiences they encounter. However, we need to move beyond simply adding diversity as a “bolt-on.” The representation should be integral to the curriculum, not an afterthought. We also need to consider the intersectionality of identities and recognize the unique experiences of Black children. Ultimately, we must work to dismantle systemic and structural barriers by creating intentional strategies that promote inclusivity.

Black History Month - young pupils

Moving to the primary and secondary levels, are there specific policies that can help address performance inequalities at these stages, beyond tutoring?

It has to start with the curriculum, surely tutoring and mentoring all of those interventions like mediation support mechanisms are so powerful, we know that make up the difference. But what are we actually doing to challenge the root causes? We have to stop softball. We’re often throwing money at the problem, but not actually fixing the problems or doing things differently. We need to revisit and rethink how we structure the school day, who is doing the teaching, what is being taught, and how it’s being taught.

There’s a need for a fundamental disruption in the way we approach education. Schools should think about the intersectionality of identities and be intentional about representation and cultural relevance in their pedagogy. It’s not enough to provide pockets of representation; we must ensure that representation is consistent across the curriculum. We need to address the concrete ceiling that often prevents Black individuals from accessing leadership opportunities. Career guidance, sponsorship, and mentoring should be part of the solution to break these patterns. Collective action is essential to create lasting change.

Shifting our focus to parents and guardians, they play a crucial role in a child’s early years and education. What can parents and guardians do to contribute to positive change within the education system?

Schools need to work more closely with parents and create a partnership based on equity and democracy. Often, schools tell parents what they need to do, and there’s an imbalance in the power dynamic. We need to involve parents in the decision-making process and truly listen to their voices and perspectives. Thinking about how we work with parents and create a true partnership and collaboration. That to me, is what some schools perhaps need to revisit – their kind of plans, commitment, or the ways they work with different stakeholders. Engaging parents more closely is definitely a way of helping them get involved in schools so they’re part of that change cycle.

Finally, in the context of Black History Month and improving outcomes for young Black people, what is your call to action for everyone?

My call to action is for more individuals, particularly those in White-majority spaces, to become allies. Reflect on your own experiences with schooling, curriculum, and identity affirmation. Recognize that representation and diversity matter. Challenge the gaps and biases in the system, and work intentionally to create change. Be aware of the positive impact that representation can have on young people. It’s essential to disrupt stereotypes and ensure representation is consistent across all subjects. We need to take collective action to create a more inclusive and equitable education system.

Targeted support for young Black people

Hannah’s insights underscore the urgency of addressing the disparities in our education system. By offering targeted support, improving the curriculum, breaking systematic barriers and taking collective action, we not only acknowledge the unique challenges young Black people might encounter but also send a powerful message that their experiences, voices, and perspectives matter. Ultimately, nurturing Black pupils’ growth and well-being not only enriches their educational journey but also contributes to a more diverse, empathetic, and socially conscious society as a whole.

As Black History Month is being marked across the UK, let’s heed the call to action and take collective steps toward a more and empowering education system that taps and nurtures the potential of all young Black students.

Diversity and Inclusion at Action Tutoring

10 November 2022

As a charity that values and celebrates diversity and inclusion and champions opportunities for all young people, we always strive to create an environment of respect in which every individual is welcomed, valued, and empowered to be their authentic selves.

Diversity and Inclusion is more than simple policies applied in a workplace. It is a way of thinking and acting, so we can establish fairer working conditions for every employee.

What is Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace?

In order to best define diversity in the workplace, we have to consider all the different characteristics that we as unique individuals have; such as our race, age, gender and sexual orientation. However, we also have differences when it comes to our experiences, talents, skills or opinions.

Inclusivity enables us to explore these differences together in a healthy, positive and non-judgemental environment. It means understanding one another and embracing the differences, not just tolerating them.

The CIPD advises that an environment is inclusive when people feel valued and accepted in their team and in the wider organisation, without having to conform. To achieve these is an organisational effort.

Why is D&I essential? 

Equal access to opportunities for all people is both the right thing to do and a legal obligation under the Equalities Act 2010. It is important to continuously consider, so we don’t exclude any potential tutors or employees.

As a charity, we appreciate the power and importance of bringing different people together. When we feel included, appreciated and celebrated, we are more likely to unleash our potential.

What D&I policies and initiatives do we have at Action Tutoring?

We are committed to ensuring that all applicants are treated fairly throughout the recruitment and training process.

 We endeavour to make sure our content on our social media channels and website is accessible to everyone, for example by using plain English and avoid using figures of speech and idioms, and using text instead of graphics when sharing important informationYou can learn more on a previous blog about how inclusive communication is implemented in our organisation. 

Action Tutoring has a D&I working group, where staff members meet regularly and discuss different ways that we can improve the way we work together. It’s a free and open space for everyone to share ideas.

In our additional resources for volunteer tutors, we have included a Diversity and Inclusion tutor code of conduct in order to make sure that everyone is treated fairly and in accordance with Equal Opportunities policies. 

We have regular internal “Broaden Your Horizons” sessions to discuss and reflect on current issues that affect us all. Session content has included Black British history, “fatphobia” and linguistic differences between regions in England. 

We have conducted audits into the racial and gender diversity of authors and names used in our tutoring resources, have increased this diversity in some of our resources and have established targets to continue this work over time.

We believe that a true inclusive community doesn’t just have a diversity of people to display, but it has a diversity of people who are involved, supported, empowered and trusted by everyone else.

Interested in working for us? View our current vacancies. We do accept speculative CVs for our Programme Coordinator roles – you can click here to see a job description).

Or if you’re interested in volunteering as a tutor, click below!