Young people

Tutoring subsidy cut reversed but schools need more funding

24 May 2023

The Department of Education (DfE) yesterday announced a major change to the planned subsidy reduction for the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) next academic year.

Originally, the current 60% subsidy support to schools was scheduled to drop to 25% beginning in the autumn term of next year. However, the DfE has reversed that policy decision and agreed to raise the subsidy to 50% for every pupil in receipt of the NTP for the academic year 2023-24.

We’re pleased that our concerns about the steep subsidy drop-off for the NTP next year have been listened to and the subsidy is being increased from 25% to 50% next year. However, we remain concerned that the reality is that schools that struggled to pay 40% of tutoring costs this academic year will still struggle to afford 50% next year.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring

The Government introduced the national tutoring programme in the autumn term of 2020 to help pupils, especially those facing disadvantage, to recover from lost learning experienced during the pandemic school closures. 

In the first year, the DfE funded 75% of the programme per pupil with schools expected to finance the remaining part. The subsidy was tapered to 70% in the second year before being reduced to 60% in the current third year. It was set to drop further to 25% next year until yesterday’s reversal announcement.

Fund allocation remains unchanged

Nonetheless, the DfE is not increasing the funding amount schools will receive next year for the NTP as it forecasts less demand and lower uptake of the scheme.

An amount of £150 million will be available to schools next year, despite calls for an increment in cash to cushion schools as they struggle with their already stretched budgets.

Furthermore, the overall amount of funding schools will receive for tutoring isn’t increasing, and given the current financial pressures on schools, we are concerned that this means that fewer pupils will be reached that could really benefit from the support

Susannah Hardyman
Tutoring session

Limited impact in practice

With schools getting no extra funding, the DfE is banking on hopes that fewer pupils will receive tutoring next year but that more schools will at least make use of the funding available. In practice, the subsidy reversal without an increment in tutoring cash will have a limited impact on the number of pupils who receive tutoring in schools.

For instance, in a school that has 50 pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium:

This year they received £162 per pupil premium pupil (60% of £18 an hour x 15 hours) each. For 50 pupil premium pupils, this would give a school £8,100, which would enable 50 pupils to get 15 hours at a 60% subsidy.

However, next year schools will get £67 each per pupil premium pupil (25% of £18 an hour x 15 hours). Using the same example, a school with 50 pupil premium pupils would receive £3,350, enabling 25 pupils to get 15 hours at the newly announced 50% subsidy.

More needs to be done

The increase in subsidy to 50% next year is very welcome to ensure that schools stand a chance of continuing to access tutoring. However, with the nation recording the largest attainment gap in a decade last year and schools struggling with budget squeezes, more still needs to be done to ensure that pupils in receipt of pupil premium and those below the expected standards reap the full benefits of tutoring.

At Action Tutoring, we’re pleased that our fundraising and philanthropy efforts mean we can support schools further beyond the NTP to ensure tutoring really is reaching those that need it most and minimising the barrier of financial pressures on schools.

We believe additional investment is needed long-term to ensure tutoring is sufficiently embedded in the education system widely and particularly, reaches those that need it most.

Susannah Hardyman

Numeracy Day: Solving England’s maths equation

17 May 2023

What is National Numeracy Day?

17th May is the national day set aside to campaign for building brighter futures through building confidence with numbers and everyday maths skills. It is aimed at raising the low levels of numeracy among both children and adults.

The broader vision of the National Numeracy Day campaign is for everyone in the UK “to get on with numbers so they can get on in life.”​ 

The day is especially topical this year after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s controversial maths attainment policy proposal requiring school pupils in England to study maths until age 18.

More recently, Sunak announced a review of the mathematics curriculum across England, tasking a group of advisers to examine the core maths content currently taught in schools and share recommendations by summer.

Doing the maths

Numeracy levels in the UK are significantly lower as compared to other developed nations. About half, representing 49%, of the working-age population of the UK have the expected numeracy level of a primary school child – according to the 2022 UK Numeracy Index

With 30% of school-leavers between ages 18–24 feeling anxious about using maths and numbers, it means millions of children lack number confidence and are likely to start out their careers at a disadvantage. Additionally, poor numeracy costs the UK economy up to £25 billion a year.

A pupil solving a maths problem

Why numeracy is important

Numeracy provides children and young people with valuable tools for daily life, problem-solving, career opportunities, data interpretation, logical thinking, and future readiness.

  • Numeracy skills are fundamental for managing personal finances, budgeting, and making informed decisions about spending and saving money. Children who are numerically literate are better equipped to handle financial challenges and make responsible choices throughout their lives.
  • They enhance logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities. Mathematics encourages critical thinking, logical analysis, and the ability to break down complex problems into smaller, manageable parts in real-life situations.
  • Strong numeracy skills open up a wide range of career opportunities, including fields such as science, engineering, finance, data analysis, and technology. By developing these skills, children and young people increase their chances of success in these fields.

Solving the big maths problem

The lingering problem that will beset the proposed national maths agenda is the deficit of maths teachers. In practice, the policy may not yield the intended results as the Department for Education (DfE) have fallen short of recruitment targets in the last decade, despite being lowered since 2019.

Hence, the key obstacle to solving the low numeracy problem is the critical shortage of specialist maths teachers and that could undermine maths education in schools in England.

Almost half of secondary schools have had to fall on a non-specialist to teach maths lessons in schools and about one in eight maths lessons (12%) are taught by someone without a maths degree.

The lack of quantity and quality of teacher applicants and budget pressures remain the stumbling blocks to improving teacher recruitment. For Mr. Sunak’s maths formula to be workable, the government should develop a renewed focus on improving teacher recruitment and retention.

The introduction of special incentives to ramp up the volume of maths teacher applications, including improved pay and working conditions and bursaries for training and quality improvement measures, could collectively help the situation. Without increasing the number of maths teachers, the numeracy problem will continue to persist.

Take action this National Numeracy Day

National Numeracy Day line up of events

This year’s National Numeracy Day campaign has a line-up of activities across social media with several celebrity ambassadors joining the online conversation to share their number stories.

Join the campaign by signing up to access resources and be part of activities via this link: National Numeracy Day 2023 sign-up.

Also, another way to take action beyond the day is to volunteer as a maths tutor and help disadvantaged pupils improve their numeracy skills and abilities. Action Tutoring provides all the resources and training to help you give maths support to young people for an hour each week, either online or face-to-face in schools.

The far-reaching impact of numeracy

Overall, the benefits of numeracy and mathematics are significant and far-reaching, making it a crucial skill to cultivate. Improving numeracy early in life, particularly for those who are falling behind in school, is critical to bridging the attainment gap between poorer and wealthy students.

Action Tutoring’s Board shortlisted for Charity Governance Awards 2023

12 May 2023

The transformational leadership by Action Tutoring’s Board of Trustees amid the Covid-19 pandemic’s challenges to education has been recognised by the Charity Governance Awards this year.

The education charity has been shortlisted alongside two other charities in the ‘Transforming with Digital’ category, one of the five awards announced this week.

The ‘Transforming with Digital’ category aims to recognise boards that have enabled digital transformation to help their charities grow, deliver increased impact and quality support for beneficiaries.

The nomination applauds Action Tutoring’s adaptability and innovation in pivoting swiftly to online delivery of tutoring when a national lockdown was announced and schools were indefinitely closed in March 2020.

Expanding reach and impact

By the autumn term of 2020/2021, the charity rolled out online tutoring across all eight regions of operation, expanding markedly its reach and impact to more disadvantaged young people. Online delivery constituted up to 86% of tutoring delivery by the charity in that academic year.

Since then, online tutoring has become a key component of the charity’s service delivery model, and it continuously invests in further digital transformation in other areas including volunteer recruitment, staff and volunteer training, and pupil assessments to provide high-quality tutoring support to disadvantaged pupils in schools almost anywhere across England.

Best interest of young people

This nomination is a testament to the commitment of the Board, staff, and tireless volunteers of Action Tutoring who devote their time and resources to ensuring every child, irrespective of their socio-economic background, gets a better education to improve their life chances. We will continue to work in the best interest and for the best outcomes of disadvantaged young people.

Peter Baines, Chair of Action Tutoring’s Board of Trustees

Nomination benefits

Action Tutoring received £1,000 as an unrestricted grant for making it onto the shortlist, and is in the running for a prize of a £5,000 unrestricted grant to be announced at a live ceremony at Drapers’ Hall, London on the 8th June.

Shortlisted charities have also secured a paid one-year membership of the Association of Chairs for their board, and a complimentary place on a Cause4 Trustee Leadership Programme for a new member of their board.

The Charity Governance Awards is organised by The Clothworkers’ Company – a City of London livery company that supports trusteeship initiatives – in partnership with the not-for-profit consultancy NPC (New Philanthropy Capital), third sector recruitment specialists Prospectus, and the trustee-matching charity Reach Volunteering.

Chancerygate takes on Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise £30k for Action Tutoring

27 March 2023

When Chancerygate was brainstorming on activities to help raise funds for Action Tutoring, finding a pursuit that played to the strength of the workforce was fundamental.

Making the final choice between a charity ball or a fitness adventure was hard, but Amanda believes the ultimate decision to negotiate the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge was the right one as half the workforce expressed interest after the announcement.

We have quite a strong and fit workforce. We thought an adventure would be better and will help with team-building. Plus with changing Covid-19 guidelines, having a huge gathering came with a risk. We went with the challenge

Amanda Walker, head of corporate social responsibility at Chancerygate – the UK’s largest multi-unit urban logistics developer and asset manager.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge is a circular walk that encompasses three major hills – Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough – in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is a 24-mile round trip route and includes 5,200ft of ascent.

A total of 24 daring employees took part in the conquest and 18 successfully completed the course in under 10 hours.

It can get quite emotional, the walk pushes your limits. The first peak went really well but it became more difficult towards the end. However, doing it as a team made it easier, and as a way to raise money for Action Tutoring to support more disadvantaged children was a motivating factor.

Ada Ioannidis-Mann, marketing manager of Chancerygate, who took part in the challenge

Chancerygate raised a total of £30,000 from its employees and network including business partners and suppliers, who donated towards supporting the cause. The donation could cater for a full academic year’s worth of tutoring for 77 pupils or purchase 5,000 workbooks that will benefit thousands of pupils.

Additionally, some Chancerygate employees volunteer weekly as subject tutors on Action Tutoring programmes in schools.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring, said the donation will help expand tutoring access to more young people facing disadvantage.

The funds will enable us to support more children who are facing disadvantage with additional help to make meaningful academic progress. This will, in turn, help increase their life chances and open more doors to future opportunities in education and employment.

Susannah Hardyman

On what lessons she learned from the Yorkshire Three Peaks adventure, Ada said beyond investing in good hiking boots, staying positive and motivating each other is a sure way to conquer the hills. “Be positive and don’t leave anyone behind as you do it. Be a team player.

Amanda urges businesses to support the inclusion of more people from diverse backgrounds by partnering with like-minded charities to benefit society as a whole.

Through volunteering and fundraising, every business can make a difference in young lives.

Donate or raise funds for our mission to give more disadvantaged pupils the additional academic support they need to get a pass grade to progress into further education or employment.

Changing the future of disadvantaged pupils in Chester & Westminster

3 March 2023

In a classroom at Blacon High School in Chester, Lillie listens attentively as her tutor reads the first practice activity in an English tutoring session. She asks questions for clarity on evaluating language and narrative throughout the session. 

Lillie is one of forty pupils in Years 10 and 11 in Blacon High receiving weekly tutoring support from Action Tutoring. Although her favourite subject is Graphics Production, passing the English GCSE is essential to furthering her education. Lillie believes the personalised academic assistance is making a real difference for her.

With the extra help, I feel more confident with my answers in class and when doing my homework. The fact that the tutoring sessions are one-on-one or in small groups means I get to ask my tutor any questions I have, without feeling embarrassed about getting it wrong in front of a whole class.


Improve young lives

With a new grant from the Westminster Foundation to support the work of Action Tutoring over the next five years in Chester and Westminster, the education charity will expand tutoring access to more pupils in need of additional academic support. The partnership includes a grant of £500,000 to fund tutoring provision targeted at disadvantaged pupils in nine schools in both cities to help improve their subject knowledge, confidence, and outcomes.

Providing maths and English tutoring to pupils at risk of leaving school without basic qualifications is a priority, particularly following the disruption in education amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the widening attainment gap. I am delighted that with our grant Action Tutoring can continue to deliver this important support in Westminster and Chester to help improve the futures of so many young people.

Kate Brown, Westminster Foundation & Philanthropy Director

Positive impact

Rachel Hudson has been the headteacher of Blacon High School for four years. After observing the consistent improvement in the performance of pupils receiving tutoring support, she said pupils have gone on to take more ownership of their learning, even beyond just the core subjects.

“The tutoring sessions have helped students to achieve or exceed their target grades in maths and English. The tutors have built strong relationships with our students, are flexible in their approach to tutoring, and have shown a genuine understanding of the challenges they face with learning. Tutoring has had a positive impact on their confidence and performance across the board, enabling them to go into successful courses and pathways.”

Rachel Hudson
Pupils receive online tutoring in maths and English at Blacon High School

Change the trajectory

Since its establishment in 2012, Action Tutoring has supported over 26,000 primary and secondary school pupils across England with the help of over 11,500 volunteer tutors. The charity is on track to support at least a further 6,000 pupils this academic year, through in-person and online tutoring delivery.

The attainment gap alarmingly stands at its widest level in a decade which means more young people are leaving school without reaching expected standards. The odds are even worse for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. With this grant, we can positively change the trajectory for thousands of pupils in Chester and Westminster  by delivering tutoring support to unlock their potential and increase their life chances.

Susannah Hardyman, founder, and CEO of Action Tutoring

With disadvantaged people at risk of slipping through the net to become not in education, employment and training (NEET), the partnership will enable more disadvantaged pupils to receive the needed academic support to pass their SATs and GCSEs and to progress in further education, training, and employment.

Lillie’s dream career is to be an airline cabin crew member in the future and she thinks the consistent interactivity during her tutoring session is already steering her in the right direction by building her confidence level.

“My tutoring sessions have made me feel less anxious about talking to people I’ve never met before. This will definitely help when I have to speak to hundreds of new people every day.”


Passing on my love for learning through volunteer tutoring

16 February 2023

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a real thirst for learning. I have vivid memories of my dad obliging in taking me, a far-too-keen seven-year-old, to WHSmith on a Saturday morning to get my hands on those KS2 English and Maths work booklets – the type where you could treat yourself to a gold star upon getting an answer right. I loved my time in school and always tried to achieve my best in class, whether it was my favourite or least favourite subject.

For this love of learning, I’m both grateful and aware of my privileged position – as this is not always the case. Not all children are lucky enough to enjoy learning or to revel in the time that they spend in school, and there are many reasons for this. One of the biggest is that not all children begin at the same starting point in life as not all are able to easily access or utilise the tools that can support them through the education system.

Whilst I’ve never aspired to become a teacher or educator due to writing being my passion, in the six years since graduating from university with a Media and Communications degree and working as a copywriter and content specialist with charitable and educational organisations, I’ve seen from a distance the impact that the pandemic and budget cuts have had on pupils’ education.

In fact, the attainment gap between pupils facing disadvantage and their peers is currently at its widest for ten years, with just 43% of disadvantaged pupils meeting expected standards in reading, writing and maths at primary school.

It’s these stark statistics that encouraged me to do what I could to help give back and pass on my love for learning and language. After hearing about a friend’s experience volunteering with Action Tutoring, I applied to be trained as a volunteer tutoring English in late 2021.

By January 2022, I was supporting two Year 6 pupils to prepare for their SATs at a primary school in Newcastle and it quickly became the highlight of my week. Finding ways to engage the two boys in my group and demonstrate how important strong literacy and writing skills are, not just for school and exams, but to also get more enjoyment out of the content that they might play, read or listen to in day-to-day life was challenging at times – but it was a challenge I definitely relished.

Following their exams, I was delighted to learn in the summer that both pupils had gone on to surpass the marks they needed to ‘meet expectations’ – a real reward for both pupils, who I’d known had possessed the determination and ability to succeed. It’s also great that Action Tutoring shares with you this detail of how your pupils do in their SATs, as this gives you a real sense of fulfilment that you’ve helped to perhaps play a small role in this.

I then moved on and began tutoring two Year 5 pupils throughout the summer months, who I continue to tutor today – the girls are now just three months out from taking their Year 6 SATs. Again, it’s brilliant to see the progress that they’ve made in a relatively short space of time.

Perhaps my favourite thing about tutoring is that not only am I helping the pupils to learn, but they’re also helping me to develop professionally and personally.

They’ve helped me to strengthen my essential skills such as listening, facilitating discussion and giving constructive feedback. They’ve also filled me in on all of the curriculum changes since I was at school – what they’re currently learning or reading, and the reasons why they are important.

Last but certainly not least, they’ve also helped me to substantially improve my hangman skills – a game that is an ever-popular hit as a cool-down activity within our school’s sessions!

I’m grateful that Action Tutoring has provided me with this opportunity to pass on my own knowledge and love for learning to the next generation. After all, knowledge is power – but we must ensure that all children across the country are provided with an equal opportunity to succeed and achieve their dreams.

Author: Samantha Lade

Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.

Action Tutoring honoured with Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award

21 December 2022

Action Tutoring has been honoured with The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Volunteering Award, recognising the service and impact of our inspiring volunteer tutors on disadvantaged young people across England. This one-off service award was created to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and 20 years of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). The aim is to celebrate fantastic work by national charities and their volunteers to empower young people and provide them with skills and opportunities.

Over the last decade,  Action Tutoring has been delivering academic support to disadvantaged young people through the dedication of our volunteer tutors and in partnership with schools. Since 2012, we’ve supported over 26,000 primary and secondary school pupils, with the support of over 11,500 dedicated volunteer tutors.

We are thrilled to have our work recognised by this award, particularly for the incredible service of our volunteers and the impact they have on the young people we support. We simply could not do what we do without them.

Susannah Hardyman, founder and CEO of Action Tutoring

The Jubilee Award recognises 20 national charities whose work empowers young people aged 16-25, with volunteers playing a pivotal role in delivering this. The award submissions were judged over the summer by an expert panel chaired by Sir Martyn Lewis CBE (Chair of QAVS). It included members from each UK nation as well as two youth representatives. His Majesty The King personally approved the 20 awardees, following the panel’s selection.

These awards highlight the indispensable role that the voluntary sector plays in targeting help, advice, and guidance where it is needed most. These awards should also be seen as a tribute to the millions of volunteers and donors who, in difficult times, provide the resources of time and money which contribute so powerfully to the social fabric of our country.

Sir Martyn Lewis CBE, the QAVS Chair

Volunteers are at the core of Action Tutoring’s work and remain an invaluable resource in driving our purpose and impact. We are tackling the stark academic attainment gap by optimising the power of our passionate volunteer tutors to specifically support disadvantaged young people across the country.

Action Tutoring is proud of its diverse pool of volunteers from different backgrounds and between the ages of 18 to 82,  including university students, full-time or part-time workers from different sectors of business, and retired professionals. The varied range of volunteer tutors, motivated by their selfless devotion to our mission, bring unique perspectives and experiences to improve the subject knowledge, confidence, and tolerance of the disadvantaged young people they support.

I never expected the sense of pride and accomplishment I would be feeling, not just for myself, but for the pupils experiencing academic progress. This volunteering opportunity has allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the education of young people, which has been so rewarding that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.

Eve, a university student and Action Tutoring volunteer in Liverpool, said in a recent blog, sharing her tutoring experience.

In spite of the challenging backdrop of Covid-19, Year 6 children eligible for the Pupil Premium supported by Action Tutoring were more likely to achieve the expected standards in their SATs than other disadvantaged pupils across the country — by eight percentage points in both maths and reading — despite being considered at risk of not reaching these standards. This year’s GCSE results showed that 61% of disadvantaged pupils passed their English and 72% of disadvantaged pupils passed maths, after attending at least 10 tutoring sessions with Action Tutoring – notwithstanding being considered at risk of not achieving a passing grade and two challenging years of pandemic disruption.

From Action Tutoring to StreetGames, these 20 charities deliver outstanding work to help give young people the skills they need to grow and succeed.  Ensuring young people get the best possible start in life is a priority for me and the Government, and there is no more fitting way to celebrate these brilliant charities than a unique edition of the highest award for voluntary service.

Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan

Action Tutoring has been working to help narrow the academic attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their better-off peers at both primary and secondary levels – which is at its widest for ten years. Tutoring is an intervention with proven impact to help narrow the gap and give disadvantaged young people a stronger head-start in life.

This award and recognition will help us to reach new audiences and encourage more people to come forward and volunteer their time to help change the future prospects of thousands of young people across the country.”

Susannah Hardyman

Become a volunteer tutor with Action Tutoring and help disadvantaged children improve their academic strength and build a better future. With just one hour a week, you can volunteer to tutor pupils in English or maths at primary or secondary level, online or in-person. No previous teaching experience is required and we will provide you with all the resources you need.