National Tutoring Programme

The National Tutoring Programme – Tuition Partners (‘the TP programme’) is designed to provide additional support to schools and teachers, to supplement classroom teaching, through subsidized, high quality tutoring for schools from an approved list of Tuition Partners. There are currently 33 quality assured Tuition Partners delivering both face-to-face and online tutoring across the country. It is targeted primarily at Free School Meal/Pupil Premium children, although all children are eligible to take part. Selected children will receive 15 hours of tutoring in a variety of subjects, although we expect most tutoring to occur in English and Maths.

The TP programme aims to support teachers and schools in providing a sustained response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to provide a longer-term contribution to closing the attainment gap. The other pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is the funding of Academic Mentors who will be embedded in schools, providing frequent and intensive support to pupils. This strand is being led by Teach First. Both programmes are part of a wider UK-Government response to the educational impact of the pandemic.

The evaluation of the TP programme will aim to quantify the impact of tutoring on pupil attainment, and how this might vary by different tutoring models, pupil and school characteristics. There will be a focus on the impact on pupil premium/free school meal pupils. It will also investigate the experience of schools, tutors and pupils in order to improve delivery of similar programmes in the future. It also will evaluate different strategies to reach and engage both schools and pupils in the programme, looking at the most effective ways to get schools signed up and pupils to attend tutoring sessions.

Why are we funding it?

Research has shown that pupils learning has been affected by school closures (EEF, 2021), which is supported by a larger body of evidence suggesting that the attainment gap tends to grow over periods such as summer holidays when schools are shut.

There is a large body of evidence that tutoring and small-group tuition is effective – particularly where it is targeted at pupils’ specific needs; and that it can be particularly effective for disadvantaged pupils.

As such the NTP was set up in response to COVID and the subsequent school closures, as one of the likely most effective ways to help children catch up with their learning. The NTP offers an invaluable opportunity to generate evidence of the effectiveness of a large-scale tutoring programme on pupil attainment and to inform the future viability of tutoring as part of the English school system. 

How are we evaluating it?

The overarching evaluation team focuses on three components: data management, implementation and process evaluation (IPE) and impact evaluation. The first of these will help to collate and analysis monitoring data on the number of schools and pupils taking parts in tutoring, the characteristics of these schools and pupils and attendance at tutoring session.

The second component focuses on the implementation and processes of the NTP itself. This is primarily qualitative feedback, incorporating views from a range of stakeholders via surveys and interviews. This will include TP Programme Managers, Tuition Partners, school leads, classroom teachers, tutors and pupils. It will also collect information on costs and aims to feed the learnings back into the programme to improve it.

The third aspect is the impact evaluation where the impact of tutoring on both primary and secondary pupils’ maths and literacy attainments outcomes will be assessed, using a quasi-experimental design involving a comparison group of pupils in schools not receiving tutoring. The evaluation will also look at how any impact found varies by school and pupil characteristics and model of tutoring.

In addition to the overarching evaluation, we are evaluating different strategies to reach and engage schools, tutors and pupils. Here, we are looking both at the impact of different communication strategies with schools to engage them in the TP programme, but also at different strategies to increase pupil’s attendance at and engagement in tutoring sessions.

When will the evaluation reports be due?

The overarching evaluation report will be published in Summer 2022. 

The results of our first Reach & Engagement trial, which compared the effectiveness of different types of school recruitment emails in encouraging schools to sign up for the Tuition Partners pillar of the NTP, are available here. Further reports will be published later in the year.