1 in 10 schools shun tutor scheme, as workload woes revealed

More than nine in 10 senior school leaders say their workload increased with the National Tutoring Programme, a new evaluation has found.

School leaders told evaluators the funding for the NTP last year was “incredibly difficult to manage”, with the guidance coined as “rubbish and incredibly complicated”.

Researchers said workload was a “key challenge” and recommended that NTP funding included some money for administration and management of the programme.

The review and survey, by the National Foundation for Education Research, looked at how year two of the flagship catch-up scheme was implemented and and used by schools.

Year two was run by HR-firm Randstad, before the firm was axed and all the money given directly to schools for year three, which started in September.

Nine in ten school leaders surveyed for the study said the NTP increased their workload – with 43 per cent of those saying to a “great extent”.

Classroom teachers also reported a rise, with 65 per cent saying their overall workload had gone up.

Ben Styles, NFER’s head of classroom practice and workforce, said “schools would benefit from a proportion of NTP funding being available for management and administration”.

Researchers also found that all three NTP pillars – tuition partners, academic mentors and school-led tutoring – were perceived to have a positive impact. But the school-led route – which proved to be most popular – was thought by schools to have the most impact.

Just over a quarter of survey respondents said their school was using more than one route, with four per cent doing all three.

But more than one in ten – 11 per cent – said their school was not using any of the NTP routes. This was more noticeable in schools with lower numbers of disadvantaged pupils.

Researchers recommended the take-up and impact of tutoring after future reductions in government subsidies is monitored and reviewed. Government currently subsidises 60 per cent of tutoring costs, but this will drop to 25 per cent next year.

Even when subsidies were larger last year, researchers said many of schools not using the NTP “did not think subsidies were sufficient” and felt “unable to meet” the remaining requirements in their own budgets.

An Ofsted evaluation this morning found that most headteachers don’t know if tutoring is working and called for better assessment.

NFER’s evaluation of NTP year 1 found it “failed” to achieve its “intended focus” on helping disadvantaged pupils catch up.

A Department for Education spokesperson said it had simplified the programme in year three and “will continue to work closely with the sector as we move towards our target of starting six million tutoring courses by 2024”.

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