Charities contemplate challenging Randstad for NTP contract

Tutor Trust CEO says Zahawi should 'look seriously' at whether to use break clause

Tutor Trust CEO says Zahawi should 'look seriously' at whether to use break clause

national tutoring programme

A group of charities is discussing forming an “alternative” provider to challenge Randstad over the running of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) from next year.

Nick Bent, chief executive of the Tutor Trust, told MPs this morning that education secretary Nadhim Zahawi should “look seriously at the question” of whether he should use a break clause in the Dutch HR firm’s contract after this academic year.

Ministers said yesterday they were working with Randstad to “step up” participation in the scheme.

Figures provided by the firm show as of last week more than 73,000 pupils had enrolled for tutoring this year, against a target of 524,000. But just over 43,000 had actually started tuition.

Several leading providers were previously locked in a now resolved contract dispute with Randstad, and concerns remain over the firm’s new online portal for schools to obtain tutoring.

Randstad won the tender to run the flagship programme for the next few years ahead of the year one provider, the Education Endowment Foundation.

Bent said his organisation wanted to work with Randstad and the Department for Education “in the short term” to “make a real success of this academic year”. He said the department and Randstad were “starting to listen a bit more and engage a bit more and that’s welcome”.

‘Alternative option’ available

But he said the education secretary also needed to “look seriously at the question of whether he should exercise his break clause in the contract with Randstad”, and revealed there “is an alternative option potentially available”.

The Fair Education Alliance (FEA) has “agreed to host conversations about an alternative not-for-profit provider to potentially take on the running of the whole National Tutoring Programme” from September next year, Bent told MPs.

“And there are charities like Tutor Trust, Action Tutoring, Literacy Pirates, Coach Bright, Equal Education and others who are willing to work with the secretary of state to devise a potential alternative solution.”

Sam Butters, co-chief executive of the FEA, confirmed a group of member organisations who deliver tutoring to disadvantaged pupils had been convened “under the umbrella” of the FEA since the start of the pandemic.

“Some have been appointed as delivery partners of the NTP and given recent challenges with Randstad, five organisations – The Tutor Trust, Action Tutoring, Literacy Pirates, Coachbright and Equal Education – are exploring alternative options for delivery and FEA is hosting these conversations.”

Randstad told Schools Week yesterday it was “confident in our ability” to lead the programme. It was working “very closely” with tuition partners “to ensure we deliver an ambitious and high-quality programme at pace, for schools to help their pupils whose education has been most impacted”.

“We recognise the importance of the programme and take the responsibility of managing it extremely seriously,” a spokesperson said.

The company was approached for further comment.

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