Schools told to consider ‘pupil swapping’ in scramble to hit tutoring target

DfE also urges leaders to extend length of tutor sessions and run more than one per week

DfE also urges leaders to extend length of tutor sessions and run more than one per week

7 Jun 2022, 15:17

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national tutoring programme

The government is asking schools to consider extending tutoring sessions beyond one hour or provide multiple courses per week to complete “as many [tutoring] packages as possible before the end of August”.

School leaders received an email today also advising them to consider splitting the 15-hour tutoring packages between two pupils to ensure courses are delivered.

It comes as the Department for Education scrambles to reach its distant target to deliver two million tutoring courses under the struggling National Tutoring Programme this year.

Latest figures show that just under 1.2 million tutoring courses have been started since September – leaving the government 40 per cent off its promise.

However the suggestion schools do not need to deliver 15-hours of tutoring for each pupil seems to go against the evidence on tuition.

A study that found tutoring boosted outcomes in maths was based on pupils completing twelve hours of tuition, spaced out as weekly, hour-long sessions.

The Education Endowment Foundation evidence toolkit also says on tuition: “Frequent sessions, three times a week or so, lasting up to an hour over about 10 weeks typically show the greatest impact.”

But today’s email to schools says leaders may consider “allowing pupil swapping to increase the benefit of support to those pupils who need it the most”.

This means schools can “divide the 15-hour package between two pupils depending on need, with one pupil receiving 10 hours and the second pupil receiving 5 hours”.

The email also says schools may consider “delivering more than one session to pupils per week or extending sessions to more than one hour”.

It adds “there is still time” to access NTP and schools should “complete as many 15-hour packages as possible before the end of August”.

The DfE also reiterated that schools could run tuition through the summer.

It is the latest push from the government to boost engagement with its flagship tutoring scheme.

Figures released last month found the two tutor routes run by HR firm Randstad have delivered just a third of their targets, with the majority of tutoring now provided directly by schools.

As revealed by Schools Week, ministers will now publish tutoring ‘league tables’ in the autumn to show how much catch-up has been provided by individual schools. The information will also be shared with Ofsted.

Under the plans, schools that have not signed up to the NTP will also be contacted directly by government.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the initiative will provide greater “transparency” but said it “does not represent the introduction of a new accountability measure for schools”.

However Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, previously warned the publishing of the data “will end up being a de facto league table”.

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