DfE’s Covid catch-up scheme set for expansion


The government is aiming to nearly double the number of children who will next year receive tuition under its flagship catch-up scheme.

In a presentation to organisations interested in running the scheme’s £130 million second phase, the Department for Education said it was aiming to provide 15 hours subsidised tutoring to about 450,000 disadvantaged pupils, up from 250,000 this year.

It also hopes that 2,000 academic mentors will provide tutoring in the most disadvantaged schools by the end of next year, 500 more than this year.

As Schools Week revealed last week, the DfE is intending to extend its national tutoring programme (NTP) for two more years.

Funding has been agreed for the 2021-22 academic year, but an earlier information document said any additional years would be subject to a spending review.

The government wants an individual or a consortium to run the scheme next year, providing tutors and academic mentors. Schools Week understands that either or both could be subcontracted out in a similar set-up to this year.

The programme has been developed by five charities, with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) running the tuition partners and Teach First managing the academic mentors.

Teach First biding its time

This week, Teach First said it would wait to see what the tender documents outlined before “deciding what role we’d want to play in its future”. The documents are expected to be published in February.

A spokesperson added: “The whole programme, including the academic mentors, is making a big difference to those most in need, and has great potential to be valuable over the longer term.”

The EEF said last week that it was “keen to ensure” the NTP had a positive legacy and was considering how it could best support this.

The new delivery partner is expected to sign a contract in mid-April, according to the presentation seen by Schools Week.

The programme will also move to open access for tutors. It is expected that this would allow any tutors that meet the DfE’s and delivery partner’s standards to be added to a panel of qualifying providers.

But the delivery partner ultimately will make any contracting decisions.

The Tutors’ Association (TTA), which represents more than 30,000 tutors, has welcomed the move, hoping it offered “more flexibility” for tuition companies, compared with the grant funding awarded to 33 tuition partners this year.

John Nichols, the association’s president, said: “TTA is keen to work with other interested parties as a consortium partner in phase two for the purposes of sourcing quality tutors and tutoring companies, and to handle the evaluation and monitoring procedures – as we already do for our members.”

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