Ministers plan to name and shame schools not using tutoring cash under a new push to “improve transparency and support uptake” of the flailing flagship scheme.
However, Schools Week understands the proposals are being strongly challenged by sector leaders, who fear it will push failure of the scheme on to schools.
Ofsted would also check schools’ tutor figures under the plans.
Holding schools to account to rescue a failing programme may hit the target but misses the point
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi will write to all schools “early” next week unveiling new plans to “improve transparency and help identify and support uptake” of tutoring among schools.
The intention was outlined in an email sent to schools from the Department of Education yesterday afternoon.
Schools Week understands the government wants to publish school-by-school data showing their tutoring take-up based on the allocations they received.
The intention behind the plans is that they would allow both parents and Ofsted to check if schools were spending their tutoring cash. The drive behind the move is to improve take-up at those schools that have not used their tutoring cash.
It is believed the allocations published will be the grant funding issued under the school-led tutoring route, introduced this year. Publication of the data would likely be at the end of the academic year.
Schools were given £579 million to organise their own tutoring this year, with another £65 million dished out earlier this year.
Approach risks ‘pushing’ tutoring failure onto schools
However, sector leaders are pushing government to drop the plans. One source said it would push the failure of the government’s heavily criticised flagship tutoring scheme on to schools.
Provider Randstad had its contract to run the scheme axed recently, as revealed by Schools Week.
Latest data shows just 887,521 tutoring courses have been started since September, leaving the government well off its promise of two million courses by the end of this year.
However, three quarters of the courses have been under the school-led tutoring pillar. The other two routes – using an approved tutoring provider, or an academic mentor – are way behind schedule.
Paul Whiteman, chief executive of school leaders’ union NAHT, said it would be the “wrong way to rescue the government’s original failure to deliver an effective tutoring programme”.
“School leaders will use tutoring well if allowed to make professional judgments. Holding schools to account to rescue a failing programme may hit the target but misses the point.
“Further accountability measures may drive compliance, but will not drive excellence.”
Catch-up efforts hampered by Covid
School catch-up efforts have been hampered by conditions out of their control.
Covid disruption has left leaders constantly firefighting to keep classrooms staffed – in turn exacerbating struggles to find tutors as supply options dwindle.
Government could use data from two mandatory collections for the school-led tutoring cash.
The first is the school census, undertaken once a term. Schools must record all pupils who have received tutoring through the grant this year.
The second is an end-of-year statement from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, released in June.
Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, warned that “naming and shaming is never the right way to go. I feel a knee-jerk response is unhelpful typically. Schools are trying to do the best they can with very limited resources and trying to support youngsters who’ve missed out during the pandemic,” she said.
The Department for Education said it will be announcing more details next week and so have nothing further to add.