New tutoring “league tables” will be published this autumn, it has been confirmed, as ministers seek to name and shame schools that have not yet used the catch-up programme.
Schools that have not signed up to the National Tutoring Programme will also be contacted directly by government to “discuss their plans”, while data on take-up will also be passed to Ofsted.
But leaders have accused the government of “political grandstanding” to distract from the “mess” made of the tutoring scheme.
As revealed by Schools Week last Thursday, the government will publish school-level data on take-up to “improve transparency and support uptake” of the flailing flagship scheme.
Department for Education figures suggest two in five schools have not used government-funded tutoring yet.
It comes after the government announced all tutoring cash would go directly to schools next year, with under-fire Dutch HR firm Randstad axed as the provider of the NTP.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has now written to schools to confirm his intention to publish the data this autumn to help parents “understand how their school is taking up the offer of government-funded support to help pupils catch up on lost learning”.
Data will be shared with Ofsted
The data “will also be shared with Ofsted, with the department working with Ofsted over the coming months on the best use of that data”.
Zahawi said he wanted to appeal “in particular to those schools that have not yet started to offer tutoring, to make sure that you do so as soon as possible this term — do not miss out on an opportunity to help pupils who could benefit now”.
Starting this week, the DfE will contact schools yet to offer tutoring to “discuss their plans and offer further support to ensure they can offer tutoring to their pupils this term”, Zahawi said.
“As part of my desire to ensure greater transparency of the impact of the programme, I am planning to publish data on each school’s tutoring delivery at the end of the year alongside the funding allocations and numbers of pupils eligible for the pupil premium.”
The DfE said it intended to publish school-level take-up data for the 2021-22 academic year this autumn. This would be on top of existing government data on national take-up, and school-level funding allocations.
DfE ‘trying to distract from tutoring mess’
But leaders unions criticised the government’s “eleventh hour” announcement.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of ASCL, questioned the “bizarre decision to send a letter to schools on a bank holiday Monday”, and said the announcement “smacks of political grandstanding designed to distract from the mess the government has made of the National Tutoring Programme”.
“When the Department for Education set out guidance for this year’s National Tutoring Programme it did not mention that it would be publishing some sort of league table on take-up and sharing this with Ofsted.”
“This is effectively a new accountability measure which has been introduced at the eleventh hour in a rather underhand manner.”
He said the NTP was “not straightforward”, and pointed out the funding was “only a partial subsidy with schools expected to meet the rest of the cost of tuition through other budgets”.
“The decision to publish data feels very much like an attempt to shift the focus away from its manifest failings and on to schools.”
Paul Whiteman, leader of the NAHT, also warned that delays, conflicting guidance and a shortage of tutors in some areas “has meant many schools have simply not been able to use the national tutoring programme”.
“It is completely wrong for the government to seek to hold schools to account for delivering tutoring, when it has yet to create a programme that properly delivers for schools and pupils.”