Schools can only use DfE-approved tutoring firms from September

Leaders wanting to spend school-led tutoring cash on external agencies must draw from government list

Leaders wanting to spend school-led tutoring cash on external agencies must draw from government list

21 Jul 2022, 17:56

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Schools will only be allowed to hire tutoring organisations pre-approved by the Department for Education under the National Tutoring Programme from September.

Guidance issued by the department earlier this month revealed the change to funding conditions for the school-led tutoring route.

This year, schools using the NTP through the school-led route were allowed to use any private tutoring organisation they wanted.

Previous guidance only stipulated that leaders to use their “professional judgment” and checks providers could “meet the needs of their pupils”.

But from September, using an external organisation to provide tutors will now be covered by the same rules as the tuition partners route.

Under this pathway, schools are only allowed to spend their funding on “quality assured” external organisations that are listed on the DfE’s new Find a Tuition Partner service.

The rule will only apply to external organisations however, leaving schools free to hire any individual tutors they wish.

When approached for comment, the DfE said schools could still hire external organisations, but only if they were on its list of accredited providers.

Ben Gadsby, head of policy and research at youth charity Impetus, welcomed the move, describing it as closing a “loophole that enabled potentially sub-standard tuition through the net”.

“But we need more high quality accredited tuition partners. The government should fund a capability building programme as part of the National Tutoring Programme, to support those organisations that fall short of the quality standards to improve their practice,” he added.

“This will help ensure that every school has access to the high quality tuition their pupils need.”

Three firms appointed to support tutoring

The DfE announced earlier this year that £349 million in tutoring funding will be handed directly to schools from September to decide how to spend.

It follows very low take-up of the tuition partners route, with schools opting instead to arrange their own tutoring.

The tuition partners and academic mentors arms of the NTP will continue next year, albeit at a much smaller scale, with three firms appointed this week to support the scheme.

Tribal Group PLC, a multinational provider of education software, won the quality assurance part of the deal that applies to the NTP tuition partner pillar. The government said it would “ensure schools can have confidence in the quality of tutoring”.

Meanwhile, the not-for-profit Education Development Trust will provide training services to tutors and academic mentors, and Global consultancy firm Cognition Education will be responsible for recruiting and deploying academic mentors.

Limited take-up through tuition partners route

The latest figures published by the DfE this week showed that the majority of schools taking up the NTP chose the school-led tutoring route.

Of the 1,781,946 courses started this academic year, 80 per cent, or 1,433,793 were through school-led tutoring. Meanwhile, 11 per cent, or 200,835 were via NTP tuition partners, despite them initially being proffered as the main focus of the programme.

The scheme itself is below target by more than 200,000 courses, with ministers previously promising two million course starts this academic year.

Earlier this year, the DfE announced an overhaul of its flagship catch-up programme, axing the under-fire HR firm Randstad from its helm.

The provider oversaw a sluggish start to the scheme, with many schools choosing to organise their own provision rather than through the tuition partners pillar previously coordinated by them.

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