Schools’ tutoring scheme fund raided to pay for new £96m college catch-up

A scheme being designed to provide extra tuition for disadvantaged school pupils has been slashed by almost £100 million after the government pledged to use a chunk of the funding for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Under proposals for a £1 billion Covid-19 “catch-up plan” announced by the Department for Education last month, £350 million was set to go into setting up a National Tutoring Programme (NTP) to offer subsidised tuition to state primary and secondary school students.

Schools will use the remaining £650 million to pay for catch-up programmes.

Colleges and other 16 to 19 education providers had controversially been excluded from the funding package, but the DfE U-turned on this decision today.

Announcing how the catch-up funding would be distributed, the department said they will “provide a one-off, ring-fenced grant of up to £96 million for colleges, sixth forms and all 16 to 19 providers, to provide small group tutoring activity for disadvantaged 16 to 19 students whose studies have been disrupted”.

Skills minister Gillian Keegan said she was “absolutely delighted” that the DfE was able to “secure an additional £96 million so colleges, sixth forms and all 16 to 19 providers” can provide small-group tutoring.

But the DfE has confirmed to Schools Week that the £96 million will actually be taken from the £350 million tutoring programme for schools, it is not new funding.

This means less cash will be available for schools than originally promised.

The NTP will be run by the Education Endowment Foundation, Sutton Trust, Impetus and Nesta. A release published on the EEF’s website last month states “state-maintained primary and secondary schools in England will be able to access it [the NTP] and use as best fits the needs of their pupils”. There is no mention of intentions the funding would go towards supporting 16 to 19-year-olds as well.

The DfE also said today the NTP will not start until October, even though prime minister Boris Johnson had originally promised a “massive catch-up operation” for pupils over the summer.