Troubleshooters to keep an eye on struggling tutoring programme

The Department for Education has set up a 'strategic tutoring advisory group'

The Department for Education has set up a 'strategic tutoring advisory group'


Ministers have appointed tutoring troubleshooters to ensure the flagship catch-up scheme stays on track.

The Department for Education has set up a “strategic tutoring advisory group” to make sure the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) succeeds and embeds tutoring into the sector.

It comes after faltering take-up last year and criticism that the programme is too complicated.

The contractor Randstad was axed and all £349 million goes directly to schools this academic year.

The recently formed group will be chaired by Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, who has advised the DfE on tutoring in the past. 

Lee Elliot Major, social mobility professor at the University of Exeter, and Carole Willis, the chief executive of the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), also confirmed their membership.

Other members include Geoff Barton, the general secretary at school leaders’ union ASCL, James Turner, the former chief executive of the Sutton Trust, and Dame Christine Gilbert, a former Ofsted boss and visiting professor at University College London.

Natalie Perera, the chief executive of the Education Policy Institute, Dr Kulvarn Atwal, headteacher of Highlands Primary School in Ilford, Essex, and Leora Cruddas, who leads the Confederation of School Trusts, are also on the group (see full list below).

Tutoring ambition ‘sound’ but implementation ‘poor’

Brook told Schools Week that while the NTP’s ambition was “sound”, the implementation had been “problematic” and at times “downright poor”.

“Tutoring is no silver bullet but, done right, it could help significantly more disadvantaged young people to succeed.

“The potential for good is simply too great for us to stand by the side and watch the NTP struggle or fail. That is why the advisory group has been formed, and that is why I have agreed to chair it.”

NPQs tutoring
Nick Brook

At its first meeting last week, Brook said the ambition was to “help steer tutoring policy and practice in the right direction for the remaining two years of the programme and that we shape the longer-term vision for what could be achieved in the years beyond that”.

Elliot Major said a key aim was “to identify and signpost” tutoring evidence for schools on different subjects and phases.

Willis said she would feed in the NFER’s evidence on tutoring to the group’s work. Its researchers found that the early NTP “failed” to achieve its “intended focus” to help disadvantaged pupils catch up.

Schools Week revealed how ministers face having to hand back more than £100 million of unspent tutoring funding to the Treasury after schools struggled to access the flagship scheme last year.

A DfE spokesperson said the group would “ensure that the programme continues to provide value to schools and pupils”.

The strategic tutoring advice group membership:

  • Nick Brook (chair) – deputy general secretary of the school leaders’ union the National Association of Head Teachers 
  • Dr Kulvarn Atwal – CEO and author of ‘The Thinking School’ and headteacher of Highlands Primary School in Ilford
  • Geoff Barton – general secretary of Association of School and College Leaders
  • Leora Cruddas – chief executive of the Confederation of School Trusts
  • Lee Elliot-Major – professor of social mobility, University of Exeter
  • Becky Francis – chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation 
  • Dame Christine Gilbert – former HMCI and independent chair of Camden Learning and the charity Future First
  • Richard Gill – CEO, The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership
  • Natalie Perera – chief executive of the Education Policy Institute
  • Jonathan Simons – partner at Public First and head of the Education Practice
  • James Turner – CEO of Hg Foundation and former chief executive of the Sutton Trust
  • Carole Willis – chief executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research 

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