Three in ten schools shunned the national tutoring programme last year, and take-up has continued to fall this term, new data shows.
Department for Education data also shows just 45.5 per cent of tutoring reached disadvantaged pupils in 2022-23, down from 47.4 per cent the year before.
Ministers had previously said they wanted 65 per cent of provision to be for poorer children.
Today’s data is the first to cover the whole of the 2022-23 academic year, when all tutoring funding went directly to schools after NTP provider Randstad was axed.
It shows 70.8 per cent of schools participated in the NTP in the 2022-23 academic year, down from 87.4 per cent in the year before. The number of courses delivered also fell, from 2,215,386 in 2021-22 to 2,060,618 in 2020-23.
But Nick Brook, CEO of Speakers for Schools and chair of the DfE’s strategic tutoring advisory group, said “the fact that over 2 million programmes of tutoring were delivered last year is unexpected but welcome”.
“Even on the conservative estimates of researchers, this would equate to over 2 million months of additional progress.”
The government’s subsidy of tutoring via the programme has gradually fallen over the years.
Last year, schools had to pay 40 per cent of the costs themselves. This year the subsidy fell again to 50 per cent. It was due to drop to 25 per cent, but the DfE revised it up amid poor take-up.
Just 1 in 3 schools take part since September
Data has also been published for the first part of this term. It shows that just 35.6 per cent of schools have participated in the programme since September. At the same point last year, 43.7 per cent had used it.
Since the beginning of the NTP in November 2020, 4,932,327 courses have been started by pupils.
Schools Week reported earlier this year that a huge £240 million of tutoring cash has now gone unspent by schools, calling further into question the impact of the government’s flagship catch-up scheme.
And we revealed last month that up to one in five schools face having their catch-up cash clawed back this year because they did not provide details of how it was spent.
Brook said the government had provided “sufficient subsidy to part-fund around 2 million programmes of tutoring” last year.
“This target was exceeded, yet around a third of the subsidy was unspent and will be clawed back by the Treasury.
“This is hard to reconcile, and may suggest either larger group sizes, lower costs, or schools using other (core) funding to provide tutoring at scale.”
He added that “whatever the explanation, it simply can’t be right that unspent subsidy is lost to education, not reallocated for the benefit of children that need support the most”.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.