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Tutoring has given our pupils new opportunities

29 Mar 2023, 13:26

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Teachers witnessed first hand the impact of the pandemic on pupils’ learning, and evidence suggests that tutoring is one of the most effective tools to support education and accelerate academic progress to help pupils catch up.

A recent report published by the Sutton Trust revealed that the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) has played a significant role in levelling the playing field for access to tutoring overall. Teachers have been able to use the Department for Education’s National Tutoring Programme to support pupils who need it most.

Deputy headteacher of St Giles CE Primary School in Walsall, West Midlands, Simrat Mavi has set up a system of virtual learning for 80 children. “It doesn’t replace quality teaching, it’s an additional provision that gives them additional learning time in a flexible way,” says Mrs Mavi. “The children don’t see it as a chore, otherwise they wouldn’t be skipping along going to their sessions.”

Mrs Mavi says many pupils see tutoring as their “me time”, but the rewards go far beyond that, improving life chances for those who need it most. The Department for Education currently funds 60% of the cost of tutoring for schools and St Giles is clearly reaping the benefits of that investment.

“We’re a school with a high percentage of children from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Mrs Mavi. “When we talk about life chances, it’s all about children thinking: ‘How do I learn?’ The NTP gives pupils the tools so they can develop at their own pace.”

Reading was identified as a key skill to build upon, so now 80 pupils take it in turns to attend the tutoring hub, and children with SEND are particularly benefitting from small group tutoring. Some year six pupils have increased their reading age by more than two years thanks to the programme.

Maths is also a focus, with tuition that’s tailored to each pupil’s level in a calm, distraction free learning space. “It works from their unique starting point,” says Mrs Mavi. “If I’m a special needs child who’s in year five, but I need to cover the year two objectives in maths, tutors will make sure I’m working at a level that makes sense to me.”

One of the things Mrs Mavi is most proud of is how she’s seen children with SEND flourish academically and gain confidence with a bespoke online tuition programme, which takes place in school time with supervision from a teacher. “I love it when they’re logged in, they know what they have to do and they’re answering questions independently,” says Mrs Mavi. “For our SEND kids, we put them in a situation where they have to think for themselves, but it’s done in such a supportive and nurturing way that it doesn’t feel like they’re under the spotlight. They’re not embarrassed, they’re not thinking: ‘I’m out of my depth’ and that’s the beauty of it.”

There’s also been a boost in soft skills such as resilience and an improvement in mental health for children taking part in the NTP. “It’s the hidden curriculum. They’re becoming more resourceful, they’re becoming more resilient and they know they need to make a decision because they don’t have a TA sitting next to them,” says Mrs Mavi. “They’re finding that learner within themselves.”

Thanks to the NTP, year six pupils from St Giles are equipped with the confidence and skills that will make the transition to secondary school easier. “Tutoring has given opportunities to our children who needed it most,” says Mrs Mavi. “It’s having a huge impact on these pupils with skills such as resilience underpinning that growth.”

For more details on the National Tutoring Programme visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-tutoring-programme-guidance-for-schools-2022-to-2023

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  1. Peter Murphy

    Schools will struggle to afford tutoring given the reduction in subsidy and uncertainty over whether any teachers’ pay award will be fully funded. The NTP has been a great success although the Randstad chapter was a wrong turn on behalf of the government. This was a genuinely visionary step on behalf of a dreadful government. Shame a lack of funding means the death knell.