The national tutoring program in England is set to undergo changes as criticism mounts against the current catch-up scheme for schools. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has pledged further improvements, including the allocation of funds to headteachers. Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders, Zahawi announced that £65m would be transferred to schools from the National Tutoring Program, with money from Dutch service provider Randstad also being redirected. New data from the Department for Education reaffirms that the majority of catch-up tuition was undertaken by schools, with the government’s program to help pupils recover learning opportunities lost during the pandemic needing improvements.
Zahawi said schools would receive additional funding to support catch-up efforts. The shift in funds is aimed at increasing the amount of school-led tutoring, which has proven to be the most popular program among students. Since September 2021, schools have started 532,000 tutoring courses, compared to just 114,000 courses provided by the Randstad program. A further 74,000 courses were started by academic mentors based in schools and funded by the government.
The Department for Education claimed that the NTP is still on track to reach its target of 2 million courses by the end of the year. However, parts of the program run by Randstad have come under criticism for failing to enroll disadvantaged students. The Education Select Committee has called for Randstad’s DfE contract to be terminated unless significant improvements are made. Meanwhile, the DfE has made further adjustments, allowing tutors recruited by Randstad to teach up to six children, instead of a maximum of three in a group. The DfE has also removed its requirement that academic mentors be graduates, now stating that they must simply have A-level qualifications.
Zahawi also discussed the forthcoming white paper on schools, in which he plans to outline his reforms. He aims to ensure that all schools in England become academies and join multi-academy trusts, describing the future as one where all schools are part of a robust trust. Zahawi also expressed concern over under-performing trusts and stated that the white paper would address this matter.
Finally, the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, voiced concerns about homeschooling during her speech on Saturday. She noted that most parents are not equipped to provide education at home and emphasized that anxiety alone should not motivate parents towards home-schooling.