National Tutoring Programme still important for looked after children

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A recent BBC investigation found that about one third of the £594m earmarked for tutoring via the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) had gone unspent. Despite this, the government says that the NTP has helped millions of children, and that it is a vital part of the effort to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students.

When the NTP was launched it was almost fully subsidised, whereas this academic year sees the government only covering 60 percent of the cost of tutoring support.

Schools need to find the money to cover the remaining 40 percent. Additionally, schools are no longer able to spend the recovery premium on NTP support. As a result, usage of the scheme has dropped among mainstream schools, with many not able to fund the remaining amounts, as budgets are already at breaking point.

But this BBC story doesn’t consider the importance of the NTP for virtual schools. Despite their being ongoing confusion among some virtual school heads in terms of how to use allocated funding, and the different money pots available to them, virtual schools don’t have the same overheads as mainstream schools (e.g. utility bills) and their budgets are arguably not as stretched. Additionally, the virtual school students receive pupil premium plus which has to be directly spent on raising academic attainment, so additional tutoring is a natural means to an end for looked after children. Virtual schools therefore find themselves in a position where they are better able to utilise the subsidised NTP support.

However, the decline of NTP usage may be overstated. Recently, we have seen an uptick in mainstream schools enquiring about tutoring via the government’s new NTP ‘finder service’. We find ourselves getting anonymous enquiries through the finder, but sometimes never hear back when we respond through the government’s website. If you are looking for additional tutoring support (we start at £13 per hour), we would highly recommend contacting us directly – our tutoring for schools service only uses fully qualified UK teachers and we won’t bug you forever if you decide not to use us. We’re a teaching company staffed with former teachers first and foremost!

We have witnessed first-hand the benefits that the NTP can bring. The children we’ve tutored, using the subsidised programme, have seen the following attainment increases in maths and English (don’t worry, we also provide tutoring for many other subjects!):

Average number of lessonsAverage academic progress 
Maths157.3 months
English154.2 months

With exam season approaching, it is more important than ever that schools have access to high-quality tutoring. The NTP can play a vital role in helping mainstream and virtual schools close the attainment gap and ensure that all children have the opportunity to succeed, and it may just be more affordable for your school than you think!

Written by Josh Blackburn, COO at TLC LIVE