On Friday, the UK government announced a funded intervention into the education system, the likes of which we haven't seen before. This week, I will be posting a series of blogs examining their proposal to send in tutors to schools to help avert the lockdown attainment gap, but also to give support to the most vulnerable students.
What does it mean for tutors?
Upon first glance, the government's pledge to give £350 million to schools across England to pay for private tutors to provide extra support to students in year 6, 10 and 11 sounds like a dream come true. However, let's navigate some of the small print to see whether this means more business, or more red tape.
The Education Endowment Foundation are the charity behind the initiative, connecting schools with what they have called NTP Partners and NTP Coaches. In this update, we will be focusing on the NTP Partners which are the organisations approved to send tutors into schools. There is some uncertainty on this point regarding who these organisations will be and how tutors can become recognised and able to teach on this programme. The EEF will be holding a funding round where tutoring organisations can apply to become a recognised NTP Partner.
So how does the funding work?
This is where things get a little more complicated. The government have given schools full autonomy in terms of their choice of tutors as they will be the ones receiving the funding directly. Currently, all we know is that the EEF's criteria for funding will be released soon and, if successful, tutoring agencies will appear on a list for schools to choose how to spend the funds.
There will undoubtedly be some teething issues at first, particularly because the tutoring industry, up to this point, has remained unregulated. This is one of the reasons for the funding round, so that each applicant can be assessed in terms of the following criteria:
Organisations will be examined to see 'how closely their delivery currently fits with, or could be developed to fit with, the existing evidence base.'
The 'quality and scalability' of their tutoring platform.
To ensure the quality of the tutors, 'evaluations will be carried out for organisations who do not currently have robust evidence of their impact' via performance monitoring and randomised trials.
An example of how quality will be assessed is through 'tutor training, safeguarding, and impact monitoring' within a company. (EEF, 2020)
As you can see, it seems individual tutors will not benefit from the NTP Partners scheme as it stands. Instead it will be businesses and organisations.
Why should I care?
Yes admittedly it does seem that this scheme may hinder private tutors from accessing the funding and gaining access to schools to engage with this project. But, there are a number of ways we can respond to make the most of this development.
I mentioned earlier that the second strand of the programme involved NTP Coaches who will consist of recent graduates to be trained by schools to deliver the support where it is needed, whether in the classroom or in after school catch up sessions. The schools will ultimately control their deployment and it seems that there will be full time positions in schools for these coaches. This is one area for tutors to explore further once more information is released.
The second option is to register with an organisation applying for the funding round to appear on their books as a recognised tutor. In this case, it would be up to the individual organisation how you would be paid for your time and whether you would lose part of that income as a commission to the company hosting your profile and potentially providing the training.
Now, there is a third point to consider here. The National Tutoring Programme is targeting the most vulnerable students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, in the first instance, in the state sector. This means in areas where schools have a more resources and better funding, they will not receive the same level of support and this could be one area to explore in terms of offering private tutoring, either directly by approaching the school, or targeting the parents of children who attend. The same is also true of independent schools. Both might be looking for ways to impose similar style initiatives but with more flexibility in terms of how they recruit their support.
The Learn Lab is committed to providing quality English tutoring to students in KS3, 4 and 5 and will be applying to the funding round with our online delivery method. However, as was always the incentive behind the platform, we are looking for ways to support tutors in the UK to grow their businesses and build their client lists. We will be hosting tutors on the platform that hold the same values and commitment to supporting students in what has been an incredibly unsettling time both educationally and emotionally.
If you are an English tutor looking for a small organisation to support you in this venture to become part of the National Tutoring Programme please get in touch. Let's work together to develop an inclusive and supportive network for the next generation.
Next time: I examine the research behind the initiative, looking at the attainment gap that propelled the funding announcement and how we can respond using the evidence. Coming Wednesday 24th @ 11am.