When England decided to close its schools in March 2020 with Covid-19 virus sweeping the globe, parents, teachers and students alike found themselves stuck in a precarious and worrying no man’s land, with questions surrounding GCSE results and year group transitions on everyone’s mind. In response to this, the government announced the launch of The National Tutoring Programme (NTP), a £350 million government-funded initiative seeking to assist students who have fallen behind due to the school closures. Set to launch officially in Autumn 2020, the NPT aims to provide state-run primary and secondary schools in England high-quality tuition, focusing on those pupils who have missed out the most due to the school closures.
The attainment gap between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers is already significant; according to the Department of Education, only 456 of the 143,000 students classed as disadvantaged achieved top grade 9s in English and Maths at the end of the last school year, compared with 6,132 out of 398,000 other pupils . The deputy director of the DfE’s pupil premium and school food division Vicki Stewart warned that the school closures would have a substantial impact on the attainment gap, with predictions of up to a 75 per cent widening . The NTP will make attempts to rectify this through collaboration between the private and public education sectors. Private tutoring organisations will receive government funding to deliver one to one or small group tuition in partnership with schools.
These tutoring organisations will be chosen according to various criteria such as quality, scalability and how their current method of tutoring is operating. Tutoring organisations that do not have extensive evidence of their impact, such as a randomised controlled trial (RCT), will be evaluated by the NTP. Quality control measures will include evidence of sufficient tutor training, appropriate safeguarding measures and close monitoring of the impact of the work being carried out by tutors.
The NTP will consist of two “pillars”: NTP Partners and NTP Coaches. According to the Education Endowment Foundation, the distinction between Partners and Coaches are as follows:
· “Through NTP Partners, schools will be able to access heavily subsided tutoring from an approved list of tuition partners. These organisations – who will all be subject to quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards - will be given support and funding to reach as many disadvantaged pupils as possible.”
· “Through NTP Coaches, trained graduates will be employed by schools in the most disadvantaged areas to provide intensive catch-up support to their pupils, allowing teachers in these schools to focus on their classrooms.”
The NTP Partners will deliver subsidised tutoring of a high standard to schools. They will be employees of tutoring organisations and charities already working with schools. The tutors will thus be professionally trained and experienced, and will be external to the school. NTP Partners will work with pupils regularly but not every day; this follows the more traditional style of tutoring. For example, a pupil may receive 1 to 2 hours of tutoring per week for a course of 12 – 15 weeks. The NTP coaches will be in schools full-time and will already be employed by schools. They will become part of the staff team as coaches that will deliver additional academic training. As the NTP coaches will be in school full-time, they will be able to provide more rigorous and regular support of those students who need it the most. They will not be expected to deliver whole-class training, but will provide one to one or small group support.
School leaders and teachers will select which approach best suits the needs of the school and their most disadvantaged students. The NTP will assist teachers and school leaders in making these decisions by providing evidence of high-quality standards and assessing which tuition partners best suit which schools and their students.
The NTP has been created through a collaboration between four charities, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), Sutton Trust, Impetus and Nesta. These charities will be involved in the initial delivery of the NTP. Still, additional resources “are also being provided by the founding organisations and philanthropic and corporate partners to set up the organisation which will oversee the NTP.”
The scheme is focusing specifically on tutoring due to the extensive evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of one to one and small group tutoring. The Sutton Trust EFF Learning and Teaching Toolkit proposes that this type of intensive, regular tutoring can boost progress up to +5 months. In fact, access to this type of tuition by privileged students is perhaps one of the most significant contributors to the attainment gap. One to one and small group tutoring has been proven to be a highly useful tool in assisting students with their learning, and the NTP will ensure pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will have access to it. This collaboration between the public and private sectors is long overdue. While there are bound to be hiccups along the way, it is the step in the right direction toward ensuring every child receives a quality education regardless of socio-economic standing.
 Adams, R., 2020. Attainment Gap Widens Between Disadvantaged Pupils And Their Peers. [online] The Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/feb/06/attainment-gap-widens-disadvantaged-pupils-gcse-results-england> [Accessed 9 July 2020].  Whittaker, F. and Booth, S., 2020. Coronavirus: Attainment Gap Could Widen By 75%, Dfe Official Warns. [online] Schoolsweek.co.uk. Available at: <https://schoolsweek.co.uk/coronavirus-attainment-gap-could-widen-by-75-dfe-official-warns/> [Accessed 9 July 2020].  Education Empowerment Foundation. 2020. National Tutoring Programme Faqs. [online] Available at: <https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/ntp-faqs/> [Accessed 9 July 2020].  Education Empowerment Foundation. 2020. National Tutoring Programme Faqs. [online] Available at: <https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/national-tutoring-programme/ntp-faqs/> [Accessed 9 July 2020].