National Tutor Scheme
The government has just announced a package of measures known as the National Tutor Scheme, designed to address educational inequalities and the gap left by the Corona-crisis school closures.
And while schools across England have welcomed the £1bn government tutoring fund, the measures included within the National Tutor Scheme are facing scrutiny from opposition parties; suggesting that the plan only scratches the surface of need.
There are plenty of arguments about what needs to be done, of course. But – fundamentally – the government has prioritised this money for one-to-one online tutoring with a specific focus on disadvantaged pupils.
In the past, supplementary tutoring has generally been the preserve of wealthier families. Now, online tutoring is set to become a significant contributor in addressing educational inequality; helping support every pupil’s educational needs.
Has remote school teaching worked?
Engagement with teaching and learning during lockdown have varied significantly across the UK in terms of pupil participation and quality of delivery. And – as ever – it’s children from poorer families whose attainment has suffered the most.
According to research, at least two million pupils have completed very little or no work at all since the schools closed down. That’s a significant number of pupils who will have fallen behind as a result of the crisis.
However, many schools have found online a way of making learning more inclusive.
So, there’s good and bad in terms of the immediate outcomes for school children – but you have to bear in mind that schools were not ready for this seismic shift in delivery. Those schools that have embraced online tutoring are finding it a positive environment for teaching and learning.
Who benefits from the National Tutor scheme?
The £1bn fund from the National Tutor Scheme will support educational catch-up for school-age children – that’s from Year 1 (5-year-olds) to Year 11 (16-year-olds).
This excludes early-years providers and further education colleges – there appears to be no additional support for those sectors at present.
£350m of the fund will be used for students defined as “most in need”: children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and those with learning barriers. The remaining £650m is intended for all students of school age.
And while schools minister, Nick Gibb, suggests that the fund will be available from the start of the next academic year, schools will be free to use the fund to set up summer programmes.
Gibb goes on to recommend that the £350m pot should be used for one-to-one online tuition for pupils most in need, creating tutoring jobs for peripatetic tutors.
However, £1bn doesn’t go that far when you consider the number of school-age pupils across England. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculates that the £650m pot manifests as just £80 extra per student.
The government has been piloting a programme that matches selected undergraduates with pupils for one-to-one online tuition, while the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has been exploring how online tutoring might help the most disadvantaged.
The EEF aims to improve achievement for the nation’s poorest students and have recently piloted four tutoring schemes to explore the impact of one-to-one tutoring on learning.
They have created a guide to help headteachers allocate additional funding, with suggested pupil-centric support strategies, intervention schemes, technological solutions, and how to allocate extra teaching capacity.
The EEF consider the National Tutoring Scheme to be an excellent opportunity to provide bespoke support for the least advantaged pupils, leaving – what they believe could be – a positive legacy arising out of the present national crisis.
Online Tutoring comes of age
There’s no doubt that the Corona-crisis has presented the most existential of all dilemmas affecting every facet of modern living. And that experience is leaving the pupil population with a range of emotional responses.
Of course, children are more resilient than we imagine; most are likely to bounce back fairly quickly, although schools are preparing for additional psychological support in many cases. Children of this generation are internet natives and are likely to adapt to online – but the teaching has to catch up in order to facilitate that change.
But it’s not all bad – perhaps, our current international crisis may result in an opportunity to address inequality once and for all.
Tutoring should never be the preserve of the rich – and services such as TutorNinjas are ready to provide a world-class online educational service for pupils and students of all ages; embracing technology to overcome the barriers presented by the spectre of COVID19.
TutorNinjas offering something for everyone
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Whether you’re looking for a physics and maths tutor or for supplementary English or Spanish lessons, cooking classes or online piano sessions, or even guitar lessons; whatever your interest, we have a tutor waiting to help you develop your skills and prepare for exams and qualifications.