One to one tuition

Moderate impact for high cost, based on extensive evidence.

Cost Per Pupil Cost estimate: Up to £1,200 per pupil. cost per pupil
Evidence Rating Evidence estimate: Three or more rigorous meta-analyses. evidence rating Average impact: + 5 additional months. Impact +5 months

What is it?

One to one tuition is where an individual pupil is removed from their class and given intensive tuition. It may also be undertaken outside of normal lessons, for example as part of after school programmes or summer schools.

How effective is it?

Evidence indicates that in areas like reading and mathematics one to one tuition can enable learners to catch up with their peers. Often research has been focused on children who are falling behind their peers, though one to one tuition reliably provides benefit. Meta-analyses indicate that pupils might make about 4 or 5 months progress during an intensive programme.

Short, regular sessions (about 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week) over a set period of time (6-12 weeks) appear to result in optimum impact. However there is no strong evidence that one to one is better than paired tuition or intensive small group teaching, and in some circumstances evidence suggests that pairs make better progress than individual pupils. Evidence also suggests tutoring should be additional or supplemental to normal instruction, rather than as a replacement and that teachers should monitor progress to ensure the tutoring is beneficial.

How secure is the evidence?

Overall, the evidence is consistent and strong, particularly for younger learners who are behind their peers in primary schools, and for subjects like reading and mathematics. Programmes which used experienced and specifically trained teachers tend to be more effective than those using volunteers or classroom assistants (nearly double the effect). Where tuition is delivered by volunteers or  teaching assistants there is evidence that training is beneficial. The evidence is strongest at primary level and for subjects like reading and mathematics. The evaluation of  Catch Up Numeracy, funded by the EEF, indicates that pupils can make an additional average three to four months progress in mathematics with one to one tuition. There are fewer studies at secondary level or for other subjects.

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What are the costs?

The costs are high as the support is intensive. A single pupil receiving 30 minutes tuition, five times a week for 12 weeks requires about four full days of a teacher’s time, which will cost in the region of £800 per pupil. Costs could be reduced by using groups of one to two or one to three (see Small group tuition). Overall, costs are estimated as high.

What should I consider?

  • One to one tuition is very effective in helping learners catch up, but can be relatively expensive.

  • To control costs, schools could consider other groupings for intensive support such as one to two or even one to three.

  • Short periods (5-10 weeks) of intensive sessions (up to an hour, three or four times a week) tend to have greater impact.

  • A qualified teacher is likely to achieve greater progress than support staff or volunteers, and training and professional development are likely to be beneficial for both teachers and support staff.

  • Is the tuition explicitly linked to what happens in class?

  • What training and support have you provided for those delivering the tuition?

  • Have you considered how you will support pupils and regular class teachers to ensure the impact is sustained once they return to normal classes?