Tutor Trust (Effectiveness Trial)

The Tutor Trust is a Manchester-based charity that aims to provide affordable small group and one-to-one tuition to schools. The Trust recruits university students and recent graduates, which enables it to provide a professional paid-for tuition service at a competitive rate. It predominantly aims to support schools in challenging communities and pupils who are looked-after or eligible for free school meals. The Tutor Trust screens tutor applicants to ensure that they have the appropriate mix of academic skills, teaching ability and interpersonal skills. It also delivers structured training to equip tutors with the ability to: decide on a long-term tuition plan for pupils; assess pupils’ grades/levels; plan a tuition lesson tailored to the needs of the pupil; manage pupil behaviour; give praise and encouragement effectively; and teach English and mathematics appropriately.

Why are we funding it?

There is good evidence of tutoring being an effective way of improving attainment. However, there are currently inequalities in access to tutoring, which are likely to widen the gap. The Tutor Trust’s approach is unique in that it is a professional, paid-for tuition service, delivered to schools on a not-for-profit basis, and targeted at disadvantaged areas. The EEF previously commissioned independent evaluations of the Tutor Trust programme in primary and secondary schools in Manchester. The aim of these studies was to establish whether the Tutor Trust was achieving its aims, and to what extent the model was sustainable. However, due to the study designs and attrition, these evaluations did not provide a secure estimate of the impact of the project on pupil outcomes, although the process evaluation of Tutor Trust’s model was positive.

How are we evaluating it?

A team from York Trials Unit has been appointed to evaluate the Tutor Trust approach. The design is a two-armed randomised controlled trial involving 100 primary schools, with 50 schools allocated to receive support from Tutor Trust, and 50 schools to a business-as-usual control group. The evaluation is set up as an effectiveness trial. Effectiveness trials aim to test whether an intervention can work at scale in a large number of schools.

Pupils in the treatment arm will receive a minimum of 1 tutoring session per week for a minimum of 12 weeks, with flexibility for schools to increase the duration and intensity of tuition according to need. Schools will be asked to select 10 to 12 eligible pupils, and will then be randomised to treatment or control conditions. Tutor Trust will recruit 100 primary schools in Greater Manchester and Leeds from January 2016 and tuition would begin in schools from September 2016. Key Stage 2 tests in Maths would be used to assess outcomes in summer 2017.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in spring 2018.