This project and its evaluation were affected by the 2021 partial school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The study plans have therefore been updated.
The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is a part of the Government’s COVID-19 catch-up response for schools and forms part of the wider Catch-Up Funding. The programme aims to support teachers and schools in providing a sustained response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide a longer-term contribution to closing the attainment gap. The NTP in academic year 2020 – 2021 offered schools access to tutoring via two independent services: Tuition Partners (TP) and the Academic Mentoring Programme (AM). This evaluation relates to the first year of NTP only, academic year 2020 – 2021. Tuition Partners (‘the TP programme’) is designed to provide additional support to schools and teachers, to supplement classroom teaching, through subsidized, high quality tutoring for schools from an approved list of Tuition Partners. In the first year of the TP programme there were 33 quality assured Tuition Partners delivering both face-to-face and online tutoring across England. Tutoring was targeted at children eligible for the pupil premium, however participating schools had discretion to identify which of their pupils they felt would benefit from additional support. Schools selected children who received up to 15 hours of tutoring in a variety of subjects, but predominately English and Maths.
The other pillar of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) in 2020 – 2021 was Academic Mentors (‘the AM programme’), which involved the funding of tutors to be embedded in schools, providing frequent and intensive support to pupils. This strand was led by Teach First. For the AM programme, Teach First managed the provision of tutors (referred to as ‘academic mentors’) to schools; recruiting, training and placing them in schools. Unlike TP, the mentor then worked in the school setting as a full-time employee of the school. Despite the difference in name –‘tutor’ for TP and ‘academic mentor’ for AM – both services aimed to provide a similar tutoring service, focused on small group and one to one intervention.
The evaluation of the TP programme will aim to quantify the impact of tutoring on pupil attainment, and how this might vary by different tutoring models, pupil and school characteristics. There will be a focus on the impact on pupils eligible for pupil premium. It will investigate the experience of schools, tutors and pupils in order to improve delivery of similar programmes in the future. The evaluation of the AM programme will aim to quantify the impact of tutoring on pupil attainment, and how this might vary by different tutoring models, pupil and school characteristics. There will also be a focus on the impact on pupils eligible for pupil premium.
Research has shown that pupils’ learning has been affected by school closures (EEF, 2021), which is supported by a larger body of evidence suggesting that the attainment gap tends to grow over periods such as summer holidays when schools are shut.
There is a large body of evidence that tutoring and small-group tuition is effective – particularly where it is targeted at pupils’ specific needs; and that it can be particularly effective for disadvantaged pupils.
As such the NTP was set up in response to COVID and the subsequent school closures, to help children catch up with their learning. The NTP offers an invaluable opportunity to generate evidence of the effectiveness of a large-scale tutoring programme and to inform the future viability of tutoring as part of the English school system.
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) have been commissioned to run independent evaluations of both the Tuition Partners and Academic Mentors programmes. For the TP programme, the evaluation contains an implementation and process evaluation (IPE) and impact evaluation.
The IPE focuses on the implementation and processes of the TP programme. This is primarily qualitative feedback, incorporating views from a range of stakeholders via surveys and interviews. This will include TP Programme Managers, Tuition Partners, school leads, classroom teachers, tutors and pupils. It will also collect information on costs and aims to feed the learnings back into the programme to improve it. The impact evaluation aims to assess the impact of tutoring on both primary and secondary pupils’ maths and literacy attainment outcomes, using a quasi-experimental design involving a comparison group of pupils in schools not receiving tutoring. The evaluation does this by analysing a pre-identified group of pupils in intervention and comparison schools, those pupils eligible for pupil premium.
The evaluation will also look at how any impact found varies by school and pupil characteristics and model of tutoring. While the evaluation initially aimed to assess the impact of the TP programme on pupils in all years of secondary schools, a lack of available assessment data has meant that the evaluation is focused on Year 11 pupils only.
In addition to the TP evaluation, EEF commissioned a series of separate ‘nimble trials’ to evaluate different strategies to reach and engage schools, tutors and pupils. Details of these can be found here.
The evaluation of the AM programme is an impact evaluation, where the impact of mentoring on both pupils’ maths and English attainment outcomes will be assessed, using a quasi-experimental design involving a comparison group of pupils in schools not receiving mentoring. Like TP, the evaluation does this by analysing a pre-identified group of pupils in intervention and comparison schools, those pupils eligible for pupil premium.
While the AM evaluation initially aimed to assess the impact of the AM programme on pupils in primary and secondary schools, a lack of available assessment data has meant that the evaluation is focused on Year 11 pupils only. Teach First has conducted their own process evaluation of the AM programme, which is available here.
The overarching evaluation report for the TP programme will be published in Autumn 2022.
The evaluation report of the AM programme will be published in Autumn 2022.