Documents to download

National Tutoring Programme

What is the National Tutoring Programme (NTP)?

The National Tutoring Programme, or NTP, was introduced in England as a response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education.

It provides subsidised small-group catch-up teaching and mentoring for pupils impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Funding is due to finish by end of 2023/24 academic year

The NTP programme began in the 2020/21 academic year, extending across a further four academic years. DfE funding is due to finish at the end of the 2023/24 academic year. There have been calls to extend funding for tutoring. For example, the Sutton Trust published a report in February 2024, which argued:  

There is a real risk that without continued funding, the huge progress that has been made on access to tutoring through schools will be lost, and a vital means of narrowing the gap squandered. (p8)

In an article in February 2024, David Blunkett, Munira Wilson and Robin Walker called for an extension of funding for tutoring:

Tutoring is well liked, it works, and it provides considerable benefits to both children and the Exchequer.

Yet its future hangs in the balance. Dedicated funding is due to be scrapped in the months ahead (unless it is renewed in the Budget), a decision more than two thirds of headteachers said would mean they would be forced to scale back or end tutoring in their schools altogether.

This is not a party-political issue, this is simply a call to continue what works.

The DfE says around 5 million tutoring courses have begun since the programme’s inception, and that it expects tutoring to carry on being a “staple offer from schools”.

In total, the Government has spent over £1 billion on the NTP, since inception. There are also other education recovery schemes and grants; spending to date on education recovery initiatives (including the NTP) is nearly £5bn, according to Ministers.

Programme history: contractors and the move to a school-led model

Initially, Teach First and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) began delivery of the NTP. These were organisations already working with the DfE in other areas. After the first year, the programme was contracted out via tender, to Randstad.

Tuition was provided in small groups to students that schools had identified as likely to benefit most. This was known as the ‘tuition partners’ strand. There was a second strand, focused on academic mentors, and also work to support school teachers and leaders.

In September 2021, the DfE added a new ‘school-led’ tutoring route, whereby schools could arrange their own tutoring, including using existing school staff or third parties. Take-up via this route was much higher than via the Randstad tuition partners strand. Randstad’s contract was not extended, and for the 2022/23 academic year, all funding was allocated directly to schools.

The level of DfE subsidy for tutoring has been scaled back over time. Initially fully funded by the DfE, in the 2023/24 academic year, schools have to pay 50% of the cost out of their main budgets.

Evaluations of the NTP

National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) evaluation

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is running the independent evaluation of the NTP and published the second year findings on 19 October 2023. Overall, this found there were very small differences in outcomes between schools participating in the NTP, and those that weren’t:  

  • School-led tutoring led to small improvements in Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 maths (equivalent to roughly 1 months’ additional progress)
  • There was limited evidence that school-led tutoring had a positive impact on Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 English (but these effects equated to less than one months’ additional progress)
  • More hours in school-led tutoring led to better English and maths outcomes
  • Schools where more pupils participated had progressively better outcomes
  • There was no evidence that participation in the academic mentors and tuition partners routes was associated with improvements at key stage 2 or 4 in either English or maths.

National Audit Office report on education recovery

In February 2023, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a value-for-money report on the Government’s support for education recovery in England. This report looked primarily at the NTP’s operation up until 2021/22. It found that in the 2021/22 academic year:

  • 47% of pupils receiving tutoring were disadvantaged
  • 3 million, or one in five, pupils received tutoring
  • 87% of schools used some form of tutoring under the NTP

The NAO notes that funding is time-limited and the DfE has increasingly expected schools to cover a portion of the costs of tutoring. On this, it noted:

  • The DfE aspired for tutoring to become embedded in the school system
  • Some stakeholders raised concerns about the long-term financial sustainability of tutoring and mentoring, “given the pressures on school budgets” (p8)

Documents to download

Related posts