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What You Need To Know About The EEF Report On Tutoring

In this article, we provide a summary of the recommendations made in the EEF guide, ‘Making a difference with effective tutoring’. This article is designed to provide school leaders with practical advice to help ensure their approach to the tuition process is a success.

Ofsted Maths Fact File

Ofsted Maths Fact File

Plan and prepare for your school's next Ofsted inspection. Written my experienced school leaders, find out how to prepare for your maths inspection.

Research clearly shows the positive impact high quality tutoring has on accelerating pupils’ progress and narrowing the attainment gap. This is particularly important post-pandemic, where many children continue to require extra intervention and support with their learning. 

The EEF has identified tuition as being one of the best evidenced interventions, with pupils making up to five months’ additional progress with one-to-one tuition and up to four months’ additional progress with small group tuition. 

It is essential that schools ensure tuition is effective and is having the desired impact, particularly with the many challenges involved, including staffing and budget. It is essential for school leaders to consider how time and resources are being dedicated to monitor and evaluate the tutoring provision being provided. 

The key principles of tutoring

The EEF have identified three key principles for a tutoring programme to be successful:

  1. Selecting pupils and scheduling sessions effectively.
  2. Aligning tutoring with curriculum and assessment.
  3. Creating a sustainable tutoring model.

We will be summarising these principles below and including the questions posed by the EEF to help school leaders to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of tuition in their own setting.

Selecting pupils and scheduling sessions effectively 

  • Evidence shows that the greatest impact from tutoring occurs when sessions are:
    • Frequent (three times a week); 
    • Last up to an hour;
    • Take place over a period of six to twelve weeks. 
    • Note: If tutoring takes place during lesson time, it is essential that the effect of tutoring at a minimum compensates for any time out of class.
  • Although one to one tutoring has the most evidence-based efficacy, studies have found that tutoring in groups of up to three children can also have high impact. However, as the group size increases to over six or seven, the effectiveness reduces noticeably.
  • It is essential that tuition is timetabled carefully, with these factors taken into account. Think about where the sessions will take place, to ensure they start and end promptly and try to maintain consistency with the tutor and the groups.
The EEF’s key questions for school leaders:
  • Have we focused on pupils eligible for Pupil Premium Funding?
  • How frequent should sessions be? When should they take place? 
  • How long should tuition last for?
  • What size of group works best? How should I group pupils?

At Third Space Learning, we believe the more personalised a tutoring programme is, the more beneficial it is to the students. All of our sessions are one to one with each student receiving their own personalised programme based on their individual learning needs, delivered by their own tutor. 

In the EEF report, it discusses the potential stigma of tutoring if a child is tutored alone. Small group tuition reduces the likelihood of this stigma and one of the reasons schools use Third Space Learning is because we can tutor 10-20 pupils at a time, in the same location. It’s a very efficient use of resources as each pupil is connected online to their individual tutor. 

All of our sessions take place online using our online interactive classroom and a headset which helps students to ask questions and address misconceptions in a safe learning environment. This approach allows us to offer one-to-one tuition to a large group, removing intervention related stigma altogether. 

We provide schools with lots of flexibility over the scheduling and times of tutoring sessions so that tuition can complement the school timetable and have minimal impact on class time. Our customer support team is always on hand to provide support to ensure that your sessions run smoothly.

Image of pupils doing online one to on tutoring with third space learning
Year 5 pupils at @St_Benets Primary School enjoying their one to one tuition with Third Space Learning
Read more: Tutoring For Disadvantaged Students

Aligning tutoring with the curriculum and assessment 

  • Evidence shows that targeted tuition, which makes use of diagnostic assessment, is likely to be the most effective. 
  • Tutoring should be targeted in the following ways:
    • Addressing specific pupil misconceptions
    • Adjusting the level of challenge or activities
    • Ensuring specific concepts or topics are retaught as necessary
    • Realigning the curriculum materials in the medium and longer term
  • Pupils’ needs can be identified through ongoing quizzing and questioning during tutoring sessions. 
  • Hinge questions are a quick, simple way to effectively assess pupils. These are key questions, often multiple choice, which identify whether a pupil has understood a concept. They are designed to enable teachers to see why pupils have made an error, in any questions they have answered incorrectly.
The EEF’s key questions for school leaders:
  • Which staff are most appropriate for tutoring? What support and training do tutors need to ensure maximum impact?
  • How do we align tutoring content with the rest of the curriculum? How do we communicate with tutors?
  • How do we support transition out of tutoring sessions? How do we create a healthy feedback and (feed-forward) loop?

Our intervention programmes have been created by our team of maths specialists and former teachers to ensure that they align with the UK national curriculum and employ the latest educational research. 

Students sit carefully designed diagnostic assessments which identify areas of development, before our online programme creates a bespoke series of lessons to meet the students’ individual learning needs. Our lessons are carefully sequenced to precisely target misconceptions and allow students to build on previously acquired knowledge to become confident mathematicians. 

Following each session students are asked to complete a couple of multiple choice questions designed to test understanding. The results of these questions help with progress tracking and allow subsequent tutor sessions to be adapted as required.

Creating a sustainable tutoring model

  • For a tutoring programme to be successful, it’s important for schools to consistently monitor and evaluate the impact of tutoring. 
  • Challenges may arise, such as sessions being missed or topics not aligning with what is happening in the classroom, so it is important to continually monitor and adapt. Monitoring can include:
    • Observations and learning walks.
    • Review of planning.
    • Staff and pupil feedback (interviews, surveys and focus groups).
    • Parent/carer surveys.
    • Attendance data.
    • Samples of pupils’ work.
    • Assessment data.
  • One of the keys to success of tutoring is ensuring tutors take time to build relationships with pupils and understand their needs.
  • Positive relationships between tutors, pupils and parents/carers is a key factor in ensuring pupils’ ongoing participation. 
  • The EEF found that getting tutors and pupils to find common ground at the start of a block of tutoring could boost attendance at sessions.
The EEF’s key questions for school leaders:
  • What evidence can I gather to ensure we understand whether our approaches to tutoring are being successful?
  • Is there a check-in process in place with tutors, so that we can identify any issues with attendance, tuition groupings and progress?
  • How can positive relationships between tutors and pupils be established and maintained? How can we involve parents/carers in the process?

At Third Space Learning we pride ourselves on the quality of our tutors. All of our tutors are carefully selected through a rigorous recruitment process and undertake a comprehensive ongoing development programme designed and delivered by our team of teachers and maths experts.

All of our tutoring sessions are recorded and each tutor is continually monitored and supported with feedback and personalised development plans to ensure that every minute of tutoring time is of the highest quality for your students. 

Developing a good working relationship between the tutor and the student is very important. Our training and development programmes for our tutors prioritise creating supportive learning environments where students can feel heard and receive the support they need.

Pupil learning progress report for Third Space Learning
Pupil reports are available to teachers on-demand and show a comprehensive and clear overview of pupil progress so you can easily monitor the impact of tutoring.

For tuition to have the greatest impact, the approach taken by each setting needs to be carefully thought out and structured. With the evidence and findings from the EEF guide, it is clear that there can’t be a ‘one-size fits all’  approach towards tuition across all schools. 

The schools that have had the greatest success with tutoring often work with a mix of providers depending on the needs of the individual child. For some pupils with severe needs, one to one, face to face tutoring may be the only option, however for other pupils who just need a quick refresher on a single topic, they can work in small groups. For those with a few to many gaps on different topics – which is the majority of students – they will be best served by one to one maths tutoring, such as that provided by Third Space Learning. 

The potential impact of tutoring on student outcomes and progress is significant, providing school leaders take time to carefully plan the tuition programmes. In addition to the cognitive benefits, the positive benefits to pupil well-being and confidence are clear.

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 we’ve helped over 130,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

Primary school tuition targeted to the needs of each child and closely following the National Curriculum.

Emma Johnson
Emma Johnson
Assistant Headteacher
Emma is a former Deputy Head Teacher, with 12 years' experience leading primary maths. Over the past 18 years, she has worked in primary schools in the UK and internationally, in Qatar. She now runs a tutoring company and writes resources and blogs for Third Space Learning, She is also the creator of the YouTube channel Maths4Kids with her daughter, Amber.
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Ofsted Maths Fact File

Ofsted Maths Fact File

Plan and prepare for your school's next Ofsted inspection. Written my experienced school leaders, find out how to prepare for your maths inspection.

Download Free Now!

Ofsted Maths Fact File

Downloadable resource

Plan and prepare for your school's next Ofsted inspection. Written my experienced school leaders, find out how to prepare for your maths inspection.

Download Free Now!
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FREE KS2 maths SATs practice papers

Get ready for SATs with this set of 6 maths SATs practice papers designed to help your Year 6 pupils improve test skills and build confidence.

Includes:
- 2 arithmetic and 4 reasoning papers that follow the National Curriculum Assessments.
- Mark schemes to diagnose and assess where your pupils need extra support.

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