A Quick Guide For Schools To The National Tutoring Programme & Catch Up Fund

In light of the recent announcement from the Department for Education (DfE) & Education Endowment Foundation about the National Tutoring Programme, we’ve drawn together a quick summary of the key points that schools should know, together with some suggestions as to how Third Space Learning can support this initiative. 

The figures being quoted sound huge but will they be wide reaching? It’s a £1 billion fund for primary and secondary schools to provide catch up tuition following the coronavirus pandemic.

£650m for schools, £350m for most disadvantaged pupils

The £1bn total funding is broadly separated into two ‘blocks’ – £650 million will be allocated for schools to use as they wish to help pupils catch up on learning missed during school closures in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. 

The remaining £350 million will be used to create the ‘National Tutoring Programme’ (NTP) – a tutoring scheme to provide schools with access to heavily subsidised one-to-one tutoring options to help the most disadvantaged young people catch up to their peers.

Since 2013, Third Space Learning has worked with 2,000+ primary schools to help close the maths attainment gap through online 1-to-1 lessons from specialist tutors. Helping disadvantaged pupils in particular has always been a big part of what we do, so we’re thrilled to hear that the government is making it a priority to support these pupils.

What does this mean on a pupil-by-pupil level?

The £650m additional funding breaks down to around £80 per pupil, according to research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). This is an approximate rise of 1% from current funding.

The £350m National Tutoring Programme is intended for use by schools to provide one-to-one tuition for disadvantaged pupils by established, approved providers. The funding will subsidise 75% of the cost of tutoring, with the remaining 25% to be made up by the school using existing funds such as pupil premium, or it can be taken from the £650m in additional funding they will also receive.

Click here to receive a per pupil quote for Third Space Learning’s online one-to-one catch up tuition.

According to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) the NTP will consist of two ‘pillars’:

  • NTP Partners: through NTP Partners, schools will be able to access heavily subsidised tutoring from an approved list of tuition partners. These organisations – which will all be subject to quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards – will be given support and funding to reach as many disadvantaged pupils as possible.
  • NTP Coaches: through NTP Coaches, trained graduates will be employed by schools in the most disadvantaged areas to provide intensive catch-up support to their pupils, allowing teachers in these schools to focus on their classrooms.

What can the funding be used for?

Schools minister Nick Gibb has stated that the £650m can be used as schools see fit, though the funding will only be given to schools in the next academic year (i.e. from September).

He confirmed that school leaders could begin allocating the funding now and begin summer catch up programs to be paid for when the additional funds arrive, but stressed that schools should look at catch-up plans and one-to-one or small group tuition spanning the full academic year.

Before this announcement, we already had thousands of pupils booked in for support for next year. Since the announcement, we have received a lot of calls from schools, so we are taking provisional bookings (pending government approval). If you want to beat the queue, you can book a call here to find out more.

What does the evidence say about one-to-one tutoring?

The EEF states that tuition is “the catch-up approach supported by the strongest evidence”. 

One-to-one maths lessons achieve up to 5 months’ additional progress in randomised control trials at primary and secondary level. 

At Third Space we  have been developing, refining, and expanding the delivery of our one-to-one maths lessons at Key Stage 2 for more than 5 years, and are now starting the progression into KS3 maths interventions. 

“One-to-one tutoring is one of the few education approaches we know works consistently, helping children to catch-up. Of course, the biggest impacts come when it is delivered by trained teachers, but it also can work when delivered through effective charity programmes using undergraduate students.

The beauty of one-to-one is that it is a relatively simple intervention, so it can be scaled up to work in many schools.”

Lee Elliot Major, Former Director of The Sutton Trust, now professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter

How will schools receive subsidised tutoring?

Whilst we don’t yet have guidance on how funding will be distributed to schools, we expect that schools will be expected to pay up front and be able to claim back for costs incurred.

This ensures schools can get setup in advance of September and allows time to ensure tutors have gone through the necessary training required to deliver high quality sessions.

The EEF recommends at least 5-30 hours of training; at Third Space Learning, we have a 135 hour training programme devised with academics from the Institute of Education to ensure our tutors are prepared to support schools.

How much does tutoring cost?

Whilst the cost for tuition varies greatly, the standard price is between £30-50 an hour, meaning that even with the 75% subsidy, schools will be expected to pay between £7.50-12.50 an hour for tuition, or ~£4 for schools using Third Space Learning’s one-to-one catch up tuition.

By taking tuition online and delivering it at scale to thousands of pupils each week, we have been able to develop a tutoring programme that is significantly cheaper than most other alternatives.

Online tuition has always been just as effective and more affordable than face to face tuition. With the additional funding from the government, Third Space Learning is now even more affordable:

As an example, purchasing weekly online 1-to-1 lessons from Third Space Learning for 20 of your pupils each term (60 pupils total across the academic year) over the next academic year would now come to just £2,985 for the whole year. That works out to £4.14 per hour of expert tuition, and includes diagnostic assessment and reporting. You can request a personalised quote based on the number of pupils you are looking to support here.

This means you can intervene with 3x as many pupils, and do it all within a single hour of the school day as opposed to creating disruption by pulling children in and out of class throughout the week.

While you will want to target your catch up tuition funding to those in greatest need, we know that many other pupils across years 1 to 6 will need support. Schools using the 1-to-1 intervention receive full access to all the resources in the Third Space Maths Hub at no additional cost, helping to transform maths attainment across your whole school.

“We decided to use Third Space Learning because it was 1-to-1 and all the tutors were maths specialists. It’s a great way to use our Pupil Premium allowance.

Since we first started 4 years ago, pupils on the programme have shown greater confidence, improved results, and even greater clarity and understanding for some of the trickier maths concepts.”

Catherine Prole, Deputy Headteacher, St Michael’s Primary School, Trafford.

Find out more about St Michael’s Primary School experience with Third Space Learning.

What you can expect from Third Space Learning’s catch up tuition

  • Initial diagnostic assessment to help identify individual knowledge gaps and establish baseline knowledge
  • Lessons are chosen to plug individual pupil gaps and tutors personalise the pitch and pace to suit, helping to ensure each pupil receives the personalised support they need to catch up. 
  • Maths specialist tutors, each of whom receives 135 hours of initial training and ongoing CPD each year.
  • Proven evidence of rapidly increased maths attainment with the most disadvantaged children, with over 35,000 children in receipt of pupil premium taught so far
  • Up to 15 pupils can have a 1-to-1 lesson within the same one hour time slot
  • All lessons are recorded for safeguarding and training purposes
  • Flexible online lessons that can take place from school or home (in the event of a second lockdown). 
  • Weekly and termly reports to understand where your pupils are successfully catching up and where they might need more help.
  • Full access to all resources and video CPD from the Third Space Maths Hub to help raise maths attainment across the school

Taking the next step

We know that ‘catching up’ might not be the first thing on many teachers’ and school leaders’ minds when children return from lockdown and the school closures. Reintegrating children into school life, dealing with social and emotional issues, and ensuring they feel safe in their new post-pandemic environment are all challenges that we know that the education sector will rise to brilliantly as it always does.

You also know the majority of next term’s children already so you’ll have a fair idea of where their gaps in maths are likely to be.

This National Tutoring Programme is not going to be the answer to all the complex needs in your school.

However, additional (subsidised) support from trained tutors to provide the intensive gap filling work for those most in need will give you and your staff the time and focus to concentrate on returning your school to the productive, happy environment it can be again.

Third Space Learning exists to help narrow the attainment gap in maths so we’d be delighted to be part of your solution.

If you’re looking at catch up tuition to support your pupils when they return to school, we can provide you with a personalised quote within 24 hours and often within an hour

Anantha Anilkumar
Anantha Anilkumar
Content Editor
As a member of the content team at Third Space Learning, Anantha helps to ensure that teachers everywhere can enjoy the blogs and resources created by the team. Before coming to TSL, Anantha worked as a teacher and a marketing analyst.
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