A Quick Guide For Schools To The National Tutoring Programme & Catch Up Fund: 2021/22 Update

As the National Tutoring Programme starts moving towards its second year, we will continue to update this handy guide for school leaders and teachers with the key points school leaders and teachers should know for 2021/2022.

If you’re here to find out how Third Space Learning’s online tutoring through the UK NTP works then head straight over to our approved tuition partner for the National Tutoring Programme page where you can also book a call with one of our dedicated NTP team.

What is the National Tutoring Programme

The National Tutoring Programme is the key pillar of the government’s catchup programme for primary and secondary schools following their closure for parts of 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 and national and regional lockdowns.

Its particular focus is to provide additional support to disadvantaged pupils who have been most affected by school closures. Following the recommendations and research evidence that tutoring one to one or small groups is the most effective way to make rapid and long lasting progress in maths, the DfE have selected 33 approved Tuition Partners to deliver this tuition in 2020/22, which is being heavily subsidised by NTP.

Third Space Learning was selected as an approved NTP Tuition Partner at the programme’s launch in November 2020. Since then, we’ve been able to provide subsidised tuition to nearly 15,000 pupils in over 1,000 schools. An extremely popular option for schools, we have now reached our allocation of subsidised spaces for the 2020/21 academic year.

It has now been announced that the NTP will continue for at least a second and third year, although the details have yet to be confirmed.

Third Space Learning is an example of a provider with an innovative approach and they are proving popular with English schools.

The National Tutoring Programme, March 2021

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

In their initial announcement about the National Tutoring Programme, the government promised a £1 billion fund for state-maintained primary and secondary schools to provide catch up tuition following the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is available to all of these institutions in England Wales – approx 25,000 of them.

The £1bn total funding is broadly separated into two ‘blocks’ – £650 million 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 pandemic and lockdown. 

The remaining £350 million has been 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.

The NTP is targeted to reach pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding, but schools are able to ‘exercise their professional judgement to determine which pupils are in most need of support’.

Since 2013, Third Space Learning has worked with 2,800+ primary schools to help close the maths attainment gap through online tuition in maths from specialist tutors. Helping disadvantaged pupils in particular has always been a big part of what we do, so we fully support the focus on closing the attainment gap.

We work with Third Space Learning as they provide a clear assessment at the start and you can gauge the impact. We’ve worked with them before and have seen maths results improve by 30% over the last three years at KS2.

Mike Foster, Assistant Headteacher, Thorntree Primary Academy, Middlesbrough

The NTP consists of two ‘pillars’:

  • Approved National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Partners: through NTP Partners, schools can access heavily subsidised tutoring from an approved list of tuition partners. These organisations – all be subject to quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards – are being given support and funding to reach as many disadvantaged pupils as possible.
  • National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Academic Mentors: through NTP Academic Mentors (formerly called ‘Coaches’), trained graduates can 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. They are being managed through Teach First.

How have the NTP partners been chosen

The National Tutoring Programme initially stated that Tuition Partners ‘might be existing tutoring providers that have experience of working with schools or other organisations, such as charities, local authorities or universities who are able to design a new programme to meet the NTP standards.’

33 Tuition Partners have been chosen for year 1 of the National Tutoring Programme (2020-2021) and they have been drawn from a mix of charities, social enterprises and some newly formed organisations allied to various education businesses.

Quality criteria for National Tutoring Programme tuition partners:

  • Tuition should be for ages 5 – 16.
  • All tutors must be DBS checked or equivalent (for international tutors).
  • Experience of working with schools.
  • Able to reach at least 500 pupils over the year of delivery.
  • Willing to participate in the NTP Tuition Partners evaluation
  • Robust tutor recruitment and qualifications checks whether for qualified teachers or specialist tutors. 
  • Tutor training programme in place (including safeguarding training). 
  • The systems and processes for school and pupil communication. 
  • Experience of working with disadvantaged pupils. 
  • Systems for monitoring delivery, quality assurance and tracking progress. 
  • High quality tuition with evidence of impact. 
  • Excellent value for money whether one-to-one or group tuition.

How the funding breaks down 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 tutoring for disadvantaged pupils by established, approved providers. Schools can choose either online tutoring or face to face tutoring.

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.

What can the funding be used for

When the NTP was announced minister Nick Gibb stated that the £650m can be used as schools see fit, and will be given to schools in the 2020/2021 academic year.

He confirmed that school leaders could begin allocating the funding from the date the fund was announced (summer term 2020), and emphasised the need for all school’s catch-up plans and one-to-one or small group tuition to span the full academic year, not just the autumn term.

Year 1 and Year 2 of the National Tutoring Programme

The first 33 Tuition Partners were announced on 1st November 2020, and the first subsidised tuition sessions took place in the second half of the autumn term. As schools partially closed in January, many Tuition Partners – including Third Space Learning – were also approved to deliver sessions in pupils’ homes. Today, subsidised tuition is being delivered in thousands of schools every day across the country.

As part of the government plans to continue boosting education recovery, they have announced the NTP will continue for at least a second and third year. From September 2021, Randstad, one of the approved Tuition Partners from Year 1, will take over from EEF as the new supplier of the NTP for Year 2 of the programme. They will be supported by Teach First to ensure the programme is successfully set up for effective delivery and continuous improvement in 2021/22. In addition to the NTP Tuition Partners and Academic Mentors, schools will be able to recruit locally for tutors in Year 2.

All Year 1 Tuition Partners will need to re-apply to continue their part in the NTP for Year 2 and, at present, the approved list of Partners for Year 2 has not been announced but is expected shortly. The percentage of each session that the NTP will subsidise has not yet been confirmed.

As we start preparing for year 2 of the National Tutoring Programme we are encouraging all schools, whether they currently use our tutors or whether they are using alternative catch up support to book an initial call here and find out what options and timeslots will be available for your pupils for September 2021.

Further information about the National Tutoring Programme for 2021-2022 (Year 2) will be added as soon as we know more.

Read more:

FAQs about the National Tutoring Programme

What is the National Tutoring Programme?

The National Tutoring Programme is an initiative from the government’s Department for Education to provide funding to primary schools and secondary schools in England that contributes to their purchasing one to one or group tuition for pupils.

Why was the National Tutoring Programme set up?

The National Tutoring Programme was set up to mitigate the impact of school closures during the national lockdown of Spring and Summer 2020 during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is behind the National Tutoring Programme?

The organisation is funded by the Department for Eduacation and for the 2020-2021 academic year has been managed by The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), the Sutton Trust, Impetus, Nesta and Teach First. For year 2, the academic year 2021-2022 the DfE have announced that Randstad are their chosen delivery partner. The tuition is being delivered by NTP approved tuition partners.

How much will the tutoring in schools cost?

The cost of tutoring in your school using the National Tutoring Programme depends on which tuition partner you choose. The total cost for a 15-hour block of Third Space Learning maths tuition is £275; with the National Tutoring Programme subsidy this now comes to £68.75. Other providers are free to set their own rates depending on whether they are offering one to one or small group tutoring.

How can schools apply for the National Tutoring Programme funding?

Schools apply via the Tuition Partners. Third Space Learning is one of these partners and, we estimate, the largest and most experienced for maths tutoring in primary schools.

How long will the National Tutoring Programme last?

Following its launch in the 2020-2021 academic year the DfE have committed to fun the National Tutoring Programme for at least a further two years i.e. to the end of academic year 2023.

Who is eligible for the National Tutoring Programme?

All pupils in years 1 to 11 aged 5 to 16 are eligible for National Tutoring Programme subsidised tuition. It is in the school’s discretion which pupils to put forward for the tutoring and for which subject. Schools are encouraged to use the funds for disadvantaged pupils where possible as evidence is that they were most affected by the school closure and the attainment gap is once again widening.

How does the National Tutoring Programme work

Schools apply to the individual tuition partners to book their tuition sessions. They are invoiced by the tuition partner for only 25% of the cost of the tuition. The NTP covers the remaining 75%. There are 33 tuition partners to choose from, all of whom have been through a rigorous selection process. Third Space Learning is one of the few tuition partners to work across the whole of England and Wales; other tuition partners are more regionally based.

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

There is extensive evidence that tuition is the intervention that makes the greatest impact in closing the attainment gap.

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

Cost of in school tutoring With Third Space Learning

While 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.

With Third Space Learning, as we have always aimed for maximum affordabily, tutoring for schools works out at closer to £4 an hour with the subsidy.

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) comes to just £2,985 for the whole year with the NTP subsidy. 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.

Why have 1,000+ schools chosen Third Space Learning as their favourite tuition provider

  1. Efficiency. We are able to provide tuition to up to 15 pupils simultaneously, provided they have access to a laptop and headset (which we provide). 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 for their tutoring sessions.
  2. Access to hundreds of maths resources is included. 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 additional 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.
  3. Effectiveness. We have a proven track record having worked with almost 90,000 school pupils, the majority from disadvantaged backgrounds and in receipt of pupil premium, to boost their maths attainment levels, develop their reasoning and build their confidence in maths.

“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.

Why Third Space Learning was chosen to be a National Tutoring Programme tuition partner

As part of our application, we have had to demonstrate to the NTP how our online maths tuition programmes meet the highest standards of quality.

All of our tutors are maths specialists and are fully background-checked before joining us. They then receive three weeks of initial training before their first session, followed by regular ongoing training and CPD.

Training covers areas such as safeguarding and how to deliver effective online tuition, as well as maths-specific training including spotting misconceptions, developing mathematical language and preparing for SATs.

As the UK’s leading online maths tutoring company, we’ve been working with 7 to 11 year olds in schools across the country since 2013. In fact, since we began we’ve provided online maths tuition to over 89,000 pupils across 2,800+ schools.

The majority of our schools use our programmes as a way to effectively allocate their Pupil Premium funding, which means we have 7 years’ experience of successfully working directly with schools to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils through high quality tutoring. 

All of our tuition sessions are monitored and recorded and our support team is on hand for any issues or concerns that may arise during a session. Regular session observations from our Tutor Training Team help to ensure every session from every tutor is of the highest possible standard. 

Pupil and school communication is something that’s really important to us. Our team (made up of former teachers and teaching experts) regularly engage teacher and pupil feedback and use this to ensure the support we offer is as valuable as possible. Throughout our time working with schools, we pride ourselves on clear and relevant communication, ensuring schools have the information they need and that appropriate systems are in place to support each child.

By taking maths interventions online, we’ve been able to provide personalised one to one support to thousands of schools and pupils at scale. This means we’re well placed to deliver an effective tutoring programme that reaches a large number of pupils across the UK. What’s more, online tuition from Third Space Learning works out at 50% cheaper than running one to one interventions with existing school staff – even without a 75% government subsidy.

NB Third Space Learning only provides maths tuition at present – there is no English, science or modern foreign languages programme.

Take a look at our most popular maths programmes:

What do schools receive as part of 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 take place from school, or from home during periods of school closures
  • Weekly and termly reports to understand where your pupils are successfully catching up and where they might need more help.
  • Full access to all maths 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 as they settle back in to school life. 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 your new cohort 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 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 this academic year, we can provide you with a personalised quote within 24 hours and often within an hour.

Our online tuition for maths programme provides every child with their own professional one to one maths tutor

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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