Complete Guide To School Led Tutoring & How To Make The Most Of The School Led Tutoring Grant (2023/4)

School led tutoring has always been central to what we at Third Space Learning believe in – putting schools in charge of their tutoring. For the 2023/24 academic year, it now has a very specific meaning as one of the National Tutoring Programme routes to receiving subsidised tuition.

Here, we provide a straightforward guide to what school led tutoring means and how you can take advantage of your school’s tutoring funding (previously called the school led tutoring grant), as well as some simple steps to ensure that it’s a success in your school.

We’ll continue to update this article as further changes are announced.

What is School Led Tutoring?

School led tutoring is the process of managing and overseeing tutoring for children in schools. Access to school led tutoring is determined by the school, rather than by parents paying for private tutoring for their children in their home or in tuition centres.

School led tutoring is at its core what Third Space Learning has been providing to schools in the UK since 2013.

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School led tutoring (or ‘in-school tuition’), as opposed to tutoring managed by a child’s parent or carer, has always been a uniquely effective method of tutoring. This is because it puts teachers and school leaders (the experts on any child’s learning gaps) at the heart of the process.

School Led Tutoring and the National Tutoring Programme

The term ‘school led tutoring’ (as introduced by the Department for Education in 2021) refers specifically to one of three current routes of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), whereby eligible schools in England automatically receive additional funding to spend on tuition.

The National Tutoring Programme is a government initiative launched in 2020 to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the pupils whose learning has been most affected.

The three pillars are:

  • School Led Tutoring: Ring-fenced funding given directly to schools to spend on tutoring for schools delivered by members of a school’s own personnel, either currently employed or specifically engaged for this purpose, including retired, returning or supply teachers, support staff, and qualified teachers
  • Academic Mentors: Additional school staff, whose salary is subsidised by the government, placed in school to deliver small group tutoring sessions.
  • Tuition Partners: Subsidised tuition available to schools from a select list of Department for Education (DfE) approved providers, including Third Space Learning. Read more about choosing a tuition partner.

From September 2022, all tuition funding now goes directly to schools. This change is to give schools even more flexibility to allocate their ring-fenced tutoring budget how they see fit.

Changes to the School Led Tutoring Grant

The School Led Tutoring Grant was originally introduced in 2021/22 after the introduction of the National Tutoring Programme in 2020/21. Since then the terminology has changed slightly:

In 2020/21, the National Tutoring Programme funding referred to – and could only be spent on – Academic Mentors or approved external Tuition Partners like Third Space Learning.

In 2021/22, the School Led Tutoring Grant was introduced to give schools more flexibility on how they used their funding; they could use it to fund National Tutoring Programme partners and mentors or for tutoring delivered by their own school staff.

In 2022/23, the funding was simplified further, and all tutoring funding now comes to schools as part of the National Tutoring Programme, under which Tuition Partners, Academic Mentors and internally-resourced tutoring all sit.

The definitions now remain the same but it’s worth noting that the allocations for 2023/24 are slightly different from 2022/23.

  • During 2022/23, schools received £162 per eligible pupil (any pupil eligible for Pupil Premium), which could be used to cover £10.80 (60%) up to a maximum of £18 per hour
  • In 2023/24, schools will receive £67.50 which can be used to cover up to 50% of the cost

Even before the introduction of the National Tutoring Programme, Third Space Learning has been able to bring one-to-one maths tuition to schools at a price that works for their budgets. Our global tutor community enables your pupils to receive hyper-personalised one-to-one tuition for the price many other providers charge for small groups (rather than the more effective one-to-one sessions).

Why choose School Led Tutoring?

For the purposes of this article ‘school led tutoring’ refers to all tutoring organised and run in school, rather than specifically only the ‘school led tutoring’ route of the NTP.

One-to-one tuition organised through school has been evaluated by the Education Endowment Foundation as having a high impact (+5 months), so it’s not surprising that it’s a popular choice by headteachers and school leaders. However, the drawback has always been that the costs for one-to-one tuition are relatively high too.

Maths lesson slide from Third Space Learning’s one-to-one tutoring
Maths lesson slide from Third Space Learning’s one-to-one tutoring

Since 2013, Third Space Learning has worked with over 3,000 primary and secondary schools across the UK to provide affordable online tutoring in maths to pupils from early primary to GCSE level. And we’ve seen first-hand the impact it can have on raising attainment in maths!

  • In an independent trial, pupils receiving one-to-one maths tuition from Third Space Learning made 7 months’ progress in 14 weeks.
  • After each session, 90% of all pupils show a solid understanding of the concept they’ve been learning.
  • 30% of these are able to successfully complete greater-depth tasks on that topic after the session.
  • Of pupils who report low confidence, 70% say their confidence has improved after just one session with their tutor.

Read more: Impact of Online Maths Tuition and Best online tutoring websites

How is School Led Tutoring funded?

School led tutoring funding comes from the National Tutoring Programme which is ring-fenced specifically for tutoring and is paid directly to the school from the Department for Education. The school then pays the tutor or tutoring provider as normal.

It’s a great way for schools to support students who need intervention and is designed to give schools as much flexibility as possible to decide which pupils need tuition and how it should be delivered.

What is the School Led Tutoring Grant?

The school led tutoring grant was the name given to the budget allocated by the Department for Education to deliver school led tutoring in England.

It is now simply called ‘The National Tutoring Programme‘, of which School-Led Tutoring is one pillar (the other pillars being approved Tuition Partners and Academic Mentors).

Through the National Tutoring Programme, all eligible state-funded schools are given ring-fenced funding to fund tutoring provision for disadvantaged pupils.

Which schools are eligible for the School Led Tutoring Grant?

All state-funded primary, middle and secondary schools and academy trusts in England with pupils in Year 1 to Year 11 who are eligible for pupil premium will receive National Tutoring Programme funding. This was previously called school led grant funding.

This includes:

  • Primary, secondary and all through local authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools;
  • Local authority-maintained special schools;
  • Special academies and free schools;
  • Special schools not maintained by a local authority, including independent special schools, where the placement is funded by the local authority;
  • Pupil referral units;
  • Alternative provision academies and free schools;
  • Local authority-maintained hospital schools and academies.

How is the School Led Tutoring Grant calculated?

In 2023/24, each eligible state school will receive additional tutoring funding for each pupil eligible for pupil premium funding in Year 1 to Year 11:

Funding allocations will be calculated as follows:

  • £67.50 per eligible pupil;
  • Which can be used to cover 50% of the cost of tutoring up to a maximum of £18 per pupil per hour;
  • Schools are expected to use alternative budget – such as pupil premium – to fund the remaining costs.

Built-in flexibility for schools allocating their School Led Tutoring Grant

The name ‘School Led Tutoring Grant’ demonstrates that it keeps schools as the decision makers and gives full flexibility for them to decide how to allocate their budget. Although it is now called The National Tutoring Programme, the flexibility remains.

Schools can choose to use the funding on their own internally-delivered tutoring (this is what is now called the ‘school led tutoring’ pillar), on external approved Tuition Partners like Third Space Learning, or on Academic Mentors.

They can pay above or below the assumed cost of £18 per hour but, if they do not use the full allocation of hours, or find tuition for less than £18 per hour, they may be expected to repay any unspent grant monies.

Please note that the £18/hour is simply a way to calculate the funding each school will receive, and schools have flexibility as follows:

  • They can use this funding to support any pupil, regardless of pupil premium eligibility.
  • They will only have to report on the total number of pupils, the total number of hours and the total amount spent on tutoring, rather than on a pupil-by-pupil or provider-by-provider basis.

While the funding is allocated based on pupil premium, schools are free to use their tutoring funding to support any pupil, regardless of pupil premium eligibility.

If schools decide not to use the tutoring funding allocated to them, they cannot use it for other interventions and the ESFA will recover the full amount back as an overpayment.

What can schools spend the School Led Tutoring Grant on?

The National Tutoring Programme can be spent on any (or a combination) of the 3 NTP routes. If schools choose the specific ‘school led tutoring’ route, tutoring must be spent on tutoring delivered internally by school staff. However, any staff members delivering tuition who do not hold qualified teacher status will need to complete a free online training course provided by the NTP.

Schools can also choose between one-to-one tuition or small group tuition, and can choose the subjects they think their pupils will benefit from.

Tutoring funding for schools is designed to help close the education gap between disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils and their peers; these are the pupils who research suggests have been most negatively impacted by the pandemic. Schools are expected to prioritise these pupils for tutoring but have the flexibility to decide which pupils are most in need.

How are schools funding Third Space Learning this academic year?

Learn more about the funding options available for your school in 2023/24.

Downloadable SLT Guide for primary schools
Downloadable SLT Guide for secondary schools

Which subjects can schools focus their School Led Tutoring on?

The choice is up to the school according to the needs of their pupils. The DfE does however have some recommendations.

There has been a significant learning loss in English and maths at primary level. Therefore, the DfE strongly encourages primary schools in particular to prioritise pupils who have fallen behind in these subjects. 

Recent research from the Centre for Education and Youth suggests that the link between KS2 and KS4 performance is stronger in maths than in other subjects. This again suggests that primary schools may benefit from focusing on maths tuition.

Read more: Exploring The Maths Attainment Gap In The UK

At secondary level, schools are encouraged to deliver tutoring in English, maths, sciences, humanities and modern foreign languages.

Reporting and accountability for the School Led Tutoring Grant

We understand that data collection can create an additional administrative burden for schools. The DfE has tried to limit this to only proportional and reasonable data needed to measure the impact of the NTP.

There are two mandatory data collections that schools must complete during the academic year.

School census

Mainstream schools will be required to identify pupils in receipt of school led tutoring in their census return, as well as the cumulative number of hours of tuition delivered to each pupil.

Year-end statement

The year-end statement is submitted at the end of the academic year and will ask schools to submit:

  • The total amount spent on tutoring;
  • The total number of pupils supported;
  • The total number of hours of tuition delivered.

DFE guidance on getting School Led Tutoring right

According to DfE guidance, when implementing tutoring, schools should consider the following characteristics associated with positive teaching outcomes.

  • Tuition is most beneficial when it is explicitly linked to classroom teaching and pupils’ specific needs.
  • High quality and individualised feedback are essential to a pupil’s progress.
  • Regular assessment and monitoring will ensure pupils remain on track and identify areas of focus.
  • Short, regular and sustained tutoring sessions tend to have the greatest impact.
  • Smaller group sizes or 1-to-1 lead to better outcomes for pupils.
  • Tutoring is most effective when planned well, supported by teaching resources and has clear objectives for the course of delivery.
  • Engagement can be increased by building good relationships between tutors, pupils and families.
  • Tuition is most effective when staff are trained and supported.

Whatever type of tutoring provision you choose to implement in your school – whether it’s small group, one-to-one, delivered by internal staff, NTP Tuition Partners (such as Third Space Learning) or other tutoring organisations – it’s essential that your tutor of choice embodies as many of these characteristics as possible.

Not all tutoring options will tick all the boxes, and some might tick all the boxes but require more or less work from school staff than others. It’s important to do your research to see how each option stacks up for your school’s needs.

Why Third Space Learning is the best choice for your in-school tutoring

Many schools lack the resources to go down the official government definition of ‘school led tutoring’ as they lack the qualified staff. One to one or one to small group tutoring requires specific skills in terms of diagnosing gaps, sequencing, and engaging pupils who may struggle.

As a DfE accredited Tuition Partner, Third Space Learning has undergone a rigorous application and quality-assurance process, meaning schools can be confident that our tuition programmes can meet these criteria and give pupils the vital support that’s both highly effective and fits with the needs of your school.

At Third Space Learning, all pupils start with an initial diagnostic assessment to identify individual gaps and misconceptions. Mini-assessments after each session help to continuously update this picture of each pupil as they progress through the programme. 

Third Space Learning Mission Zero question for primary pupil
Example question from Third Space Learning’s initial diagnostic assessment

Each diagnosable gap is linked to an individual Learning Objective, meaning we can hone in on specific gaps and choose the exact tuition lesson that’s going to plug these.

Schools can choose for Learning Objectives to be automatically selected each week to plug these gaps, or to manually select Learning Objectives for each pupil each week. Where they choose the former, they’re free to skip lessons or amend the order at any time.

feedback tutoring quote

Because all of our tuition is one-to-one, we can ensure feedback to the pupil happens in real-time during the session. Tutors guide pupils through each question, providing feedback and praising pupils as they go. Tutors praise pupils for things like effort, perseverance, and their explanations, not just for finding the correct answer.

tutoring quote

By taking tuition online, we’ve also been able to build a comprehensive teacher platform that enables teachers to log in at a time that suits them to quickly and easily see tutor feedback.

Third Space Learning session report for primary pupil
Example of a session report on Third Space Learning’s teacher platform

Reports also show topics covered and progress made in each session, as well as how gaps are being plugged over the course of the programme. Many of our schools tell us how helpful this is to inform their own classroom teaching.

quote about tuition

Each Third Space Learning session is one hour long. Most schools opt for one session a week per pupil, but we can arrange for multiple sessions a week if that’s preferred. Particularly in the lead-up to exams, we often see schools ‘double up’ their sessions to ensure pupils can make the most of our dedicated SATs revision and GCSE maths tuition programmes.

Each of the lessons in our curriculum is developed by teachers and pedagogy experts, and all follow an ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach to guide pupils through their learning. Scaffolded teaching slides ensure pupils get the support they need to solidify their understanding and plug their gaps. 

school quote on third space learning tutoring

As part of their intensive initial training programme (and the subsequent CPD on offer), tutors receive specific training on building rapport with their pupils and boosting engagement and confidence. 

quote on student tutor dynamics

In addition to the tuition, schools receive access to our full library of teaching resources and CPD at no additional cost on the Third Space Learning Maths Hub, helping them to raise attainment across the school.

7 practical steps to ensure your School Led Tutoring is a success

However you choose to spend your school led tutoring funding (whether that’s on internal staff or a DfE accredited provider like Third Space Learning), there are some fundamental best practices and pitfalls to bear in mind, particularly with regard to the practicalities of organising it. 

  1. Try to get multiple students tutored at the same time. This could be through several one-to-one tutors or running concurrent small group sessions; the more students you can teach at once, the less disruption there will be. 

We are often tutoring 15 pupils from the same school in one room. Due to the nature of our online maths tuition being one-to-one, each child can work with their own tutor without disturbing the rest of the class, using headphones and a shared screen.

  1. Consider timetabling. You’ll want to make sure that tuition fits into the school day seamlessly with minimal disruption. You also need to ensure that pupils aren’t receiving a tuition session at the expense of another lesson you’d rather they didn’t miss.

At Third Space Learning, schools are free to choose when works best for them for their sessions. Our sessions run before, during and after school. 

  1. Know what you’re going to teach and where to find your intervention materials. The DfE has made it clear that tuition content needs to be carefully thought out and aligned with the needs of each pupil. This means you’ll need to have a bank of materials ready to use in your tuition session, depending on which topic is being taught. 

We’ve developed an extensive curriculum of tuition lessons, each linking to a specific Learning Objective. Each of these is readily downloadable by the pupils’ teacher(s), meaning that school staff are free to use these in any additional intervention groups. 

  1. Make sure the tutor is trained on recent teaching methods. Anyone delivering tuition in your school needs to be clued up on the methods pupils are familiar with, and the approaches your teachers are using in the classroom today. It’s essential that you enquire as to the training any potential tutor has completed, and how well this has equipped them for tutoring your pupils.

All Third Space Learning tutors complete an intensive tutor training programme before delivering their first session and receive ongoing CPD throughout their careers. This training course has been developed by experienced UK teachers in partnership with researchers from the University of London. Training is updated regularly to reflect current teaching best practices and preferred methods.

  1. One size does not fit all. It’s essential that your chosen tuition provider can personalise learning to the needs of each pupil. Gaps vary widely across the class and, particularly in the aftermath of Covid, each pupil will require slightly different support.

That’s why Third Space Learning places so much emphasis on diagnostic assessment and building a tuition programme that enables us to match content with each pupil’s individual needs.

  1. Consider each tutor’s subject specialism. If you’re opting for a particular pupil to receive tuition in a particular subject, you want to make sure that the tutor in question is a specialist in that area. 

All Third Space Learning tutors are graduates and undergraduates in maths, STEM and maths-related (e.g. accounting) subjects. By focusing only on maths tuition, we attract tutors with a high skill level and genuine passion for the subject. 

  1. Safeguarding. Of course, you need to be sure that you have the utmost confidence in anyone tutoring your pupils. The safety and security of your pupils should be at the centre of any tuition implemented.

All Third Space Learning sessions are monitored for safeguarding purposes. Tutors receive specific safeguarding training as part of their intensive training course.

Tutoring in action: stories from primary schools, secondary schools and multi-academy trusts

“In school maths tuition from Third Space Learning is exactly what our pupils need. It’s enabled us to give them the support at the level that’s right for them and it’s been really good for plugging gaps. It’s brilliant!” 

St Augustine Primary Academy, Bedfordshire

Read the full story

“Feedback about the tuition programme from the whole of SLT has been fantastic. The Head of Mathematics popped into a session and was blown away by what he saw.”

Holte Secondary School, Birmingham

Read the full story

“It’s impressive in terms of the way the children speak about maths, but also to each other and to the teachers. There is a positive relationship between tutors and pupils – something we have worked relentlessly on for some time.”

Extol Academy Trust

Read the full story

Further reading:

Other School Led Tutoring FAQs

Do schools need to apply for the School Led Tutoring Grant?

There is no requirement for schools to apply for this funding. The grant will be paid through ESFA as part of the DfE’s scheduled payments to schools.

When will schools receive payment?

Local authorities and academies will automatically receive their funding in three stages across the year; September 2023, December 2023 and April 2024.

Is this funding exclusively for pupils eligible for pupil premium?

No, although the grant is calculated according to the number of pupils eligible for pupil premium, this is just a way of allocating funding per school. Teachers are free to use their own discretion to decide which pupils need additional tuition.

What funding is available to cover costs not covered by the School Led Tutoring Grant?

Schools can use existing school budgets such as Pupil Premium to cover the remaining costs.

Do schools have to spend the School Led Tutoring Grant?

Yes, any money unspent or not spent on tutoring will be recovered at the end of the academic year.

Can schools use more than one provider at the same time?

Yes, pupils are able to receive tuition from more than one provider at a time. This is particularly useful if you would like pupils to receive support in more than one subject. Similarly, there is no limit on the number of providers that a school can work with at once if they choose to take the tuition partners route.

How will Third Space Learning support data collection?

In our termly reports, you will be able to see the number of sessions that each pupil has received, as well as the topics covered. This should make it quick and easy to collect the necessary information for the mandatory data submissions.

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Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of students across hundreds of schools with weekly online maths tuition designed to plug gaps and boost progress.


Since 2013 these personalised one to one lessons have helped over 150,000 primary and secondary students become more confident, able mathematicians.


Learn about the national tutoring programme or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.


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