What Is the Impact of Tutoring In Your School? 12 Strategies To Make It Highly Effective For All Your Students

Tutoring during school years was once considered the privilege of a wealthy minority. However, personalised one to one tutoring for schools is now becoming an increasingly mainstream way to have an impact on the confidence and results of students at primary and secondary schools. 

That is if it really is tutoring targeted directly at students who need it most, with a specific focus, and in specific subjects. Tutoring that takes place in school or at least under the auspices of the school can be immensely effective, but it’s also easy to get wrong.

In this article, we’ll show you the impact that tutoring in school can have and outline strategies to make sure that your own school tutoring programme is a success, and not just another addition to teachers’ workload.

What is tutoring for schools?

Tutoring for schools is a very specific way to manage and implement one to one or small group tutoring to have the most impact on students. At its best, it should be closely aligned with what a student is learning in class, and focused on supporting the student to plug any learning gaps, make accelerated progress, and potentially achieve their target grade or higher than their target grade in the subject. 

At Third Space Learning, we’ve been delivering high-quality maths tutoring to schools for ten years. We’ve been working across thousands of schools, delivering personalised maths one-to-one lessons designed to plug gaps and improve academic performance.   

One to one tuition that is closely linked to the curriculum or syllabus has been proven to provide an additional 5 months’ progress according to the Education Endowment Foundation’s teaching and learning toolkit. We’ve also got evidence that students taking part in Third Space Learning online maths tuition will make double the expected progress. When we did a trial using Rising Stars PUMA assessments at the beginning and end, students made on average 28 weeks’ progress in 14 weeks.

Why is tutoring for schools so important?

We know that most teachers are overworked and overstretched. With class sizes averaging 30 students or more, class teachers simply cannot be expected to support students and their learning at all times. To combat this, tutoring is a means to reach those students who need personalised, one to one support. Students will also be given allocated time to catch up on any learning they missed out on – something particularly relevant to schools in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting pupils most affected by COVID closures

Anyone working in schools will be aware of the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their more privileged peers. Despite considerable efforts to close it, disadvantaged students are still likely to fall behind right from their earliest years in education. This builds towards considerable academic setbacks for them in later years.

The COVID-19 pandemic hugely impacted the educational attainment gap, creating even greater disproportion between disadvantaged students and their peers. Young people severely missed out on learning opportunities due to school closures and became deprived of the in-person, high-quality learning they once had access to. Students particularly struggled to catch up in core subjects such as maths and English.

Studies on the impact of COVID-19 on the attainment gap have outlined that the value of learning loss was around two months for some students but for many it was much worse than that. 

According to a report by ‘A Space at Maths’, some year 6 pupil premium students were falling up to seven months behind in maths. 

To rapidly deal with such a wide gap, you need an intensive and very targeted intervention. Tutoring has been shown to narrow the gap by giving students students exactly what they need, and focusing especially on any lost learning.

“We looked into Third Space Learning to see how it could help us address not only the learning loss due to the pandemic, but the huge loss of motivation our pupils had in maths.”

 – St Giles’ Primary School
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Tutoring is the proven best solution

According to the recent Education Endowment Foundation report, a well-designed tutoring programme will help to close the attainment gap. Tutoring for disadvantaged pupils is therefore an essential tool if we want to prevent them from falling behind their peers even more.

But even when you know this as a school leader, it can seem daunting to know how to set it up and to compare the advantages and potential drawbacks of different forms of tutoring in schools, particularly when you are trying to weigh up the costs against the likely impact. 

Not only are you looking at one to one tuition or small group tutoring but you also have the option now of face to face or online tutoring if you need to reach several students at once.  

While one to one tutoring is almost universally acknowledged to be the most effective method of teaching, due to the intensely personal nature of each lesson, some schools may only be able to afford 1 to 3 or 1 to 7 if it’s in person tutoring. 

This is why many organisations, including Third Space Learning, offer online tutoring to schools rather than face-to-face tuition. For us, this means we can offer individualised one to one attention to lots of your students at once, at a cost previously only doable for schools in small groups when the tutoring was face-to-face. 

“Please tell your tutors they make a real difference. Our 2023 maths SATs results were our best ever. 100% of our Third Space Learners met the expected standard and some achieved GDS. It’s huge value for money. We love it, it is brilliant. Thank you!”

– St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School, Surrey

What schools need to know about the national tutoring programme 

In November 2020 to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government introduced their flagship catch-up initiative, The National Tutoring Programme (NTP). The aim of the programme was to provide both primary and secondary schools with access to tuition funding to spend on tutoring to support students who fared least well during the extended period of homeschooling. 

Since the programme was launched by the Department of Education, it has reached 1.5 million students, including those who are disadvantaged. For the 2023-24 academic year, the government has set the subsidy rate to 50% to match the costs of tutoring for schools to improve and drive outcomes. 

The National Tutoring Programme opened up the opportunity for tutoring in schools that may otherwise never have considered it as an intervention within their budget and staffing capabilities. 

Third Space Learning alone, as a founding approved Tuition Partner, has delivered 1,108,804 maths sessions to 96,875 pupils in 2,638 schools.

We are an NTP approved tuition partner. As an approved Tuition Partner, over 1,500 schools have chosen Third Space Learning to deliver personalised online one to one maths tuition through the NTP.

Third space learning Yr 4 Example Lesson - Let's learn
The Third Space Learning platform is designed in a way that engages students in their online one to one tuition.

How to mitigate challenges from the NTP in schools

The Education Endowment Foundation in their report into the NTP  identified the key principles of a well-designed tutoring programme as: 

  • Selecting the right pupils for the intervention and scheduling sessions effectively.
  • Aligning tutoring with curriculum and assessment.
  • Creating a sustainable tutoring model that you can return to year after year.

As with many large scale programmes, there have been certain challenges for schools taking part in the UK’s national tutoring programme.

  • Bureaucracy and workload
    There is a degree of bureaucracy to deal with on the NTP which may have put some schools off. Schools do need to fill in forms for this and there are restrictions on what the funding can or can’t be spent on. Our school support team know the process inside out and is there to answer all your queries and ensure you get set up quickly and without inconvenience.

“Support team are amazing and friendly, and make things happen with no fuss”

– Rose Hill Primary School
  • Accessing and understanding funding
    Initially, there were a range of quite complex funding options but these have recently been simplified and again, our team can talk you through what’s now available and how to apply for it. Read this tuition funding if you want to understand it further. 

Funding calculator – see exactly how much funding your school will receive in 2023/24:

  • Recruitment and quality assurance
    Schools face difficulty in terms of trusting and assessing tutors and mentors for subject knowledge and teaching expertise. As maths specialists at Third Space Learning we have been recruiting and training maths tutors for 10 years. Tutors not only have a close understanding of KS2, KS3, and KS4 maths curriculum, but each lesson they teach has been rigorously created, reviewed and revised to achieve the maximum learning outcomes in one 45-minute session.
Third space learning SATs Example Lesson - Follow me + Your turn
Here at Third Space Learning, we have online virtual lessons created by a team of maths pedagogy experts that are regularly quality-assured to meet the needs of students.
  • Attendance
    Student attendance is already an issue that many schools face, and it’s no different with tutoring. We work closely with schools to build relationships between tutors and students in order to further the likelihood that the students will attend each week. We also have a system of prompts, reminders, and reports for teachers to alert them of any absences and students’ successes in lessons.

Despite the perceived challenges, one to one tutoring delivered in school, by school appointed tutors, is still the most effective way to make rapid progress. So, finally, here are some tips and strategies to ensure your school tutoring is highly effective whether funded by the NTP, pupil premium, or out of your own interventions budget. 

Online one to one maths tuition lessons at home
An example of a Third Space Learning online tutoring report, tracking student progress and attendance.

12 strategies to ensure highly effective tutoring for schools 

1. Define your outcome

As a starting point, the intervention needs to be pinpointed. Is it academic, behavioural, or social/emotional? It’s also important to consider the subject. In core subjects such as maths, gaps that fail to be addressed can be an issue. Therefore, considering the subject is imperative, as students will need a solid understanding of the foundational concepts to access other topics.

The goal of the tutoring sessions is also important. Is it to improve confidence, metacognition, or to improve or work towards exams such as SATs and GCSEs

Finally, how the goal will be measured needs to be considered, such as through pre- and post-intervention methods. Here at Third Space Learning, we have defined programmes both for general catch-up and exam revision. We use assessments before and after sessions to regularly monitor the progress of each session over time. 

Read more: How Will Ofsted Inspect Your Tutoring?

2. Staff workload

School-led tutoring is likely to result in more workload than tuition partners, who should be able to manage more of the administrative, recruitment, and quality assurance aspects of tutoring for school. It’s important to be mindful of the staff workload around tutoring though. Therefore, choose interventions that save time, otherwise, it will not be cost-effective.

For example, Barclay Academy outlined the impact our tutoring had for students working towards their GCSE exams:

“Once we decided to go for it with Year 11 too, I sat in on the sessions. It immediately gave me the confidence that the students were working on the right things in the right way as I could hear them explaining their methodology to their tutors. That interaction between the student and the tutor is really positive for our students.”

– Barclay Academy.

3. Resources

Ensure that you have the necessary room space and physical resources needed for the tutoring sessions to assist with students’ learning. Make a list of the resources you need and ensure your technology is set up correctly.

At Third Space Learning, up to 15 pupils can receive personalised online one to one maths tutoring from their own dedicated tutor in the same one-hour time slot. We recommend 15 as, in our experience, group sizes of more than 15 may get a little noisy or might not be feasible with school IT systems. For schools that wish to support more than 15 pupils, we recommend splitting these across multiple time slots.

If you opt for online tutoring, there may be additional considerations, such as Wi-Fi, computers, laptops, tablets, and headsets. For example, Third Space Learning’s online lessons take place on laptops, desktops, or iPads. We send out our high-quality gaming headsets to schools free of charge to help with the process.

It’s also important you know how to resource it. While the DfE has set an average of £18 per pupil per hour for tutoring, many providers’ prices are only that low for small group sessions. One to one tutoring is more likely to cost more, with many providers charging closer to £60 per pupil per hour for this kind of tutoring. 

In-person or face-to-face tutoring is often more expensive than online tuition or online lessons, and many providers who offer both charge more for in-person sessions. Third Space Learning’s online tuition offers an affordable route for schools as it is 56% cheaper than the average cost of the department of education-approved one-to-one tutoring. 

4. Check the curriculum and the lessons

Don’t just assume there will be direct progression or alignment with your own schemes of work. Ensure that there are explicit links between the tutoring sessions to students’ normal school lessons and the national curriculum within each of the key stages. This is so students can revise topics covered in class in more detail, or use their prior knowledge to access new topics. 

Here at Third Space Learning, we have a specifically-created curriculum of lessons, all designed by former teachers and maths experts who follow a structured approach to help build and develop conceptual understanding.

For maximum success, one-to-one maths interventions should be delivered by tutors, mentors, or staff who specialise in the subject. That way, they will be able to understand students’ maths skills and ensure they know the building blocks for success. Ensure that tutors are also DBS checked for safeguarding purposes.

However, it is important to account for how many schools have a shortage of maths specialists, so you may wish to look into an external maths intervention. Staff who have a specialism in the subject are best equipped to deliver such interventions. Alternatively, online options can help. 

At Third Space Learning, we recruit and train passionate STEM graduates and undergraduates, who all receive extensive initial and ongoing maths tutor training, alongside enhanced DBS checks.

5. Choose a programme built on evidence-informed approaches

Every successful tutoring program should have, at the core, a scientific, evidence-based curriculum, and instructional practices. Take ample time to vet any new tool, approach, or online program before implementation to make sure that it’s backed by strong research. At Third Space Learning, we’ve been working with schools for ten years, meaning we can analyse data used from the almost 2 million sessions we’ve had to understand what works best for you.

Read more: The 5 Best Online Tutoring Websites For UK Schools

6. Target the right pupils 

 Schools need to prioritise pupils eligible for pupil premium, supporting those who have fallen furthest behind. These should be identified through in-school formative and summative assessments, and gap analysis; it is important to look at those who are achieving and those who need extra support.

 Ensure that groups are also filtered such as SEND, pupil premium, those who achieved greater depth at the end of EYFS or KS1, gender, or those whose learning has been most negatively impacted by school closures.

7. Personalise the tuition

High-quality tutoring should always take a personalised approach. At the end of each session, pupils should be able to answer questions independently, giving feedback on how they found the session. These can help us continuously update each pupil’s personalised learning journey. Our tutors can personalise lessons for your students at all stages of the journey. Using assessment for learning, they’re able to gauge pupil understanding and adjust the pitch and pace accordingly.

“A great service… for children who not only love the personalised nature of the sessions, but also make clear progress.”

– The Aylesbury Vale Academy

8. Use diagnostic assessment

Leveraging data is the key to understanding where your students are struggling.

This is something we believe strongly in at Third Space Learning. The thousands of schools we work with don’t come to us to raise maths attainment as a blanket goal, they come to us because they know their target pupils – many of them eligible for Pupil Premium – all have different knowledge gaps that need addressing to enable them to progress through the curriculum and succeed in maths.

It’s why all pupils start the programme with an initial diagnostic assessment. This pinpoints individual gaps – going as far back as year 1 – and uses deliberate distractors to diagnose the individual misconception behind each gap. This then enables us to formulate a personalised learning journey for each individual pupil. Each week, they’ll log on to the platform at the day and time chosen by their school for a completely personalised online one to one maths lesson from their dedicated maths tutor.

9. Remove barriers to attendance and engagement

We focus on which pupils we’re reaching, the experience for schools, and how the tuition fits into the reality they face. We’re able to support students who may have missed out on core learning opportunities due to attendance. 

The majority of the pupils we’ve supported are eligible for Pupil Premium. This ensures that we’re directly reaching those pupils who need it most and helping to make high-quality tuition more accessible for children who may not have the same opportunities as their peers.

“The children have grown in confidence and are thoroughly enjoying Third Space Learning. They have made such a lot of progress since the intervention, it really has been money well spent!”

– Newstead Primary School

10. Get stakeholder buy-in

Buy-in from key stakeholders, such as parents and teachers, was reported to be low during the NTP, especially in certain parts of England such as the North East. Teachers and senior leaders will need to ensure that buy-in happens so that stakeholders can see the bigger picture.

 Both teachers and parents play a huge part in the process, and having their direct support can strengthen tutoring and its successes. Ensure that tutors, teachers, and parents are in regular communication so that everyone is on the same page. Foster a positive culture by sharing students’ successes and progress through each step of the process.

11. Monitor your students’ progression and the impact of tutoring

To ensure that tutoring archives the desired motive, continuously monitor the progression of your students over time. This is so you know how much impact tutoring has had for your students, or if there are still further barriers to address. 

Ensure you set regular time aside to review your students at least once every half term. Alternatively, choose a provider that makes monitoring progress easy. Sitting in on tutoring sessions every now and again and having regular discussions with students will help you gauge the impact the tuition is having.

12. Make adjustments

It is important to be adaptive to tutoring. As each student is different, sometimes it’s not an all-size-fits-one approach. Ensure that you plan, do, and review, so that if changes do need to be made these can happen so that tutoring can guarantee the desired impact. 

What changes could you make if the impact is low? Ensure that you have regular discussions with each student to see if they are feeling more confident after each session. You may even wish to consider swapping students around if you find that some students may benefit more than others.

In summary, if you’re implementing a tutoring programme for schools you need to go with an expert, school-focused tutoring organisation. Contact us at Third Space Learning if you wish to know more about our high-quality, school-centred tuition experience. 

Third Space Learning Upsell Section


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.


The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions [FREE]

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions in Key Stage 2.

Includes a 20 point checklist of techniques to improve your one to one teaching.

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