ASCL comment on National Tutoring Programme statistics

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the government’s press release in relation to the latest National Tutoring Programme figures.
“The Department for Education’s claim that they will continue to support schools to embed tutoring into the long-term just does not tally with reality. The NTP is fundamentally flawed as it is only partially subsidised and schools have to fund the remainder of the cost out of budgets that are already stretched beyond breaking point. The government subsidy covers only 60% of the cost this academic year, 25% next academic year, and disappears altogether after that. This will only serve to limit access with many schools likely to cut or completely abandon NTP provision. If the government’s intention really is to embed tutoring into the school system, this is a bizarre way of going about it.
“To add insult to injury, the DfE has today published school-level statistics showing participation in the National Tutoring Programme during the 2021/22 academic year. This de facto league table, that we have repeatedly warned them against publishing, tells us little more than what schools have been able to afford. It certainly should not be used as major indicator of a school’s appetite to make use of the tutoring scheme. If the government was serious about widening participation in the NTP, they would allow schools to access the subsided funding without the pre-requisite of topping this up from their own budgets. Rather than take this simple, cost-free step, they have instead chosen to publish this meaningless set of statistics.
“As the government’s flagship education recovery policy following the pandemic, this is just not good enough. Their own education recovery commissioner resigned because the funding allocated for education recovery was so low. Rather than taking on board this criticism, increasing the level of funding and making this more accessible, the government has chosen to deflect from their shortcomings by attempting to put the blame on schools. Right from the start, the NTP has been a textbook lesson in how to take a good idea and undermine it through bureaucracy and inflexibility. The publication of these statistics is just the latest example and suggests the DfE’s priorities are in completely the wrong place.”