Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Department for Education press release stating that two million courses have been started through the National Tutoring Programme.
“The government has been engaged in a campaign to pressurise schools into using the National Tutoring Programme which has involved besieging them with telephone calls and the threat of a league table of schools’ take-up of the programme which is due to be published in the autumn.
“We are therefore not surprised to see an increase in uptake since May.
“This has largely been a face-saving exercise by the government following the chaos which has dogged the programme since it was launched caused by over-complexity and problems in delivering the tuition partners element of the scheme.
“The government has now launched a simplified version of the programme in which all funding goes directly to schools – something it should have done in the first place – and they then choose the tutoring route which best suits their needs.
“But it is important to understand that this is only partially subsidised and that the programme represents a considerable cost to schools to deliver from budgets that are under extreme pressure.
“Next academic year the subsidy will be only 60% meaning that schools have to find the remaining 40% from other budgets which already have many calls upon them.
“There is good evidence that tutoring in small groups can be of benefit but it should be an option that is available rather than an exercise in backdoor compulsion.
“School leaders are best placed to make the judgement call on what support best meets the needs of their students – not politicians in Westminster.”