Tutoring sustainability: Understanding the views of school leaders

Emma Moore and Pippa Lord

21 June 2023

 Sample Information

The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) was introduced by the Department for Education (DfE) in the 2020-21 academic year to provide subsidised tuition to disadvantaged pupils and help close the attainment gap caused by school closures in response to Covid-19. The NTP is now in its third year and, attention is turning to the long-term sustainability of the NTP and the future of tutoring more widely.

This project used NFER’s Teacher Voice Omnibus survey to gather the views of 439 school leaders from a nationally representative sample of schools in England to understand:

  • The extent to which the NTP is offering additional value to schools and pupils.
  • The factors that influence the potential of tutoring to become a sustainable intervention that schools can use to improve attainment amongst disadvantaged pupils in the future, including senior leaders’ experiences of the NTP.

Key Findings

  • Among the 52 per cent of senior leaders currently using the NTP, almost all (91 per cent) reported that it has allowed them to offer support to more disadvantaged pupils, and more than two thirds (68 per cent) have been able to hire or use additional staff. We also found that three-quarters (76 per cent) of these leaders believe it is improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils at their school, and nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) plan to continue using the NTP in the 2023-24 academic year. But nearly half (47 per cent) reported that their school only offers tutoring during normal lesson times.
  • NTP funding arrangements, the ability to source suitable tutors, administrative burden and time required to implement the NTP are barriers to sustainability, as they are reducing take up and/or causing drop-out from the programme.
  • More than half (61 per cent) of all senior leaders surveyed think that other types of support are more effective than tutoring for improving attainment amongst disadvantaged pupils, including 42 per cent of senior leaders planning to continue using the NTP next year.
  • Over half (58 per cent) of all senior leaders surveyed do not think that tutoring is a long-term solution to closing the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils, including 46 per cent of those planning to continue delivering the NTP, and there are split opinions about the cost-effectiveness of tutoring.