We reported last summer that the government had announced £1bn of funding for private tutoring for children and young people whose education had fallen behind during the lockdown. At the time, however, no-one was planning for lockdown to carry on so long. As a consequence, Boris Johnson has now announced a further £300m of funding for the National Tutoring Programme.
Schools and Lockdown
For a good deal of the pandemic period, schools have been closed except for a small number of vulnerable children and those of keyworkers. While home-schooling has been encouraged, this is going to mean many children falling behind in their education, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It had been hoped that schools would be able to reopen after February's half-term, but this had now been ruled out by the government. The earliest date now likely is 8th March, though that depends on lockdown and the vaccination programme getting infection rates under control.
Extra Funds for the National Tutoring Programme
Boris Johnson has acknowledged that "We recognise these extended school closures have had a huge impact on children’s learning, which will take more than a year to make up." Consequently, he's added an extra £300m to the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) funds. This will enable schools to extend the support provided by the NTP. The Department of Education has said that it will be spread between early learning, schools and colleges, allowing students who have fallen behind to catch up. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said that "I know that this virus will have had a significant impact on children and young people’s learning and that is why we are providing an additional £300m for tutoring programmes and developing a longer term plan to help all pupils catch up."
Private Tuition under the NTP
The new money, like the previous budget, will be administered by the NTP, rather than individual headteachers, and will be divided between helping children and young people in general and targeting those from disadvantaged background who need urgent input to avoid falling well behind. Private tutoring organisations will be selected by the NTP on the basis of their record of working well with teachers. This is vital, because of the importance of integrating what's taught in the classroom and in the private tuition sessions.
When Will Schools Be Reopening?
This programme, of course, is dependent to some extent on when schools are going to reopen, and there are widely differing views on this. While the government are hoping for the 8th March date, education unions are being more cautious. Geoff Barton of the Association of School and College Leaders is clear that "What is crucial is that the Government ensures that full reopening is done in a way which is safe and sustainable, and which inspires the confidence of education staff and the public."
What is certain, however, is that schools will reopen, and then the NTP will swing into action. However, if you want to start helping your children catch up before that point, register with TutorExtra to explore the resources we offer.