Covid Catch-up Tuition Failing “Woefully” says Shadow Secretary

Covid Catch-up Tuition Failing “Woefully” says Shadow Secretary

The Shadow Secretary criticises the “woefully low reach” of the catch-up tuition scheme.

According to the Labour Party, the government catch-up tutoring scheme is “failing to deliver on promises,”. Data shows it has provided tuition to only one percent of pupils in the whole of England.

The schools minister, Nick Gibb said last Thursday that 110,000 students have started to receive catch-up tuition under the recovery programme. The programme was designed to help make up for lost learning young people have experienced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest figures from January 2020 puts England’s school population at 8.89 million.

The Labour Party said this suggests that only  1.2 per cent of England’s pupils have received tutoring through the National Tutoring Programme despite launching it months ago. 

The schools minister said 44 per cent of those receiving tuition were eligible for the pupil premium grant for disadvantaged pupils. The grant is available to pupils on free school meals (or who have been in the past six years) and pupils in care. Labour said this was equivalent to 48,400 pupils – or 2.4 per cent of the total number eligible for pupil premium in the country.

Woeful Catch-up Tuition…

Kate Green, the shadow education secretary, said the “woefully low reach” of the National Tutoring Programme showed the government was “failing to deliver on its promises for children and families”.

Green added: “We have seen failure, upon failure from this Conservative government which has treated children as an afterthought throughout the pandemic and now has no plan to deliver a strong recovery”.

The government has previously said the National Tutoring Programme is “designed to reach the most disadvantaged pupils in England”. The programme endeavours to help children most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to bridge the gaps in their learning. 

One aspect of the programme gives schools in disadvantaged areas access to heavily subsidised tuition from a list of partners.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the catch-up scheme is “providing high quality, targeted support for the children who need it most”.

Nick Gibb said: “We want to make sure that these catch-up programs are targeted on those pupils who are in the most need – and that will be some disadvantaged children,

It will also be pupils who have not coped with remote education, or who have mental health issues, or who have special educational needs, but are not necessarily eligible for the pupil premium.”

In March 2021, the public spending watchdog said the scheme may not be reaching the poorest children, as less than half the children who had started to receive tuition by February were eligible for pupil premium.

The National Audit Office (NAO) found 44 per cent of the children who had received tuition were also eligible for the grants. This raised “questions over the extent to which the scheme will reach the most disadvantaged children”.

In addition to providing pupils with tuition, the National Tutoring Programme alsos schools in the most disadvantaged areas to employ the top academic mentors to give intensive catch-up support to their pupils.  According to the government, 1,000 academic mentors have already been placed in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England. 

The DfE spokesperson added: “The programme forms part of £1.7bn being invested in ambitious catch-up activity, and we are working with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure all pupils recover from the impact of the pandemic as quickly and comprehensively as possible.”

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