Uptake of the government’s flagship tutoring scheme is so slow that all current secondary school pupils in England will have left school by the time the Tories finally deliver on their education catch-up promises, the Labor Party has said.
Last summer the Prime Minister announced 100million hours of one-to-one and small group tutoring over a three-year period to help pupils in England who have fallen behind in their learning due to the disruption caused by the pandemic .
At the rate of deliveries for this school year, Labor says that figure will not be reached for at least five and a half years, by which time all pupils currently in secondary school will have completed Year 11 and moved on.
The National Tutoring Program (NTP) was set up to much fanfare in 2020 by former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to tackle lost learning caused by the lockdown and continued Covid disruption.
According to Labor’s analysis, 1.2 million 15-hour classes started in the 2021-22 academic year, which equates to less than 18 million hours in total for the year, meaning that at current rates, the 100 million hour target will not be met in the next five years. years.
The Department for Education (DfE) said Labour’s analysis was flawed because the school year it was based on was unfinished and its projections were incorrect.
Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan said: “Millions of children will have left school before the government delivers the support it has promised. The Conservatives have ducked this generational challenge, leaving children, parents and teachers to pick up the pieces once again. »
The delivery of the NTP was hampered by problems. Randstad, the Dutch multinational responsible for running the programme, has lost the overall contract for next year, with tuition funding going directly to schools through the school-led tutoring route, where participation has been higher .
A DfE spokesperson said: “These projections do not hold water; they are based on an academic year that has not even ended. The NTP has already delivered 1.5 million tutoring lessons, including 1.2 million lessons from this academic year alone.
“From next year, the NTP will be simplified, with all funding provided directly to schools, and funding to support the resumption of education in secondary schools will double.”
The DfE also played down reports that ministers were considering overturning the ban on opening new schools, as did Boris Johnson’s spokesman, who indicated there were no plans to change policy .
The reported telegraph that senior government officials were ‘open’ to reviewing legislation banning any new academically selective schools, amid calls from some ‘red wall’ MPs to bring grammar schools back under the curriculum government leveling.
The DfE said: “High schools are a valuable part of the school system, with great ethics, and we want to spread their DNA through the wider education system by encouraging them to join or create multi-academy trusts. We will protect their selective nature if they do, but there are no plans to allow new high schools to open.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said evidence showed that increasing the number of selective schools was not the answer to improving social mobility.
“High schools, where they currently exist, are doing a great job for their students, but so are many comprehensive schools across the country, and the idea that selective education is kind of a ticket to gold is, frankly, insulting.”