Before Covid-19, nobody could have predicted the position the tuition industry would be in now. Yes, private tutoring (and online tutoring) is an extremely effective and powerful tool - improving grades, providing academic mentoring to hone key-skills, driving achievement and ultimately, boosting self-confidence – but a £1.4bn injection into catch-up education with tuition as the focal point was not likely.
The latest COVID-19 tuition catch-up plan announced on the 2nd June 2021 is comprised of an £1.4bn increase in funding, reportedly to be divided between:
Whilst doubt remains whether schools will have autonomy to allocate the funds, it has been made very clear that investment is designated solely for the purpose of catch-up tuition. Despite widespread criticism of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), it is expected the organisation will be the indirect recipient of the new funds, of which the international recruitment company, Randstad, is going to be the ‘Prime Delivery Partner’ responsible for its success. It is also unclear how exactly the increase in funds for the Department of Education relate to COVID-19 catch-up, with sources pointing to professional development as its primary use.
With ambiguity lingering as this eventful morning has unfolded, what are the key questions for parents, teachers, tutors and students?
Despite the UK’s increase in funding for catch-up education being considerably lower than the US (£100bn) and Netherlands (£7.3bn), the question of particulars is very pertinent.
Criticism of the National Tutoring Programme from respected voices of the tuition industry, such as The Tutors Association (TTA), over the quality of tuition providers has not been addressed by the recent announcement. Simply, parents, students and teachers alike have no guarantee that the tuition being delivered will be from professional tutors.
With the core purpose of the investment catch-up, plans for a longer school day have been swept under the carpet amid reports of a shortened lunch break. Concerns remain about pupil burn-out and time for co-curricular activities.
It goes without saying that the key to a well-rounded education often lies outside of core subjects. Furthermore, with concerns about student mental health rising to the forefront of the agenda for education policy makers, how much time spent on co-curricular activities, therefore, is a pertinent question for parents, teachers and students.
With quality of tuition provided a vital factor in the success of the catch-up tuition, concerns over the safeguarding protections in place born from NTP controversies to assure parents and teachers are yet to be addressed.
With much left to be decided, and the future of catch-up tuition seemingly at a crossroads, Think Tutors remain poised to provide tuition to students who need it most.