Primary Tuition – Government initiatives to close the gap


“There is extensive evidence showing the impact of tutoring to support pupils who have fallen behind” Education Endowment Foundation website.
With the government set to unveil its National Tutoring Programme as a means to support children affected by the prolonged closure of schools and the necessity for social distancing, there has never been a more resounding trumpet call to rally the tutoring troops! Similarly, the concern of the government, for what the press is now calling “The lost generation” in respect of how the gap in attainment has widened, during school closures, between at risk or more vulnerable children and the remainder of the cohort of the school, is much more in evidence than perhaps previously – and rightly so.

However, if the government is expressing concern about the growing gap in attainment between vulnerable children and their classmates, it perhaps would not be unreasonable to presume that ordinary children, with perhaps no special circumstance to recommend them to the government measures, have been equally been affected.


The needs of the many not outweighing the needs of the few

As one of our parents recently commented to me, in respect of the education her daughter has not been receiving over these last months, in company with a great many other children, a strange kind prioritisation has been effected. The children of working parents not deemed key, on furlough, or worse without employment altogether have to make do with whatever their school has seen fit to lay on for them. She noted that children of key workers, parents in work, continue to receive attention in small groups from their class teacher.

Many private schools have addressed the issue by turning over to online classes throughout the period of lockdown, effectively running a school day, albeit remotely. In speaking with this lady, I could not help but wonder if both she and her daughter are not representative of the vast majority of parents of primary-aged children – if they indeed do constitute this “lost generation” and whether or not there will be any funding leftover in the National Tutoring Programme for them; whether, indeed, there will be a scaling down of focus on children who have been fortunate enough to be kept in school, over children who have been kept out of school altogether!


Online primary tuition – a flexible option for catching up children

Buried in the FAQs of the National Tutoring Programme, you are able to capture something of the vision of the government to make tutoring coaches available to schools, which they may, in turn, procure from approved tutoring organisations or tutoring partners. They are thinking that these coaches will be onsite all day in the school, becoming in effect, part of the school staff and managed by the school.

This is great, except one must wonder where all these “local” tutors are coming from, even if the government is able, as it says, to recruit graduates. This author cannot help but think that the government could be more flexible in its supply of tutors to schools, allowing them to at least in part access online or remote tutoring for some of their pupils. To, in effect, widen the scope of both the number and the quality of the individuals they can recruit.


Primary Tuition – Online or otherwise – the quality of the teaching counts

Coaches, given a short training programme, with a view to delivering the “blocks of learning” described in the NTP programme, though a welcome addition to the staff of any primary school, especially schools in more deprived areas, are not trained, teachers. Nor are they likely to be able to assimilate the experience, even a relatively new class teacher has acquired, in addressing the myriad of barriers to learning they are likely to encounter when immersed in a typical primary school. Whether online or face to face, the quality of the teaching will count in respect of moving children forward and closing the gap in attainment with more privileged peers.


Online Primary Tuition – Exploring groups

One of the driving factors behind the government initiative, has without doubt been the attempt to bring tutoring, either one-to-one, or in small groups, to children who may not have had the opportunity to benefit from such support before, because of cost – whether that has been a cost to the school budget or a private cost to a parent or guardian.

With the success of our one-to-one programme of tuition across the primary age range, we are now looking ourselves to take registrations to run small groups in Maths, French and Spanish over the summer, at just £15.00 per hour, with a view to providing extra-curricular tuition, in the case of our beginner primary French and Spanish groups, and more focussed year groups in Maths concentrating on the National Curriculum children will be coming up to face in September. For more information about our small groups please contact us and register your interest.