The National Tutoring Programme (NTP) Tuition Partners (TP) programme was designed to provide additional support to schools and teachers to supplement classroom teaching through subsidised, high quality tutoring for pupils from an approved list of tutoring organisations, the Tuition Partners. This evaluation covers the TP programme as delivered in its first year by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), from November 2020 to August 2021. Tuition Partners was one arm of the NTP. The NTP aimed to support teachers and schools in providing a sustained response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to provide a longer term contribution to closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The NTP was part of a wider government response to the pandemic, funded by the Department for Education and originally developed by the EEF, Nesta, Impetus, The Sutton Trust, and Teach First, and with the support of the KPMG Foundation. The EEF appointed 33 approved ‘Tuition Partners’ that schools could select from to deliver tuition. Schools could access 15 hours of tutoring per selected pupil (with a minimum of 12 hours being considered a completed block of tuition). Tuition was provided online and/or face-to-face; and was 1:1, or in small groups (1:2 or 1:3); and available in English, maths, science, humanities and modern foreign languages. Tuition was expected to be delivered in schools (before, during and after school), in addition to usual teaching; and in certain circumstances, at home. The programme was targeted at disadvantaged pupils attending state-maintained schools in England, including those eligible for Pupil Premium funding (PP-eligible), Free School Meals (FSM), or those identified by schools as having an equivalent need for support. Participating schools had discretion to identify which of their pupils they felt would most benefit from additional tuition support. Pupils in Years 1–11 were eligible (5–16 years old). The programme aimed to reach 215,000 to 265,000 pupils, across 6,000 state-maintained schools in England, and it was expected that approximately 20,000 tutors would be recruited by Tuition Partners. The TP programme was set up and delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic, requiring continued responsiveness to the challenges faced by schools including restricted attendance, remote teaching, and ongoing widespread staff and pupil absences. During school closures to most pupils from January – March 2021, the EEF approved TPs to deliver online tuition at home, however many schools chose to wait to commence tutoring until schools reopened fully, and therefore started tutoring later than planned. The usual summer exams process for Year 11 pupils could not go ahead as planned in summer 2021, and GCSEs were determined by TAGs instead. This evaluation report covers the analysis on the impact of the TP programme on the maths and English attainment outcomes for Year 11 pupils only. Separate reports relate to analysis on a sample of primary schools and an implementation and process evaluation (IPE). The evaluation findings for the TP programme are brought together in a summary and interpretation report that is available here. This evaluation uses a quasi-experimental design (QED), involving a group of intervention schools that participated in the TP programme, and a group of comparison schools that did not receive the programme. The evaluation relies on a propensity score matching approach to ensure that the intervention and comparison schools are similar to each other in important, observable regards. As pupils who would have received TP in comparison schools were difficult to identify, the evaluation focused on pupils eligible for Pupil Premium and on all pupils, as these groups can be identified in both TP and non-TP schools. The analysis is based on 1,464 secondary schools with a total of 62,024 pupils eligible for Pupil Premium. The evaluation assessed impact in English and maths using Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) from 2021.
Year 11 pupils eligible for Pupil Premium in schools that received TP made similar progress in English and maths compared to pupils eligible for Pupil Premium in comparison schools (there was no evidence of an effect in English or maths). A particular challenge is that, on average, only 12% of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium were selected for tutoring in maths and 9% were selected for tutoring in English, meaning the vast majority of the pupils included in the analysis did not receive tutoring. Therefore, this estimated impact of TP is diluted and it is hard to detect any effect that may (or may not) be present.
When looking at all pupils in Year 11, pupils in schools that received TP made, on average, similar progress in English compared to all Year 11 pupils in comparison schools (there was no evidence of an effect). In maths, Year 11 pupils in schools that received TP made slightly less progress than all Year 11 pupils in comparison schools (though this effect was very small and equivalent to zero months ’ additional progress). However, this analysis was subject to even further dilution than the PPeligible analysis: only 7% of Year 11 pupils were selected for tutoring in maths and 6% in English. Given this context, it is unlikely that any of these differences were due to TP. Additional analysis restricted the sample of schools to those that targeted higher proportions of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium to receive tutoring, to reduce the issue of dilution and bring the group of analysed pupils closer to those that were selected for the intervention. In schools that selected over 50% of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium for tutoring, pupils eligible for Pupil Premium made similar progress in TP and comparison schools in English and maths. However, when the sample was restricted to schools that selected over 70% of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium for tutoring (and reducing dilution further), the impact of TP on pupils eligible for Pupil Premium is positive. In these schools, pupils eligible for Pupil Premium made, on average, the equivalent of two months additional progress in English and two months additional progress in maths, compared to pupils eligible for Pupil Premium in comparison schools. This analysis was based on a smaller sample of schools that were rematched to a comparison sample. However, different characteristics to the rest of the TP population of schools remained (more ‘Outstanding’ schools, lower percentage of FSM students), so this finding may not necessarily be generalisable to all TP schools. Within schools that participated in TP, pupils who received more hours of tutoring in maths obtained higher maths TAGs, and pupils who received more hours of tutoring in English obtained higher English TAGs, than pupils who received fewer hours of tutoring in the respective subjects. These results are associations and are not necessarily causal estimates of impact; there may be other explanations for the higher grades among these pupils.