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Headteachers have said the government’s tuition programme for disadvantaged children who have lost out most during lockdown will only reach a fraction of the pupils who need it.
The national tutoring programme (NTP), which starts this week, was set up to provide one-to-one and small group tuition to disadvantaged five- to 16-year-olds in state schools in England, as part of the government’s £1bn catch-up scheme.
An estimated 15,000 tutors, including PhD students and volunteers – many without teaching qualifications – from 32 approved organisations, will be available to deliver tuition to 250,000 pupils during the current academic year. In addition, 188 out of a final tally of 1,000 academic mentors will start work in schools to provide academic support to pupils most in need.
Nick Brook, the deputy general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the programme had the potential to help schools accelerate the progress of pupils, but added: “In the short term, it is severely constrained by the number of tutors available.
“The scope of the NTP this year appears to be capped at 250,000 pupils – a significant number but still a fraction of the 1.4 million children in receipt of free school meals, for instance.”
With a second wave of disruption beginning to affect schools across the country, Brook said: “Far from catch-up, the government needs to be mindful that schools in many areas of the country will be focused first and foremost on ensuring that their pupils are not falling even further behind.”
Meanwhile, children unable to attend school because they are self-isolating because of coronavirus will now have access to the BBC’s curriculum-based education programmes on television, rather than just online.
Since the pandemic began, concerns have been growing about the 700,000 pupils in England without access to the internet or a suitable device to study from home when they are unable to be in school.
From Monday, the BBC, which has played a leading role in home education during the Covid-19 pandemic, is making its BBC Bitesize lessons for children aged five to 11 available on the CBBC channel to ensure they are as widely available as possible.
Patricia Hidalgo Reina, the director of BBC Children’s and Education, said: “The BBC continues to support teachers and parents in educating children in the UK during challenging times.
“With so many children unable to attend school physically we are delighted to be able to bring Bitesize Daily to CBBC ensuring every child in the UK has access to curriculum-based learning via their TV.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Catch-up plan for pupils in England will fall far short, say headteachers | Education