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  • Writer's picturePurple Ruler

How to choose the best National Tutoring Programme provider

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Schools must use accredited tuition providers to deliver lessons to students, but it's not always the easiest choice - here's a full guide to help understand how to decide

From September, the UK government is providing £349 million of core tutoring funding directly to schools. Details about this funding were released in July 2022 in the National Tutoring Programme: Guidance for Schools 2022 to 2023 document.

But with schools being given the freedom to decide how best to provide tutoring for their pupils, many leaders are left wondering how to choose a tuition provider.

There are crucial factors to consider, so we've created a full breakdown of what schools should be looking for when selecting a tuition partner.

What are tuition partners?

Tuition partners are expert tutoring organisations that have been quality assured by the Department for Education (DfE). These organisations provide tutors to schools with specialisms including SEND, online tuition, English as an additional language (EAL) and subject-specific support.

As stated in the government guidance: “Schools may only use NTP funding on Tuition Partners that are listed on the DfE’s Find a Tuition Partner service. All Tuition Partners listed on the service are subject to rigorous quality assurance, which will include ensuring that they offer value for money to schools.”

What to look for when selecting a tuition provider

As announced by the government in July 2022, schools wishing to spend their funding on external agencies to deliver the National Tutoring Programme must now only use tutoring organisations pre-approved and quality assured by the Department for Education (DfE). Tutoring agencies available can be found on the DfE’s Find a Tuition Partner site. A glance at the number of pupils taught, schools they have worked with and teachers they employ will provide some useful information on the tuition provider.

Beyond this information, there are some key criteria that you should consider when looking for a tuition partner to work with your school. You’ll want the best support for your students – not just to bridge the learning gaps and get their grades up, but to address the impact the last couple of years have had on many learners’ mental health and wellbeing. Let’s look at what you should be seeking in a tuition provider.

Quality of tutors

All approved tuition partners have passed a set of quality, safeguarding and evaluation standards. But how do you choose between these approved providers?

Tutors should be experienced not only in their subject knowledge but in the overall pedagogy and philosophy of what makes a good learner. Tutors will need to build a strong rapport with pupils, support them to grow in confidence and foster transferrable study skills that will serve the pupils well in the future.


Pupil engagement, enjoyment and confidence


Let’s face it, unhappy pupils don’t make good learners. Children and young people need to feel happy and secure in order to engage in their learning. Often, those pupils in need of additional academic support are also having difficulties with anxiety, stress or low mood. If they have associated school - or learning in general - with anxiety, they’ll need emotional support to bring them back to a place where they are ready to learn.

When selecting a tuition provider, look for testimonials from staff, parents and pupils that mention the level of engagement and enjoyment the pupils are getting from the sessions with their tutors, and how pupils’ self-confidence has increased.


Cost-effectiveness

When researching tuition providers, you’ll inevitably be thinking about value for money and cost-effectiveness. You want your funding to be spent wisely and you want the best possible provision for your learners.

Look for a provider who states that you will only pay for the actual sessions run. Not prep-time, not admin, not training - just actual learning.


Curriculum coverage

The core subjects: English, Maths and Science should be provided by the tuition provider you choose. However, beyond specific subjects, the highest-quality tuition providers will not only offer other subjects, but they will focus on generic skills necessary to develop great learners:

  • Critical thinking skills

  • Analytical thinking skills

  • Essay and academic writing skills

  • Presentation and communication skills


Tailored learning


Not every intervention is perfectly pitched. It’s one thing identifying those pupils who are falling behind but quite another ensuring the support those pupils receive will directly fill their learning gaps.

The best tuition partners work closely with schools to determine exactly which areas their pupils are struggling with the most, and then create a framework of study topics to be shared with the tutors. This ensures that pupils are only focusing on the gaps in their knowledge and understanding, rather than going over secure areas of learning.

Look for a tuition provider that can support pupils with additional follow-up content in any areas where they need further support. This might be in the form of bitesize videos that students can watch back for clarification or as a reminder when revising a topic.


Flexibility and organisation


In order for a tuition provider to fully meet the needs of your pupils, the agency will need to be flexible and well-organised.

The best tuition providers will:

  • Provide a range of group sizes so you can decide what works best for your pupils

  • Offer additional small groups and 1-on-1 sessions for students falling behind or struggling in sessions at no extra charge

  • amend the content to ensure the learners’ needs are always being met and run the sessions in a way that suits the learning styles of those in their group

  • be able to organise suitable sessions for pupils in a short space of time, so no learning time is lost

  • be able to provide cover tutors at short notice if a tutor is ill, avoiding sessions ever being cancelled – the last thing our pupils need is any interruption to their additional support learning

Customer service and support


Finally, when you’re choosing a tuition provider, you’re going to want to think about the level of support you will receive. Good customer service is paramount so that you know:

  • advice will be available, as and when you need it

  • technical issues will be addressed quickly and competently

  • you can amend groupings or content coverage for your pupils if needed

A little research into finding a tuition provider that will genuinely make a difference to those pupils who need emotional and academic support will really pay off in the long run. You’ll see happier, more confident, resilient pupils who are achieving better outcomes.


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