The Government’s NTP is an incredible opportunity coming in a time where opportunities are thin on the ground.
The coronavirus measures have caused considerable damage to the education of a large sector of the population. In my opinion, the extent of that damage has yet to be quantified. And the damage continues to be done as we progress through what is hopefully the second half of the pandemic, with students still having lengthy spells of distance learning (and for some that means no learning).
The need to provide extra support is clearly there.
But I wonder if this really is a one to two year project? Is it a “quick fix”? Or should it become part of the education system for five years plus? I suspect it will need time to bed in and find its place in the education process. In effect, to normalise.
I have found, from informal conversation that there is a level of resistance within the teaching community to the scheme.
In the first instance there is a level of healthy skepticism towards any “oven ready” solution coming from central government. As this is a “take it or leave it” programme, it is perceived by some as having been foisted in the state education sector.
Tutoring for KS4 subjects is seen by many as an elitist privilege used by a privileged class (perhaps less so in London and the South East than elsewhere in the England). To rub salt in this sore, schools are being asked to find money for this scheme when current accounts of many schools are failing to cover the additional cost of coronavirus measures.
Then there is the logistical difficulty of getting another outside person on site and familiar with the school’s security protocol. In addition, there’s a natural concern of trusting part of the students education to an unknown quantity.
Other questions arise such as: –
- How will tutoring mesh into an already highly fluid, often experimental teaching system as a consequence of the pandemic?
- Will having a tutor require a member of staff present as chaperone?
- Will the tutoring companies meet the schools requirement for a supplier of student facing services?
There are solutions to all these challenges. But is the SLT time best spent on developing safe processes to allow NTP delivery or on implementing more familiar in-house solutions such as remedial classes and using the money to pay its existing staff some overtime?
I think the NTP needs to be sold as one of many tools, available to schools, to support their students learning in these difficult times. The pitch needs to emphasise the flexibility in the application of the NTP.
I can imagine a system where tutoring can be a valuable addition to school teaching, helping close the gap between children from different socioeconomic groups as well as helping all students, including the AMA, reach their full potential.
Most of all I think the NTP needs some case studies showing success in order to inculcate its value to the teaching community. This will take time. It has to run long enough to demonstrate that it can deliver outcomes of high net worth in a wide range of situations.
SLTs need to see how the NTP is being integrated with the existing teaching in other schools.
I think the NTP needs duration, transparent value delivery, flexibility and then, hopefully adoption and normalisation will follow.