Here at Jacari we've been following the development of the UK government's National Tutoring Programme (NTP) with great interest. This flagship programme was set up last year to help children catch-up with their education after the disruption of Covid lockdowns and school closures and was supposed to help those children who needed it most. It is therefore disappointing to read news articles this week that it isn't working or reaching the pupils most in need.
Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter, was interviewed in the I newspaper, raising his concerns about the legacy of the NTP. “I hope it doesn’t put teachers and schools off the idea of extra tutoring in itself because it is one of the most effective things in the teachers’ toolkit.”
As a tutoring charity for children who use English as an additional language, we know just how important and effective providing free extra tuition is for disadvantaged children, helping them catch-up with their education and giving them confidence and aspirations to achieve their potential.
It was of particular interest to hear about plans for an "army" of university students to act as volunteer tutors for disadvantaged children. We recognise the value of university students delivering tuition - that model has proved successful for Jacari for over 50 years.
We have over 150 student volunteers in Bristol and Oxford providing regular 1:1 tuition to disadvantaged children who use English as an additional language and are struggling at school. In our most recent impact report, we found that 94% of parents said tutoring improved their child's language skills and 100% of parents said it had improved their child's confidence.
Teachers in our partner schools regularly tell us the impact of the extra tuition on pupils.
One teacher told us about a child in her class who had regular tuition with a student volunteer: “Jacari has had a huge impact on her confidence and English skills. She talks about Jacari lessons lots. You can really see the impact of having individual support.”
We are fully supportive of plans to involve more university students in tutoring disadvantaged children and close the educational attainment gap and look forward with cautious optimism in seeing how these plans progress.