On Tuesday, MPs were told that catch-up tutors helping pupils who have lost out on learning during the pandemic are 'inconsistent' in quality and not always 'very good with children'.
Under the Government's flagship tutoring scheme to help pupils catch up, headteachers said that tutors were not always well trained to build relationships with vulnerable pupils or help the youngest children with their reading.
Nicola Shipman, chief executive officer at Steel City Schools Partnership, a multi-academy trust of primary schools in Sheffield, told the House of Commons' education select committee that schools which used their own staff rather than National Tutoring Programme tutors had seen better results.
"Relationships are absolutely key, and because some of our children, pupils, that we serve have got difficult relationships, and have struggled to come back into school, it's no surprise that those schools haven't engaged with the NTP. The children have made better progress, because they have a better relationship with the person," she said.
She added that the quality of both the tutors under the NTP and its online portal was 'variable'.
‘Really variable, quite inconsistent’
Ruth Holden, executive headteacher of Mulberry Academy Shoreditch in east London, also told the committee that they found the NTP programme to be 'really variable, and quite inconsistent.'
She added: "Some of those people were very good in terms of their specialism but they weren't necessarily very good with children, particularly children who need a particular style of engagement, because they aren't very able, or had connectivity issues or a whole host of things to do with deprivation."
She added that she wanted the catch-up funding to come directly to schools through the Pupil Premium, as deputy heads had told her the process of applying for the NTP funding was "driving [them] mad".Jo Coton, executive headteacher at NET Academies Trust, which runs six primary schools in Essex, told MPs: "We haven't used the National Tutoring Programme and gone outside, purely because we felt at primary level there needed to be some form of established relationship with the young people first.
"Some of the tutors, perhaps, have (come) from agencies. They tend to be, in my experience, not the most effective teachers.
Only a quarter of catch-up tutoring courses delivered
"Some of them at primary level, at least, don't have the training, the recent training, to be as effective to implement the catch-up, particularly with early reading and those kinds of things."
Earlier this month, figures revealed that only around a quarter of catch-up tutoring courses for this academic year had been delivered by Randstad, the provider of the scheme awarded a £25 million contract to deliver it in June 2021.
Headteachers suggested schools were finding the system ‘confusing and difficult’ to navigate.
In December, Nick Bent, chief executive of the Tutor Trust, one of the partners delivering tutoring in schools, told MPs that Randstad did not ‘have enough staff or the right expertise’ and there were ‘problems’ with the tuition hub.
"There are huge problems with the technology hub that is meant to organise all of the tutoring and some of us are still refusing to use that tuition hub because it's so dysfunctional," he added.