By Gavin Mackintosh-
The Department for Education has advised schools to use in-house tutors and academic mentors to support teaching when they face staff absences, a senior official has revealed.
With many teaching staff absent from schools in the Uk due to self isolation or other reasons, the Department Of Education has called for teachers to make use of all academic talent possible to equip pupils to maximize their learning potential in schools.
Graham Archer, director for education recovery at the DfE, told MPs that schools could use staff employed through the school-led tutoring and academic mentors arms of the National Tutoring Programme to support teaching “where that is necessary”.
Archer and schools minister Robin Walker were both responding to questions by the education committee about the NTP on Wednesday morning, after it was revealed that the flagship catch-up scheme had reached just 15 per cent of its ramped-up target by the end of the first term of this year.
The government also announced today at least 585 ex-teachers had come forward in response to its call to arms for additional supply cover during periods of high staff absence. Last week, around 44,000 teachers (9 per cent) were absent.
He pointed out that “many of the people working on the tutoring programmes are not fully-qualified teachers, and so there won’t be a complete overlap”.
However, he said that the government had “also seen…some of those people who are working, particularly on the school-led route within the tutoring programme, they have actually been able to provide some support and cover to colleagues within school”.”
Archer told MPs the government was “actively encouraging schools who have tutors on their payroll, either academic mentors or through the school-led route, to use them in support of teaching where that is necessary and makes most sense, where there are staff absences that require that”.
On Tuesday, it was announced that an estimated 5,500 primary and secondary pupils entitled to free school meals in The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) will receive pastoral and academic support.
The scheme is said to be more welfare-focused than the National Tutoring Programme, and more sustainable than initiatives funded through one-off recovery premium funding.
A £250,000 pilot earlier this year funded by trust reserves, involved six of its schools and about 500 pupils in the South East of England. It has now been extended for around 1,500 pupils at all 45 schools this year, and will include about 5,500 pupils from next September.
With the number of pupils and teacher staff self isolating, there are concerns that many pupils may be set back academically, particularly after the national lockdowns that took place in 2020 and 2021.
The marking scheme for this years G.C.S.E and A levels exams is expected to be more lenient than usual, potentially weakening true academic standards in the Uk compared with other countries which will not be adjusting their standards to compensate for the effects of the pandemic, but instead expect pupils and parents to raise their own levels of commitment to make up for any losses sustained due to interruptions to their studies.
Committed parents fill in the gaps by spending time with their children themselves to educate or homeschool them, or hiring tutors to give them the personal and close up acaemic development they need.
Tutors can sometimes be as effective as full time teaching staff but are generally most effective in one to one teaching of students.
A relatively small percentage of parents hire tuition for their children in primary and secondary schools, though a higher proportions of parents who send their children to private schools use tutors.
Most primary and secondary school tutors charge £25 an hour, but the rate goes up for many experienced tutors teaching G.C.S.E and A levels to anything between £35 and £60 an hour.