Friday Five: tutoring, Minimum Service Levels, destitution, student housing, and headteachers’ influence on school performance


27th October 2023

1. DfE publishes evaluation of the year 2 of the National Tutoring Programme 

This report evaluates the impact of the second year (2021-2022) of the NTP on educational attainment of all pupils, for those on pupil premium (PP) and pupils with prior low attainment (PLA). The evaluation sought to understand whether the impact of the programme varied according to the tutoring route, whether the school took up support from Tuition Partners (TP), Academic Mentors (AM) or School-Led Tutoring (SLT). 

The evaluation showed statistically significant evidence to suggest that participation in SLT led to improvement in KS2 and KS4 outcomes, however, the improvements were small and equated to one month’s additional progress or less. No significant impact of the TP/AM routes could be established. Since the uptake of TP/AM is far less than the SLT, the small sample size could have led to selection bias the report cautions. The effects of tutoring on KS2 and KS4 maths and English outcomes were similar for all pupils regardless of PP and/or PLA status. A higher tutoring dosage and/or concentration was associated with better English and maths outcomes for SLT but this was not the case for AM/TP. The differences in the pattern of results between different tutoring routes may be due to differences in implementation; SLT is likely to have been more effective because it allowed schools to use internal staff as tutors making it more likely the staff delivering the NTP had existing relationships with staff and pupils they could build on and that tutoring was delivered in-person rather than online. 

Some of the key recommendations from the report include strengthening the evidence base, reintroducing targets and funding incentives for the delivery of tutoring for disadvantaged pupils, and increasing tutoring hours. In what shape or form the tutoring programme will be carried forward remains to be seen.

Read the full report here

2. Minimum service levels in response to teacher strike actions

The DfE has announced the introduction of Minimum Service Levels (MSL), which it says “aim to balance the ability of workers to strike with the rights of the public, who expect the essential services they pay for, like schools and colleges, to be there when they need them”. The Education Secretary has written to education union leaders inviting them to discuss what MSLs could look like on a voluntary basis. However, if an agreement is not reached, the government is supposed to have “committed to using powers” to go ahead with consultations on the topic. 

The Shadow education secretary has called these proposals an “admission of failure” over last year’s pay disputes and has rejected the idea outright as she says, “Labour has been clear we will repeal this law which is an attack on the rights of working people”. Teacher unions, such as the NEU, NAHT and NASUWT, have unequivocally condemned the MSL proposals. General Secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents the majority of school leaders in England, said: “This is nothing short of an overtly hostile act from the Government and an attack on the basic democratic freedoms of school leaders and teachers”. 

Read these articles here, here and here

3. JRF report on destitution in the UK in 2023

This report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation is fourth in the series of reports on Destitution in the UK; it reveals that approximately 3.8 million people experienced destitution in 2022, including one million children. This number is almost two and a half times the total number in 2017 and triple the number of children. The report notes that nearly three-quarters of people experiencing destitution are in receipt of social security payments and that ad-hoc support during the pandemic and for the cost of living crisis has not halted the rising level of destitution.

The report makes a number of recommendations to help tackle the problem. 

  • An ‘essentials guarantee’ within universal credit to ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford essentials such as food and household bills. Universal Credit’s basic rate would need to at least meet this minimum amount and deductions would not be allowed to reduce support below that level. 
  • Undertaking wider reforms to social security, including lowering the limit on deductions from benefits to repay debts, reforming sanctions so people are not left with zero or very low income, and ensuring access to disability benefits
  • Ensuring cash-first emergency assistance is available in all areas, along with free and impartial advice services to address debt, benefits and housing issues
  • Improving support for those who have ‘no recourse to public funds’

Read the full report here

4. HEPI report shows that rent accounts for almost all of the average maintenance loan

A new report from HEPI paints a deeply concerning picture when it comes to the cost of student accommodation. In a study covering 10 cities in the UK and drawing on data from the 10 largest providers of Puprpose-Built Student Accommodation, the authors find that average annual rents now stand £7,475 across the 10 key regional university cities (excluding London and Edinburgh, which were excluded as expensive capital cities).

Given that the average maintenance loan received by English student this academic year is expected to be £7,590, that means pretty much all of this loan will be swallowed up by rent. There’s a real danger that students will be left without the money they need to support their living essentials.

So, what’s driving these rents? The report asked 34 leading student accommodation providers (incuding both universities and private operators). They reported that the cost of energy, construction, staff and borrowing were the biggest drivers. With high development costs and difficulties gaining planning permission, there is a major shortage of beds – only 30,000 were added in the past two years.

The report makes several recommendations, including major reform of the student maintenance system, financial support and introduction of affordable room options, and moves to facilitate greater supply.

Read the report here.

5. EPI report explores headteachers’ influence on school performance

A new report from EPI looks at the influence of headteachers on their schools. The report provides the first quantitative evidence of the impact effective headteachers have on pupils’ performance in schools, using analysis of pupil and headteacher data between 2004-2019.

The report finds that pupils under the most effective headteachers make up three additional months of progress compared to those in schools led by struggling heads – translating to one extra GCSE in two subjects. They also find that the most effective heads are concentrated in high-performing schools, while the least effective heads are concentrated in low-performing schools. In schools with less effective headteachers, staff turnover is significantly higher, along with higher staff absences.

The report also notes that highly effective headteachers receive only a small pay premium – an extra £2,700 each year in primaries, and £5,400 in secondaries, compared to the least effective heads – suggesting that schools are not currently using their discretion over pay to retain effective headteachers. This is particularly interesting given EPI’s finding that headteacher effectiveness increases with tenure.

Read the report here