Learning lessons from new global evidence on tutoring
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Learning lessons from new global evidence on tutoring

Learning lessons from new global evidence on tutoring

NTP Evidence and Guidance Manager, Amy Ellis-Thompson, explores new international evidence that supports tutoring as an effective catch-up intervention.

We’re six weeks into the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) and we’re starting to hear great feedback from schools on the progress made by their pupils receiving tuition. Whilst stories from the ground remind us of why the NTP was set up, evidence and best practice remains at the core of the programme. Our model has been designed based on the best available evidence on tutoring in schools, and we’ve commissioned the NFER to evaluate the Tuition Partners pillar so we can learn lessons on what works and further improve the programme. In the meantime, we continue to take note of new research and evidence, both in the UK and globally, around tutoring as a learning intervention tool.

A recently released meta-analysis of close to 100 studies of tutoring in literacy and mathematics has found that tutoring programmes consistently produced large improvements for students, with tutoring programmes conducted during school hours tending to have larger impacts than those conducted after.

Combining the results from multiple US studies published since 1980, J‑PAL North America – a research centre focused on reducing poverty – add to the growing evidence base of tutoring as an effective catch-up strategy to mitigate learning loss. J‑Pal summarise the findings from a forthcoming academic paper: PreK-12 Tutoring Programs and Student Learning Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Evidence’ (Nickow et al); also referenced in the NTP’s Best Tutoring Practice for Schools evidence briefing.

Findings from the range of studies included:

  • tutoring programmes led by teachers or school staff members, undergraduates in education and other education professionals were generally more effective than those using non-professional volunteer or parent tutors.
  • effects of tutoring programmes tend to be strongest among students in earlier year groups, although certain secondary level programmes were also found to be effective.
  • tutoring programmes conducted during school tend to have larger impacts than those conducted after school. Many programs shown to have weaker effects used parents as tutors or took place in an after-school programme.

Combining the results from multiple US studies published since 1980, J‑PAL North America add to the growing evidence base of tutoring as an effective catch-up strategy to mitigate learning loss.

It is important to bear in mind that these studies all took place in a different education system to England and do not encompass the varied pedagogical characteristics of all possible tutoring interventions.

However, the statistically significant positive impact of tutoring as an in-school intervention lends further support to the aims and mission of the NTP. The finding that tutoring programmes conducted during school tend to have the largest impacts supports the structure of the Tuition Partners pillar: schools are advised to arrange tutoring sessions during standard school hours, rotating wherever possible to minimise pupils missing core curriculum time.

Disadvantaged pupils have been hardest hit by this pandemic. By implementing tuition in a way that aligns with classroom learning, schools and the NTP can work towards the best possible outcomes for pupils.

See more information on:

• J‑PAL’s evidence review: The Transformative Potential of Tutoring for Pre K‑12 Learning Outcomes: Lessons from Randomized Evaluations

• J‑PAL’s evidence-based six key principles for tutoring

• The NTP Best Tutoring Practice for Schools: Evidence Briefing (September 2020)

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