Don’t make catch-up challenge a political football Otesanya David March 25, 2022

Don’t make catch-up challenge a political football

Don’t make catch-up challenge a political football


People driven organisations never stand still, they evolve and grow and meet their challenges head on. And it is true to say that the delivery of the National Tutoring Programme has come with some challenges, writes Randstad’s Karen Guthrie.

We’ve been working across education for over 25 years, supporting children and young people with learning differences and complex disabilities to access education.

Randstad has supported some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the UK through re-engagement work with Feltham Young Offenders, the Saracens Foundation and via Randstad Care, the sole focus of which is to help the vulnerable and cared for.

A generation’s potential should never be reduced to a political football – that’s a dangerous game, and one we aren’t prepared to play

So, we jumped at the opportunity to deliver the NTP this year, and our people have been engaging with schools, pupils and parents across the country, hosting thousands of meetings to help schools navigate the three tuition routes available.

We have been growing the programme, training and placing academic mentors daily. To date our analysis shows that Randstad has assisted over half a million more pupils in receiving support than was achieved in the previous academic year, helping to catch-up those children who have been unfairly disadvantaged by the Covid pandemic.

But, we of course recognise that there is more we can do.

‘Flexibility integral to NTP’

Schools returned to their classrooms over a year ago and we have been adapting the NTP on a daily basis to ensure that the service meets the needs of those accessing the programme, and increasing the viability and accessibility criteria for prospective participants.

Since then, school-led tuition has proved by the far the most popular element of the NTP, which makes perfect sense.

Schools want the power to shape their own tailored response to the pandemic and we agree that where support is already embedded, it should be enhanced. We trust those who know their pupils best.

But flexibility is integral to this programme, schools are still dealing with staff and pupil absences and that is where the option of academic mentoring or the use of a tuition partner has continued to prove beneficial, because we know that one size doesn’t fit all. 

tutoring Randstad
Karen Guthrie

Randstad have worked hand in hand with the Department for Education throughout our tenure and have had an open and honest dialogue with stakeholders and policy-makers from day one.

We continue to proactively contact those we seek to work alongside such as the education select committee, whose chair, Robert Halfon has been offered the opportunity to discuss the programme with us directly, and our door is always open to him and others for constructive conversations about how to develop the programme.

‘We take our responsibilities seriously’

We need everybody on board and pulling in the same direction if pupils are to emerge from this pandemic unscathed, a generation’s potential should never be reduced to a political football – that’s a dangerous game, and one we aren’t prepared to play. 

As the entrusted gatekeepers of the NTP we take our responsibilities and ambitions seriously, for us it is about more than just numbers and we are motivated to be a part of something big and bold.

Yes – our targets were extremely ambitious, but that is testament to the scale and scope of our task, and our desire to leave no area and no individual uninvested in; recognising and adapting to the unique circumstances of each and evolving to offer tailored assistance.

Parents contact us saying that without the NTP their children would have been left behind, and they’re grateful for that catch-up contact time.

We are committed to growing this programme and continuing to benefit all those who found themselves on the wrong side of a knowledge gap and to identify and support those whose disadvantage may not yet have become apparent. 

‘Grass may appear greener’

Our own insight suggests that demand for this programme has remained strong. Randstad has placed more academic mentors than last year and directly engaged over half of the schools in England since the beginning of the academic year, contributing significantly to the success of school-led tuition.

Combined with the efforts of accredited tuition partners, academic mentors and school based staff who have received tuition training, thousands of children have and will continue to be reached through the programme.

As we know, there was no blueprint for a Covid response, society showed its strength to pull through, transforming the way we do things and adapting our previously entrenched behaviours.

Though the grass may appear greener, it remains a transitional time, and we will continue to move with those times and put people first, because there is still a very important job to do.  


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