Was the UK government’s national tutoring programme ever fit for purpose?

FORUM - ISSN 0963-8253
Volume 66 Number 1 (2024)

Was the UK government’s national tutoring programme ever fit for purpose?
Julie Platten pages 17-28


The Covid-19 pandemic prompted unprecedented school closures in England, which quickly generated widespread concern at the impacts of missed schooling: ‘lost learning’ became the dominant motif of these concerns and ‘catch-up’ emerged as the received solution. This article focuses on the central pillar of the government’s post-pandemic response: the National Tutoring Programme (NTP). It offers a critical assessment of the development of the NTP, exploring and questioning the key values, motivations and assumptions that shaped it. It considers the problematisations of the policy and the meaning-making embedded within its language. ‘Learning loss’ and ‘catch-up’ are found to be central metaphors, premised on vague and unsubstantiated measures of gap and attainment. Ultimately, the discussion concludes that the transformation of the policy from a well-intentioned intervention targeting disadvantaged students to a government accountability lever that imposes on schools both the onus of successful delivery, as well as of partial funding, is a critical failure of the policy. 

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To cite this article
Julie Platten (2024) Was the UK government’s national tutoring programme ever fit for purpose?, FORUM, 66(1), 17-28

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