ASCL comment on Sutton Trust briefing on closing the attainment gap

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to a policy briefing from the Sutton Trust, which calls for the National Tutoring Programme to be renewed in order to help close the attainment gap.
“The widening of the attainment gap is desperately sad but not entirely surprising. It is the logical consequence of the government’s failure to produce an adequate recovery plan in response to a pandemic which disproportionately impacted disadvantaged children and young people.
“The National Tutoring Programme, while by no means perfect, was one thing that was helping to tackle the attainment gap. It has opened up tutoring to children who otherwise would never have had access. It is unlikely that many schools will be able to afford to provide tuition without any form of financial support being available and it is very disappointing that the government no longer sees it as worthwhile to provide funding.
“Education simply must be a priority in the Spring Budget. The Sutton Trust’s recommendations about ringfencing funding for the NTP, reforming the National Funding Formula to reflect the varying levels of disadvantage in different communities and expanding free school meal eligibility to all children on Universal Credit would be good places to start. It’s time for the nation’s young people to be seen as an investment rather than a cost.”