ContextUniversity Technical College Norfolk (UTCN) is located in Norwich city centre. Our students come from both urban and rural settings. Our attendance is usually in line with national averages but, in lockdown, our remote learning attendance has been very high; much higher than national averages.
Our pupil premium figures are slightly lower than average while the proportion of pupils with SEND is a few percentage points higher.
One of the main challenges our school faces is the vast catchment area that spans across the county, resulting in students coming from around 49 different high schools.
Our students join us in year 10, each having been taught differently at Key Stage 3 and having a wide variety of abilities. Meeting the needs of each student is important whilst ensuring a high-quality education is provided to all resulting in good outcomes.
Covid-19UTCN is facing the same challenges schools are facing all over the country at the moment: disrupted education due to Covid. This was further exacerbated by the differing lockdown teaching our year 10 students received at their previous schools.
As with all schools, organising online lessons that best reflect the normal curriculum has been a challenge. Our aim has been to continue to provide a full remote teaching and learning experience for all students whilst bridging any ‘lost learning’ suffered from the first lockdown
Aside from this, lack of information regarding exams has also been difficult for us when planning and preparing our students for their next steps.
We have used tutoring in school before. It has mostly been used to support our pupil premium students with the aim of improving their English, Maths and Science GCSE results.
We heard about the NTP around the start of the academic year. We thought it was a great way of helping schools support students who were particularly affected by the previous lockdown. However, as with any newly introduced scheme, we understood there would be criteria that had to be met and so we were anxious to see how realistic they were.
As mentioned, Covid-19 had affected the school and most importantly, the education of the students. We wanted to make sure we did all we could to help students recover from any ‘lost learning’ which may result in poorer outcomes for some students. The NTP seemed like a great opportunity for our students especially as the provision could also be offered remotely.
NTP journeyFinding the Tuition Partners that best suited our vision was relatively straightforward once the list of potential providers had been sent out by NTP. We decided eventually on Tute, who we have been really impressed with so far.
We had made plans to choose an online tuition provider so students could attend the sessions at home, allowing for more flexibility. However, as the criteria stated, tuition provided through NTP had to be in school, we had to change from our initial outlook. Considering most schools understandably seemed to want the 3 – 4pm slot so as not to disrupt the rest of their students’ education, it was a race to get them for our school. Unfortunately, after the second lockdown happened, a lot of our preparation was made redundant! However, we got there in the end.
Obviously, setting up the tutoring was a big job, especially since we wanted it to be sorted quickly enough for it to best support our students. However, Tute were really helpful throughout the process. The tuition itself has also been very good, and the tracking process has been great at ensuring attendance and engagement has been maintained.
Naturally, this early on it is difficult to accurately gauge overall academic progress, although the progress trackers Tute provide are brilliant at allowing us to see how well students performed in each lesson.
Our teachers select the topics for the tutors to focus on with each of the students, based on topics students have previously struggled with. The trackers Tute have set up show the progress made in the sessions and link the tutor with the teacher really well.
Engagement from our students has been great, which is a credit to Tute. We will be collecting student and parent surveys after half-term to fully evaluate the start of the tutoring, but I have had the following comments from students, without being asked, that shows that they are engaging with the tuition:
AdviceI’d certainly advise schools to take advantage of the opportunity. Without question.
Students from every school in the country have been affected by the lockdowns. The NTP provides a chance to make amends for this. However, schools should get on board sooner rather than later in order to make the most out of the opportunity to maximise its impact on our young people.