Government ponders one-to-one teaching for top pupils


Boris Johnson has said he wants to explore the possibilities of one-to-one teaching for pupils at the high and low ends of the learning spectrum.

The prime minister expressed a desire to expand on the concept in his speech to the Conservatives’ virtual conference, suggesting that such methods could help pupils of “exceptional ability”, as well as those needing support to catch up.

It follows the launch of the National Tutoring Programme during the height of the pandemic, a £350 million scheme to provide schools with subsidised tutoring to aid pupils who have missed lessons or fallen behind.

However, the prime minister has now said he is keen to “explore the value of one-to-one teaching, both for pupils who are in danger of falling behind and for those of exceptional ability”.

“We can all see the difficulties, but I believe such intensive teaching could be transformational and a massive reassurance to parents. It’s in a crisis like this that new approaches are born,” he said.

While he did not expand on his comments, it may suggest that a return to regular schooling may still be some time away.

Heads have warned they will require additional support to overcome regional lockdowns and other localised measures, with one-to-one teaching assistance one of several options available to help pupils.

Developed in partnership between the Education Endowment Foundation, Nesta, Sutton Trust and Impetus, the National Tutoring Programme was unveiled by education secretary Gavin Williamson in mid-June.

It is designed to provide support for pupils in the current academic year and beyond, although the programme’s long-term future might be dependent on the outcomes of the comprehensive spending review.