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Tutoring Provision

Volume 747: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2024

I beg to move,

That this House has considered tutoring provision.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Cummins. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting the debate, and I thank hon. Members in all parts of the House who supported my application for it. Unfortunately, it clashes with a meeting of the Education Committee, but the Chair—the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr Walker)—and various members of the Committee have been very supportive.

This debate is about the Government’s national tutoring programme and the 16 to 19 tuition fund, which will end at the end of this academic year. Like other hon. Members, I am really disappointed that no new money was announced in the Budget to allow it to continue. As a result, schools and colleges have two options: they can try to fund the scheme from their own meagre budgets, which would be hard to achieve given the cuts that they are already having to make, or they can scrap it altogether, which would be a travesty.

During the pandemic, children were

“at the back of the queue”

and “always overlooked”. Those are the words of Anne Longfield, who was Children’s Commissioner during covid. Despite the remarkable efforts of our teachers and education leaders, who heroically adapted their lessons for online learning, we lost tens of millions of hours of valuable classroom time, and disadvantaged children were most affected.

Sir Kevan Collins, the Government’s adviser, acknowledged that children needed £15 billion to bridge the educational gap created by the pandemic. When just a fraction of that was given, he promptly resigned. In a recent interview in Tes magazine, he recognised the value of tutoring and said that he had wanted to scale it up dramatically so that 5 million pupils would receive tutoring by the end of 2024. He was also clear that tutoring should be best managed and led by schools. He said:

“Schools know their children best.”

I could not agree more, but as we all know, the recovery programme for which Sir Kevan called was not delivered.

I have to be totally honest: I was not always a fan of how the Government’s national tutoring programme was implemented. It encountered numerous challenges from ineffective outsourcing to tortuous application processes, tutoring shortages and—dare I mention the word—Randstad. Even the Education Committee, which was then under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), who is now an Education Minister, recognised in a 2022 report that

“a complex bureaucratic system for applications may have hampered some schools’ ability to access…support”.

It further noted:

“Teachers and school staff know their pupils and know what interventions are likely to bring the most benefit.”

As Sir Kevan identified, the size of the tutoring programme also fell drastically short.

Despite all its failings, the tutoring programme managed to achieve some positive outcomes. When implemented correctly, tutoring has proved its worth time and again. It has helped pupils to catch up on lost learning and has shown many additional benefits such as improved confidence and school attendance. In the run-up to the Budget, more than 500 schools signed a letter to the Prime Minister, to the Secretary of State for Education and to the Chancellor, calling for more national tutoring programme funding. The letter was delivered to No. 10 by representatives of Action Tutoring, Tutor Trust and Get Further. I pay tribute to them for their amazing work in this area; several of them are watching from the Gallery today.

The Government responded that they would continue to support tutoring through pupil premium funding, but school leaders will be dismayed by that response. The pupil premium, which was established by Liberal Democrats in the coalition Government, was once a fund to support disadvantaged children, but since 2015 its value has eroded by 14% in real terms, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and I think we all acknowledge that in recent years it has more often been used to plug gaps in school funding. The hon. Member for Worcester recognised that when he said:

“I’m not sure there is sufficient space in the pupil premium to support tutoring becoming part of the system.”

Why am I such a fan of tutoring? We are lucky that so much research has been done on the impact of tutoring. The Sutton Trust, Public First, the Education Endowment Foundation and others have all looked at it. This Government claim that they are led by evidence, so let us look at some. The Sutton Trust says that the attainment gap, which had been decreasing gradually throughout the early 2010s,

“stalled in the years before the pandemic. Since the crisis, the gap has widened considerably, with 10 years of progress now wiped out.”

It believes that tutoring is

“a key method of boosting learning”

for disadvantaged children. It also notes:

“The programme has had a considerable impact on levelling out access to tutoring, with 35% of working class Year 11 students receiving private or school-based tutoring, compared to 36% of students from professional homes.”

Work by the Education Endowment Foundation has shown the effectiveness of tutoring, showing an average impact of four months’ additional progress over the course of a year with small-group tutoring. It also recognised the particular benefits that tutoring can bring to disadvantaged children:

“Studies in England have shown that pupils eligible for free school meals typically receive additional benefits from small group tuition”.

It stands to reason: allowing a teacher to focus on the needs of a small number of learners and provide teaching closely matched to that pupil’s individual understanding will reap greater rewards than teaching a larger number of students. Small groups offer the opportunity for greater levels of interaction and feedback than whole-class teaching.

Let us take the example of Dylan, a typical student who has benefited from an Action Tutoring tutor. Dylan struggled with maths and was considered unlikely to meet the expected standard. His school set him up with tutoring, and he attended 16 sessions over a period of two years. As a result, he moved from a grade 3 standard to a grade 4 pass. However, the benefits were so much more than just getting the grade that he needed. Dylan said:

“Before I started my tutoring sessions, I dreaded maths because I didn’t enjoy it. But my tutoring sessions were amazing and really helped boost my confidence in maths. When I found out I passed my GCSE maths, I didn’t believe it. Dead serious, I literally was flabbergasted. I was like, what is even going on? I looked twice at it as I was just so flustered.”

That hope and excitement expressed by Dylan—that promise of being able to move on to the next stage of your life and pursue your dreams—is priceless.

Public First research shows the impact that tutoring has had on GCSE pass rates and overall grades in key subjects. Some 62,000 additional pass grades in GCSE maths and English were achieved as a result of Government-funded tutoring in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. Tutoring is an intervention with an impact on pupils right across the grade spectrum: it provided 430,000 grade improvements in total, with 220,000 in maths and 210,000 in English. The long-term economic impact on earning potential is significant, and so is the very real impact of strong foundations in numeracy and literacy on people’s lives.

We all know that under-18s in England must retake GCSE English and maths if they do not achieve a grade 4 pass. In 2023, that resulted in a staggering 167,000 students having to retake maths and 172,000 resitting English. When combined, that is the highest number of retakes in a decade. We are setting those children up for repeated failure unless different help and support is provided. Just 16.4% of students resitting GCSE maths in England passed with at least a grade 4 this year, and the pass rate for English was only slightly higher. That group of children need targeted help, support and time with a tutor in small-group sessions to get to the bottom of what they find difficult, with personal, structured work plans to boost progress. Targeted tutoring has been exceptionally effective in helping that group.

I was lucky enough to see the work of Get Further when I visited Southwark College last year. Sitting in on a few sessions allowed me to see tutoring at first hand. It was fascinating to see how tutors engaged one on one with pupils, helping them to unpack a maths question or discussing the meaning of a particular word in English. The children I spoke to all had aspirations and plans for the future, and they really valued the time they spent with teachers one on one or in a small group.

Aiden, at London South East Colleges, had twice missed out on a grade 4 at English GCSE. He was supported by a Get Further tutor, who helped him to understand things for the first time in a tailored small group and one-to-one setting. He said this about his experience:

“I was only aiming for a 4 as it was my third time retaking English and I wanted to get it over and done with. As I continued my tuition, I started to understand things I didn’t understand before and quickly improved. Now, I have a 6 and it’s all thanks to my tutor. I am so pleased with the grade I achieved and proud of how far I have come! In September, I aim to go on to Level 2 Health and Social Care and then move on to Level 3 or an Access to Higher Education course so that I can do Paramedic Science at university with awesome classmates who share what I aspire to be: someone who helps people at their highest and lowest moments.”

Tutoring can be truly transformational.

We should also acknowledge the many other spillover benefits that tutoring brings, which speak to many current concerns in our educational system. Some 85% of parents say that tutoring has had a positive impact on their child’s confidence, while 68% say that it has improved attendance. CoachBright recently published its impact report and has done interesting work on the relationship between tutoring and attendance. The results show that tutoring can reduce persistent absence by 11%. At a time when thousands of pupils are missing from school, tutoring can offer children and young people the opportunity to have a new trusted adult in their lives, giving them a new way to engage with their education.

The bottom line is that for every £1 spent on tutoring, £6.58 is generated in economic returns as a direct result of pupils achieving higher grades and having a higher lifetime earnings potential. The benefits are felt not just by those who receive the tutoring, but by our whole economy and society. The evidence is compelling, but there is also a strong political case for continuing tutoring: it is popular. Public First research found that pupils like tutoring: students were positive about their experiences and were willing to have more of it if available. Parents like tutoring: over three quarters of parents would support increased tutoring provision. Teachers like tutoring: they welcome the impact on academic attainment and the wider benefits such as pupil confidence, increased engagement in the classroom and reduced anxiety. This is a policy that is popular with pupils, parents and teachers. I have no wish to help the Government, but surely that sounds like a vote winner.

Liberal Democrats believe in tutoring, which is why we have said that we will offer a tutoring guarantee for every disadvantaged pupil who needs extra support, recognising that tutoring is most effective when we allow headteachers and college leaders to decide themselves how to run the scheme. I think tutoring is so important that I joined the Conservative Chair of the Education Committee and a former Labour Education Secretary—the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett—to try to convince the Government to maintain funding for the tutoring programme beyond the end of this academic year.

As we have heard from the case studies, tutoring can be a life-changing intervention. Those of us who are parents and are privileged enough to afford tutoring for our children do not hesitate to pay for it in order to boost their attainment and confidence. In the words of Lorraine Spence, whose daughter Naomi benefited from Get Further’s tutoring after she failed her maths GCSE:

“My daughter is now thriving at university but without the extension of this kind of funding, countless young people from low-income families will miss out on securing the gateway qualifications they need to unlock opportunities like this. Should tutoring return to being a luxury for the rich and a sacrifice for the poor? I urge the Government not to allow this to be the case. Instead, let’s make a more equitable educational system, where tutoring is accessible to all—and one positive legacy to come out of the pandemic.”

I could not agree more with Lorraine’s words. If the Government are serious about levelling up, I hope that the Minister will make a commitment today that he is willing to do battle with his Treasury colleagues to ensure that funding continues both for the national tutoring programme and for the 16 to 19 tuition fund. Schools and colleges need that assurance urgently to plan for the next academic year.

It is a pleasure, as always, to see you in the Chair, Mrs Cummins. I thank the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) for securing this important debate. I want to say a few words in support of the Government’s national tutoring programme, an outstanding initiative that has provided invaluable support, particularly for children whose education was impacted during the global coronavirus pandemic. I would also like to share my first-hand experience of the programme.

I am the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield in County Durham, and the programme has helped Dean Bank Primary and Nursery School, in Ferryhill in my constituency, to support some of the most disadvantaged students in the north-east. This is a school where 79% of students receive free school meals, and it is in the area that is the focus of my all-party parliamentary group for left-behind neighbourhoods. As it happens, it is also the school that I first attended. The school is based in one of the mining communities in my constituency, which deserve all the help they can get to stimulate social mobility and aspiration.

The national tutoring programme has brought about 430,000 grade increases and 62,000 additional passes in maths and English since it was launched. Indeed, Professor Becky Francis, chair of the Education Endowment Foundation, referred to tutoring as

“one of the best evidenced interventions we have to support disadvantaged pupils’ attainment.”

Meanwhile, according to Public First data, a projected lifetime earnings boost of £4.34 billion can be ascribed to the national tutoring programme, based on the tutoring delivered in the two years from 2021-22 to 2022-23 for just £660 million.

Despite what that data does to illuminate the education, tutoring is not all about numbers. At Dean Bank Primary and Nursery School, 20 pupils have been supported in their maths and English since October last year; in a tiny primary school, that makes such a difference to their world. The school is supported by Action Tutoring, an education charity hugely supported by the national tutoring programme. The school’s deputy head teacher, Will Haynes, has said:

“After the initial set-up period, the children had clearly gotten into it. They came into school, all excited, saying, ‘It’s tutoring day today!’ It’s going really well. It’s quick and easy to set up the laptops each week. The children look forward to seeing their tutors.”

In the past, a disadvantaged but rural community such as Ferryhill would have struggled to get tutoring support, but thanks to the internet, that is no longer the case. I thank Action Tutoring and its brilliant volunteers for what they do; indeed, one reason I am here today is that one of my staff, Douglas Oliver, who is here today, also volunteers with Action Tutoring, and he has massively enlightened me about how important its work is. Action Tutoring’s analysis shows that 65% of disadvantaged pupils pass their maths GCSE after attending at least 10 tutoring sessions with the charity. Action Tutoring pupils were nearly 13 percentage points more likely to pass maths GCSE than other disadvantaged pupils nationally. Those are significant interventions. I could continue, but what I want to say is that Action Tutoring’s work is indicative of so much of the valuable tutoring provided by volunteers and others. We must celebrate that work.

Pupil premium funding was introduced 14 years ago by a Conservative Government working in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Although the Government gave something in the order of £400 billion of temporary support during the crisis of 2020 and 2021, it is vital that one small part of that support is renewed as the legacy of the pandemic endures for our youngest people. Of course, the Government live in a time of fiscal pressure following the shock of the pandemic and the illegal war in Ukraine, but we must continue to focus on education outcomes and the investment they afford us in our future. I hope the Government will look at the national tutoring programme as an option after this school year, because much needs to be done to look at how we embed tutoring for all students in the years ahead. Tutoring can stimulate aspiration in those furthest away from opportunity, and I encourage the Government to give it all possible support.

It really is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Mrs Cummins. I look forward to you being in the Chair every time I am here. Thank you for being here and for your fairness.

I thank the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) for leading this debate on a very important issue. As always, I will try to bring a Northern Ireland perspective, not because the Minister has responsibility for Northern Ireland but because it adds to the debate. I will give some stats and talk about what we have done back home, and hopefully we can share those experiences for our betterment.

The hon. Lady and the Liberal Democrat party have done much work on children’s education, and specifically on tutoring. She set the scene well and talked about what she and her party espouse and hope to achieve. She spoke about the benefits of tutoring, which were endorsed by the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell). There is certainly a disparity across the United Kingdom, but we must ensure that children from all backgrounds can take advantage of good educational learning. It is great to be here to give a Northern Ireland perspective on this issue.

The Government set up the national tutoring programme in England in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education. Those two and a half to three years really did change life for everyone. The programme provided subsidised, small-group catch-up teaching and mentoring for pupils impacted by covid. It is crazy to think about where we were just a few years ago and about how much school young people missed out on. Although teachers did their best, it was always going to be a difficult task, so it was important that we looked at different ways of providing education. The Government did that, especially for key worker parents.

The latest child poverty figures for Northern Ireland show that 82,000 children live in absolute poverty. Remember that we have a population of 1.95 million, so those figures show the enormity of the situation and what we are trying to achieve back home—we are talking about almost one in every five children. Just under 100,000 children in Northern Ireland live in relative poverty. Adding those two figures together gives a sum of 182,000 living in absolute or relative poverty. Those figures worry me. They highlight not only the situation in Northern Ireland but the need for better one-to-one tutoring provision.

Key worker parents provided essential services, but their children had less face-to-face teaching at home, so it is likely that many of those children suffered due to that too. The hon. Members for Twickenham and for Sedgefield talked about a combination of issues, and I know that the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) and for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell) will do likewise.

I always look forward to the Minister’s response, because he tries to encapsulate our fears, concerns and questions, and gives us some encouragement as elected representatives. Funding for Northern Ireland was secured by the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland and the Charities Aid Foundation. That allowed for the creation of a free online tuition service for the children of key workers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and for children with special educational needs. The combination of those two issues—parents who are away at work, and the education of children with special educational needs—is a massive problem. I have realised from all the debates we have here that the issues relating to children with special educational needs affect not just Northern Ireland but the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Ask a Tutor scheme really did make a difference, and I thank the Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland and the Charities Aid Foundation for that.

The Government have said that raising children’s attainment is at the heart of their agenda, and that is very true. Being able to obtain good tutoring services is one thing, but that must be deliverable across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I am a passionate believer in the strength of the Union, and I am sure everybody in this Chamber is of a similar disposition. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North spoke at my association dinner two weeks ago about the strength of the Union, and he enthralled that audience of true Unionists in Newtownards with his words. I put my thanks for that on record, and I am pleased to see him here.

Although it is fully understood that education is devolved, we need to ensure that the initial budget is there to support one-to-one tutoring in our schools. The Assembly is now up and working again, and the Minister for Education back home is my colleague Paul Givan MLA. I know him and I know that he will work hard on this issue, but there also needs to be the support from Westminster. I am sure the Minister will give us encouragement on that through his words, as well as his actions.

One of my staff members was tutored in maths through her fourth and fifth years of secondary school, and her sessions cost £32 for one hour each week. That was almost eight years ago, so I imagine that they cost at least another £10 to £15, which would make it quite challenging for any person to afford that individually—it could cost over £200 a month, depending on how many sessions someone was having. Although there are people out there who will be able to afford that—that is fine, and those are the sacrifices we make—there are those who simply will not be able to. Giving consideration to those families should be made a priority, and that is the first of my requests in this debate.

We all want our young children to grow up and excel at school, and to have the best opportunities possible, and providing extra one-to-one tutoring sessions is an excellent way to ensure they do. I see that through the staff in my office and what they have told me, and we heard it in the introduction from the hon. Member for Twickenham, who explained why tutoring is important, and others have added to that message and will add to it in a minute.

I urge the Minister to engage with the devolved nations to ensure that we can all play a role in improving educational outcomes for young people in this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Isn’t it great that we have that Union? Isn’t it great that we can share these ideas? Isn’t it great that we can do that for our children?

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Cummins. I congratulate the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) on securing this incredibly important debate.

If I may, I will briefly thank the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) for giving me a plug and saying why I might have a career in the diplomatic corps in the not-too-distant future, which may come as a shock to many. I appreciate that he invited me, and it was obviously a pleasure to speak to the fine people of Strangford and surrounding areas about our precious and important Union.

The issue before us is very important for me, and I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests: I was a schoolteacher professionally, working in both London and Birmingham before entering this place. My partner is also an employee of Teach First, which analysed elements of the programme and was involved in delivering some of the tutoring in the earlier days. Although she was not an employee at that stage, it is important to ensure that the record is clear.

The national tutoring programme plays a massively important part in ensuring that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular—those who are registered for free school meals, and those who are not yet registered but who are technically eligible—have the academic ability to attain the grades they deserve. For levelling up to mean anything, we have to get education right. In Stock-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, I can build every shiny building going and bring in every new job going, but what is it all for if kids from Stoke-on-Trent do not end up in those new high-skilled, high-wage jobs, in those buildings or in the new homes we are building in our local area?

Sadly, Stoke-on-Trent has remained in the bottom 20% for academic attainment and achievement for far too long. In the past, the Office for Students has ranked my constituency as the seventh worst in England for kids going on to higher education. Twelve per cent of my entire workforce have no formal qualifications, which is 8% higher than the national average. The number of kids achieving level 3 and 4 qualifications—A-levels or college and apprenticeship qualifications—remains in the bottom fifth nationwide. That is not something that I want to see.

Sadly, the city has languished under a disastrous private finance initiative deal. This is not meant to be a party political dig, but it was administered under the last Labour Government back in 2000. There are 88 schools trapped in a PFI contract run by the council and are seeing huge inflationary increases in their costs. It is predicted that up to £100,000 in additional funding will potentially have to be found for the annual contributions that need to be made, leaving us scrambling. I collared the Minister in the voting Lobby last night to demand more funding, and that goes to the heart of the point. I appreciate that the Government will point to pupil premium funding, which is a superb initiative, but I agree with the Chair of the Education Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), who the hon. Member for Twickenham quoted: the reality is that the money simply will not be there.

There are huge inflationary increases in food and equipment costs, and with teachers’ salaries going up, which the Government have covered in part but not in full. There are also additional costs in Stoke-on-Trent, where we have those increased PFI contributions. Those inflationary pressures, again, driven by covid and Vladimir Putin’s illegal and immoral war in Ukraine, mean that schools are having to use every penny that they can find. They will not be able to continue the important tutoring scheme out of their own existing budgets because of the pressures that they are facing right now.

Stoke-on-Trent is exactly the area where that kind of intervention is absolutely necessary. I share the concern that at the end of this academic year, we will potentially see the end of the national tutoring programme as it is funded currently through additional Government support. I implore the Minister, and I will do everything I can with him, to lobby Treasury colleagues to demand that the scheme continues.

I will say this about the Prime Minister. Back in summer 2022, I supported my right hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) during the Conservative party leadership contest—it feels a long time ago, I know—because he had mentored me for a long time. I had a sense of loyalty to that, and I believe him to be a very good man. However, after he dropped out, I met all the leading contenders, including the current Prime Minister. When I sat down in the room with him for the first time and had a conversation about non-Treasury matters, seeing the fire behind his eyes when he talked about education was inspiring. It is so important, and it is something that sadly I had not heard enough of since the Blair years of “Education, education, education”, although I fear that that was more slogan and gimmick than actual delivery. Still, most importantly, at least it was on the forefront of the education agenda at that time.

Does my hon. Friend agree that expenditure should be focused on initiatives like this programme, as opposed to the broader schemes that try to cover everybody from middle-income families to high-income families and do a broad sweep across the bottom? These are the interventions that the Government should really be focused on.

I completely agree. I have huge problems with universal schemes because they are not a benefit if everyone is receiving them, in my personal opinion. Having universal free school meals for every child in primary school is not a good idea, because why on earth would my children be given access to a free school meal when I myself can afford it? I would rather see that additional funding for middle-class and higher-income parents who can afford it invested in children from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that we can have those well-funded breakfast clubs but also ensure that schools can invest further in such things as the tutoring programme.

We should not forget that the Education Endowment Foundation’s own research says that small group tuition adds four months of progress on to students’ lives. Tes reported that as of January 2024, 390,000 grade improvements in English and maths have been attributed to progress made due to the national tutoring programme over the previous two academic years. That goes to show the importance of the scheme, particularly for English and maths, and particularly when we still have an archaic system in place that means that people must get a pass in those subjects to be able to do an apprenticeship, yet they would not need that to do their A-levels. We have a two-tier system, despite having a major skills shortage in this country. We talk the talk about ensuring that apprenticeships are equal to an A-level, but there are these bizarre barriers in place that mean they are not.

I hope that the Minister will take back the idea of abolishing the requirements at the foundation stage, in order to allow people to get on to apprenticeships and study their English and maths while on those courses to get them up to grade. Of course, any responsible company will want that for their employees because it will improve the outcomes and productivity of the company.

The Government should be applauded for around 5 million tutoring courses that have begun since the inception of the programme, and the fact that they were bold and brave in going for it, despite the fact that Randstad is a dark stain on the Department’s ability to procure. However, going back to what the hon. Member for Twickenham and I were calling for in those early days, it is vital to give the money to the schools and trust the headteachers in large part to deliver this particular programme.

The school-led approach is a much better system. Why? Teachers know who those pupils are. They know their backgrounds and their learning and support needs; they know their parents and have a relationship with them. Teachers are and have always been willing to stay behind after school. If we give teachers the opportunity to have a little more money in their pocket, bearing in mind they probably work double the hours they are actually paid for—I certainly used to do 60 hours a week as a bare minimum while on the frontline as a head of year—that could have a huge and positive impact for them. It could also have a positive impact on the many fantastic smaller focused third sector organisations that, again, have existed for a long time.

I hope we never see a repeat of Randstad, because that was an utter disaster. I was pleased to see that the Government were nimble on their feet and followed a school-led approach; giving that money to the schools directly had a positive impact. I saw that in my albeit very brief time as Minister for School Standards between September and October 2022. During that time, I went on a number of visits to schools in the Black Country that were using that funding. I spoke with the pupils themselves, who said that without the programme, they would not have had the confidence to put up their hand in class to ask teachers questions when they did not understand what was being taught to them.

The national tutoring programme has given pupils confidence—sixth-formers interacting with year 7 and 8 pupils who are new to the school, to build that sense of collective responsibility and help one another. The older pupils learn important leadership skills, using their lived experience to impart the knowledge they have learned from their excellent and outstanding teachers. It all goes to show the power of the scheme. I do hope we will see that.

In February 2023, the National Audit Office said that in the 2021-22 academic year, only 47% of the pupils accessing the scheme were disadvantaged. Like myself, the hon. Member for Twickenham and many other Members present will be worried by that. The national tutoring programme was designed for disadvantaged pupils; it should not be supplementing the tutoring of children whose parents could afford private tuition if needed. While I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity, we need to find out from the Minister— I hope we will hear this today—what the Government have done since that report to really drive up the number of disadvantaged pupils to hopefully reach the 65% target that was initially given to Randstad as part of the contract. That is exactly the type of figure that we would like to see. I agree with Lee Elliot Major, the professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, that it would be

“a national travesty if we fail to embed tutoring”

into our core schooling day in, day out. We therefore have that responsibility.

Schools Week reported that as of July 2023, there was a £240 million underspend in the tutoring programme over the 2021-22 and the 2022-23 academic year. Can I ask the Minister whether that money was reinvested back into the national tutoring programme to help to cover schools’ costs, which are obviously rising in year in, year out, and to deal with the tutoring programme? That was something I requested within the Department while I was a Minister: for any underspend to go into the next academic year to give schools more cover and give them longer to get the programme up and running, build more trust with pupils and put things in place. That is important as well.

My final contribution is simple. If the Government do not want to go ahead with the national tutoring programme in its current form, I personally believe there is only one other way we can go forward. As any other hon. Member would, I will shamelessly plug my own research paper, which I did with Onward back in November 2020. It calls for not only an extended school day, which I have long supported, but a shortening of the school holidays over the course of an academic year—reducing the summer holiday from six weeks to four.

I support that for two reasons. First, childcare is extremely expensive; it is even more expensive now than when I wrote that report. It was estimated that that change would save the average family £133 a week based on costs associated back in November 2020, which will obviously have massively increased since then. I appreciate that the Government have done a lot in the childcare space with the new scheme providing 15 hours of free childcare as of April. I must confess that my own child, who is two years old, will benefit from it, and we have started the process of getting our code to give to our childcare provider.

The second and most important reason is that from research I have conducted, I understand that it takes around seven weeks for a disadvantaged pupil at the start of a new academic year to finally surpass where they were at the end of the previous academic year. That is seven weeks of lost learning, during which time disadvantaged pupils are unable to accelerate at the same pace as their better-off peers, which is simply unfair. Reducing that holiday to four weeks—I am happy to have a two-week October half term, which would be better for pupils and teachers in terms of rest and wellbeing, as well as trying to spread the cost of the school holidays throughout the year more fairly—would give those younger people a better opportunity.

There are other ideas in the pipeline. I have a research paper that I will happily send the Minister to have a look at and tell me what he thinks. Ultimately, I think it is the right thing. I appreciate that multi-academy trusts can do that of their own volition, and some do, but it should be driven nationally as well.

As I said, education is the absolute bedrock to levelling up. It is the bedrock to making sure that life chances can be achieved. I have no fiscal rules when it comes to education, because I believe that if we shove all the money there, we will have better outcomes on health and work, fewer people needing to use the welfare state, better home ownership, better wages, and less poverty in our country. Education is at the epicentre of achieving that, and we should therefore be pouring money into the sector. That 92% of my schools are now rated “good” or “outstanding”, compared with around 60% in 2010, and 75% of my kids are now reaching the necessary levels in phonics, compared with 53% when we inherited government back in 2010, shows that we have got it right, and that all the changes and hard work can go on to build something more.

I am so passionate about making sure that we get education right. It is essential that the people I serve—my masters and mistresses back in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke; my Lord Sugars who will hire or fire me when the general election comes later this year—have every opportunity to make sure that their children can have the opportunities and ability to access the high-skilled, high-wage jobs I am bringing to my local area to improve their life outcomes. Stoke-on-Trent’s achievement of the levelling-up agenda is driven through the education sector.

Please, Minister: we have to keep this tutoring programme on the tracks. If we do not, an extended school day and shorter school holidays are the alternative, in my opinion.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mrs Cummins. I thank the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) for bringing forward this debate on tutoring provision, and all hon. Members who have spoken very passionately on behalf of the children, families and school communities they represent here in Parliament.

I think we all agree that the scale of the challenge that many of our children and young people are currently facing is immense. We know that children and families have really struggled with the combined impact of years of reduced investment in our public services, compounded by the impact of the pandemic. Indeed, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, which many have mentioned, has widened across all educational phases since 2019, so any limited progress made in the decade before was wiped out in a couple of years. The hon. Member for Twickenham also highlighted that issue.

We know that what happens outside the school gates reinforces the impact of what happens inside them. With the rising levels of child poverty, the cuts to youth services in communities and the dwindling support for children with additional needs, schools are increasingly becoming the frontline, with teachers having to buy food with their own money and wash clothes for families, and the increasing challenge of mental health issues.

It has now been four years since the enormous disruption and lost learning experienced by so many children began during covid. What was most concerning at that time was the lack of planning for children and for the inevitable impacts: no plan for learning from home in the early days; no plan for ensuring that all children had the equipment they needed; no plan for schools, teachers, or how to support children afterwards. So when the classrooms finally reopened after covid, it was not surprising to anyone that children found it hard to adjust. They had had little socialisation or interaction, and some had received barely any education at all.

I saw the impact on my own children. My youngest had only just started school when he found himself back at home being taught by two parents who had no teaching experience, two other children to try to teach and support, and two full-time jobs that they had to undertake from home. It was an incredibly challenging time for families everywhere, and in far too many households, particularly where less support was available, children paid a very heavy price. Kevan Collins was therefore commissioned by the Government to set out a long-term recovery plan for our children, but the Prime Minister, who was then Chancellor, opted out: he was simply not willing to make that investment in other people’s children. Our country continues to pay a very heavy price for the decision he took then, and it will for some time to come.

The National Audit Office reported last year:

“Disruption to schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic led to lost learning for many pupils, particularly disadvantaged children.”

It also reported:

“Left unaddressed, lost learning may lead to increased disadvantage and significant missing future earnings for those affected.”

As a key measure to address that, the Government introduced the national tutoring programme, which was initially provided through tuition partners. As hon. Members have noted, there were many missteps, from a very low uptake at the start to schools struggling to find the tutors they needed to deliver the support, but as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) highlighted, once the Government introduced the school-led tutoring element in September 2021, there was some success and take-up was higher.

Evidence gathered by the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that increasing the number of tuition hours

“led to better outcomes in maths and English.”

Crucially, however, the foundation noted:

“Less than half of pupils selected for tutoring were from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

As the match-funding requirements kicked in and Government funding went from 75% to 50%, schools that were trying to make the scheme work and that needed it the most found it ever more difficult to deliver. This year, many schools, especially those in the poorest areas, have used up almost all of their pupil premium and recovery premium funding to pay for tutors, leaving them little to pay for other interventions such as enrichment or training. Indeed, the benefits of the scheme risked being undermined by the way it was delivered because it was poorly targeted, so lots of children who needed the support the most were not able to benefit from it.

Tutoring was not mentioned in the Budget earlier this month, so it seems that the national tutoring programme is coming to an end. Just a few months ago, the then Schools Minister, the right hon. Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (Nick Gibb), stated:

“The Department has committed that, from the 2023/24 academic year, tutoring will have been embedded across schools in England.”

However, without a specific budget for tuition, it is assumed that schools will need to use their main budgets to fund that support.

I will just finish my point.

As I was saying, it is assumed that schools will need to use their main budgets to fund tuition support, absorbing the costs into what is already a shrinking pot. It would therefore be helpful if the Minister set out the Government’s vision of the national tutoring programme in the future. I was going to ask if he could do so in his response to this debate, but he is welcome to make an intervention now.

I will speak in a moment. I just wondered whether the hon. Lady is committing, in the event of her party coming into government, to having a separate line item for the tutoring programme over and above core school budgets.

The question that I am putting to the Government is how they envisage the future of the national tutoring programme. I would be grateful if the Government set out their vision. I will respond to the right hon. Gentleman’s point, as I deal with it in my speech—

It will not be long until there is a general election. We do not know exactly when, but there will be a general election at some point in the months to come. If the hon. Lady is saying that she thinks the Government’s course of action is a mistake, I am interested in hearing the alternative that she is setting out.

As I said, I am really interested to hear what the Government’s vision is. Given that they have committed to ensuring that tutoring is embedded within the national school system, what is their plan for ensuring that that happens? We will inherit that plan from them, so I am very keen to hear the Minister’s response to my question. I will set out Labour’s costed plans in detail, but I am interested to hear how the Government will deliver on their pledge to ensure that tutoring is embedded within the national school system.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that schools funding in England is already not increasing as fast as the cost pressures schools are facing. That means that the poorest schools are likely to struggle the most to find the cash for tutoring, and that our most disadvantaged pupils will miss out. With access to tutoring seemingly diminishing, what is the Minister’s plan for children to recover the learning they lost, which they have still not recovered from? I appreciate that he would like to move these issues on to the next Labour Government to solve, but given that this Government are currently in charge, I am sure that, like me, listeners to the debate are interested in hearing what this Government’s plans are.

In government, Labour will consider how more tailored support could be most effectively delivered to ensure that children achieve what they need to in school. Crucially, we will look at introducing a range of measures to ensure that we close the attainment gap. We know that children’s speech and language have really suffered since the pandemic, which has the potential to affect their educational attainment in the much longer term, so Labour has pledged to equip every school with the funding to deliver evidence-based early language interventions to tackle the problem.

We understand that quality teaching is key to unlocking children’s potential, so we would use the funding available from ending the tax breaks currently enjoyed by private schools to hire 6,500 more teachers in our state schools, giving every child the teachers they need to benefit from a quality education.

It is a totally noble aim to bring more teachers into the system. Of course, the Government do an extensive work by providing grants for people taking specific courses; in some cases—science, for example, these are worth up to £20,000. What specifically is Labour’s plan for recruitment of new teachers that the current Government are not doing? I have previously asked shadow Ministers similar questions, because I genuinely want to understand what will be done differently by Labour, bearing in mind that this Government are giving out tens of thousands of pounds to people simply for turning up to the training course, let alone then staying on, with the levelling-up bonus payments in education investment areas. I am keen to hear what the Labour plan looks like.

I appreciate the sincerity of the hon. Member’s wish to talk about the challenge in recruitment and retention. Clearly, it is related to this debate today, in the sense that if we had all the teachers we need, would we need a national tutoring programme? Labour has set out quite detailed plans about how we will go about resolving the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, and we continue to have conversations with the sector to ensure that the money in the current spending envelope for bursaries and incentives is spent as effectively as possible, because clearly there is a problem. The Government are seriously missing their recruitment targets. We have a range of measures, but I do not think it would be appropriate to go into the detail that the hon. Member wants me to go into today. However, I recognise the sincerity of his challenge in that regard and his recognition of the challenge, and Labour is absolutely determined to meet it.

We know that children’s mental health is a huge challenge, so we will put a specialist mental health professional in every school and ensure that young people have access to early support. We will also invest in mental health hubs to ensure that young people can access mental health support where they most need it. We will offer free breakfast clubs in every primary school, to ensure that children have a softer start to the school day and the opportunity to learn, play and socialise. The evidence is clear that such clubs increase attainment and attendance; they will also put money back in parents’ pockets and ensure a start to the school day that can help parents to get to work.

We recognise that there is no one fix, given the level of challenge in our system, but we will focus not only on taking a more targeted approach, so that children who need additional support the most get it, but on making sure that there is a wider network of support for every school community. That network will ensure that every child has the best chance of having the best start in life.

This is all about Labour’s mission to break down the barriers to opportunity and to ensure that every child gets the firm foundation and high-quality education that sets them up for life. Because education is a priority for us, as it has been for every Labour Government, we will put it back at the centre of national life. We will prioritise our children, schools and families once again.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mrs Cummins. I thank the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) for securing this important debate today. I also thank everybody who has taken part: the hon. Member herself, my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell), the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), who brought the Northern Ireland perspective, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) and the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell), who spoke for the Opposition.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North rightly spoke of the hard times of covid, which we all remember. Our home and professional experiences were indeed very difficult. They were also very difficult to plan for, because they were experiences that our country, like others, had not had before. I do not think it is right to say that people were slow to react. For example, I thought that what happened in respect of Oak National Academy was amazing and came together quickly. The work that teachers and headteachers did converting to virtual education and enabling home learning was remarkable, but there is no doubt that it was an incredibly hard time. International studies such as the programme for international student assessment show that the whole world, with the exception of only one or two jurisdictions, took a really big knock from covid. Almost every country took a serious hit in educational attainment from covid.

England held up relatively well. That is part of the reason why in the most recent PISA results, in mathematics for example, England was ranked 11th in the world. That is an improvement on recent times, particularly so if one looks back to the period before 2010 when England had been ranked 27th. We also saw improvements in reading and in science. In the progress in international reading literacy study 2021, primary school readers in England were ranked fourth in the world and first in the western world. However, none of that changes the fact that covid was a terrible knock to education here and elsewhere in the world.

The Minister and his colleagues talk a lot about the PISA scores, and obviously we cannot deny that evidence. He talked about the impact of the pandemic, but does he recognise that the attainment gap had been starting to dwindle? I noticed that he smarted when I mentioned that the pupil premium was a Liberal Democrat commitment that we delivered with the Conservatives in government.

Sorry, I was not wishing to make a political point. My question is: will the Minister recognise that the attainment gap was actually starting to widen again before the pandemic, and that the pandemic accelerated that trend? That is what we are all here to try to tackle through the tutoring programme.

Let us not pursue the thing about the pupil premium. That happened to be in both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat plans for Government ahead of 2010. The two parties worked well together in coalition, and that is a good thing that we should welcome. There had been progress on the disadvantage gap. It is also true, as I was just saying, that covid hit the whole world, but it also hit different groups of children differentially, and we are still seeing the effects of that in the disadvantage gap. I will come back to that.

Tutoring has been a key part of our recovery plan, and I thank everybody who has been involved in it: the tutors, the tutoring organisations, the teachers and teaching assistants, and everybody else who has made it possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield mentioned the particular role and contribution of volunteers, and I join him in that. It is a very special thing to do.

The national tutoring programme is not necessarily what always comes to mind when the person in the street thinks of tutoring. A lot of it, as the hon. Member for Twickenham alluded to, is small group work; it is not just one to one. Although very important work has been done by outside tutoring organisations, most of the work on the national tutoring programme has been done by existing staff in schools. We have committed £1.4 billion to the four-year life of the national tutoring programme in schools and colleges, and invested in the 16 to 19 tuition fund.

For the second year of the programme—my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent North referred to this—funding has gone directly to schools. That has enabled schools to choose the right approach for them and their children through the use of their own staff, accessing quality-assured tuition partners or employing an academic mentor. We created the find a tuition partner service to put schools in touch with those opportunities, and also provided training through the Education Development Trust for staff, including teaching assistants who deliver tutoring.

Nearly 5 million courses have been started since the NTP launched in November 2020, and 46% of the pupils tutored last year had been eligible for free school meals in the past six years. That is the “ever 6” measure—a measure of disadvantage. The 16 to 19 tuition fund will also have delivered hundreds of thousands of courses.

The tutoring programme has been part of the wider £5 billion education recovery funding, which is made up of the £1.4 billion for tutoring, £400 million for aspects of teacher training, £800 million for additional time in 16 to 19, and nearly £2 billion directly to schools for evidence-based interventions appropriate to pupils’ needs.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North rightly mentioned speech and language interventions. I can tell her that already two thirds of primary schools have benefited—211,000 year R children so far—from our investment in the Nuffield early language intervention programme. The evidence suggests that the programme assists children in making four months’ worth of additional progress, while children eligible for free school meals make greater progress of seven months.

Covid hit the world, including us. It did not hit every discipline in exactly the same way. Some of us will recognise from our own time at home with children that some things were easier to do than others. Reading at key stage 2 and junior school held up pretty well during covid. Maths has now improved and the standard is now close to what it was in the years before covid. Writing is still behind, although we have had a 2% improvement since last year.

Big challenges remain. No one denies that the No. 1 issue is attendance. This almost sounds trite, but there is an obvious link between being at school and the attainment achieved. It bears repeating that even if there are difficulties in having many children in school, we really have to work on attendance. As well as the overall attainment effect of attendance, there is a differential factor between the cohort of pupils as a whole and disadvantaged pupils; in other words, there is a bit more absence in the latter group than the former. There is also a link—some studies say it plays a really big part—between attendance and the attainment gap, which makes it doubly important that we work on attendance.

As colleagues know, schools are doing many things brilliantly, as are local authorities and others, to try to get attendance back up to pre-covid levels. Obviously, every child needs to be off school at some time because of sickness—all of us were when we were children. That will always be true, but we need to get back to the levels we had before covid.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North alluded to specific things that we do around breakfast clubs. It is important to do them in a targeted way, and not just in primary school, as the Labour party plans to do, but in secondary school as well. There are issues around mental health support, which is why we are gradually rolling out the mental health support teams across the country. Again, we think that it is right to have that in both phases—it is important at both primary and secondary school—and schools are also doing an immense amount of work.

Although the national tutoring programme was always a time-limited programme post-covid, tutoring will continue to play an important role and we know that the evidence shows that tutoring is an effective, targeted approach to increase pupils’ attainment. Headteachers are best placed to decide how to invest their funding, depending on their particular circumstances and priorities, and that approach underpins our whole approach to the school system, in that we put headteachers in charge. I anticipate many schools continuing to make tutoring opportunities available to their pupils and we will continue to support schools to deliver tutoring in future, including through pupil premium funding, which will rise to more than £2.9 billion in 2024-25.

Schools decide how to use their funding, aided by the Education Endowment Foundation, which sets out good knowledge and advice on the best uses of funding for the education programmes with the most efficacy. I do not think there is a conflict between universal and highly targeted programmes. We target via the funding formula and then headteachers are best placed, armed with the knowledge from the EEF and others, to decide how to use that funding. The overall national funding formula has the disadvantage element, which next year will be a bigger proportion than has previously been the case. Then, of course, there is the pupil premium.

I have outlined in detail why I think schools need the additional funding due to the financial pressures they are under. However, if the Government are not seeking to do that—which, personally, I think is a mistake—is the Department for Education planning to somehow monitor how many schools continue to deliver tutoring and the percentage of disadvantaged pupils? Or is the Department simply not going to keep an eye on the ball after the funding ends and rely on headteachers, who will, as the Minister has rightly said, do things in the best interests of their pupils? Ultimately, that will leave us in this place with less knowledge about the spending decisions and whether the support is continuing and embedded, which was the aim of the programme when initially introduced.

It is absolutely appropriate to embed tutoring into schools’ wider progress, because we know from our gold standard analyser the EEF and other studies that that approach has efficacy and achieves results, although obviously it depends on how it is done. As my hon. Friend puts it, we will keep an eye on the matter, but that is not the same as specifying that Mrs Smith the headteacher should do this but not that. We think Mrs Smith should be able to decide. We also have Ofsted inspections and the results are published as part of a system that is transparent but that also empowers schools, school leaders and trusts to make those decisions.

I completely agree with the Minister about giving headteachers and teachers autonomy. As a Liberal, I do not believe in things being controlled from the centre, and teachers know best, but the reality of the funding situation, as the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) pointed out, is that many schools are setting deficit budgets for the first time ever. We can talk about how money has gone up in cash terms, but it has not gone up in real terms. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that schools’ spending power has been reduced massively by inflationary costs.

I pointed out that the pupil premium has been cut by 14% in real terms. The tutoring fund underspent because many of the schools cannot match the funding that is available. The Minister may really believe that this is an effective, evidence-based intervention, but schools will not be able to continue without ringfenced, dedicated funding. I was told that last year when I went to visit Southwark College, which is dealing with some of the most disadvantaged pupils, who otherwise will have no life chances at all if they do not get the support they need.

On the subject of funding, including the pupil premium and the recently announced additional amounts for covering pension contributions, overall school funding next year will be £2.9 billion higher than it was in 2023-24. That will take the total to over £60 billion in 2024-25—the highest ever level in real terms per pupil.

We also remain committed to improving outcomes for students aged 16 to 19, particularly those yet to achieve their GCSE English and maths. That is a subject that came up earlier. I should stress that not having English and maths is not an impediment to starting an apprenticeship; the person just has to continue to study them while doing their apprenticeship.

I know that this subject stirs strong feelings in many people. We know that the workplace and life value of English and maths is immense, and that is why there is so much focus on those subjects as we develop the advanced British standard and in our design of the T-levels and some of the apprenticeship reforms. English and maths are so important for the futures of these young people, which is why in October we announced an additional £300 million over two years to support students who need to resit their GCSEs.

There is no rule that everybody has to resit a GCSE. Whether the person resits GCSE mathematics or takes a functional skills qualification depends on the GCSE grade that they got the first time around. The £300 million is part of what we call an initial downpayment on the development of the advanced British standard. As colleagues know, it will be a new baccalaureate-style qualification, bringing together the best of A-levels and T-levels in a single qualification and ending the artificial distinction between academic and vocational for good.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Twickenham for securing this debate, and to everybody who has been and continues to be involved in the national tutoring programme and the 16 to 19 programme. Tutoring can have a transformational effect on pupils’ and students’ attainment, and I am proud that the Department’s flagship tutoring programmes have been supporting so many in catch-up following covid-19. I thank everyone who has taken part in this debate, all the schools and colleges that have participated in these programmes, all the tutors—including the volunteer tutors—who have delivered them, and of course all the pupils and students for engaging so enthusiastically.

I start where the Minister ended: by extending my thanks to all those involved in the tutoring programme, particularly the volunteers, including Douglas, who is here today and was namechecked earlier, from the office of the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell). The contribution that volunteers and teachers—who work extraordinarily hard, day in, day out—make to our children is invaluable. Thank you to all of them.

I also thank all hon. Members who turned up to participate today. I know that many others could not be here today, but they are also very strongly committed to the tutoring programme. The hon. Member for Sedgefield talked about the excitement that pupils often experience when they receive tutoring. That goes to my point about tackling persistent absence. We know that tutoring helps to bring down some of those absence levels. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) talked about the importance of extending these programmes right across our four nations, given the benefits involved.

I think this is a first for me: I strongly agree with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis), and it is not very often I find myself saying that. Where I am in violent agreement with him is on something that I and the Liberal Democrats constantly point out. As a party, we see money spent on education and our children and young people as a long-term investment. I am afraid that the Treasury often sees children as a cost. We need to see them as part of our current society and also of our future society and our economy. Investing heavily early on will pay dividends and generate returns for generations to come.

As the hon. Member pointed out, levelling up starts here, with children. That is why I am so perplexed as to why the Government are not extending the programme. I know that the Minister said it was time-limited to start with, but given that the attainment gap continues to grow, and given the evidence that has been generated to show the impact, I am slightly surprised that we are not seeing a continuing commitment.

I am also disappointed that, following persistent questioning by the Minister, we heard no commitment from the Labour Front Bench to continue tutoring should there be a change of Government later this year or at the start of next year. Tutoring really does help tackle the attainment gap. I repeat my point to the Minister. He has said that it is a great intervention, but without the money, too many more children are going to be left behind.

Even if he may not have said so publicly right now, I urge the Minister to please go away and talk to the Treasury about whether money can be found to continue this important intervention, because our children really do deserve the very best start in life. We cannot just keep writing off those who do not have the same advantages as many of us. I speak as a parent who has invested in tutoring for my daughter. I want the child down the road who lives in much more challenging conditions, who does not necessarily have the support at home, to have the same benefit as my daughter, so that they can achieve great things, because every child has that potential.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House has considered tutoring provision.

Sitting suspended.