Open Letter to Government About Proposed Catch Up Tutoring Fund

Request to include Dyslexia Specialist Tutor Organisations in Government 1-2-1 Tutor Fund

Following the news that the government will fund 1-2-1 “catch-up” tutoring for vulnerable or disadvantaged students at risk of being left further behind in class after COVID 19 school closures, many will be realising how vital it will be, that tutors trained in teaching students with SpLDs are included in the programme, as they alone will be able to meet the needs of students who have fallen behind most because of learning difficulties such as dyslexia and attention issues.

Students with learning difficulties are among those finding it most challenging to engage with remote learning, even when they do have access to technology. This is because they need certain conditions to be able to learn. Their processing differences mean that they will also find it difficult to re-engage with school after so long out.

So, with a significant proportion of children with learning difficulties among disadvantaged students targeted by the year long government catch-up tuition fund – many from families who cannot source dyslexia or learning support themselves – the achievement gap between this group and others will widen more, unless the catch-up tutoring meets their specific needs.

It is therefore essential that fund allocation through any named provider agreement is flexible enough for schools to be able to choose dyslexia-trained tutors for their students with processing weaknesses, when this is necessary, while using more general catch-up tutors otherwise.

Dyslexia trained tutors will be essential for primary school dyslexic children, (most of whom will not yet have been diagnosed), for whom phonics input is the biggest loss suffered during the closures. They do not usually get another chance to learn phonics after Key Stage One and Two. English tutors will not be able to adapt their teaching to dyslexic difficulties, meaning many might never learn to read. Similarly, dyslexia-trained tutors are experienced at supporting secondary level students with attention deficit or slow processing, even in the absence of dyslexia. Their skills will be essential, if we are to get many children with these issues back on course in any of their subjects.

Across the country, umbrella charities and organisations work with specialist tutors to provide specialist support to schools for these students already. These organisations, such Surrey Dyslexia, and there are many others, could liaise with schools on one side and government departments or contracted organisations on the other, to source specialist tutors through this new COVID 19 1-2-1 tuition fund, to support those whom regular English or Maths catch-up tutors are unlikely to reach effectively. Similarly, where schools already have direct links with individual specialist teachers who can provide 1-2-1 tuition but have no funds to employ them, they could do so, if supplier arrangements within the new fund are set up to provide for this.

For these reasons, we are requesting that government arrangements for tutor provision include flexibility for schools to use specialist tutor umbrella organisations or independent specialist dyslexia tutors where necessary, rather than all funding to be allocated only for tutors within the remit of named national organisations.  

We would be grateful to hear from you what your current or future arrangements are in terms of meeting this need and to hear how specialist tutors could be included in your much needed programme to support the most vulnerable students at this time.

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