Written evidence submitted by The Tutor Trust


Charity Number 1144043


The Tutor Trust is a charity offering 1:1 and small group tutoring to pupils in Greater Manchester, Leeds-Bradford and Merseyside. We are an accredited Tuition Partner under the National Tutoring Programme and all of our tutoring is delivered in partnership with schools. Most of our partner schools primarily serve low-income communities.


To date this academic year, we have served 3,505 pupils between Year 3 and Year 11, with 66% of our learners receiving Pupil Premium. Our specialist Tutoring Plus service offers 1:1 support to the most vulnerable learners, including Cared for Children, those attending Alternative Provision, and school refusers.


The factors causing persistent and severe absence among different groups of pupils:


  1. Tutor Trust has school attendance data for 3,139 of the 3,505 pupils we are supporting this academic year. This data is collected from our partner schools at the start of the tutoring programme. The mean school attendance of our tutees is 91.9%. 25.6% of our tutees are persistent absentees with a school attendance of less than 90%, while 10.4% attended less than 80% of sessions. 


  1. We see significantly higher rates of persistent absence among secondary-aged tutees, Looked After Children, tutees with SEND, and tutees receiving Pupil Premium. An overview of our attendance data is provided below.



Number of tutees for whom we hold school attendance data

Average tutee attendance at school

Percentage of tutees with <90% school attendance

Percentage of tutees with <80% school attendance

All tutees










Year 3





Year 4





Year 5





Year 6





Year 7





Year 8





Year 9





Year 10





Year 11















Pupil Premium





Non Pupil Premium




















KS4 PP (all)





KS4 SEND (all)










KS4 Non-PP and Non SEND







  1. Persistent and severe absence is particularly concentrated among our tutees in Key Stage 4 who receive Pupil Premium and tutees in Key Stage 4 who have SEND. 37.5% of tutees receiving Pupil Premium and 44.3% of tutees with SEND are persistent absentees, compared with 20.8% of tutees who neither receive Pupil Premium nor have SEND. There seems to be a pattern of ‘overlapping vulnerabilities’ among our tutees: among Key Stage 4 tutees receiving Pupil Premium who have SEND, over 50% are persistently absent and just under a quarter have a school attendance of under 80%.


  1. Our Tutoring Plus team, who have previously worked almost exclusively with Cared For Children and pupils attending Alternative Provision, have received an increasing number of requests from schools to support pupils with poor attendance at school. For some of these pupils, attendance figures are significantly below 50%.


  1. Our conversations with school leaders and tutees have revealed a number of factors contributing to poor school attendance among pupils nominated for tutoring, particularly pupils in Key Stage 4. These factors often overlap considerably in the case of tutees who are poor attenders:


    1. Mental health: our Tutoring Plus team are receiving a large number of referrals for children experiencing mental health difficulties that have resulted in poor attendance at school.
    2. Anxiety about being in school: some pupils have become used to working in isolation online and have considerable anxiety about attending school and interacting with teachers and peers in the classroom. In a few cases this has been related to worries directly about Covid-19 infection, particularly where the pupil or a family member is vulnerable. However, more commonly it is anxiety directly related to their experience at school. After two years of disrupted learning, some pupils do not feel part of their school community and have not connected with the habits and norms of their school. Some of our tutees express that they strongly preferred learning online and do not want to learn in the classroom.
    3. Bullying and issues with relationships: for many of our tutees, anxiety about school is connected to relationships with peers. Some have experienced bullying while others do not feel connected to their peers. Some of our partner schools have expressed that some pupils struggle with friendships, and that this has been exacerbated by the restrictions on socialisation during the pandemic, as well as by the ubiquity of the online world and social media.
    4. Neurodiversity: A number of tutees that we support are neurodiverse, with many of these pupils having diagnoses of ADHD and/or autism. Some of these pupils state that they find school difficult and struggle in the classroom environment
    5. Normalisation of school absence: Many school leaders we work with report that, after two years of children being instructed not to attend school if displaying symptoms of Covid-19, some level of absence has become normalised, with more families allowing children to stay home when they have symptoms of a minor illness, or for another reason do not wish to attend school. 
    6. Suspensions and exclusions: a number of our tutees, particularly those in Alternative Provision, have absences related to suspension and exclusion from school.


The role of the Holiday Activities and Food programme and other after school and holiday clubs, such as sports, in improving attendance and engagement with school.


  1. Tutor Trust do not yet have evidence to demonstrate that 1:1 tutoring under the Tutoring Plus programme can help to improve school attendance. We are currently undertaking an evaluation with ImpactEd as to the impact of the Tutoring Plus programme, and the combined impact of tutoring and a second intervention. One of the factors this research will investigate is whether 1:1 tutoring can help reengage a pupil with school and increase attendance. This data will not be available until the conclusion of this research.


  1. However, our Tutoring Plus team have observed a number of instances in which 1:1 tutoring has helped to reengage poor attenders with school and increased their confidence about attending. Three examples of young people supported by our Tutoring Plus team are given below:


    1. L, Year 11, attending Alternative Provision, receiving 1:1 tutoring as well as counselling under our Right Angle programme


L attends Alternative Provision but had poor attendance at the provision. Poor mental health was a key reason for L’s poor attendance. L was nominated for The Right Angle, under which pupils receive both 1:1 tutoring from a Tutor Trust tutor and counselling from a trained counsellor from our sister charity, TLC: Talk, Listen, Change. L’s tutoring takes place in person, during the school day, at the Alternative Provision centre. L engaged positively with the tutoring and developed a strong relationship with their tutor. L stated that they felt more confident in Maths, despite finding it difficult, and appreciated that they could ask their tutor on topics they found hard.


L has consistently attended tutoring and counselling and is now attending their Alternative Provision on a full timetable.


    1. J, Year 11, attending a mainstream school on a reduced timetable. Receiving 1:1 tutoring from our Tutoring Plus team


J attends a mainstream school on a reduced timetable. J finds the school environment challenging, and struggles with authority figures. J has previously had multiple exclusions from school. J receives tuition from two members of our Full-time Tutor Team throughout each week to supplement their timetable (which involves being at school full-time but not in all lessons). This involves 6 hours of online tuition, split between Mathematics and English. It is clear that the relationships that J has been able to form with their tutors, distinct from any authority that they may have previously clashed with in school, have provided them with a nurturing environment to take ownership of their own learning.  J has suggested topics for tutoring where This is also evident in J's behaviour when working with their tutors - consciously avoiding behavioural tendencies and being respectful of the tutors throughout.


J’s attendance at school has increased, and J has received fewer exclusions since starting tutoring.


    1. P, Year 9, attending a mainstream school. Receiving 1:1 tutoring from our Tutoring Plus team


P was first nominated for tutoring when they were in Year 8, but refused to attend the programme. At the time, P was refusing at attend school entirely. When P began to attend school sporadically, the tutoring programme was restarted, with P receiving 1:1 tutoring online in Science. Sessions take place outside of the school day, with an aim of helping P to catch up with content missed during the period of school refusal. P has engaged very positively with the 1:1 support and currently has over 80% attendance at tutoring sessions. P has appreciated that sessions are tailored around their interests. Their attendance at school has increased.


  1. While this evidence is anecdotal, it points to some ways in tutoring, particularly 1:1 tutoring, can support pupils who are persistently absent to reengage with education. Particular benefits of this model are:
    1. Tutees can develop supportive relationships with their tutors, who are positioned differently from teachers. Tutees who have oppositional relationships with teachers may engage positively with a tutor.
    2. Tutoring can be delivered either in-person or online. Some pupils who refuse to attend school find 1:1 online tutoring less threatening, and will engage positively with this form of support.
    3. Tutoring can be tailored to the pupil’s individual needs, helping to mitigate learning loss from school absence. Having support to catch up and remain engaged with learning during a period of absence can build a pupil’s confidence and a learner and make the return to the classroom less intimidating. This is crucial for many young people who have missed school, as learning loss can compound and one factor that can make pupils anxious about returning is a fear of being ‘behind.’
    4. Tutoring can be combined with other support programmes, such as counselling, providing wraparound support for some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities.


  1. We would encourage broader access to 1:1 tutoring under the National Tutoring Programme. At present, the per-pupil limit of £10.80 per hour that can be paid for using NTP subsidies means that using NTP subsidies to pay for 1:1 tutoring is very inefficient. As such, most tutoring under the NTP is in groups of 1:3 – 1:6. Such provision may not be effective for persistent non-attenders, particularly those who have anxiety about school, poor mental health, or worries about interacting with peers.


February 2023