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Shadow Minister stands up for local schoolchildren after flagship catch-up programme deemed ‘catastrophic failure’

Stephen Morgan MP demanded answers from government in the House of the Commons today after its flagship National Tutoring Programme (NTP) was deemed a ‘catastrophic failure’ by education leaders.

Ministers claimed the NTP, a key pillar the government’s education catch-up strategy, would create a “tutoring revolution” and enable less well-off children to recover months of learning lost during the pandemic through small-group tuition, as part of a multibillion-pound government plan.

But in a recent survey of providers, 90 per cent said the government’s contractor for its flagship National Tutoring Programme was not prepared for its launch.

The Dutch human resources company, Randstad, was in June awarded a £25m contract to run the scheme, with a winning bid that tender documents show was far below the £62m maximum offered by the government.

One education leader told the Financial Times, who is currently still working with the company, said Ranstad is “doing it on the cheap and the quality of what they’re doing is very poor — completely under-resourced, and shambolic,”

Speaking after his first parliamentary intervention as Shadow Schools Minister, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“This will be the third year of disruption to the education of thousands of students in Portsmouth and across the country. Instead of handing out million-pound contracts to companies looking to win a quick buck, Ministers should be delivering a real catch-up plan to help children and parents recover lost learning.

Inefficiency, bureaucracy and a slow rollout is a far cry from what our children need. Ministers must provide the assurances that additional tutoring support will reach every child who needs it.”

In June, the Portsmouth representative welcomed Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan – aligned in ambition and scale to Sir Kevan’s recommendations – which would deliver investment of £982 million into the South East to ensure all schools can deliver a new range of activities and support – from sports to drama or music – to fuel post lockdown recovery, whilst starting to address the entrenched learning gap which sees children on free school meals falling behind their peers.

The City MP was speaking in his first departmental education questions in the House of Commons, following his promotion to his new role as Shadow Schools Minister. He previously held the role of Shadow Armed Forces Minister.