High impact tutoring: understanding the factors that make the biggest difference

We know that tutoring can be an effective intervention. However, what is less clear is the specific conditions and implementation factors under which it works. This leaves us questioning:

  1. What type of tutoring is appropriate for what settings / contexts?
  2. Do different implementation factors have an impact on non-cognitive outcomes, tutoring attendance and/ or attainment?

These research questions will be the main focus of the project ImpactEd are launching with a group of tutoring organisations to see what implementation factors are most effective for schools and colleges in different contexts. 


In 2020 a major government initiative, the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), was established to help pupils catch up on learning after the Covid-19 pandemic. This initiative had a substantial impact on the tutoring landscape by providing state-funded schools with funding to cover 60% of the unit cost of tuition so that schools could provide tutoring sessions for their pupils via the three following pathways: Tuition Partners, Academic Mentors and School-Led Tutoring. 

There is evidence to suggest that tutoring works for example: the findings from the overarching NTP evaluation from the academic year 2020-2021 found some positive links between tutoring hours and pupils attainment. Yet, more exploration around implementation factors that influence successful tutoring could be highly beneficial to schools and colleges when deciding what works best in specific contexts.  

What we know about tutoring implementation so far

As mentioned above, previous research into tutoring has mainly focussed on the impact of the sessions on pupils’ progress. The NFER report on the evaluation of the Tuition Partner programme also explores features of tutoring that were effective and what outcomes they were associated with. It highlighted that higher amounts of tutoring were linked to better assessment scores in English in Primary Schools. Similar findings were found for Year 11 pupils: those who had completed more sessions had significantly higher English and Maths Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) than pupils that had completed fewer sessions. It was also noted in the EEF toolkit for small group tuition that most of the research into tutoring has looked at English (reading) tuition.

The NFER report also investigated pupil to teacher ratios and found that the most common ratio for delivery was in small groups. The evidence indicated that group size was not associated with pupil outcomes for maths tutoring for primary school pupils. Yet English tuition in small groups was associated with higher attainment than 1:1 tuition. The EEF Toolkit reports evidence for 1-1 tutoring and small groups separately: with moderate impact for small groups and high impact for 1-1.      

The DfE implementation and process evaluation from the second year of the National Tutoring programme (2021-2022) noted that the senior leaders involved with the project perceived that the tutoring from all avenues had a positive impact upon pupils’ attainment, self- confidence and narrowing the gap between the individuals receiving the tutoring sessions and their peers. 

Looking forward

What we want to find out now is what is most effective in terms of implementation for schools and colleges in different contexts. What models of tutoring work best in which circumstances for which pupils?  

The Joint Tutoring Evaluation Project

To fill in this crucial gap in the evidence on tutoring, ImpactEd are running a collaborative evaluation with a range of tutoring organisations to understand the impact of tutoring implementation on pupils’ academic attainment, session attendance, motivation, and self-efficacy. The evaluation will run from March 2023 until October 2023. We’ll be looking at a range of different implementation factors such as group size, tutor profile and mode of delivery to better understand the types of tutoring appropriate for different settings.

ImpactEd will bring together data the tutoring organisations are already collecting next to collecting additional data on implementation through the schools and colleges they work with. This will help gain a greater insight into how the tutoring models are implemented in different settings and how this will feed into the future implementation of tutoring in schools and colleges. 

Some key findings from this evaluation will be made available to schools and the wider sector, as well as supporting tuition partners' own ability to demonstrate impact. To find out more about the project or if you are a tutoring organisation and would like to express an interest in participating in the project, please email 

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