Concerns have been raised after new figures showed fewer schools in Bolton were offered tutoring support last year.

It comes as the government reduced funding to the National Tutoring Programme, which was introduced to help in-need children catch up, following the disruption of the pandemic.

This is despite data showing poorer children were more likely to undertake courses.

Figures from the Department for Education show 114 of 127 schools in Bolton took part in the government's national tutoring programme in the 2021-22 academic year.

But as of August – at the end of the 2022-23 school year – this number dropped to 104.

The Bolton News: Robert Poole, assistant district secretary for Bolton’s branch of the National Education Union, said that the recent cuts to the support has raised “serious concerns” about the future of social mobility in the community, and how those from underprivileged backgrounds will be affected.

He said: “While the stated goal is fiscal responsibility, the impact falls disproportionately on those who need it most – students from underprivileged backgrounds who rely on these programs to level the playing field.

“This isn't just about individual schools struggling to make ends meet, it's about a systemic trend where essential resources are increasingly concentrated in the hands of the privileged few.

“Where only better off families can afford tutoring and working-class families are left behind.

“We risk creating a society where educational opportunity is determined by your parent's income, not your potential.

“Education is the bedrock of a just and equitable society.

The Bolton News: Fewer schools offer tutoring support in Oxfordshire amid Government cuts“We urge the government to reconsider these cuts and invest in programs that truly nurture the talents of all young people, regardless of their background.

“Every child deserves a chance to thrive, and it's our collective responsibility to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed.

“This is not just about numbers in a budget; it's about the future of our children.”

Nick Brook, chair of the Department for Education’s strategic advisory group for tutoring, and CEO of the charity Speakers for Schools, said the programme was "proving its worth" despite some teething problems.

He said: "Schools and researchers increasingly agree that tutoring can help accelerate pupil progress.

“This makes the absence of any announcement on funding beyond this academic year all the harder to swallow."

The government funded 70 to 75 per cent of the programme in 2021-22, with schools covering the remainder.

This was reduced to 60 per cent last year, and to 50 per cent for the academic year that started in September.

Over the last school year, 11,911 Bolton pupils undertook 18,470 courses – learning for a total of 219,000 hours.

By last October, 2,651 courses had been started for the current academic year, with 54 schools participating.

Mr Brook called tutoring programmes a "proven strategy" to close the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

"Put simply, without investment beyond 2024, the tutoring revolution in schools is likely to grind to a halt," he added.

Across the North West, nearly half of pupils who received tutoring in 2022-23 had been on free school meals at some point in the last six years.

These children made up 30 per cent of all pupils in the region.

Schools Minister Damian Hinds said: "Dealing with the effects of the pandemic and supporting our education recovery is a national endeavour and requires a sustained effort.

"With almost five million courses started to date, the National Tutoring Programme has played a significant role in delivering extra hours for pupils most in need of additional support."

He added: "I’d like to thank school leaders, teachers and tutors for their hard work in delivering this tuition to make sure no child is left behind."

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