Catch-up schemes introduced to schools following the pandemic need to better target help at disadvantaged pupils, a report has warned.

The report into the first year of the National Tutoring Programme said the “disadvantage gap remains wide”, despite the extra support which is being provided to students.

Kathryn Starke, 41, a literacy consultant from London who supports teachers said: “It’s evident students have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, especially in reading.”

Pupils across the country experienced months of disrupted education during lockdowns and restrictions introduced because of Covid-19.

The scheme, which aims to help provide pupils with support and techniques to catch-up as they return to education, is failing to target those it was aimed at.

Mrs Starke said: “Many students experienced a disruption in traditional learning for two school years. This break in their educational journey has made it more challenging for teachers to support them academically, and for some students, also socially. 

“I believe more governmental funding is needed to increase pay for teachers and allocate for additional supports including literacy specialists and interventionists to help pupils in reading.”

The evaluation of the scheme carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) said it had “expected a high proportion of pupil premium eligible pupils to be selected for the additional tutoring.”

In a pilot scheme in 2020, six in 10 pupils targeted for additional tutoring were eligible for the pupil premium, but now less than half are being supported by the scheme. 

NFER’s Head of Classroom Practice and Workforce, Ben Styles, said: “Tuition was associated with improvements in English performance for primary schools and both English and Maths among secondary school pupils.”

The NEFR recommends that in future, schools clearly define who these schemes are designed for, or acknowledge that schools may have different views about which of their pupils most need and would benefit from tuition.

Mr Styles said: “As schools now receive funding to spend on whichever model of tutoring they choose, it is vital the research community guides them with the evidence they need to make decisions.”