Labour demand answers on £7m increase to Randstad contract

Stephen Morgan asked Robin Walker why the Government topped up Randstad’s contract by £7m when it was “failing”.

Catherine Lough
Tuesday 05 April 2022 09:35
Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan has asked why the Government gave the firm running its flagship tutoring scheme an extra £7 million of public funds as it was being criticised for “catastrophic” failures (PA)
Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan has asked why the Government gave the firm running its flagship tutoring scheme an extra £7 million of public funds as it was being criticised for “catastrophic” failures (PA)

Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan has asked why the Government gave the firm running its flagship tutoring scheme an extra £7 million of public funds as it was being criticised for “catastrophic” failures.

In May 2021, the Government awarded Dutch human resources firm Randstad £25.4 million to run the tuition partners and academic mentors pillars of the National Tutoring Programme to help pupils catch up on lost learning from the pandemic.

Two contract changes during 2021 increased Randstad’s contract value by nearly £7 million in late 2021 – despite critics branding Randstad’s running of the programme “dysfunctional”.

Schools and tuition providers reported problems with the company’s online portal and issues with bureaucracy.

In September 2021, the contract’s value was increased by £183,598, while in November 2021 it was increased by £6.7 million.

The contract’s cancellation is an admission of this Government’s miserable failure to help children recover Covid lost learning

Stephen Morgan, Labour's shadow schools minister

Last week, the Government announced that Randstad has lost the contract for next year.

Stephen Morgan, Labour’s shadow schools minister, wrote to schools minister Robin Walker to ask why Randstad’s contract was increased when “it was already clear Randstad was failing”.

He asked when the decision to cancel Randstad’s contract was made and whether the decision will incur any additional costs for the public.

“The contract’s cancellation is an admission of this Government’s miserable failure to help children recover Covid lost learning,” Mr Morgan said.

The latest Government data shows Randstad accounted for less than a quarter (24%) of all courses started on the national tutoring programme this year, with most schools opting for the schools-led tutoring route where they can use their own staff as tutors.

It is an absolutely shocking failure, given what our children and young people have gone through in recent times, but it’s also just essential that we get it right because the damage that we will see as a country and as a society, not just to children, but much more broadly, will be profound

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson

Mr Morgan said Randstad “is highly unlikely to hit its targets for the full academic year”.

Just over 100,000 tuition courses were started through the Randstad route during the 2021/22 academic year.

Mr Morgan called for the reinstating of a 65% target for tutoring under the programme to be provided to disadvantaged pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium.

He asked why the decision to re-tender Randstad’s contract was announced just before Parliament broke up for recess, and whether the Department for Education will publish absence rates for the scheme.

In March, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson condemned the Government’s “shocking failure” to deliver on its promises regarding the national tutoring programme.

Ms Phillipson said the Government “failed to bring forward an ambitious programme for children’s recovery in stark contrast to Labour’s children’s recovery plan”.

“It is an absolutely shocking failure, given what our children and young people have gone through in recent times, but it’s also just essential that we get it right because the damage that we will see as a country and as a society, not just to children, but much more broadly, will be profound,” she said.

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