Making the Most of the Pupil Premium

Reviewing Pupil Premium
Last term I led the review of my school’s use of the Pupil Premium. As well as reviewing impact, we wanted to share a fuller analysis on our website. For readers outside the UK, the Pupil a Premium is funding intended to tackle the effects of income disadvantage. A third of our pupils received it last year. The total allocation was £267,000.
Previously, our published analysis consisted of a list of allocations with an indication of outcomes. I wanted to improve on this, not merely to meet statutory requirements but to show the rationale behind our plan, provide an accessible evaluation of impact, and show how this had informed our future planning.
The document went through several drafts and I’m indebted to my colleagues Steve Jones and Nick Rose (@nickjohnrose) at St Gregory’s for a key information and to Amjad Ali (@ASTsupportAAli) whose Pupil Premium analysis at Cheney School, Oxford was a help and inspiration.

Rationale for Allocation
We organise our allocation of the Pupil Premium into three areas: nurture, progress and aspiration.
Nurture covers everything we do to mitigate the effects of economic disadvantage so that students can engage fully with the curriculum. This includes various subsidies, providing breakfasts, clothing & equipment for vocational courses and specialist activities, and a contribution towards providing a family support worker.
Progress involves teaching strategies and specific interventions to enable pupils with low prior attainment to make more rapid progress. This includes whole school and departmental interventions, mentoring and learning support.
Aspiration includes provision that enriches the curriculum, extends opportunities and raises the breadth and extent of student aspirations. It includes clubs, instrumental loan and tuition, enhanced independent advice & guidance and university visits.

Impact Analysis
We have chosen a range of impact indicators including Good Learning Development in Early Years, end of key stage attainment and indicators in English & maths, KS2-4 VA and A2 VA. We also include numbers in education, employment and training post-16 and post-18. These form the basis of our planning & evaluation cycle. For each allocation, success criteria are established. These are subsequently used to RAG-rate impact, followed by a brief commentary on future actions which forms the basis of planning for the next year.

You can see our 2013-14 analysis on the St Gregory’s website here.

What have we learned?
The new format has helped parents and carers understand the importance of the Pupil Premium and the range of work it supports.
School Governors have found the new format helpful in understanding the relative impact of different interventions.
The approach to impact analysis in particular has highlighted some key points for school leaders including the areas where we need better data to inform our evaluation and the importance of raising our aspirations for disadvantaged students. In general it is clear that the most successful interventions are those that are very specific, with tightly defined success criteria, and are targeted towards particular identified needs.

Next Steps
We know that we aren’t there yet. We may not have the best mix of indicators and many will have to change with the introduction of assessment beyond levels, progress 8, etc.
To achieve better outcomes for disadvantaged students we need to work more with those students and their families to establish individual needs.
It is also becoming clear that there are a group of families just above the Pupil Premium threshold who have been hit hard by the current economic climate. The Premium is a fairly blunt tool and it’s important to use a range of other information in assessing need.

This is a work in progress and I’d appreciate any comments or advice readers may have to offer.

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Why I Do What I Do – Remembering My Grandfather

One hundred years ago, on 7th January 1915 my grandfather Alexander Caseby enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery. He had left school (many of his teachers having already joined up to fight in the war) and got a job as postman. Every day he passed a recruitment poster at Leuchars Junction in Fife for ‘Kitchener’s 100,000’. Although not yet the required age of 19, he felt ‘haunted’ by this poster. On the third attempt, he enlisted in the New Year, just short of his 18th birthday by allowing a confusion between his birthdate of 19th January and his age to go uncorrected.

What has this to do with me being a teacher? I suppose it’s because I have a sense of legacy. I’m aware that previous generations had a much tougher life that I have had, with fewer options available to them. My grandfather spent his youth on the battlefields of Loos, ‘Wipers’ and The Somme being shot at and gassed. He came away with his life and a metal plate in his head. I spent mine having a fantastic time at university and came away with a degree in Zoology!

I know that I have benefitted from a good education and the choices it afforded me because previous generations were determined that their children would have opportunities they didn’t. They worked hard within families for the sake of their own children, but also collectively within society to build a state education system for every child. I know many teachers with a similar family experiences – I’ve worked in school leadership teams where most colleagues were the first generation in their family to go to university.

We know that this work isn’t finished. There are still far too many children in families living in poverty, or on the edge of it for whom education can be a ticket to better opportunities, but it’s a struggle. I feel proud that in teaching in one school, in one part of our country, I am part of a national network of dedicated professionals committed to a common cause. I’m also proud to be continuing a legacy passed on by previous generations.

This morning, 7th January 2015, I’ll be teaching A level psychology, helping my teenage students prepare for their mock exams next week, the next stepping-stone towards their goals and aspirations. I’ll also be thinking about my Grandad, the teenage Gunner 70412 Caseby, A. I’ll give thanks for family and remembering that the opportunities I had, and my students have, were hard-won by previous generations.

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