Premier Pupil Premium – Improving our Provision

We’ve been reviewing our use of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) recently and I’ve drawn on several ideas in an attempt to focus what we do on achieving the greatest impact. You can read my earlier blog with some thoughts on the PPG here and about my developing my school’s PPG plan for 2014-15 here.

I’d like to acknowledge help we received from Josephine Valentine at St Clement Danes School and Nick Daymond of Parmiters School in reviewing our provision. It was also extremely useful to hear some of the ideas about the PPG which are being talked about in Hertfordshire. I have also been inspired by the work at Budmouth College in Weymouth – an outstanding school with a high proportion of pupils receiving free school meals.

This post was modified in October 2015 to include development of some of the strategies described and the 14 points in the guarantee for families.

Tighter Focus

Our new plan will break down areas of major spending in more detail with tightly defined success criteria in terms of pupil outcomes. This will help us understand which strategies are producing an Impact in two ways. Firstly, breaking down larger areas of intervention into several specific goals will allow us to discriminate the impact of each. Secondly, separating out groups of pupils (e.g. KS4 PP) Into e.g. PP students who also have a specific educational need, who are EAL, who have poor attendance, etc., will allow us to see where gaps are closing and where we need to improve, rather than the overall average effect of our work with KS4 PP pupils.

At the start of the 2015-16 school year we identified four such groups:

  • Disadvantaged + Persistent Absentee
  • Disadvantaged + SEND
  • Disadvantaged + Risk of Exclusion
  • Disadvantaged + Vulnerable

These groups of pupils will be the focus for interventions. We have also established comparator groups of non-disadvantaged students. Their progress will be monitored to assess the impact of interventions.

A Guarantee for Families

One of the ideas from Budmouth College that impressed me was a guarantee for disadvantaged students and their families. We have developed a 14-point guarantee. This is an explicit statement to improving the outcomes of disadvantaged students, privides a clear and public quality standard, and makes the advantages of signing up clear to families. This is especially true for those joining our primary phase – it’s not just about free school meals. The guarantee contains these elements:

  1. Branded school uniform free of charge.
  2. Support with attendance and punctuality where necessary.
  3. Subsidised access to curriculum enrichment opportunities such as school trips.
  4. Access to family support where appropriate.
  5. Speech and language support for Early Years and Key Stage 1 pupils where appropriate.
  6. Support during years 6 and 7 to bridge the transition from primary to secondary school where appropriate.
  7. Provision of subject-specific interventions to improve progress, as appropriate.
  8. Provision free of charge of clothing and equipment needed for vocational courses.
  9. Provision free of charge of approved third-party revision materials, parents’ guides & support materials.
  10. Academic and/or personal mentoring where appropriate.
  11. Access to additional revision classes where appropriate.
  12. Access to gifted and talented programmes and initiatives as appropriate.
  13. Students will receive personalised independent careers advice and guidance in years 9 to 11.
  14. Students will have access to free vocal / instrumental tuition and musical instrument loan.

And, of course, that’s in addition to the free school meals.
Governance and Leadership

We now have regular meetings between the PP link governor and myself as SLT lead. We have committed to making the pupil premium a standing item at leadership and governors meetings. Committees will each have a specific remit. The full governing body agrees the PPG Plan and is responsible for its evaluation. The Curriculum & Achievement committee ensures PPG students can access and progress in the full curriculum, and are achieving within it. The Finance & Staffing committee ensure we use the PPG to best effect, securing best value in staffing & resources.

Working in Partnership

We will highlight our work with other schools and agencies both locally and nationally. Principally this is with other secondaries in Oxford City Learning (OCL) and with primaries within our locality partnership. The focus for the OCL autumn conference will be Disadvantaged Students.

Persisting with what we do well

We will of course keep going with wat is working. I have learned that, while there are quick wins we can achieve, to create lasting outcomes for pupils we need to support them in the long term. We will continue to follow pupils through to their destinations post-16 and post-18 and keep our ‘no NEETs’ goal as one of our success criteria.

One of the ideas Josephine and Nick brought from Hertfordshire resonates with my own thinking. Some pupils have fallen behind, or are at risk of doing so, because of income disadvantage. It is absolutely right that we use the PPG to help them make more rapid progress and achieve their potential. However other pupils have complex and very difficult circumstances of which low family income is just a part. It is a nonsense to suggest that these often vulnerable, damaged young people can make accelerated progress. What we need to do is recognise that they need an extended timescale and support them throughout this. The PPG does not currently allow for this. Perhaps some equivalent of an Education & Health Care Plan extending to, say 19 years is the answer. The commons Select Committee on Human Rights commented on the impact on refugee children of the lck of consistency in the age that defines adulthood in their report of March 2015. (I have written more about supporting refugee children here).

Comments welcome. I’m interested to know what you think.