This short guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation: looks at five key principles; includes some myth busters; gives a suggested tiered approach to pupil premium spending and a set of four case studies to help exemplify the good work going on in schools.
Schools Can Make a Difference
“Closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers is the greatest challenge facing English schools. The gap is stubborn because its causes are entrenched and complex, and most lie beyond the control of schools and educators.
However, it is clear that schools can make a difference. In England, the gap has closed in both primary and secondary schools since the introduction of the Pupil Premium, and in every part of the country schools have demonstrated how great teaching and careful planning can make a huge impact on the outcomes of disadvantaged children.”
Whilst schools can make a difference; not all schools do. There is a balance to be struck between targeted interventions and just getting it right for all pupils; those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds benefit most.
The principles in the guidance include: the use of evidence and high quality implementation (generic points about good leadership and management) and high quality teaching for all including support for middle and higher attainers (and I’d include low prior attainers as well). The guidance is clear that the pupil premium group is not homogenous and the focus should be holistic.
Many issues that need to be addressed are beyond a school’s control. The need for a cross agency/department approach is needed if we are to close the gap quickly and effectively.
A Tiered Approach to Pupil Premium Spending
At number one, for a reason, is teaching: the professional development of staff; their recruitment and retention and support for early career teachers. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are in all our classes spread throughout the school. Getting the teaching right is the number one priority. All pupils will benefit and that is a good thing.
Targeted academic support: structured interventions, small group tuition and in some cases one-to-one support will be needed by many pupils at various times during their school life. The use of evidence informed decision making will allow each school to start with what might be the better bets. Careful on-going monitoring and evaluation of any strategies introduced will allow approaches to be assessed in context; scaled up, tweaked or abandoned.
Wider strategies: behaviour approaches, breakfast clubs and increasing attendance will support the school’s academic work. I would add in: family support/liaison, high quality pastoral care and a focus on speech and communication leading onto the development of literacy is necessary.
These are neither exhaustive lists nor a pick’n’mix rather some suggestions to encourage a systematic well though through strategy to improving the quality of education on offer; supporting any pupils – disadvantaged or not – who are behind or in danger of falling behind.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.