Close the Attainment Gap for Your Pupil Premium Cohort

The Pupil Premium is extra money paid by the government to schools for each child registered as eligible for free school meals.

The current level of funding per financial year is:

  • £1,320 for primary pupils
  • £935 for secondary pupils

For larger schools in areas with deprivation, this can add up to a very significant sum.  How should a school spend the extra funding to achieve the maximum benefits for its disadvantaged pupils?

There are many possible interventions, ranging from buying a bicycle for a consistently late Year pupil, to curriculum adaptations in Year 10 to make qualifications more accessible.

A key decision to make is whether to spend the money on direct interventions for the pupil only, or to use it for the whole school.  Direct interventions can be very inefficient, for example hiring a specialist tutor for just one pupil.  Whole school interventions run the risk of benefitting the privileged pupils more, thus widening the gap.

Schools are held accountable for their spending and are required to publish details on their website of where the money went and what impact it had on the children who attracted the funding.  A good example of such a report is the Heath School, which includes a plan for the coming year and impact reports from previous years.

Quality teaching disproportionately benefits disadvantaged pupils

Research by the Sutton Trust has shown that good teaching has a hugely significant impact on pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds:

The effects of high-quality teaching are especially significant for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds: over a school year, these pupils gain 1.5 years’ worth of learning with very effective teachers, compared with 0.5 years with poorly performing teachers. In other words, for poor pupils the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher is a whole year’s learning.

It can seem counterintuitive, but if you consider that for many disadvantaged pupils a good teacher might be their only positive adult role model, it makes sense.

This means that school leaders can look at whole school interventions in the knowledge that raising the standard of teaching for all pupils should close the attainment gap.  This is however, extremely difficult to measure, particularly when trying to isolate the effects of any given intervention.

In response to demand from schools, we now offer staff training designed specifically to close the gap.  As well as raising the quality of teaching generally, these courses feature powerful, tried and tested techniques to engage and motivate disadvantaged learners.

Please email us for details.