This post has been written by Sarah Profit, Frog Sales Manager and an Academy Councillor at Oasis Harpur Mount.
“The government introduced Pupil Premium to schools in April 2011 to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children in England. Schools are under pressure to demonstrate that they have spent this money effectively or risk losing it, as the money is not ring-fenced and many schools have chosen to spend it in different ways. As a school governor or academy councillor how do you know if your school is spending their Pupil Premium effectively?
Firstly you should ensure your Pupil Premium money is separate to the mainstream budget, and is being used to target your Free School Meal children, and not just the children with low attainment or low attendance. It is important to know the facts. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said:
“Good governance at a school is of huge importance and can have a considerable impact on the success of a school. Governors play a critical role in guiding, supporting and challenging schools.”
Research done by The Sutton Trust showed that less than 3% of teachers identified the most cost effective classroom approaches, so don’t be afraid to challenge your school’s strategies by asking questions. Ofsted look for evidence of this in Governor and Academy Council meeting minutes. Make sure you get involved in how the money is spent, and are kept up to date with how success is being monitored and evaluated.
The Sutton Trust’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit is a great place to start when looking for guidance on what works in the classroom. It summarises 1000s of research studies and looked at over 20 approaches. The most effective strategies were:
Feedback: Giving children feedback which is specific, accurate, clear and prompt was shown to have the greatest impact. Children should be taught how to self-assess so they become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and can build up their self-esteem.
Self-Assessment and Peer Tutoring: Teaching children to understand how to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning is also a high impact strategy in the classroom. Peer tutoring is also highlighted as a valuable intervention.
Many schools spend their money on teaching assistants, which the Sutton Trust found to have a very low impact in the classroom. However when teaching assistants have been given the correct training, support and a clear pedagogical role with specific interventions as opposed to general classroom support, this can have a significant impact. Make sure your school is using teaching assistants in a focused way.
Success needs to be shared across the school. Have systems that allow for good communication across the whole school community including pupils, staff, parents and governors. With good parental engagement, you will find it much easier to ensure that parents and carers of all eligible children in school apply for the funding.
Setting the right criteria for success and monitoring the impact of interventions is key when gathering evidence. By having an individual portfolio for each child allows for all the evidence for monitoring and progress to be kept in one place.”
A snapshot of the most effective strategies for use of Pupil Premium can be found in the infographic below.