“The measure of a successful education system should be how its disadvantaged students perform.”
– Marc Rowland, Pupil Premium expert and Deputy Director of the National Education Trust
I am delighted to welcome you to the brand new Pupil Premium section of our website. The Pupil Premium funding was introduced by the coalition government in 2011 with two aims: to improve outcomes for disadvantaged learners and to narrow the attainment gap between them and their more affluent peers. You can see a clear breakdown of this funding, along with eligibility criteria, in the next section of this webpage.
As Director of Vulnerable Groups at North Walsham High School, my role is to ensure that we are doing everything we can as a school community to ‘close the gap’ between our disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students in terms of both outcomes and opportunities for social mobility. We know that all parents want to support their children so they can achieve the very best, but many don’t have the resources to do this as well as they would like.
Since I was appointed in April 2018, it has been a privilege to observe the tireless work that goes on every day to support our most vulnerable children. As of September 2018, a quarter of our entire cohort is represented by students eligible for the Pupil Premium and we are proud to be a school that strives to achieve the very best outcomes for every individual child. Our 2018 GCSE results show that we have made progress in improving outcomes for our disadvantaged students. That said, we recognise that we still have a long way to go to achieve our objectives, which are:
- To ensure that our disadvantaged students achieve the same or better outcomes as their non-disadvantaged peers from similar starting points.
- To close the gap between the outcomes of our disadvantaged students and the national benchmark for non-Pupil Premium students.
Whilst a strong set of GCSE results is the best passport to Higher Education and better jobs, we also support our disadvantaged children in many different ways that are less easy to quantify. First and foremost, we aim to teach fantastic lessons to all of our students every day. Where interventions are needed, our approach is to treat every child who comes into our care as unique. We seek bespoke approaches to allow every child to achieve his or her potential, regardless of their background.
I hope that this dedicated section of our website is useful in highlighting the specific barriers to learning for our disadvantaged students, along with the approaches we are taking to break down these barriers using the Pupil Premium funding. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or please telephone school reception and I will return your call.
I will be writing a regular blog on the latest Pupil Premium developments and the achievements of our disadvantaged students to keep you well-informed. You can find the link to this below. It will also be sent home as a newsletter. Thank you for your continued support.
Director of Vulnerable Groups
WHAT IS THE PUPIL PREMIUM?
The information below is taken directly from the Department for Education website and is perhaps the clearest summary of exactly what the Pupil Premium is and how it is allocated:
In the 2018 to 2019 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each pupil registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the last 6 years:
- £1,320 for pupils in reception to year 6
- £935 for pupils in year 7 to year 11
Schools will receive £2,300 for any pupil:identified in the January 2018 school census or the alternative provision census as having left local authority care as a result of:
- a special guardianship order
- a child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order)
- who has been in local authority care for 1 day or more
- recorded as both eligible for FSM in the last 6 years and as being looked after (or as having left local authority care)
For pupils who attract the £2,300 rate, the virtual school head of the local authority that looks after the pupil will manage the funding.
For September 2018/19, we have 184 disadvantaged students on roll and our Pupil Premium allocation is £172,040.
This is subject to change as census information updates.
In 2017/18, our allocation was £174,810
In 2016/17, our allocation was £185,745
IMPORTANT: If you believe that your child is eligible for free school meals, please complete the form in this link. This form will also be sent home in September. Please do get in touch with the school office as soon as possible if you have any concerns about this. The information you provide will be treated in the strictest confidence but may enable us to provide more for your child.
THE ATTAINMENT GAP AT NWHS
“Equity means levelling the playing field.”
– John Dunford, National Pupil Premium Champion 2013-15
We are proud of the progress we have made so far, but like the vast majority of schools across the country, we are still working hard to close gap in attainment between our students eligible for the Pupil Premium and ‘other’ students nationally (those who are non-disadvantaged). By using National Other as our benchmark, we avoid the risk of ‘narrowing the gap’ as a result of our non-disadvantaged pupils performing less well, rather than because our Pupil Premium students have performed strongly. As former National Pupil Premium Champion, John Dunford states: “school leaders must prioritise both excellence and equity – raising attainment and closing the gap.” We believe that a relentless focus on raising attainment for all of our students, both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged, will lead to greater opportunities for social mobility in the community we serve.
Whilst the attainment gap is a national issue, the table below, produced by the Education Endowment Foundation and reflecting 2016 results, shows that our region (East of England) has one of the biggest gaps in attainment between those eligible for free school meals and non-disadvantaged students.
Our regional context is important, but we also know that we are unique to any other school in Norfolk. The issues that disadvantage brings to our community here in North Walsham will be different to any other locality. It is therefore essential that we have a very clear understanding of the factors that are individual to children and families within the area so that we can identify highly specific barriers to learning and then provide bespoke interventions to eradicate these barriers, thus ‘levelling the playing field’.
The most important aspect of our work towards closing the gap at NWHS is to provide high-quality teaching and learning to all of our students every single day.
THE NATURE OF DISADVANTAGE IN OUR COMMUNITY
“The starting point for any discussion about closing the attainment gap is the community”
– Daniel Sobel, ‘Narrowing the Attainment Gap’ (2018)
We are striving to hone our understanding of the nature of disadvantage in North Walsham, as this will drive our Pupil Premium strategy moving forwards. Information will also be fed back to our school governors and senior leaders so that we are able to place this knowledge at the heart of our school improvement plan as well as our Pupil Premium strategy.
We have also identified several specific barriers to learning for disadvantaged students at North Walsham High School through dialogue with a range of stakeholders including parents, pupils, governors, outside agencies such as the Holt Youth Project and NEACO and key staff including our Attendance Officer, Inclusion Lead, SENDCO and a Pupil Premium consultant. The barriers identified so far include:
- A significant proportion of disadvantaged students demonstrate a lack of aspiration and resilience. This is attributed in part to the rural location of the school causing a lack of awareness of wider opportunities, negative perceptions of Higher Education within some families, individual mental health issues and some detrimental attitudes towards the school within the local community.
- Low levels of literacy are preventing disadvantaged pupils, particularly those with Special Educational Needs, from making good progress in English.
- Disadvantaged who join the school having achieved highly in their primary schools are making less progress when compared to their peers. This is attributed in part to a lack of engagement with school life, limited understanding of Higher Education opportunities and the need to stretch and challenge these students further in lessons.
- Some instances of negative attitudes to learning and unkind behaviour amongst both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students is having a detrimental effect on pupil progress. This is attributed in part to a lack of social awareness, movements between lessons and historic inconsistencies with behaviour management and restorative action.
- Attendance of disadvantaged students remains a priority, although improvements continue to be made.
- A minority within the wider community demonstrating negative attitudes towards the school.
HOW ARE WE ADDRESSING THESE BARRIERS?
“What works is not the right question. Everything works somewhere. Nothing works everywhere. What’s interesting is under what conditions does this work?”
– Dylan Wiliam, British Educationalist, author of ‘Inside the Black
There are three types of intervention that we deploy at NWHS:
- Those that benefit all students (universal)
- Those that benefit underperforming students
- Those that benefit disadvantaged students (Pupil Premium funding is deployed for interventions that address barriers to learning caused by disadvantage)
All three have their place and all three will be very important in the year ahead, but our ultimate goal is to create a culture at NWHS in which only approaches that benefit all students are required. We want our disadvantaged students to feel that they are on an equal footing with their peers, rather than being singled out, and that they truly belong to the NWHS community. We believe that providing consistent, quality-first teaching is the single most effective approach in raising attainment for all.
Strategies funded by the Pupil Premium this year:
We will use the funding we receive to provide a wide range of strategies, supported by clear evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation, which are detailed in our full 2018/19 Pupil Premium Strategy here. The strategy also includes a review of the PP Strategy for 17/18.
Based on expert feedback from the July 2018 National Pupil Premium Conference, we will also focus on three ‘Pupil Premium Promises’ throughout 2018-19:
- That we offer consistently good teaching and a broad, rich curriculum
- That we provide high-quality transition support (Primary and Post-16)
- That we deliver outstanding pastoral care (behaviour, attendance and parent engagement)
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
“We all know time is short for disadvantaged pupils in our schools to realise their potential, so it is more vital than ever that the decisions about using the funding are part of an effective strategy.”
– Teaching Schools Council, ‘Effective Pupil Premium Reviews’ (2018)
We have a responsibility to ensure that we get excellent value for money when using our Pupil Premium funding. It is therefore vital that we monitor and evaluate every intervention frequently and robustly. As the TSC mentions above, our time with our disadvantaged learners is limited, so if an intervention proves to be unsuccessful after a reasonable period of monitoring, it will be replaced with something else. This will prevent us from wasting such a valuable resource.
The government gives schools autonomy on how to use the Pupil Premium. John Dunford states:
“Put simply, the government gives schools the additional funding, based on their number of disadvantaged learners, and holds them to account for the impact they make with this money on the attainment and progress of these learners.”
Consequently, we recognise that we are fully accountable for how we spend our Pupil Premium funding and we will be more transparent about how we use it this year, communicating spending decisions to parents and carers via this website. We have purchased Provision Mapping software to enable us to do this effectively.
For some of our approaches, the measure of success will be either GCSE outcomes or lesson tracking data (AP data). We also monitor attendance figures including Persistent Absence, behaviour referrals and Fixed Term Exclusions. This type of evidence is known as hard data because it is easily quantifiable and will quickly give us an indication of whether an intervention funded by the Pupil Premium is working.
In other cases, we will evaluate the success of an intervention by asking for pupil, parent or staff feedback. This feedback could focus on a student’s confidence levels in a subject, self-esteem or attitude to learning. This is known as soft data because it is less easy to quantify. Nevertheless, it is just as important as ‘hard’ outcomes as we strive to develop and nurture the whole child.
WHAT STRATEGIES HAVE WORKED FOR US?
“Each school should have the freedom to develop its own solutions… There is no reason that a strategy that works in one case or in one school would necessarily work in another.”
– Daniel Sobel, ‘Narrowing the Attainment Gap’ (2018)
There is a full review of our expenditure for the previous year, including the lessons we have learned from our chosen approaches, in our Strategy document for 18/19. Below are a few examples of interventions funded by the Pupil Premium that we consider to have been successful in supporting disadvantaged students.
- Accelerated Reader for Years 7 and 8 saw students, both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged, borrowing significantly more books from the library. This has been very encouraging as we seek to improve standards of literacy across the school. Consequently, we will be re-launching Accelerated Reader across Year 7, 8 and 9 this year, with a greater focus on targeting disadvantaged students and supporting them towards becoming AR Millionaires.
- The Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, which was offered to the entire Year 9 cohort, was a real success in promoting teamwork and togetherness amongst our students for whom engagement and social skills are a barrier to learning. The vast majority of the year group took part and feedback from both students and parents was overwhelmingly positive. This will run again for 18/19, with feedback from our disadvantaged learners and their families collated carefully.
- Our Attendance Officer is responsible for monitoring the attendance of all of our students and taking appropriate action where necessary, but her impact on our disadvantaged students has been exceptional. By tracking and intervening swiftly, our Year 11 disadvantaged cohort rose from 86% attendance in January to over 90% in June. Our Year 7 Pupil Premium students had higher attendance compared to our non-disadvantaged. For 18/19, there are further plans to target persistent absence amongst our disadvantaged cohort with the launch of a Breakfast Club funded by the Pupil Premium.
- Our Inclusion team has worked tirelessly to provide support and guidance to our disadvantaged students for whom attitude and behaviour is a barrier to learning. The team has developed an exceptional knowledge of the students’ individual issues, deploying a range of strategies to improve behaviour. As a result, we now have only one year group (Year 9) in which disadvantaged students behave less well and have more Fixed Term Exclusions. This year group will be a priority in 18/19.
- Period 6 sessions were offered to Year 11 students to provide them with an extra hour of revision every week in key lessons. We wanted to give our disadvantaged students a focused environment in which to prepare for their exams. We also used Pupil Premium funding to provide transportation to those disadvantaged students who would have been unable to get home after the sessions. Many of our Year 11 pupils attended regularly and we will be monitoring and intervening with the attendance of our Pupil Premium eligible students more closely this year.
… AND WHAT STRATEGIES DIDN’T WORK?
Despite our best intentions, some of our approaches just weren’t very successful. We are keen to be as transparent as possible about this so that we learn from our mistakes and spend our Pupil Premium funding even smarter this year.
- Our Homework Club was a great opportunity for our disadvantaged students to work in a quiet and safe environment under TA supervision. But it really needed to be attended by teachers who could provide students with subject expertise. It should also have involved parents more, with frequent and positive conversations about students’ progress taking place. We will be re-launching Homework Club this year with these priorities in mind.
- We tried to launch Breakfast Club in the summer term by sending invitations to our disadvantaged persistent absentees, but the impact was negligible –very few actually turned up. We have thought about the reasons why (letters lost in bags, poor communication with kitchen team, register issues) and are working on a new re-launch this year. We will also invite our hard-to-reach parents as we try to establish more frequent lines of communication with some of our disadvantaged families.
- We enrolled a KS4 group of high prior attaining disadvantaged students on to the Brilliant Club initiative. This is an amazing project that gives students from a disadvantaged background the opportunity to experience university life and to receive one-to-one coaching from academics. However, due to unfortunate circumstances the project did not run to completion. We are re-enrolling those students this year and have also entered a KS3 cohort too.
The biggest lesson we have learned is to monitor and evaluate our approaches more frequently and robustly this year, with a relentless focus on the outcomes (both hard and soft) of our disadvantaged students. We will also publish further examples of our evaluations later in the year.
We also need to do more to establish positive relationships with some parents and carers from disadvantaged families who have in the past held negative perceptions of the school for a variety of reasons or have been hard to reach. We are committed to building these relationships as we believe it will have a significantly positive impact on our disadvantaged leaners.
Finally, we will look to be as ‘outward-facing’ as possible this year, by looking at what other schools do to support their disadvantaged students and by welcoming expertise and research from a wide range of sources. We will keep you updated on our progress regularly via this webpage and the ‘Pupil Premium @ NWHS’ blog / newsletter.
Pupil Premium Key Documents