What is Pupil Premium?
Pupil Premium is the funding that schools receive to improve education for students that are at a disadvantage. Students that may receive this funding are often eligible for Free School Meals or have been in care for at least 1 day. Evidence suggests that Students in these circumstances often face additional challenges academically and therefore underperform in comparison to their peers; Pupil Premium aims to bridge that gap, allowing education to become fairer for all.
How should schools use the funding?
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) offers an extensive guide they highly recommend schools use. This acts as a useful resource to allow schools to take advantage of their Pupil Premium Funding, and ultimately make the most of education for disadvantaged students. Covid-19 has led to disadvantaged students falling further behind, and it’s vital that schools now, more than ever, use everything possible to help bridge the attainment gap students are currently facing.
It’s often believed that Pupil Premium should only be focused on disadvantaged students. While being a common belief, this is not true. Often, strategies implemented within a school will benefit many students. For example, improving the quality of teaching will benefit all the students that attend the school, including those at a disadvantage.
The tiered approach:
As mentioned previously, the EEF offers plenty of support when it comes to funding with Pupil Premium. The tiered approach aims to support all aspects of educational institutions. The first, and more obvious, tier is to improve the quality of teaching; pupil premium doesn’t have to focus solely on students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, therefore, taking a general approach to the quality of teaching can have a plethora of advantages within the school. The other tiers are also important; they involve targeted academic support and wider strategies. These are both key components in allowing teachers and other interventions to work together both internally and externally. This allows a wide range of support to help increase the likelihood of a disadvantaged student improving both academically and personally.
The 4-Step Approach:
The EEF also offers a 4-step approach to how to best use Pupil Premium.
Step 1 is the diagnosis of pupils. This is arguably one of the most vital steps; it will allow schools to gain an overview of what the student is struggling with, factors that may be impacting them and how much of an attainment gap there is. This can be done in multiple ways, such as using attendance and absence data, teacher feedback, behaviour incidents, etc.
Step 2 is collecting strong evidence. By this, the EEF means using previous evidence of similar cases to the student(s) they are dealing with. This involves looking at past cases that have been successful and using them as a baseline to create a plan for the next year’s students.
Step 3 involves implementing the strategy successfully. The plan needs to be in line with other developmental plans within the school and requires a carefully staged process that takes time. Schools should regularly review their strategy to ensure effective implementation by asking questions such as “How have we successfully addressed similar challenges and needs of disadvantaged pupils in the past?” or “Are there any activities that you should stop doing, either because they are not working, or because their impact is weaker than you believe new approaches may be?”
Finally, Step 4 is to simply monitor and evaluate the strategy. Pupil Premium requires constant re-assessments to make sure the students are receiving the most benefits to improve their education. Schools should consider what the new data will be showing them, if additional training/follow-on support is necessary and how to remain flexible and adaptable as a leader during any future emerging challenges.
How to analyse the evidence:
A key part of Pupil Premium is to use evidence within the educational institution to act as a baseline for future generations. There should be a focus on relevant research; it’s more reliable to use research that has involved many schools and a large number of students. In addition to this, the research should involve a comparison of an intervention scenario and a non-intervention scenario to deduce if it has been effective. To create more validity, researchers should be external and therefore unbiased. All of these factors will allow schools to create more effective strategic plans for disadvantaged pupils.
There are many ways schools can use Pupil Premium to benefit disadvantaged students and the institution as a whole. For example, as an NTP-approved partner, Greenhouse Learning can act as an effective intervention to allow students to catch up with their fellow peers. This is just one of many solutions that schools can implement.