Last week I attended The Pupil Premium and Ofsted Conference, with the aim of ensuring that we are as up to date on how the pupil premium can be used most effectively. Here is my conference report;
Sir John Dunford started the conference last week by declaring that one can never ensure anything, so he’d like to change the name of the conference. This made me a little unsure of what I had signed up to.
“A girl from that estate is never going to go far” should be a disciplinary offence
Sir John, who had started being referred to as Saint John by the afternoon, outlined the need for a whole school ethos. “A girl from that estate is never going to go far,” should be a disciplinary offence, John declared. How often have we heard, “well with a family like that, what else would you expect?!”
High expectations of every pupil are the only way every pupil is going to succeed. Understanding the difference between equality and equity is paramount; this means we need to do more for some youngsters than for others. “There is no such thing as a typical pupil premium child,” announced John.
What will Ofsted say?
We are always worried about what Ofsted will say. That’s the nature of the education system at the moment. ‘Saint John’ made the point, several times, that we must focus on pupil premium children for the sake of the children, not to tick a box. For some children, school and their teachers are providing the only chance they have to succeed, and their only opportunities to experience the wider world.
Each school should have someone, preferably on the leadership team, who has responsibility for pupil premium. Saint John is the governor with that responsibility at his local village school. I’d like to have seen the Ofsted inspector’s face when she asked the school about pupil premium and then recieved a grilling from the Pupil Premium Oracle himself!
Pupil premium strategies
A number of strategies for supporting pupil premium children were outlined at the conference. These ranged from buying laptops and having broadband installed into children’s homes, to employing a Counsellor, or subsidised school trips.
The National Trust has produced a list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ and John described schools who have taken this list, adapted it for their own context, using pupil premium funding to promote these activities. It was refreshing to see strategies that would support all subjects, not just English and Maths.
Sir John emphasized time and time again that there is simply was no substitute for quality first teaching. This supports the findings of the Sutton Trust Education Endowment Trust who have produced a Teaching and Learning Toolkit. The toolkit summarises educational research about improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. This document is essential for anyone involved in pupil premium. In fact, I would recommend that every teacher has, at the very least, a quick look at the Evidence and Data chart, which outlines the effectiveness of different interventions to support pupil premium children. If I had known about this when I was in the classroom, I believe I would have been in a better position to support those pupil premium children I worked with.
Pupil premium: effective interventions
The most effective two interventions, according to the toolkit, are feedback, and meta-cognition and self-regulation. Does this mean sort out our marking policy and meta what?! Meta-cognition is basically about learning how to learn. It is about teaching children strategies that can help them to succeed in school. Feedback, as any good teacher will tell you, is not simply about marking; feedback is much more than that. It is sitting down and talking to children, it is letting them know that you care about their progress and well-being.
In addition to the toolkit, I would recommend that all senior leaders read through John Dunford’s ten point plan for spending the pupil premium successfully.
Teachers looking for further support on getting the most out of the pupil premium should also consider;