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Research School Network: Writing Your Pupil Premium Strategy Pupil premium expert Marc Rowland talks us through the new DfE PP strategy document


Writing Your Pupil Premium Strategy

Pupil premium expert Marc Rowland talks us through the new DfE PP strategy document

by Durrington Research School
on the

The new DfE Pupil Premium strategy template aims to provide a much more purposeful approach to accountability. The template is about communicating to internal and external stakeholders, including families, advisers and inspectors. But it should be far more than filling out the form’. Rather, individual sections should follow a logic model approach, in line with the Research School programme making the difference for disadvantaged pupils’. This article will walk school leaders, and those responsible for Pupil Premium through some key reflection points to consider when completing the document, using a worked example.

NB – using the new template is compulsory, in line with the Pupil Premium conditions of grant for 2021 – 22. But that does not mean schools should abandon their correct strategies if they are proving to be promising or effective.

At the risk of stating the obvious, what we publish on our school website does not address the entrenched issue of educational disadvantage. But the structures and systems we put in place at a strategic level provide the environments for teachers and pupils to thrive together in the classroom. It is in the classroom where we address educational disadvantage. That’s where we have the greatest level of influence.

My hope is that the template, and this article will help school leaders to ask good questions in planning, implementing and evaluating their approach.

The most effective strategies focus on:

- Having the highest of expectations of all pupils, irrespective of background. Remembering that disadvantaged pupils don’t lack talent or ability, but can lack opportunity. Prior attainment should not set limits on our ambitions for pupils.

- A culture of collective responsibility for disadvantaged pupils, including governance, senior leadership, subject leadership, phase leadership, the classroom (where we really make the difference) and pastoral care.

- A strategy rooted in assessment, not assumptions of disadvantaged pupils.

- A strategy rooted in addressing the controllable factors that are preventing disadvantaged pupils from attaining as well as their could.

- A learning led approach, not a label led approach. Pupils are not at risk of underachievement because they are Pupil premium’ or any other label, but because of the impact of socio economic disadvantage on their learning over time. This is a long term process, not an event.

- A culture of early intervention for addressing need, using an evidence informed, tiered model of teaching and learning, academic intervention and wider approaches. Remembering that strategies to address disadvantage stand or fall on how well pupils learn to read. If pupils struggle to read at home, how well we do this in school matters more than ever. Language and social interaction are at the heart of an effective strategy.

- Avoiding over intervention’ and recognise the importance of curriculum equity. A narrow curriculum risks double disadvantage and the Matthew effect in action.

- Teacher voice / agency in developing the strategy is vital.

- Effective strategies give teachers and support staff the capacity, knowledge, expertise and support disadvantaged pupils to experience success in challenging learning over time. Addressing disadvantage is not about big, one off interventions. Every interaction matters, the quality of what we do is critical.

- Avoiding trying to do too many things at once / trying to solve all of societies’ problems. A strong focus on implementation. The disadvantage strategy should be the wider school improvement strategy through the lens of disadvantaged pupils and families.

- A clear process and impact evaluation framework, not linked to accountability. Not trying to prove that things are successful, but trying to understand whether it is working / has worked.

- Evaluation frameworks are put in place at the start of the strategy.

Marc Rowland

Marc and Shaun Allison will be leading a training programme on this topic, this year. Details here.

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