Guiding Pupils to Work Scientifically: A Seven-Step Approach
Our latest blog by Becky Grimshaw
by Manchester Communication Research School
Becky Grimshaw- Assistant Director of Research School at Manchester Communication Academy Research School explains how to revise and renew your pupil premium strategy for the upcoming school year.
These are a series of blogs designed to guide leaders who are new to writing and reviewing a pupil premium strategy to ensure that it is used as an evidence-informed approach for closing the poverty-related attainment gap. These may also be beneficial to those wishing to refresh their knowledge whilst updating and refining their strategies for the new year. Since April 2021, the government guidance on the pupil premium grant has been to implement a longer three-year strategy to address the challenges that are common for disadvantaged students, a condition of the grant is ‘reviewing and renewing’ your strategy each year.
If you are new to pupil premium, the first step to take is to review the strategy that is currently in place. There is no requirement to start a brand-new strategy if a three-year one is in place but the ‘review and renew’ process is key to ensuring pupil premium strategy plans remain up to date and have the desired impact on attainment.
What is the purpose of the initial review?
If we think about a strategy once it is underway it can be incredibly tricky to evaluate but with the changing nature of the role of ‘Pupil Premium Lead’ which is usually tagged on to an addition role like Vice Principal; if you are picking it up for the first time the ‘afterward’ review cannot always be helped.
The aim of reviewing your strategy is not to prove the success of strategies in place but to see if things are working as intended e.g., is the practice of teachers improving, is attainment of disadvantaged students improving, is attendance getting better? And why have they got better? Which bits worked? This will help you to consider what your next steps are.
What might you consider when completing the initial review?
Our review of pupil premium strategies should focus on successful processes we have implemented, as well as outcomes we can see in the data. The processes we use are crucial for ensuring that disadvantaged students are successful in the classroom and in improving their attainment.
Start with your intent statement. ‘Consider the barriers your disadvantaged students are facing. No two schools will be the same’ (Rowland, 2015, p.100). Reflecting on the intent statement does this have high expectations and ambitious outcomes for disadvantaged students in your school context?
Are your challenges and desired outcomes correct?
Ongoing fluctuations in pupil numbers and the impact of COVID may mean your disadvantaged needs have changed. Are they
ambitious enough and reflect the intent of your strategy? What do your activities look like? Questions to be thinking about here could be: Are you
seeing the behaviour change you desire? Is the strategy reaching who you wanted it to reach? Is it time to scale up the strategy? Does it need a strategic tweak? Are you still supporting this, or does it need stopping?
When looking at the research section it may be that you consider whether the evidence is robust enough to use. This section is there to help us make the right decision on the strategy we are going to use. i.e., are we being evidence-informed? This section can quickly become out of date. The EFF has many evidence reviews that have been published from ‘Attendance Interventions’ to ‘Behaviour’, these can be accessed here. We are aiming that a pupil premium strategy will drive and support your school’s improvement plan this requires it to be a live, active document, and not something that is only addressed every 12 months. An effective review at this point can lead to better use of resources and ultimately better outcomes for our disadvantaged students. If you are interested in how to write ‘section B – reviewing last year’s activities’, see part 2 of this series of blogs ‘Reviewing and renewing your pupil premium strategy: what might this look like?’
‘The outcome of your evaluation will inform your decision on whether to sustain or stop each activity.’(3. DfE, 2023)
1. DfE. (2023) Pupil premium: allocations and conditions of grant 2023 – 24. Available
2. Rowland. (2015) An Updated Practical Guide to The Pupil Premium. p100
3. DfE. (2023) Using pupil premium: guidance for school leaders. Available from here
Our latest blog by Becky Grimshaw
By Susan Fraser. Director of Manchester Communication Research School
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