Research School Network: How can we secure Pupil Premium strategy success?

How can we secure Pupil Premium strategy success?

by Research Schools Network
on the

Change in education is easy to propose, hard to implement, and extraordinarily difficult to sustain

Hargreaves and Fink (2006) ‘Sustainable Leadership’

School improvement is really difficult. Making one change and sustaining it proves a challenge, regardless of our best laid plans. And so, trying to plan and enact a strategy to support our most disadvantaged pupils, which ultimately involves a multi-faceted challenge, can prove hard to implement and extraordinarily difficult to sustain. 

Since 2011, schools have been expected to plan, publish and enact their Pupil Premium strategy. The strategy has helped zero-in on disadvantaged pupils, but myths and unintended consequences have also reared their ugly heads in some cases. From excessive strategy documents to extra tasks for teachers, not every school has exercised successful strategies when it comes to the Premium. 

Driven by a new prospective DfE strategy document, alongside updated OFSTED guidance (including OFSTED not requiring any additional data other than the strategy document, as well the recommendation to avoid unnecessary additional tracking of Premium pupils) schools plans will be undergoing changes. It is therefore timely to reflect, and clarify, our planning. 

Pupil Premium strategies

In June 2019, we published our EEF Guide to the Pupil Premium for schools. This short document offered helpful heuristic for schools to plan their strategy, including the tiered approach to Premium spending’:


The EEF guide also helpfully draws upon useful case studies from schools whose outcomes for disadvantaged pupils are excellent and sustained. You can see from the following examples that this tiered model offers a useable template to cohere our plans in a visible, accessible format. 

See this example from Dixons Kings Academy – a highly successful secondary school in Bradford:

Dixons Kings Pupil Premium Chart

Secondly, you can see this primary school example from the equally successful Ash Grove Academy, in Macclesfield:

Ash Grove Pupil Premium Chart

By honing in on this accessible triumvirate of 1. Teaching; 2. Targeted academic Support and 3. Wider Strategies, we can focus our efforts and enact a coherent plan. Success for our disadvantaged pupils will prove a challenge, but one worth prioritising. 

Look out for the imminent Department for Education strategy document and also ensure that you follow the Research Schools in your region, many of whom will be undertaking evidence-informed training programmes on Making the Difference for Disadvantaged Pupils’ in the coming academic year. 

Related reading:

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