Pupil Premium and SEND: learning without labels
Learning without labels
by Unity Research School
The limited opening of schools will disproportionately impact on our most disadvantaged pupils, meaning they fall even further behind their more fortunate peers. The pandemic will have placed significant pressures on families. Issues around resources, lost learning time, peer relationships, relationships with teachers, talk, subject knowledge, curriculum breadth, structure, routine, social and emotional / mental health and physical wellbeing may have been impacted.
These issues are in addition to challenges schools were already trying to overcome with the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, with mixed results.
Dr Dan Nicholls has produced a sobering list of reasons the disadvantaged gap is widening during the pandemic in his (excellent) recent blog:
These issues are not exclusive to pupils with a particular label
Our goal is to negate the worst effects of school closures on the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. The predictions are dire. The longer schools are closed, the more catastrophic the impact. We need to avoid our disadvantaged pupils being the canaries down the coalmine; we mustn’t accept that this will happen. We need to ‘Upstream’ – to solve the problem now, as explained here in Dan Heath’s article focussing on preventing teen substance abuse in Reykjavík, Iceland.
The issues are arguably not too difficult to bluntly anticipate. What we do about them is more challenging:
Staff retention and wellbeing are vital.
In terms of any ‘unused’ Pupil Premium: schools should feel free to use their autonomy to create local solutions for disadvantaged pupils in these unprecedented times.
If funds have been allocated to an activity, but cannot now be spent, it’s entirely legitimate to re-purpose them towards activity that will support disadvantaged pupils at home. This is wholly appropriate and in line with the conditions of grant.
In terms of evaluating last year’s strategy, schools can’t evaluate what didn’t happen. Rather, be realistic about what has been achieved. Don’t be afraid to say ‘we didn’t achieve what we set out to do…’.
Evaluation is finding out whether something has worked, and why, it isn’t about proving. Build on plans for the current academic year into 2020 – 21. This is a strength in a plan, not a weakness.
As ever, this blog is a synthesis of discussions with lots of clever people, not my own ideas. In particular, thanks to Caroline Spalding, Jonathan Bell, Sam Strickland, Nicola Shipman, Charlotte Bowyer, Shaun Allison and Chris Runeckles.
The limited opening of schools will disproportionately impact on our most disadvantaged pupils, meaning they fall even further behind their more fortunate peers.
Learning without labels
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