How to spend your 2017 pupil premium funding: 35 ways to close the attainment gap at primary school
35 tested strategies for how to spend your 2017 pupil premium funding effectively at primary school; includes advice from pupil premium award-winner Pakeman Primary School and other successful schools and Ofsted's recommendations.
Pupil premium funding 2017
Pupil premium funding was introduced in 2011 to help schools to close the attainment gap between children from different socio-economic backgrounds. The sums of money paid to schools vary depending on whether the school is primary or secondary and which category the pupil comes under. The standard rate of Pupil premium 2016/2017 funding for primary schools is £1,320 for every qualifying pupil in reception year to Year 6. The higher rate for primary school pupils (generally referred to as pupil premium plus) is often dependent on whether a pupil has spent time in local authority care and is £1,900.
Pupils who qualify for pupil premium are:
eligible for free school meals or have been eligible in the previous six years
children who have been looked after, or are covered by a guardianship or residency order
have been adopted from care
have a parent serving in the armed forces
Here we review the best of the information available on how to spend most effectively your pupil premium at primary school, particularly at Key Stage 2. It includes a 15-point success plan, pupil premium intervention ideas and an Ofsted checklist to ensure you’re implementing pupil premium effectively with the evidence to back it up. There is a bonus section on pupil premium plus pupils and how to effectively support these children while staying within your budget. We hope the information provides headteachers and school leaders with some clear guidelines to use when mapping out your own pupil premium for 2017.
Download our free Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium, an easy to print version of this blog post for heads, SLT and other members in your school community.
Accountability for Ofsted
For many schools, because of the area they serve, pupil premium spending forms a sizeable chunk of the overall school budget. Schools are held accountable for how they spend their funding, partly through the Ofsted inspection process. Although inspectors won’t judge a school on how it spends the funding, it will want to see that the money is being used on strategies and initiatives that are effective, and that the school’s leadership is monitoring and managing this spending well.
What an effective use of the pupil premium looks like can be difficult to gauge. What works in one school, or with one set of pupils, may not necessarily work with another. It can be challenging for heads and teachers to decide which strategies to use for the speediest results. Sometimes these initiatives take time to show results even if, in the long run, they prove to be successful.
Your 15-point pupil premium success plan
Sir John Dunford, the former National Pupil Premium Champion, spent two years examining what works best after speaking to schools, addressing conferences and acting as a channel of communication between the Department for Education and schools. He noted that the most successful schools used a range of strategies that were targeted to the needs of individual pupils rather than sticking with one or two.
Sir John said: “In future, it will be up to regional school commissioners, local authorities, multi-academy trusts and school alliances to keep the pupil premium cause at the top of their list of priorities. The social, moral and educational case for giving additional support to children born less fortunate than others remains as strong as ever. Every school needs a Pupil Premium Champion.”
Case Study: Pakeman Primary School, National Pupil Premium Award Winner 2013
10 most effective pupil premium strategies for primary schools
But which pupil premium interventions deliver impact? Of course each school will be different but thanks to the work from The Educational Endowment Foundation and the Sutton Trust on their Teaching and Learning Toolkit we now have some fairly robust evidence of effectiveness. They monitor the best practice reported by schools and have produced a Teaching and Learning Toolkit for schools which is regularly updated. This lists 10 strategies most commonly used by primaries and secondaries, how cost-efficient these are and how much progress learners make over a 12-month period with their use.
Keep an eye on the EEF website as reports of trials are added often. One of the most recent for example is on breakfast clubs. It has been found that breakfast clubs that offer pupils in primary schools a free and nutritious meal before school can boost their reading, writing and Maths results by the equivalent of two months’ progress over the course of a year – and for very little cost.
Among the most successful approaches are the following:
1. Homework (primary)
Progress: +2 months
Homework is a task given to pupils by their teachers to be completed outside of usual lessons. Research suggests that primary schools that set homework are more successful but it is not clear that homework is the reason why. At the primary level, the quality of the task set seems to be more important than the quantity of work required from the pupil.
2. Small group tuition
Progress: +4 months
Small group tuition involves a teacher working with up to five pupils, usually on their own in a separate classroom or working area. This intensive tuition approach is often provided to support lower attaining learners or those who are falling behind. It can also be used as a more general strategy to ensure effective progress, or to teach challenging topics or skills.
3. Mastery learning
Progress: +5 months
Mastery learning involves breaking down subject matter and learning content into units with clearly specified objectives which are pursued until they are achieved. Learners work through each block of content in a series of sequential steps and must achieve a level of success, measured through testing, before progressing to new content. Students who do not reach the required level are typically provided with additional tuition, peer support, small group discussions, or homework so that they can reach the expected level.
4. Oral language intervention
Progress: +5 months
Oral language interventions emphasise spoken language and verbal interaction in the classroom so that learners benefit from explicit discussion of content or the processes of learning, or both. Approaches include: targeted reading aloud and discussing books with young children, explicitly extending pupils’ spoken vocabulary and the use of structured questioning to develop reading comprehension.
5. Peer tutoring
Progress: +5 months
Peer tutoring involves a range of approaches where pupils work in pairs or small groups to offer each other support. In cross-age tutoring, for example, an older learner takes the tutoring role and is paired with a younger tutee or tutees. In reciprocal peer tutoring, meanwhile, learners alternate between the role of tutor and tutee. The common characteristic of these approaches is that learners take on responsibility for aspects of teaching and evaluating their success.
6. Reading comprehension strategies
Progress: +5 months
These strategies aim to improve reading by focusing on the understanding of text and may involve a number of techniques. These include inferring the meaning from context; summarising or identifying key points; using graphic or semantic organisers; using questioning strategies; and learners monitoring their own comprehension and identifying difficulties themselves. Research has found it is particularly effective with children aged 8+ who are lagging behind with their reading.
7. One-to-one tuition
Progress: +5 months
One-to-one tuition is where a teacher, teaching assistant or other adult gives a pupil intensive individual support. This is often undertaken outside of normal lesson, though pupils have also been withdrawn from class for extra, specific teaching. Research suggests that short, regular sessions of about 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week over a set period of time, such as 6-12 week, appear to result in optimum impact. Evidence also suggests tuition should be additional to, but explicitly linked with, normal teaching.
8. Collaborative learning
Progress: +5 months
Collaborative or cooperative learning involves teachers setting tasks or activities where students work together in a small group and each participant has an equal opportunity to contribute. This can be either a joint task where group members do different aspects of the task but contribute to a common overall outcome, or a shared task where group members work together throughout the activity. The most effective approaches are those which promote interaction between group members.
Progress: +8 months
Feedback is information given to the learner or teacher about the learner’s performance relative to learning goals or outcomes. Its aim is to improve student learning by redirecting or refocusing the teacher’s or learner’s actions to achieve a goal. Feedback can be verbal or written, or can be given through tests.
10. Meta-cognition and self-regulation
Progress: +8 months
Meta-cognition and self-regulation are sometimes known as ‘learning to learn’ and are intended to help pupils think, more explicitly, about their own learning. This is achieved by teaching them a variety of specific strategies to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own academic development. Self-regulation relies on the learner managing their own motivation towards learning.
Your 4-step pupil premium checklist for Ofsted
Given that effective use of pupil premium funding is now part of the Ofsted accountability process, inspectors will require schools to produce relevant evidence of how pupils are progressing. These are the key recommendations.
The effectiveness of the school’s leadership and management will be judged on how well they use the funding, and measure the impact on pupil outcomes. As part of their role, governors are expected to show that they have challenged the senior leadership team on the variations in achievement between different groups, and what they are doing to address these. How effectively they have provided this challenge may ultimately affect what grade the inspectors give for leadership and management. Inspectors can call for an external review of the school’s pupil premium spending if they identify specific issues relating to the provision and outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
Look beyond attainment with pupil premium plus
Given the complex and multiple needs that pupil premium plus pupils who have been under local authority care may have, there are different considerations for schools looking at how best to improve pupil premium plus outcomes with pupil premium budget. In some cases this will mean looking further than just academic attainment.
In particular children can struggle with:
- Attachment relationships with adults
- Managing their peer relationships
- Managing their feelings and behaviour
- Coping with transitions
- Developing their executive functioning skills
PAC-UK is a great source of advice on spending pupil premium plus. Many of their suggestions do not cost much if any money, but the key to all is ensuring that parents and guardians are regularly consulted and engaged with. If the children are still within the care of the local authority many of these recommendations may also form part of their Personal Education Plan (PEP) and will be supported by the local authority virtual school:
How will you use your pupil premium in 2017?
We hope the information provided has given you a clearer idea on the pupil premium interventions that will have the biggest impact to help you make the best decisions with your budget for 2017. We'd love to know how you've been using your funding and what you've found to be most effective in closing the social attainment gap.
Don't forget, if you'd like a printable version to share at school you can download the complete Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium to help with budget decisions, reporting and accountability.
Related free resources and blog posts
Free Resource: Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium