Secrets from a Pupil Premium Award winning school: Pakeman Primary

By Sophie Waterman-Smith 

In 2013 Pakeman Primary School in Holloway, London was named National Primary School of the Year in the Pupil Premium Awards. Despite 75% of their pupils being eligible for FSM Ever 6 in 2010, 68% achieved level 4 in Maths at KS2. In 2012, this figure rose to 94%. Clearly, Pakeman are doing something right even with all odds stacked against them.

Following their success of raising attainment amongst their disadvantaged pupils, Pakeman now share their good practice with other schools through thoughtful Pupil Premium courses they host. After attending a course, Third Space Learning gained great insight and would love to share a few of their valuable strategies with you. With 6 great ideas, you will be able to make the most of your Pupil Premium funding starting right away in September.   

Where do we start?

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds often face extremely difficult life challenges at a young age. A good way that we can begin to start supporting them in school is to effectively change the mindset of your school as a whole. A key feature of a school’s community should be that aspirations and expectations of parents, staff and pupils are consistently high. We are educators, not babysitters. Disadvantaged pupils’ self-belief is often very low so as influential adults, we need to ensure we are exposing them to the idea of a growth mindset. Carol Dweck even suggests having a “failing week” at school where pupils are exposed specifically to the idea of failing before they can experience learning.

It is very easy to group pupil premium children into the same category and provide only one type of support for all. However, what they actually need is for us to identify their individual barriers, such as attendance issues or parental engagement, in order to plan specific, additional support. We have gathered 6 great ideas from Pakeman Primary School that you can try.

1. One clear whole school strategy

Firstly, make sure your school has a strong governor that supports and understands your pupil premium children; this will help support all your staff and parents as well.

Ensure your school is tackling underachievement at any level, as it is often the higher-achieving pupils that are forgotten about when they start to slip behind in class. The lower-achieving pupils are often the ones that receive most of, if not all of, the support and acknowledgement. Once you have identified the underachieving pupils, no matter their ability, plan a strategy to ensure you know:

  • WHAT needs to change

  • HOW it needs to change

  • FOLLOW UP with observations, feedback and check ups

Tip! Make sure you know what Ofsted has reported for your school’s Pupil Premium provision and use this feedback to develop your strategies. Build on any success you may have had using SMART targets for your next year of recording.

2. Parents rule

Firstly, for parental involvement to be successful, a school needs to know the individual reasons as to why certain parents do not engage with the school. Your staff need to understand why this interaction is important and why engaged parents are a key feature of a school’s community. Parental engagement is also crucial for school improvement.

Pakeman suggests that parental engagement should be linked to performance management and that there needs to be a key coordinator for parental engagement. They also suggest that the school environment should be audited, for instance to include clear signs for parents around the school.

One of the hardest aspects of parental engagement is persuading parents to visit the school in person and persistence is needed in accomplishing this. In order to persuade parents to come into the school, personal invitations can be sent out. The children should be the heart of the conversations. Try not to mention the key subjects of Maths and English, as this can help avoid anxiety. A parental event should be engaging for all involved. Why not invite the parents to come and watch their kids in lesson for 30 minutes at the end of a school day?

Once you have persuaded a parent to attend a meeting, do not shy away from the truth. Show the parents their child’s work in comparison with other age appropriate pieces of work. Try to speak about their life chances, show the effect of interventions on their child and provide individual advice. It is also important to use these points of contact to build personal relationships with parents and support them as well as their children. This can be in regards to traumatic circumstances or developing their skills, for example by offering Maths/English lessons to them.

3. A case study to demonstrate impact

Mentioning a case study in your Pupil Premium documents that is specifically on one of your pupils can demonstrate success. This can pinpoint exactly where your interventions are being successfully implemented and can demonstrate the impact of pupil premium funding. However, it can also outline why a pupil did not meet your school’s expectations. This allows your school to be accountable for pupil premium but also transparent.

4. Learning outside the classroom

Pakeman Primary have dedicated Team Leads who are more experienced teachers and are non-classroom based. These Team Leads ensure consistent teaching is happening, develop the quality of teaching in the school, deliver interventions and share good practice. A really useful task is that they have the ability to supply teach, which can save the school thousands of pounds per year. Day to day teaching has the most impact on pupils’ progress so these roles are vital to ensuring continuation and development of good teaching.

5. How do your interventions measure up?

Intervention strategies are often not chosen carefully enough, followed through properly and not time sensitive. In order to be effective, interventions should be:

  • Targeted

  • Regular

  • Fit for purpose

  • Support pupils of all abilities

There should also be clear objectives, a system for monitoring and reporting on the quality of interventions with a clear and transparent rationale for implementing these improvements.

Interventions should be matched to individual pupils and attendance should be monitored, as this can be a major downfall for expensive interventions. Think carefully about when you want the interventions to take place as for when you don’t want. For instance, numeracy and literacy interventions clash with numeracy and literacy lessons; the only exception for this may be for one-to-one tuition as pupils can gain a lot from this so the gain is greater than the loss of lesson time.

6. Saturday learning

Pakeman Primary made the decision to run two Saturday schools. These days provide one-to-one tuition which fills learning gaps and accelerates progress. Pupils are often taken on trips and the programme Shine is utilised to focus on creative learning and experiencing numeracy and literacy. Pakeman’s staff members have been happy to help out and it does help if you can have consistent staff members attending each week.

There is no “best way” for all schools to spend their pupil premium funding. Instead this must be evaluated on an individual basis which takes into account school data, a balance of provisions and most importantly, individual pupil needs.

Some extra tips...

A strategic and clear approach to pupil premium should be embedded within the school and furthermore should be consistent across the school community. Ensure you know what your school’s pupil premium documents say on your website. Why not carry out a mock Ofted visit to see where your school can improve interventions and approaches for pupil premium pupils? Pakeman Primary School have taken control of their school strategy for pupil premium and have demonstrated that not all pupil premium support has to be costly.


Get the most out of your Pupil Premium budget

There is no “best way” for all schools to spend their pupil premium funding. Instead this must be evaluated on an individual basis which takes into account school data, a balance of provisions and most importantly, individual pupil needs.

For more recommendations and guidance read our free Primary School Pupil Premium Guide which includes 9 most effective interventions, OFSTED checklist and a 15 point success plan. The guide covers a range of approaches to support children with differing needs and is essential for making any budget decisions.


 

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