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Since 2013, we’ve boosted maths progress in 80,000+ pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium through one to one tutoring

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Support for pupils that need it most

Since 2013, we’ve boosted maths progress in 80,000+ pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium through one to one tutoring

Find out more

45 Pupil Premium Strategies For Cost Effective Impact In Primary Schools (2023)

In this article, we summarise the best of the research into the pupil premium strategies that work, much of it from the EEF Toolkit as well as from former pupil premium award winners to bring you what we believe are the best pupil premium strategies that primary school leaders should be looking at. 

For many primary schools, because of the area they serve, pupil premium funding forms a sizeable chunk of the overall school budget. Schools are held accountable for how they spend their pupil premium so need to make sure that any pupil premium strategies or interventions they introduce are as effective as possible. The sweet spot is of course free or very low-cost pupil premium interventions that are also highly effective.

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Advice from Ofsted and national pupil premium award-winning school Pakeman Primary on strategies that make the most impact on pupil outcomes

What Is Pupil Premium 2023?

For the 2022/23 academic year, the standard rate of Pupil Premium funding for primary schools in 2023 will be £1,385 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 £2,410. At secondary in 2023, the Pupil Premium funding will be £985 but this article is principally concerned with the impact of Pupil Premium interventions on primary school pupils.

Pupil Premium is increasing by 5% for the 2023/24 academic year. It will be £1,455 for every primary pupil and £1,035 for every secondary pupil. The higher rate will be £2,530.

Read more: Pupil Premium Funding

Tutoring Funding Summary: Downloadable guide for SLT

Tutoring Funding Calculator – see exactly how much funding your school will receive in 2023/24:

Who Is Entitled To Pupil Premium And What Qualifies For The Funding? 

Pupil Premium eligibility in 2023 is restricted to children who

  • are eligible for free school meals or have been eligible in the previous six years;
  • 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.

How To Spend Your Pupil Premium Most Effectively At Primary

In this post we review the best and latest 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 2022/23.

For more information about Pupil Premium funding, read our Guide to Pupil Premium.

Accountability To Ofsted Of Pupil Premium Spend

Although Ofsted inspectors won’t judge a school on how it spends the funding, it will want to see that the money is being used on Pupil Premium 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 or Pupil Premium intervention ideas take time to show results even if, in the long run, they prove to be successful.

Read more: Ofsted & Pupil Premium Accountability

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Advice from Ofsted and national pupil premium award-winning school Pakeman Primary on strategies that make the most impact on pupil outcomes

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.

The most successful schools:

1. Collected and analysed data on groups and individual pupils, and monitored this over time
2. Focused on teaching quality
3. Identified the main barriers to learning for disadvantaged children
4. Put interventions in place when progress has slowed
5. Engaged with parents and carers in the education of their child
6. Referred to existing evidence about the effectiveness of different strategies
7. Trained all classroom staff in the strategies being used in school
8. Secured staff commitment to the importance of the pupil premium agenda
9. Trained governors on pupil premium

In deciding which policies to use, heads and teachers needed to:
Decide what the school wants to achieve with Pupil Premium funding
11. Analyse the barriers to learning before deciding what strategies to use
12. Decide on desired outcomes and identify success criteria for each
13. Monitor and evaluate the impact of any current strategies on pupils; change them if they’re not working
14. Decide on an optimum range of approaches to use
15. Keep up to date with research

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

It comes as no surprise to Lynne Gavin that one-to one tuition has been identified as one of the most effective means of using Pupil Premium funding. In her own school Pakeman Primary School in Islington, north London, nearly 50 Year 6 pupils have been targeted for such individual teaching in Mathematics, using expert tutors from Third Space Learning, paid for with Pupil Premium funding. If you’re interested in Pakeman Primary’s secrets, have a read of the strategies they used when they won the Pupil Premium Awards 2013.

“We identified children who had specific gaps to enable them to make accelerated progress,” Ms Gavin, the headteacher of Pakeman, said. “The pupils enjoy it because not only is it one-to-one learning, which helps to build their self-esteem and confidence as well as plug those gaps in knowledge, but it is done using technology, which they love and feel comfortable with.”

Currently about 77% of pupils at Pakeman are eligible for free school meals and receive pupil premium funding. This has dropped from 86% three years ago as government benefit cuts have redefined poverty. “If anything, the poverty levels in the school are higher now than then, so offering pupils support such as individual tuition is incredibly important,” she said.

In 2013, Pakeman was the national primary winner in the Pupil Premium Awards for raising the attainment of its disadvantaged children using a host of strategies and approaches. Ms Gavin is thrilled with the impact the interactive one-to-one tutorials are having on her pupils.

“Third Space Learning knows how to tailor the learning to meet the needs of each child. The tutors are in India [and Sri Lanka] so the children love the fact they can interact with people so far away, it broadens their experience of life generally,” Ms Gavin added. “We have been thrilled with the impact for Pupil Premium that this one-to-one tuition has had on the pupils.”

The one to one tutoring that Pakeman Primary first gave their pupils in 2013 has now supported roughly 60,000 pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium funding to improve their maths outcomes. Request a quote now to find out how it could work for your pupils.

Check That Your Pupil Premium Interventions Deliver Impact

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.

20 Most Effective Pupil Premium Strategies For Primary Schools

1) Feedback

Cost: Low
Progress: +8 months
Feedback is information given to the pupil 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.

Read more: How Diagnostic Assessment Improves Our Maths Teaching

2) Metacognition and self-regulation

Cost: Low
Progress: +8 months
Metacognition 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.

Read more: What Metacognition Looks Like in A Primary Maths Classroom

3) Reading comprehension strategies

Cost: Low
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.

4) Mastery learning

Cost: Low
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.

Read this: Maths Mastery Toolkit: A Practical Guide To Mastery Teaching And Learning

5) Collaborative learning

Cost: Low
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.

6) Early years interventions

Cost: Very high
Progress: +5 months
These aim to ensure that children have the educational pre-school or nursery experiences that prepare them for the rest of their school lives. These include multi-component programmes of provision and focus on disadvantaged children. Some also offer parental support. To be effective, well-qualified and well-trained staff are essential, these interventions take place over a longer period (more than a year) and include a mixture of children from different social backgrounds, as well as a strong educational component. 

7) One-to-one tuition

Cost: High
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.

Example lesson slide from Third Space Learning with questions on multiplying decimals
An example lessons slide from Third Space Learning’s online, one-to-one maths interventions.

Read this: KS2 Maths Interventions Using Personalised One To One Tuition

8) Oral language interventions

Cost: Low
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.

9) Peer tutoring

Cost: Low
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.

10) Phonics

Cost: Very low
Progress: +4 months
Phonics is an approach to the teaching of reading which develops learners’ phonemic awareness. It aims to teach learners the relationship between sounds and the spelling patterns (or graphemes) which represent them and to sound them out by combining or blending. It is particularly beneficial to 4-7-year-olds and requires highly qualified teachers. Phonics teaching needs to be considered within the context of all aspects of reading, including vocabulary, comprehension and spelling. 

11) Outdoor Adventure Learning

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +4 months
Adventure learning typically involves outdoor experiences such as climbing and assault courses, or outdoor sports such as sailing and canoeing. They usually do not include a formal academic element although studies show these interventions have positive benefits on learning, particularly for more vulnerable students and teenagers. They require the contributions of well-trained and well-qualified staff and appear to be most effective when they are longer in duration, such a week. They can have positive impacts on self-confidence, self-efficacy and motivation.

We’ve put together a list of 13 Outdoor Maths Activities to give you some further ideas of how to integrate the outdoors into your pupil’s learning.

12) Small group tuition

Cost: Moderate
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.

13) Digital technology

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +4 months
This is the use of computer and technology-assisted strategies to support learning. Some of this is aimed at pupils, for instance applications for problem solving, while some is for teachers, including interactive whiteboards. Evidence is mixed for its effectiveness, but these approaches are most beneficial for writing and maths practice and with young learners. What is important is the teaching and learning goals rather than a specific technology and teachers need support and time to learn to use it.

Read more: How To Do A School Technology Audit

14) Social and emotional learning (SEL)

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +4 months
Targeting SEL of pupils aims to improve their interaction with others and their management of emotions rather than specifically academic goals. These can take the form of universal wellbeing programmes in the classroom, specialised programmes targeted at particular students or school-level approaches. They have been found to be effective across all stages, although not all interventions are equally good at raising attainment. It requires high levels of professional development for teachers. 

15) Behaviour interventions

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +3 months
These seek to improve outcomes by reducing challenging behaviour, from low-level interruption right through to aggression, violence and general anti-social activities. They can be a whole-school ethos, programmes that seek to improve behaviour in the classroom or specialised programmes for individual pupils with specific behavioural issues. Its impact is difficult to quantify and there is a wide variation in the evidence shown, suggesting that schools should look for programmes with a proven track record.

16) Parental engagement

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +3 months
Involving parents in education benefits their children’s academic outcomes. Encouraging parental engagement can include workshops to improve literacy or IT skills, general approaches such as encouraging parents to read with their children as well as more intensive programmes for families in crisis. Although parental engagement is associated with pupil success, evidence on methods of encouraging it is inconclusive although studies suggest that it is often easier with parents of very young children. One low-cost method that seemed to bear fruit was the use of text-message alerts.

Read: How to Increase Parental Engagement in Primary Maths

17) Within-class attainment group

Cost: Very low
Progress: +3 months
This is the organisation of pupils within their usual class for specific topics or tasks. It is not to be confused with setting or streaming where pupils are separated more consistently and sometimes into different classrooms. The intention is that tasks and activities are tailored to the pupils’ levels of attainment. It offers benefits for all learners although studies suggest that it is less beneficial for lower attaining pupils. Teachers need to minimise the risks of allocating pupils to the wrong group or creating a fixed mindset.

Read more: Mixed Ability vs Ability Grouping in the Primary School Classroom

18) Individualised instruction

Cost: Very low
Progress: +3 months
This involves varying tasks and support for individuals. Various models have been used including pupils being given individual sets of activities, particularly in maths, and then using digital technologies to give feedback. Because the teacher’s role can become more managerial than pedagogical using individualised instruction, it should be used in addition to rather than instead of the usual class teaching. The teacher still needs to give direct instruction when learning new content.

19) Reducing class size

Cost: High
Progress: +3 months
It is suggested that as class sizes reduce, the amount of time a teacher can spend with an individual, as well as the range of approaches they can try, increases. This seems obvious, but the evidence does not show a particularly large or clear effect until class size is reduced to fewer than 20 pupils. There is some evidence that smaller classes have larger effects for lower achievers, disadvantaged children and very young pupils.

20) Summer Schools

Cost: Moderate
Progress: +2-4 months
Lessons or classes during the summer holidays can have a positive impact on pupil’s progress, especially if the summer school has clear learning aims and small-group teaching. Extensive evidence is available on summer school effectiveness, across primary and secondary school. Some studies indicate greater gains for disadvantaged pupils through summer school, but this is inconsistent.

Read more: The most effective intervention strategies for schools

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.

For Ofsted schools will need to:
Detail their Pupil Premium strategy on their website and give information about what they are doing to narrow the attainment gap
2. Give inspectors information about the level of Pupil Premium funding received by the school during the current and previous academic year
3. Details how the school has spent the funding and how it made its spending decisions
4. Demonstrate any differences made to the learning and progress of eligible pupils using outcomes data

The effectiveness of the school’s leadership and management will be judged on how well they spend their pupil premium funding along with the rest of their budget, 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.

Read this too: Why you shouldn’t aim for Ofsted outstanding 

What Is Pupil Premium Plus?

In 2013 The DfE introduced Pupil Premium Plus for looked after and previously looked after children.  Pupil Premium Plus is available to pupils from reception age to Year 11 in state funded education in England who:

Are in local authority care in England.

Have been adopted from care in England or Wales.

Left care under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

Left care under a Child Arrangements Order (formerly known as a Residence Order)

In respect of children adopted from care, the Pupil Premium Plus was initially restricted to children adopted on or after 30 December 2005 but in the summer of 2014 was extended to all children adopted from care.

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.

6 Strategies To Support Pupil Premium Plus

1. Provide nurturing and relationships for example through a nurture group, and training for staff to provide key attachment relationships.

2. Scaffold children’s social skills and peer relationships for example through lunchtime clubs with opportunities to practice social skills or facilitating friendships e.g. through a buddy scheme or peer mentoring initiative.

3. Support emotional literacy and emotion regulation for example through group work, or some calm zones in classrooms and centrally within the school.

4. Support children to cope with transitions and change for example by providing additional structure during break and lunchtimes and providing safe spaces for children to come to throughout the school day.

5. Develop children’s executive functioning skills for example through training staff in understanding and supporting executive functioning skill development in the classroom and on the playground and providing coaching for those who struggle to plan and organise.

6. Address barriers to information sharing and joint working by identifying a named member of staff who liaises with the parents or guardians and facilitates regular meetings to discuss the child’s needs and progress.

Which Pupil Premium Strategies Will Be Your Focus For 2022-2023?

We hope the information provided has given you a clearer idea on the Pupil Premium strategies that will have the biggest impact to help you make the best decisions with your budget for 2023. 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. In case you need some more ideas on how to get started, take a look at our post on 10 Low Cost Pupil Premium Intervention Ideas!

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.

And do speak to us about Third Space Learning’s own Pupil Premium intervention with proven impact – up to double expected progress in a 14-week trial with Rising Stars Puma tests.

Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress.

Since 2013 we’ve helped over 150,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.

Subsidised one to one maths tutoring from the UK’s most affordable DfE-approved one to one tutoring provider.

Sam Southwell
Sam Southwell
Third Space Learning
Content Team
Sam has always had a great appreciated for education. Sam works to show off the amazing work our pupils do every day on social media and writes for the Third Space blog.
Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Advice from Ofsted and national pupil premium award-winning school Pakeman Primary on strategies that make the most impact on pupil outcomes

Download Now!

Primary School Guide to the Pupil Premium

Downloadable resource

Advice from Ofsted and national pupil premium award-winning school Pakeman Primary on strategies that make the most impact on pupil outcomes

Download Now!

The Ultimate Guide to Effective Maths Interventions [FREE]

Find out how to plan, manage, and teach one to one (and small group) maths interventions in primary and secondary schools.

Includes a 20 point checklist of techniques to improve your one to one teaching.

Download free