In short, pupil premium funding can be spent on anything that can be proven to improve the attainment of pupil premium students.
Pupil premium funding for schools was introduced in 2011 to help schools close the attainment gap between pupils from different social-economic backgrounds. The funding can be spent at the discretion of the school however there is one condition: the attainment of the pupil premium students must improve. Schools are working harder than ever to show that their most vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils are achieving and benefiting from this funding, however what an effective use of the pupil premium funding looks like can be difficult to gauge. This is because what works in one school, or with one group of pupils might not necessarily work with another. Sometimes these initiatives can take time to show results, even if, in the long run, they prove to be successful. This year in my new role as Academic Learning Mentor I have worked alongside the Deputy Head teacher in developing new ways to spend the pupil premium funding to help enhance the school experience for our pupil premium students and help ensure they make at least expected progress. Some of the most effective uses of pupil premium funding can be the most subtle and I am going to discuss five ways we have used the funding with our pupils so far this year.
This year, using the pupil premium funding, I have created stationary packs for the pupil premium students. The pupil premium students receive a pencil case containing all of the equipment needed in order for them to access their lessons. For GCSE students, this has also included any revision tools and materials needed such as flash cards, post it notes, folders, dividers etc. Students have been incredibly grateful to get these stationary packs and are much happier in school now that they can fully access all of their lessons. Being fully equipped also means students are receiving less sanctions for lack of equipment. This has reduced negative interactions with teachers, making for a more positive learning experience.
People assume that pupil premium funding should only be used for interventions such as one-to-one teaching and catch-up sessions. However, it is a mistake to group all pupil premium students together and assume they all need interventions to make progress. Some pupil premium students will already be achieving expected levels and some will be exceeding them. Therefore it is important for these students to get the recognition they deserve. Something I am going to introduce this term using the pupil premium funding is celebration breakfasts. After each report cycle, pupil premium students who are making expected progress or exceeding their levels will be invited to come to a celebration breakfast during morning registration where they will receive breakfast and a certificate and will be congratulated on their hard work. Hopefully this will inspire these pupils to continue working hard so they can be invited again. I also intend to invite parents to these moving forwards.
One-to-one tutoring has been identified as one of the most effective means of using pupil premium funding in schools. One of our biggest changes this year for pupil premium students has been the introduction of the MyTutor programme. In our school, 35 Year 10 and 11 pupils have been identified for the MyTutor programme, taking part in one to one sessions in either Maths, English or Science. We identified students who had specific gaps in one of the core subjects and placed them on the programme to help them to make accelerated progress.
The pupils enjoy the sessions not only because they are receiving one-to-one learning with a personalised tutor, but it has helped build their self-esteem and confidence, as well as help close the gaps in their knowledge. MyTutor sessions are run using technology which they enjoy using and feel comfortable with. We also provide drinks, snacks and biscuits at every session which I think the children enjoy most!
School leaders are very pleased with the impact MyTutor is having on our students,
“We’ve been incredibly pleased with the impact that this one to one tuition is having on our pupils. Many students have already increased the progress they are making in that particular subject along with increasing in confidence. The tutors are university students so the pupils also love interacting with people in higher education which also helps in terms of broadening their aspirations”.
Emma, a Year 11 pupil also commented on the positive effect MyTutor has had on her, “I enjoy my sessions because I like my tutor as she is really nice and helps me in areas in Maths that I am struggling with. I feel like I have improved in Maths as my grades are improving but I also have more confidence now in my Maths lessons”.
Promoting cultural and other extra-curricular activities can make a real difference to children. It is important to extend students cultural experiences by taking part in school trips and extra-curricular activities as in the long run we hope it will make a difference to these students. Using the pupil premium funding, we have made sure that our pupil premium students get access to all school trips and extra-curricular activities to allow them to gain the same experiences as our other students, for example a group of pupil premium students are visiting Oxford University next week.
Sometimes the most effective interventions don’t have to cost the earth. One of the most beneficial things I have introduced this year has been a Sixth Form mentoring programme which has cost absolutely nothing! I have a group of 28 Sixth Form students who mentor Year 7 and 8 students in either English, Maths or Science. The younger students meet their mentor in the library every week during a designated morning registration where they work one on one. I have been overwhelmed with how positive this programme has been and the response from the students has been incredibly positive.
Sophie from Year 8 said, “the mentoring sessions have helped improve my confidence and I now feel more independent”.
Thomas from Year 8 said, “having a Sixth Form mentor in Maths has really helped me improve in the subject. I now feel confident putting my hand up in class now which I never did before”.
Lastly, Lia in Year 7 said, “I look forward to my mentoring session every week as I enjoy the reading session with my Sixth former as she has helped me improve in my reading and it has made me more independent as I now read more at home”.
Emily trained to become a PE teacher at Brunel University and has been teaching for 7 years. She’s currently at PE teacher at The Hemel Hempstead School and has also taught Dance both in her current and previous school. She is currently The Academic Learning Mentor at her school which involves putting into place different interventions for students and working closely with the pupil premium students in Years 7-11.