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9 February 2021
By Tracy Hailstone-Ahern

Disadvantaged Pupils, COVID-19 Catch Up and Finding a Way Forward

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) new Evidence into Action podcast, led by Alex Quigley, focuses its opening instalment on how schools and academies can “Make the Difference for Disadvantaged Pupils”.  In this podcast, Quigley brings together researchers, including a nationally recognised Headteacher based in Birmingham, to discuss how evidence can be used effectively to tailor provision so that it motivates pupils and closes the disadvantaged gap.

The evidence discussed within this podcast highlights how schools’ spending of additional funding for disadvantaged pupils can positively impact on their futures. The podcast relays how over the last ten years disadvantaged students are around 22 months behind their peers nationally by the time they reach the end of secondary school. This obviously reduces their life chances when they are entering either further education or the world of work as they are potentially not adequately equipped to succeed.

The Primary and Secondary School Improvement Service within The Education People has utilised research from international and national sources to create two toolkits: Secondary Disadvantaged Toolkit and Pupil Premium Toolkit (Primary) to support schools and academies across the country to focus and shape their provision building on best practise and assist with reporting. The aims of these documents are:

  • to create a pragmatic approach to improving life chances of disadvantaged pupils
  • to pose questions that will sharpen the reflective process around current impact of additional funds
  • to increase school knowledge about individual pupils and shaping their provision.

In addition to these documents, the service has created a Coronavirus Catch Up Document for Primary Schools to support the statutory requirement around the DFE guidance for reporting linked to Catch up Funding.

The statutory guidance and expectation for schools linked to pupil premium fund remains the same. your online pupil premium statement  on your school/ academy website should explain:

  • how much you have been allocated this year
  • how you intend to spend the pupil premium
  • the rationale for your spending decisions, including the barriers you are looking to overcome
  • the intended impact
  • what effect last year’s pupil premium spending had within your school.

The length and detail of your online statement should reflect the size of your pupil premium allocation.

Some of the questions we should be asking ourselves in evaluating our provision are:

  • How do we accurately identify barriers to accessing learning? Do we predict or guess at the barriers rather than finding out?
  • Are the barriers the same for all pupils? For one child something that is deemed as a barrier may not be for another.
  • Are some staff making assumptions?

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