Effective use of the pupil premium to improve teaching and learning

26 November 2018

At the beginning of October Sir Kevan Collins, the Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, wrote in the TES ‘We must hold out nerve over the pupil premium.’  In it, he eloquently explains the relationship between improvements in teaching and the closing of the attainment gap between children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers.

As we know that Pupil Premium is ‘ring-fenced’ money, this influences the decisions that we as school leaders make in choosing how to spend the money.

As a primary phase senior leader, and most recently Head teacher, I have made and supported decisions about pupil premium spending. Reflecting on those choices, I’m not sure that these have always been the best decisions but they have improved. The available evidence suggests that improving quality first teaching has the most significant impact on improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and so a major part of our Pupil Premium Strategy has been around improving just that.  In order to do this, we have focused on developing our staff so that we have highly skilled professionals teaching children across the school.

Participation in the ‘Leading Learning’ programme in 2016 was instrumental in supporting us to move to more evidence informed approaches to Continuing Professional Development across the school based on Dylan William’s idea that ‘Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better’.  As a result our school’s CPD offer is better – the aims are clearer to all, it is planned more effectively, it focuses on the right things at the right time and has a far greater impact than ever it has had before meaning better outcomes for all pupils across the school but especially those that are disadvantaged. Is it perfect? No, but we use tools and techniques taken to help us revaluate, plan and improve further.

Finances are increasingly tight in schools and we need to make sure that we get value for money from every penny that we spend.  As a Head teacher, I am painfully aware of the difficult decisions that we are having to make in these challenging times.  I would encourage you to consider the use of Pupil Premium money to look at improving your school’s CPD offer as we have done.  This is a sustainable method of school improvement that is evidence based and could, as we have found, also have a significant positive impact on staff workload, health and well-being.

If this is something that you think would be worth doing then may I suggest you look at our upcoming ‘Leading Learning’ course, which starts in December, details of which can be found here.

Rob Newton is the Primary School and Mathematics Research Lead at Huntington Research School as well as a head teacher in North Yorkshire.

Posted on 26 November 2018
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