John Dunford, National Pupil Premium Champion, posted a ‘Ten-point plan for spending the pupil premium successfully’ on October 11.
Here’s are some questions about this plan.
There is solid evidence that poor teaching disproportionately disadvantages deprived children.
Is there really? The Sutton Trust interim report from 2011 cherry picks results, relying heavily on "Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools” which uses questionable Value Added measures (see "Commentary on the evaluation of teacher effectiveness through student test scores" for an alternative view of this kind of measure). (Update: I wrote a blog about the Bad Teacher factoid here. There really is no 'solid evidence that poor teaching disproportionately disadvantages poor children'.)
Step 1. Set an ambition for what you want your school to achieve with PP funding.
Some of the schools aiming high express this ambition in terms of becoming one of the 17 per cent of schools in which those on free school meals (FSM) do better than the average for all pupils nationally.
How is it possible for all schools to do ‘better than average’? If a school aims for this goal, isn't the school relying on other schools doing relatively worse 'than average for all pupils nationally'? (Update: It has been pointed out that this step refers to children on FSM doing 'better than average', not 'all children do better than average'. I see the point - given that the national percentage of children claiming FSM is around 20% or so, it is (theoretically) possible for 'those on free school meals (FSM) do better than the average for all pupils nationally.' For many reasons, detailed elsewhere on this blog, this would be highly unlikely, and it still relies on factors outside the control of a school.)
Step 3. Decide on the desired outcomes of your PP spending.
Closing the gap between PP pupils and others in the school
This requires planning for one group of children in a school to make more progress than another based solely on Socio-economic Status. Is this a reasonable goal for a school? Isn't 'improving the schooling of all pupils (with particular support for PP pupils) in a school' a better aim?
Step 4. Against each desired outcome, identify success criteria.
This could be expressed as a number – ‘closing the gap between the attainment of PP-eligible pupils and that of all pupils nationally by x per cent this year and by y per cent the following year’.
Measures of attainment are problematic and subject to a wide range of factors, most of which are outside of a school’s control. This still requires different groups of children to make different levels of progress based on Socio-economic Status alone. Once again, Is this a reasonable goal for a school?
Step 6. Research the evidence of what works best.
Schools need to look outwards for evidence of what works well elsewhere. I recommend three places to look initially.
First, seek out excellent practice in other schools, using http://apps.nationalcollege.org.uk/closing_the_gap/index.cfm and http://www.pupilpremiumawards.co.uk and consider how you might adapt their successful PP strategies to the context of your school.
Aren’t Pupil Premium awards are effectively a lottery based on having a high achieving cohort? Don’t the exceptionally small number of ‘case studies’ merely show Halo Effects?
Second, use the excellent Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/, looking first at the strategies that make the most difference (feedback, metacognition, peer tutoring, etc) and think about how these could best be used in your school.
Isn't this still a work in progress? Aren't its findings inconclusive so far?
Third, study the Ofsted report on pupil premium, published in February 2013, where there is a list of successful approaches on page 3:http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-how-schools-are-spending-funding-successfully-maximise-achievement. Evaluate PP strategies in your school in the light of the points made in this report.
This report merely shows more Halo Effects, doesn’t it?
Step 7. Decide on the optimum range of strategies to be adopted.
See the Whole Education website (www.wholeeducation.org) to learn about how Whole Education Network schools are developing a fully rounded education for their pupils as part of their ‘closing the gap’ and raising achievement strategies.
Have you really just promoted your own business? Is there a clear conflict of interest here?
Step 9. Monitor the progress of PP-eligible pupils frequently.
Collect, analyse and use your data to maximum effect in monitoring the progress of every PP-eligible pupil. This should be done frequently, so that interventions can be put in place quickly, as soon as a pupil is starting to slip.
Is learning a linear process in which one can ‘start to slip’? Is it possible to ‘monitor the progress of a pupil’ using numbers on a spreadsheet?
(Another update - for those who haven't read the rest of my blog, hello. Glad you made it here. I think the Pupil Premium is a laudable initiative which is being derailed by pressure being put on schools. Please read my Poleaxed by Pupil Premium posts for further details.)