Putting the pupil premium to proper use

2012_03_Simon Barnes high resThe pupil premium will give disadvantaged children the extra help they need, as long as schools deploy it effectively, says Simon Barnes, CEO of TLC Education Group.

The pupil premium, a £1.25bn allowance given to schools to spend on disadvantaged students, has the potential to greatly improve the academic performance of thousands of school children. Schools can spend the allowance however they see fit as long as it raises academic attainment in the children it’s for.

However, a recent Ofsted report showed that not all of the schools receiving the allowance have spent it directly on the pupils for whom it was originally intended and have instead used it to plug holes in the already stretched school budget.

So, how should these schools be spending the money?  As a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to dedicate more attention to one student than another, but in order to raise attainment in less privileged pupils this is precisely what the programmes financed through the pupil premium allowance need to do.

A provision of £600 per child, when multiplied across the full population of FSM students within a school, is enough to put towards programmes and initiatives that give these children the extra attention they need in regular intervals throughout the academic year.

In order to make sure the allowance is having the desired impact; it is a wise idea to look to the examples set by the large number of schools already achieving good results.  Success with the initiative has been achieved with confidence building workshops; one-to-one attention, online tuition and homework help sessions that give each child a boost in academic attainment.

In addition, we have found at TLC Education Group that consistent and regular input throughout the year, rather than short-term bursts of attention, is what delivers the best results.  For example, many schools have found that education technology, which is widely available at a low cost, can get results quickly. Some schools have even used the pupil premium to fund one-to-one online tuition with qualified UK-based teachers, allowing the schools to easily correlate pupil premium spending with FSM pupil performance.

In order to make sure the initiative’s aims become a reality, schools need to make the most of the allowance by investing the money in proven solutions. Schools that have yet to improve the way they spend the allowance should follow the lead of those that have successfully implemented it to help their most disadvantaged pupils.

Simon Barnes will be in attendance at Bett and can be found at the TLC Live stand E324.

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