The Pupil Premium

 

The Pupil Premium accounts for over 6% of our total income and must be invested in students eligible for the Pupil Premium.

 

What is the rationale behind our Pupil Premium spending?

 

Colmers School and Sixth Form College is committed to high expectations for all students. Whilst each child is a unique individual with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, it is also true that students eligible for the Pupil Premium demonstrate the least progress and attainment during their time at Colmers. They are also significantly more likely to misbehave, be absent and be late for school. These facts raise uncomfortable questions for us all: school, students and families; not to mention society more generally given the fact that this phenomenon is common in most schools – but not all schools.

The Pupil Premium grant is significant and we have identified four key aims to measure the success of our investments. These include improved attainment and progress, attendance and punctuality, behaviour and engagement and parental involvement.

There are schools who have successfully flipped the correlation between underachievement and eligibility for the Pupil Premium. Using evidence from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) toolkit and NFER’s ‘seven building blocks of success’ we have reshaped our school so that their past is no longer a simple predictor of their future.

As a RADY+ school we have also adopted the concept of ‘uplifting’ the targets of Pupil Premium students.  Therefore, all students in receipt of the Pupil Premium Grant have their KS2 scores ‘uplifted’ to close that gap.  As a result, their targets are amended.  We continue to work on this project with Birmingham Education Partnership, enabling us to investigate and source quality interventions and strategies from other schools involved.

Below is a summary of how the school has changed and adapted to those seven building blocks. Beneath is a summary of both the impact of our Pupil Premium Strategy and how we invest our Pupil Premium grant.

  1. An ethos of attainment for all pupils

In September 2013 we abandoned National Curriculum Levels in Key Stage Three and adopted GCSE grading and assessment criteria for all students in Years 7 to 11. Simultaneously, we introduced Average Point Scores (APS) conversions so that we could more accurately monitor the progress of all groups of students at six points during the academic year. This has allowed us to introduce more meaningful targets for each student, based on their end of KS2 average and expecting students to make at least three levels of progress (18+ APS) during their first five years at Colmers. Meanwhile teachers adopted the concept of waves of intervention that are designed to ‘kick-in’ when a student’s progress is at risk. These changes had major strategic implications for the way we report to parents and carers, how teachers’ performance management is organised and how we measure success at this school.

 

  1. An individualised approach to addressing barriers to learning and emotional support at an early stage

Colmers places a very high emphasis on early and effective transition of students from Years 6 to Year 7 alongside our partner primary schools. This enables us to establish why some students are, what we call, ‘stuck in BASE camp’. By this we mean their behavioural, academic, social and emotional barriers to high levels of achievement, attendance and punctuality. In addition, as students’ barriers emerge or manifest we are able to apply similar remedies to try and ensure each child gets back on track and overcome their own individual barriers.

 

  1. A focus on high quality teaching

Colmers’ Pupil Premium strategy rests on an unrelenting demand for high quality teaching and learning at all times for all students. Colmers has devised the ARGOS principles (activities, resources, groupings, objectives and support) that articulate the requirements of teachers in all lessons. Schemes of learning have been revised throughout the school to ensure these principles are firmly embedded in everyday practice and this is monitored and evaluated through the two everyday quality assurance activities that help us judge the typical quality of teaching: learning walks and work scrutinies. Teachers’ performance management expectations are now robustly linked to Teachers’ Standards, Career Stage Expectations and, above all, student progress and attainment objectives for all groups of students.

 

  1. A focus on outcomes for individual students

The shift away from broad-brush goals for large cohorts of children has now disappeared at Colmers. Instead, every student works towards their own personal goals and they are no longer restricted by a curriculum offer that prevented all students from choosing their preferred GCSEs. Every teacher is accountable for the progress made by every student in their class and must be able to demonstrate the additional interventions and differentiation they apply when the progress is at risk. Where a student’s progress remains stubbornly stuck, a Subject Leader must become directly involved to analyse and evaluate the causes of underachievement and adopt new or refined interventions accordingly. This layered approach to ensure all students are given every chance of success forms the basis of our inclusion strategy in every classroom.

 

  1. Deployment of the best staff to support disadvantaged pupils – developing the skills of existing teachers and TAs

Colmers is very aware that there are numerous occasions when students, in spite of great teaching and learning, do not make progress and are at risk of underachievement. Our BASE camp approach forces the school to further explore the behavioural, academic, social or emotional cause of a student’s unwillingness or inability to fully engage in the life and learning at Colmers. To maximise the possibility of helping a student depart their own BASE camp, we employ and deploy specialist associate staff. The behavioural inclusion team comprises the Heads of Learning & Achievement and the Pastoral Support Workers. The academic inclusion team comprises the school’s SENDCo and a team of specialist TAs with a focus on autism, dyslexia, literacy, numeracy and speech and language. The social inclusion team includes our Family Support Workers. The Emotional Inclusion Team comprises our Renaissance Centre staff, Higher Level TAs and our Adolescent Psychotherapist. Whilst our Inclusion services are of course open to all students, each team works overwhelmingly with students who are eligible for the Pupil Premium.

 

  1. Decision-making based on data and frequent monitoring

The revision of our monitoring processes and procedures, in September 2013, has led to much earlier identification and intervention with our most vulnerable students. This is complimented by the information we gather during the Years 6 into 7 transition process and the live ‘data’ we gather through our day-to-day awareness of children’s needs. In recent years we have become more robust in the use of that data to make decisions. For example:

    • Students eligible for the Pupil Premium are very significantly over-represented with respect to behavioural, social and emotional difficulties or barriers. This is why we have diverted our Pupil Premium funding to establish specialist inclusion teams in those areas so that we can try to help each child overcome their own particular barrier to learning and depart their own BASE camp.
    • Catch-up interventions in Years 7, 9 and 11 are in place to boost literacy and numeracy skills and final outcomes in GCSEs. Internal progress data illustrates a positive impact of these interventions and the 2015 GCSE results demonstrate the impact of those interventions on significantly improved progress of all students and students eligible for the Pupil Premium (see ‘Impact of the Pupil Premium Strategy’).
    • In terms of academic achievement, our internal data clearly demonstrated that students eligible for the Pupil Premium were significantly less likely to complete homework to a satisfactory standard or revise for their tests, assessments or public examinations. This has directly led to two strategies that are open to all students but are very disproportionately accommodating students eligible for the Pupil Premium:
      • The first is an extended school day (an additional 90 minutes per day) where students in Years 9 and 10 are supervised whilst they complete their homework
      • The second is the Get Ahead Programme (The GAP). This is an enormously important dimension of both our Pupil Premium and teaching and learning strategies. The GAP is a monthly programme of revision activities for all Year 11 students in all examined subjects. It is complemented by a revision skills curriculum delivered through their Learning 4 Life lessons
    • Attendance remains Colmers’ Achilles Heel. The gap between the attendance of students eligible for the Pupil Premium (currently Inadequate) and the attendance of all other students (currently Good to Outstanding) is a long-standing feature of our data and has been tackled with every tactic and strategy available to schools. This is why we have now introduced attendance catch-up classes for students whose attendance falls below 94%; resulting in an additional hour to their school day for every day of absence. In the lack of sustained improvements in this area, we are refining how we diagnose and more vigorously challenge the underlying causes of persistent absence in social, emotional and familial terms; the latter being the most challenging and controversial.

 

  1. Clear, responsive leadership, with high aspirations

It is fair to say that very little stays the same from one year to another at Colmers. This reflects a genuine emergence in our understanding of the barriers that lead to underachievement and then our determination to implement changes that will close those gaps and fill those voids. Through his half-termly newsletters and Monday morning whole-school assemblies, the Headteacher promotes a culture of high aspirations and, more importantly, high expectations amongst the parents, carers, students and staff at the school. In recent years, far-reaching reforms of the school’s curriculum, performance management, target setting and school improvement planning have been undertaken and embraced by equally committed teaching and associate staff who unanimously share his affection and ambition for the Colmers family. The emphasis on high aspirations and expectations is not centred on purely academic measures and the school resists the short termism of becoming an examination factory. This is why the school continues to emphasise the education of the entire person and this is embodied in the introduction of our new house system and the personal scorecard that captures the spirit of the young adults we want our children to become: kind, optimistic, tolerant, inquisitive and resilient people who are committed to their family, friends and local community.

 

How do we spend our Pupil Premium funding?

 

We shall review the impact of our 2017/18 Pupil Premium grant in September 2018.

 

Pupil Premium Strategy 2017 2018