Ask any teacher why they got into teaching and almost all will give you the same answer: to give young people, whatever their background and wherever they come from, the best possible start in life. Sir Kevan Collins writes in Tes.
This mission unites teachers. Yet despite our best efforts, the poorest students are still much less likely than their classmates to leave school with the qualifications they need. Closing the attainment gap is the greatest challenge we face. Of course, the responsibility is by no means schools’ alone – but we can be part of the solution.
So when the pupil premium was introduced seven years ago, it felt like a policy all teachers could get behind. By acknowledging the historical relationship between family income and educational success, and providing the resources to help address it, the premium cut right to the heart of the reason most of us became educators.
It is impossible to know for sure how much of an impact the premium has had on disadvantaged pupils’ attainment. Arguably, it was a victim of its own promise: the speed of its rollout prevented robust evaluation.
What we do know is that the premium has increased schools’ focus on closing the gap. Before it was introduced, 57 per cent of school leaders said they provided specific support for disadvantaged students; this rose to 94 per cent afterwards, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) survey.
How can we make the biggest difference?
But, at a time when school budgets are under real stress, we need to know that the pupil premium is making the biggest possible difference in young people’s lives. It is right to ask how we can do more to give the premium the best chance of achieving its ambitious goals.
I have three suggestions.
Put simply, evidence shows that more good teaching for all pupils will especially benefit the most disadvantaged. This is why two-thirds of evaluations funded by the Education Endowment Foundation test ways to improve whole-class teaching.
Second, schools should regard it as absolutely legitimate to spend their pupil premium to get – and keep – the teachers they need to deliver that high-quality teaching.
Read the full article and suggestions as to how pupil premium can be used most effectively We must hold our nerve over the pupil premium
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~Tamsin
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