Goffs School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire has won national recognition for demonstrating and sharing best practice in spending its Pupil Premium Grant. Here Tom Sparks, assistant principal and the lead for pupil premium, outlines the most effective strategies his school has put in place to help close the gap between pupil premium and non- pupil premium students.
About the school
Goffs School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire is a thriving and oversubscribed mixed comprehensive, for 11- to 18- year olds, with approximately 1300 students on roll. Its successful approach to supporting its pupil premium students led to success in the Department for Education Pupil Premium Awards for 2014, where it was the East of England Regional Winner and a National Runner-Up. The Pupil Premium Awards celebrate schools that use the pupil premium to achieve a measurable advance in the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils.
Introduced in 2011, the pupil premium is extra funding which all schools in England receive for every disadvantaged pupil they teach. It currently amounts to £2.5bn nationally.
The amount each school receives is determined by the number of children who are entitled to receive free school meals (FSM) during the last six years, or are looked after children (LAC). Each school can choose how that funding should be allocated in order to support the academic success of these pupils. In the Academic Year 2013/2014 we were allocated £188,100 for our 201 pupil premium students – which amounts to £935 per person. It’s a lot of money so it’s obviously vital to get the provision right, both to do the best for our pupils and to ensure that we get best value for money.
We have used a combination of different strategies to improve outcomes among our pupil premium students and many of them have been researched by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to calculate the impact on the number of months’ progress that could be gained.
We began by creating a team specifically to monitor and track our pupil premium students, the spending on them and the impact that this has on outcomes. Through this, we know, to the pound, how much each individual pupil premium has had spent on them and, for many, this has been significantly more than the allocation. This concept of systematic tracking of expenditure has been shared with many local schools as best practice.
A large proportion of the pupil premium money has been used to expand staffing in key areas, which in turn led to smaller class sizes for our more vulnerable students. For example, in Year 11 Science, some of the classes operated with as few as six students and in Maths, the smallest classes were operating with 10 in the class. Calculations by the EEG show that this strategy of smaller class sizes achieved a gain of +3 months and that the increased feedback had a gain of +8 months (EEF).
Another key factor in our success has been the work we have undertaken done in partnership with PET-Xi Training. We used PET-Xi’s High-5 booster sessions for pupil premium students in both English and Maths for our pupil premium students from Year 7 up to Year 11. High-5 is a five-day motivational boot-camp style revision intervention programme designed to take students from a grade D to a Grade C in GCSE.
Motivational, inspirational and fast-paced, its Foundation level programme involves a process of repeat, repeat, review, and is a proven, highly effective tool for teachers to use to boost results.
Every day begins and ends with a confidence test in a particular topic and homework is set daily. Building on the excellent work carried out by our teachers, the high energy of the PET-Xi team is used to inspire self-belief and get each child to start believing that the Grade C is within their grasp. The team comprises a motivational lead, a subject expert, and support worker, and focuses sharply on confidence building, exam technique and on manipulation of essential exam material. The course is highly structured, the pace is fast and expectation is high.
One of the things PET-Xi does very well is to deal with any issues which may arise during the course. So if the students are not getting something, they’ll work on it overnight and come in the next day armed to try another way. They are very responsive.
The feedback from students was very positive and the majority of students made measurable progress during the sessions. Of the students in Year 11 who undertook the course, approximately 80% of them went on to achieve their target grades in Maths.
Another useful intervention strategy we used included a comprehensive Beyond Study Leave Programme which prepared students for final exams. EEF research showed that this had a gain of +2 months (EEF).
Other external support, specifically around social and emotional learning, had a gain of +4 months (EEF) and included providing access to two youth workers to support the school’s pastoral care programme.
We also employed external markers for our formal mock examinations, to ensure accurate and reliable data, and used staff to provided one-to-one tutoring and additional numeracy and literacy support during form time.
We also know that students across the school benefit from the professional development training teachers receive to develop the quality of teaching in the school. This training is always focused on outstanding learning which includes excellent feedback.
Finally, pupil premium funding has also supported students to undertake activities that perhaps they might not have previously been able to do, including accessing curriculum trips and extracurricular activities
The outcome of this has been fantastic. The gap between our year 11 pupil premium students and non pupil premium students for 5 A*-C now stands at just 10%, with our pupil premium students achieving 65% in this measure – significantly above the national average for 5 A*-C of 58%.
For English, expected progress for pupil premium students of 68% is 12% above the national average and the gap between pupil premium students and non-pupil premium students has remained at 8%.
For Maths, expected progress for pupil premium students of 65% is 11% above the national average.
In other measures, the gap between pupil premium students and non pupil premium students has again narrowed across key measures. In science, 2 A*-C the gap has reduced to 9% from 11% and for humanities the gap is 12%. For languages, the performance of pupil premium students at 84% is 1% above the performance of non-pupil premium students.
Based on their final Year 10 mock examinations, we are predicting that the gap will decrease further for this cohort. For 5 A*-C we are predicting a gap of 6%; for English progress, 9%; for Maths progress, no gap at all.
It was of course extremely gratifying to have our hard work celebrated when we became East of England Winners and National Runners up in the Pupil Premium Awards 2014. These Awards reward schools which are able to provide evidence of effective strategies to improve the achievement of disadvantaged pupils and show sustained improvement in raising their attainment.
We were particularly pleased when Goffs was the only school invited to present at the 2015 Pupil Premium Awards in March. Two of our year 11 pupils wrote their own speeches and presented them perfectly to the audience of 250, which included the then Schools Minister, David Laws and then Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
During this current academic year, we are continuing much of the best practice that we completed in 2013/2014. However, we are also looking to develop further parental engagement of our pupil premium students, along with developing the access our students have to IT both at home and in school. Finally, we will continue to drive forward our work on raising aspirations for our students.