School Z - case study

The following study focuses on an Achievement for All Pupil Premium Practice Review that was conducted in January 2014.

The Context

School Z is a primary school with 245 pupils. 33.5% of these pupils are eligible for free school meals (a key indicator of disadvantage). The percentage of pupils supported by School Action Plus, or with a statement of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), is 15.9%.

School Z is a participant in Achieving Schools and worked with an Achievement Coach to help improve their focus in relation to the use of their Pupil Premium Grant.

The impact

Prior to engaging with the Achievement for All programme, School Z was placed into Special Measures in November 2012. The school was in receipt of local authority support. Within a local authority review, spend around the Pupil Premium was highlighted as a concern. This concern related to the understanding of Pupil Premium provision and how this was spent, identifying that School Z was not differentiating distinctly from funding for other pupils with SEND needs. This blurring of groups meant that the progress of Pupil Premium pupils was unclear, leaving a gap in measurable activities.

Our review found that leadership surrounding the Pupil Premium was undeveloped within whole school areas, including governance, financial compliance, teaching and learning, curriculum design and management, performance management, appraisal of both teaching and support staff, attendance, transition, pupil attainment and pupil progress. Monitoring and evaluation were unaligned with the Pupil Premium.

Teaching had been reported to be improving but the review found this was not happening as quickly as it should, and that overall teaching was less effective for Pupil Premium pupils: work was not sufficiently matched to pupils’ different abilities, and some teachers did not check on the progress of individual pupils quickly or carefully enough.

Free School Meals (FSM) pupil attainment at Key Stage One, both overall and by core subject, showed in-school gaps when compared to non-FSM pupils and national averages. School Z had taken steps to address this within maths by holding Pupil Premium meetings and identifying pupils falling behind, but had not adopted the same approach for literacy.

The review identified that pupil starting points were significantly lower than national indicators, with high numbers of pupils at low prior attainment, and low numbers of high attainment. One area for improvement identified by School Z surrounded attendance, with attendance at 94.8% in January 2014. One of the most influential barriers for pupils’ attendance is lack of parental engagement and interest limiting the aspirations of pupils – something School Z has been able to work on since.