The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a helpful guide to pupil premium, providing advice on creating a pupil premium strategy and outlining case studies of four inspiring schools. The guide contains a useful section debunking the following common pupil premium myths:
Myth: "Only eligible children can benefit from pupil premium spending"
The pupil premium is designed to support schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children. However, many of the most effective ways to do this - including improving the quality of teaching – will also benefit other groups. Likewise, some forms of targeted academic support or wider strategies will benefit other children, including children with special educational needs and Children in Need.
Myth: "The pupil premium has to be spent on interventions"
There is a strong evidence base showing the impact that high-quality interventions can have on the outcomes of struggling students. However, while interventions may well be one part of an effective pupil premium strategy, they are likely to be most effective when deployed alongside efforts to improve teaching, and attend to wider barriers to learning, such as attendance and behaviour.
Myth: "All data is good data"
Data is valuable when it supports decision-making. For example, collecting data about the attainment and progress of pupils eligible for the pupil premium can help schools identify trends and target additional support. It might also be helpful for schools to compare the outcomes of their eligible pupils to schools serving similar populations. The measurement and comparison of internal class or school gaps is less likely to provide useful information and isn't required by the Department for Education or Ofsted.
Myth: "Pupil premium strategy can be separated from whole school strategy"
The pupil premium provides an important focus for prioritising the achievement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in our education system. When it is most
effective, the pupil premium will sit at the heart of a whole school effort, with all staff understanding the strategy and their role within it. Schools may need to consider who is primarily responsible for their pupil premium spend to ensure it is someone best placed to lead whole school improvements to teaching and learning.
The guidance, which is available here, also outlines five key principles for pupil premium spending, including the importance of evidence and the need to support disadvantaged middle and high attainers.
The DfE has also published guidance outlining how much pupil premium funding schools and non-mainstream schools receive, how they should spend it and how the DfE holds them to account.
First published 11 July 2019