Effective use of pupil premium

(7 Posts)
phonicsgovernor Tue 26-Jan-16 14:12:40

I'm a governor at a primary school. It's a good school, in a deprived area, so we get quite a lot of pupil premium. I think the school spends this money on sensible things, but I don't know if we spend it on the best things. Our children make excellent progress, but a lot of them are starting from a low baseline (we have high SEN and high EAL in addition), so fewer children than I would like achieve the expected targets (although in line with national results).

How can we measure whether we are doing the right things? I've been to governor training on the subject which wasn't particularly helpful. I've also spent some time looking at the Sutton Trust toolkit, and our interventions are ones that rate highly as value for money - but there's a lot of stuff on the website about the variability of results depending on how things are implemented. And we've seen that in our own school - the same program done by two different people, in one case the children made progress, in the other they didn't.

We get a lot of money, but it's still finite, and doesn't go that far when you're mainly spending it on salaries. How do we spend it on the best things - and also show that we are spending it on the best things?

Foxyloxy1plus1 Tue 26-Jan-16 17:01:34

I'm a governor too and share your concern. I haven't been in the role for long and haven't had specific training, although I have a background in teaching.

What is important, is that the money spent narrows the gap between pupil premium children and others. EAL and SEND are not the same although there is some crossover.

cornflakegirl Tue 26-Jan-16 20:44:09

Yes - although interestingly the Ofsted case studies on using Pupil Premium include one of interventions for a newly arrived EAL child. It's not made explicit whether this child attracted Pupil Premium. Ours generally don't.

Our Pupil Premium children outperform our non Pupil Premium children because of the other issues. But we still need to close the gap between our Pupil Premium kids and all children at national.

admission Tue 26-Jan-16 22:41:37

I would say that the issue is not necessarily your immediate problem as a governor. It is an operational matter for the senior leadership team how the pupil premium funding is spent. As a governor you have to decide at a strategic level whether the funding is being spent appropriately and that you are getting value for money.
Obviously you have concerns that you are not getting value for money and the fact that you say most of it is going on salaries suggests to me that you may well have a point. Employing more staff, especially if they are velcroed to a pupil is not usually the most effective use of funding.
What the SLT do need to be doing is carrying out an in-depth review at a single pupil level to establish what their needs are, where they are behind, even if making good progress and what can be done to improve the situation. Can the SLT show to the GB a detailed mapped out document with each pupil and how their pupil premium is being spent, with an expected outcome and impact from the funding?
It is necessary to think outside the box on some of these things, to get to the root cause of the problem. So for instance in my school, we funded a taxi for a family of 3 pupils, so that they arrived on time for school each day. The level of progress when they were there, having had breakfast and ready to start at 0900 was staggering as opposed to wandering in at anytime up to 1030.
The other thing to accept is that there will be failures, when the agreed measure does not work.That is why clear deadlines and expected outcome / impact are vital. If it is not working then you reconsider, re-evaluate and try something else, not just keep doing the same old thing.

phonicsgovernor Wed 27-Jan-16 13:19:50

I don't think the school would be able to show how the PP is being spent by pupil. We have a lot of pupils who attract PP - I think around 100. Some of the measures eg 1-1 maths or literacy interventions we could accurately show the cost and the impact, but for others it would be much harder. For example, we employ an attendance officer who works with families with problematic attendance. It seems logical that improving attendance would improve results, but I don't know how we would prove that.

I think we probably are getting value for money - I have some small concerns, but probably <10% of the pupil premium budget. My major concern is actually that the governing body is a bit passive, so I'm trying to improve the information that we get from the school so that we can be confident in the decisions the SLT are taking.

I take your point about clear deadlines and expected impact. If you don't fail, you haven't tried - but we need to know what is working. We might not be able to measure the effect in APS by pupil, but we do need to know what we expect each thing to achieve, and whether it has done that.

Thanks - that was really helpful.

Robsondobson Wed 13-Apr-16 16:46:36

I found an excellent website which supports schools raise pupil attainment. They list free and low cost programmes so I was able to find organisations to come into my school and deliver anti bullying, literacy and work skills workshops for next to nothing.

Phonicsgovernor I hope this helps! smile

www.edukit.org.uk

bojorojo Thu 14-Apr-16 00:50:29

I am a PP Governor too but we have far fewer PP children than you. It is very difficult to gauge if you are getting good value for money. However if children are now accessing a full day at school, it is reasonable to check their progress ( hopefully improved? ) and say their improvement is due to better attendance expenditure and that is part of a package you are providing having Eva,hated the needs of every child. This is a great way to spend the money.

I could not say how our expenditure is broken down per pupil. You do not need to. It is all about proving the money has made a difference and that you have altered strategies that are ineffective, ensured they become effective, and made sure you have checked progress rigorously.

We have (not me personally) gone through the circumstances of every child and tailored a programme for them. Some need improved self-esteem, others are really struggling with reading, some have been in care whilst others are forces children but come from a very stable and loving background and are well ahead! We do quite a lot of coaching and extra work with a TA where the children have fallen behind before they get to us. We are an 8-11 school. The school ensures TAs are suitably trained to work with the children and really get to know them. This is also a good way to spend some money. The Governors also check regularly that what we do is making a difference by receiving reports from me and the Head. If you are fully informed about the Sutton Trust reviews and have taken on board their findings, I am sure Ofsted will not criticise if the children are making good progress.

Regarding information from the school, our Head's report to governors always has a pp section and this always highlights what interventions we have done and what impact they have had. We have a system that shows what progress the pp children are making in each cohort - no names. We do not buy specific pp programmes in from outside. We do not feel that is appropriate for our school but we would buy very specific training or computer programmes - and have done. We also have had time from a specialist pp adviser from our learning trust. This was excellent.

Our school is absolutely rigorous in monitoring progress. Unfortunately we have inherited children whose attainment is way below their KS1 reported results. This is giving us a huge headache - trying to accelerate progress is difficult . In effect there is very little because the children were not achieving what the previous school said they were. We also have pp children with Send. They present very complex problems and do not make progress as quickly as we would like. I see too many red areas on the progress charts!

Ask your Head to report PP progress at every meeting - teaching and learning committee as well as full g b. I assume you have a teacher responsible for pp. See them every term to talk through progress and strategy. Report your findings back to Governors. This is always on our agenda. Review what you put on your web site about pp. This makes you think. Look at what other successful schools are doing. Lastly, we find there is an element of trying out strategies and seeing what works. Once you build up a profile of reliable progress data and your strategy gets your children achieving well, you may be struggling to find anything better. Therefore the money is well spent, is making a difference and can be accounted for.

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