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Make your Pupil Premium count: What is Ofsted looking for?

Make your Pupil Premium count: What is Ofsted looking for?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

When it comes to spending the Pupil Premium, accountability is key - Jonathan Ovenden looks at the challenges and opportunities for schools.

Research has repeatedly shown that children who receive Free School Meals (FSM) frequently do not achieve as highly as other children in school. The Pupil Premium offers an important way for schools to raise attainment amongst disadvantaged pupils such as these - as long as it’s used well.

Although schools have flexibility about the way they spend the Pupil Premium, we know that accountability is key and it’s an area that Ofsted is increasingly focused on.

What is Ofsted looking for?

A recent report from Ofsted found that many schools are now using their Pupil Premium to raise attainment but others are still struggling to show how the money is making a meaningful impact in terms of narrowing the gap between pupils from low income and more affluent families.

Ofsted highlighted some quite specific examples of good and bad practice when it comes to the Pupil Premium, providing a useful reference for schools in terms of what Ofsted will be looking for.

Examples of good practice it has cited include drawing on research evidence, monitoring progress and providing feedback. Examples of poor practice included spending the funding indiscriminately on teaching assistants, failing to have a clear audit trail on how the funding has been spent and not evaluating how effective interventions are.

The Pupil Premium challenge

It’s clearly imperative but challenging for schools to demonstrate solid evidence that they are using their Pupil Premium specifically to raise attainment.

This challenge is being amplified by the fact that from next year, 96% of GCSE-equivalent vocational qualifications will be removed from school league tables and only two non-GCSEs will be allowed to count towards the existing five A* to C GCSE indicators. Traditionally, vocational qualifications have been used to engage disadvantaged pupils and help them achieve, so, with options narrowed, many schools are concerned.

The vision2learn approach

Our online qualifications and materials, including GCSEs, vocational qualifications and learning-to-learn tools, can be a real help for schools when it comes to accountability for the Pupil Premium. They include full progress tracking and reporting, so the benefits are tangible and easy to demonstrate.

We also believe that the innovative approaches to learning which have traditionally been applied to vocational courses can also be applied to GCSEs, with a focus on engagement, encouragement and interaction, which gives learners confidence to take control of their own learning and gain a useful, empowering education.

Our engaging online qualifiactions are an ideal solution for learners who aren't succeeding using more traditional approaches.

What schools say

York High School

York High School’s proportion of students eligible for free school meals is above average and the level of social and economic disadvantage in the area served by the school is also above average. (Ofsted, 2009)

The school uses a number of vision2learn programmes to boost attainment. York High School Deputy Head Gavin Cowley says online learning is a “key motivator” for many students at the school.

He said: “I know we’ve gained a lot as a school from offering these options. They make a real contribution to the school’s improvement in the percentage of pupils with 5 A-Cs – they’re a crucial part of the interventions we’re using to maximise achievement.”

See the full case study.

Carshalton School for Boys

“The team at vision2learn have worked very hard at presenting new academic GCSEs suitable for kids who find it hard to access the current curriculum.

“They have been very good at working with schools in synthesising policies to support an appropriate curriculum for schools.”

Simon Barber, Headteacher, Carshalton School for Boys

Read full case study

See how vision2learn could help you make your Pupil Premium countNext time we’ll be looking at key research into what works when it comes to the Pupil Premium.

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