A better deal for West Sussex children: local approaches to Pupil Premium.

West Sussex Deputies are a committed lot! Either to the concept of collaboration and the network or as last night’s forum showed to Pupil Premium as an issue. We know this as nearly 30 colleagues from 20 different schools, across a range of maintained, faith and academy schools, came together five days before the end of term to share ideas and experiences. No mean feat at this time of year.


We are very grateful to  Midhurst Rother College for their hospitality.  The slides from the evening are attached at the end of this blog for all to use within their schools as required.


The evening consisted of some presentations to update colleagues initially and then plenty of time to discuss practical ideas in table discussion. The updates included changes for September 2014 and the Ofsted perspective, highlighting important issues that could be perhaps forgotten. These issues are posed as questions on the last slide which colleagues had a chance to discuss but are essentially:

  • Are you aware of the changes in funding for 2014-5 and the reasons behind them?
  • What methods are you using to track and monitor?
  • Are you aware of your 3 year trend for PPG outcomes?
  • Do you/would you target PPG for 4 levels of progress?
  • Are you as aware of the Year 7 catch up premium students as you are the PPG and do you know who is both?
  • Can you show impact on an individual and cohort basis?
  • Do all of your leaders understand their responsibilities for PPG and Yr7 catch-up students

It was great to have the Local Authority represented as Catherine Davies talked us through the West Sussex perspective and need to raise standards for all students across the county.  Locality data was sent out to the delegates who attended so colleagues can compare across the local area and also see how Key Stage 2 is impacting on their potential. A conference in the Autumn term should build on the existing network of sharing best practice that we enjoyed at this forum.

As always, it is when teachers and leaders talk to each other that the real magic happens. The table discussions for over an hour showed real understanding of the issues and practical suggestions for overcoming the inevitable hurdles.  Two schools shared their experiences of involvement with Achievement for All. Whilst acknowledging that a few schools had experienced limitations with its structure and implementation there did appear to be some core lessons to be learnt from how colleagues were using it to potentially great effect:

  1. The essential value of raising the status of PPG as an issue and as individual students with all staff.
  2. The power of the structured conversations with parents who are “hard to reach” and the commitment being made by schools to reach them.

It was fascinating to hear how some schools are planning to adopt similar models in a variety of ways to achieve these aims. Sharing a review of the success of different models in a term or years time will be valuable.

Other ideas were discussed and explained which schools were finding effective and echo the findings of the EEF and the Ofsted Pupil Premium report. We have attempted to summarise them below, if colleagues are interested in finding out more detail on specific initiatives then please post a reply to this blog and we can put you in touch with each other.

  1. Investing in quality first teaching using IRIS
  2. Focus on boys literacy as a whole school issue but with specific focus on PPG boys
  3. 6 week data capture which leads to short term 6 week action plans with budgets that can be bid for each round to support the intervention.
  4. Using tute.com for 6 week blocks of intervention which had led to clear evidence of impact.
  5. Giving extra curriculum time to English and Maths, in lesson time and out of lesson time; different models provide different strengths and weaknesses.
  6. “Personal Trainers” focused on PE and literacy where Year 10 meet with Year 7, do pre-school sport, breakfast and reading or mentoring.
  7. Peer tutoring had proved effective in a number of schools.
  8. Literacy support for 10 minutes a day, five times a week. Little and often had been shown to have the greatest impact.
  9. Making pastoral staff accountable for PPG students’ progress, as well as making all staff accountable for “their” PPG students.
  10. Using TAs to staff a homework club for PPG students
  11. Summer Schools: the verdict was undecided on impact although a model where the SEN lead was utilised for 2 paid weeks to liaise with parents directly before and during the summer school, in their home, had proved invaluable at settling students who might have proved behaviourally problematic on transfer.
  12. Variable uses of under-timetabled staff were discussed but seemed most effective when focused in their subject area rather than out of it!
  13. Focusing on ways of capturing the soft data that allows us to know if students have a computer that prints/is compatible at home, has a hobby, is a reader etc. to be able to target resources to develop resilience in PPG students where it may not be fostered outside of school.
  14. Developing parent forums where they work alongside the school to develop the support they need, not what we think they need!
  15. Assertive Mentoring with senior staff

We also explored things that had not worked so well. How brilliant it was that colleagues were prepared to be open, honest and reflective with each other. Top ideas here not to be repeated but absolutely might work for others under different circumstances, included:

  1. Using under-timetable staff to deliver extra literacy and numeracy.
  2. Withdrawal from English classes to support literacy.
  3. Using HLTA/TA for numeracy support instead of a teacher.

There certainly seemed a clear consensus that where extra support was needed, it was most effective delivered by a specialist which was more cost effective in the longer term than additional support that did not have impact.

There is certainly a commitment from colleagues, and it would seem the LA, to try and work together to bring out the best case studies and explore them. Whilst we have the support of colleagues from across all schools, genuinely prepared to work collaboratively, then we have a good chance of really making a difference for 9595 disadvantaged pupils in primary and secondary students across West Sussex.

Presentations from the Forum:

Extra information:

Again, many thanks to all those who came, shared and finally wishing you all a great summer.

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