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NASS Newsletter - April 2013

Pupil Premium

children working in schoolThe Ofsted Report on Pupil Premium was published on 11th February. – How schools are spending the funding successfully to maximise achievement. Sir Michael Wilshaw said "Following my criticism of schools, it is clear more schools are now taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to using the Pupil Premium money and our inspectors have found evidence of some very good practice in their recent visits. Crucially many of these good schools are concentrating on core areas of literacy and numeracy to break down barriers to accessing the full curriculum. They are also focusing on the key stages of a child's development in their school career. However, some schools still lack good enough systems for tracking the spending of the additional funding or for evaluating the effectiveness of measures they have put in place in terms of improving outcomes." The report identifies some of the successful strategies schools and governors have used. It also provides associated resources – The Pupil Premium: Analysis and Challenge Tools for Schools.

Where schools spent Pupil Premium successfully they shared many of these characteristics:

  • carefully ring fenced funding so always spent on targeted group
  • analysed which pupils were under-achieving, particularly in English and Maths and why
  • drew on research evidence (e.g. Sutton Trust toolkit4) and evidence from own experience to allocate funding FUN where most likely to have impact
  • understood importance of good day–to-day teaching
  • allocated best teachers to teach intervention groups
  • used achievement data frequently to check whether interventions or techniques were working, making adjustments accordingly
  • made sure support staff, particularly teaching assistants, were trained and understood their role in helping pupils to achieve
  • systematically focused on giving pupils clear, useful feedback about their work and ways they could improve
  • ensured that designated teacher had clear overview of how funding was being allocated and the difference it was making to pupil outcomes
  • had clear policy on spending Pupil Premium agreed by governors and publicised on school website
  • had clear and robust performance management system for all staff and include discussions about pupils eligible for Pupil Premium in performance management meetings
  • thoroughly involved governors in the decision making and evaluation process
  • were able, through careful monitoring and evaluation, to demonstrate the impact of each aspect of their spending on the outcomes for the pupils.

Where governors took an effective role in ensuring the Pupil Premium was used well they:

  • were fully involved from the outset in deciding on the way in which funding would be allocated
  • required a clear policy to be written about the Pupil Premium, and contributed to its content
  • were committed to ensuring that every pupil achieved their potential
  • asked challenging questions about how effective each action funded by the Pupil Premium was being in improving achievement

This extract came from The Reduced Policy Company – more information available from www.reducedpolicycompany.com

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Funding for rural schools

Fair funding for small schoolsWe have had e-mails from members expressing their concerns about the basic lump sum allocation. Our attention has been drawn to examples where local authorities have told small schools they are going to close them to avoid giving the allocated basic lump sum. Other local authorities have indicated they will only give small schools the allocated basic lump sum provided it is not more than a 5% increase on their previous budget. There have been further concerns expressed regarding the additional pressure on budgets with schools having to supply the first £6,000 to meet the additional costs of supporting children with special needs in the classroom. One of our members Verena Breed, has drawn our attention to an e-petition to HM Government highlighting the plight of rural schools. It asks the Government to review the allocation of funding given to schools under the new Funding Formula. View petition here. It requires 100,000 signatures in order for it to be considered for debate In the House of Commons. So please get everyone linked to your school to sign up!

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Meeting with David Laws, Schools Minister

Pupils from Brimpton PrimaryAn NASS delegation met Schools Minister, David Laws, at his request following our earlier concerns about the impact of new school funding arrangements. We explained it is effectively a postcode lottery with Councils offering lump sum amounts ranging from as low as £32 000 to £195 000. Two schools were not even offered the minimum of the DfE suggested range- as it was only a suggested minimum. None were offered the top of that range, £200 000, which the DfE has twice stated was what small schools needed to meet their annual fixed costs.

We reported that closures were already in hand and more threatened. Two Councils said the lump sum they were considering would leave all schools under 100 on roll financially unviable. There is a minimum funding guarantee that states no school should be cut by more than 1.5% of what it received before and some closures are proposed specifically because councils do not wish to meet such safeguards.

We explained the high quality of small school performance and the long-term value of the close partnership between parents and teachers which inspires that achievement. We were very concerned at the prospect of a severe slate of closures of small schools nationally because the usual financial cost argument is seriously flawed and does not stand up to more sophisticated economic analysis. We ask members and others concerned for the well-being of small schools to be alert, to contact political representatives when concerns arise and to keep the NASS informed.

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Education Tomorrow

Future of education - home tutoringNew technology, flexible parental working patterns, home schooling and home-school linked learning set-ups: ideas regarding the future of educating children in the future propose increasingly varied and flexible approaches. One of our members, Maureen Boustred, has suggested the following: The basic idea is to SHORTEN the SCHOOLDAY. That is – the time children are in a school building. The suggested new timing is for MORNINGS ONLY- 8.30 am to 12.30 pm. This would result in two and a half hours shortfall from statutory requirements for a five day week, or put another way – half an hour a day. Ongoing learning for that time could be facilitated in other places during the rest of the day. Read more.

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Top Performing Schools

Pupils from Brimpton PrimaryWe've had another school, Brimpton C.E. Primary, inform us that they've received a letter from David Laws congratulating them on being amongst the top performing primary schools in the 2012 Key Stage 2 tests. Well done to all the staff and pupils!

View letter.

 

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If you have any contributions for our newsletter please email us or write to us at:
National Association for Small Schools
'Quarrenden' - Upper Red Cross Road,
Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8 9BD
Tel: 0845 2235029
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