8 pupil premium toolkit strategies

April 3, 2018
Anjna Flack

Anjna Flack

Assistant Headteacher, Bishop Stopford’s School

When I first took on the role of leading our pupil premium policy, the first thing I did was research how other schools spent their funding.

During my research I discovered only 10% of school leaders had changed their pupil premium policy in 2012 and that most schools just used the funding to supplement their school budgets.

Yet the attainment gap remains large and persistent. Despite the research on what works, my real starting point was to understand the cause of the under-performance of students eligible for pupil premium

Pupil premium eligibility

Initially, I completed an audit of current practice and its impact. I looked at my current school, previous school and schools local to the area. I work in a school where pupil premium eligibility is just over 40%; a significant number. I discovered that the most frequent strategy used was removing students from subjects in order for them to receive additional English and maths support.

This contributed to good results in English and maths, but there were a range of other barriers to learning for this group of students.

The main barriers I discovered were:

  • Attendance
  • Literacy concerns (especially on entry to the school) – this is a particular concern with the new exam specification in a range of subjects with more wordy and complex questions
  • Lack of study material – revision materials, equipment, ICT for example
  • Gaps in staff skills in knowing how to ensure that these students progress
  • Students not knowing how to prepare for exams
  • Lack of ‘real world’ knowledge which means that students are unable to put questions into context or draw on their own knowledge and experience of the world.

The next stage was to look at strategies that would best support progress. We used an SLT meeting to devise the strategies that would best utilise the pupil premium fund. Not all strategies work for all students and the strategies need to be differentiated for different groups of students.

Pupil premium toolkit strategies

1. Breakfast club

We initiated a breakfast club with food provided for students. Staff were available to support with homework catch-up or to work on problem solving skills with students. This year so far, persistent absence amongst pupil premium students has reduced to 8% and is continuing to fall.

2. Exam Magic

We used this company to support Year 11, 12 and 13 students to emotionally prepare for exams. Pupil premium students then had additional intensive workshops to support their development. We have seen these students become more resilient and able to continue working even when they are struggling. The Exam Magic team personalised the support to the students and this was key.

3. Resource audit

We completed an audit of students’ resources and realised that there was a difference between pupil premium students and those who are not. We then ensured that we purchased revision materials, exam packs, textbooks and equipment for those students.

4. New laptops

We also purchased a class set of laptops for students to borrow in order to support with completion of examination tasks. So far, in Year 11, this has meant that the difference in expected progress 8 score between pupil premium and non-pupil premium students has reduced from -0.24 to -0.13.

"I work in a school where pupil premium eligibility is just over 40%; a significant number."

5. Sightseeing tours

To support students who were new to the country and were struggling with applying the contextual information, we arranged a number of sightseeing tours and visits to museums in order to support their development of culture and understanding of being in this country. This has had an indirect impact as students have not only developed their language skills, but they have been able to develop their understanding of different types of questions where context is assumed.

6. Staff training

We ensured that staff were trained in the best ways to support pupil progress as highlighted by the Education Endowment Foundation. We utilised the expertise of Learning Cultures for some external training and used the evidence of feedback being the best strategy to support progress. This has now been the focus of learning walks and lesson observations.

7. Brilliant Club

To support our higher ability students, we undertook the support of the Brilliant Club, which works to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. This helped in raising aspirations in these students.

8. University visits

Additionally, we give students the opportunity to visit Russell Group universities and improve their key writing skills through mentoring by a professional tutor. This has supported both their aspirations and the development of key skills in order to improve their progress.

Peer Support

Because of these eight strategies, we have seen the difference between the two groups of students diminish and we look forward to this trend continuing. For us, the key has been to assess the impact of each pupil premium strategy termly and adjust and amend accordingly.

Over the next year, we will be running a Higher Aspirations programme, focusing on higher ability students who are pupil premium with a long-term project (including workshops) designed to assist them in progressing to university.

We will be extending our links with local schools and looking at running joint projects in order to ensure cross-borough support. We will also be developing the “success lounge” where we will utilise the skills of sixth formers in supporting students in younger years in identified subjects to support progression.

The feedback from students and parents has been positive and we look forward to continuing to diminishing the gap between pupil premium pupils and the rest of the school.


Anjna is a graduate from our 2013 Teaching Leaders Secondary cohort. Teaching Leaders is a leadership development programme for high-potential middle leaders looking to improve pupil outcomes and increase their impact as a leader.


This article originally appeared on the website of Ambition School Leadership. In March 2019, the Institute for Teaching merged with Ambition School Leadership to form Ambition Institute.


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