Pupil Premium: supporting the whole community

Oct. 10, 2017
Lesley Keast

Lesley Keast

Assistant Headteacher, Oasis Academy Nunsthorpe

I work at a three-form entry primary school in Grimsby, situated in an area of high social, economic and educational deprivation, with an overall pupil premium eligibility of 67%.

Lesley is a graduate from our 2016 Future Leaders cohort, and a current participant on our Headship Programme (with NPQH).

Pupil Premium Eligibility

Given this disadvantaged context and high pupil premium percentage, our policy caters not just for our pupils, but works to help our families and our community. One important aspect to note of our pupil premium policy is that even though our school percentage is 67%, the other 33% of our pupils and families are not far above the threshold, hence we do not distinguish between disadvantaged pupils and non-disadvantaged pupils for the provision we provide.

As educators, I am sure we are all fully aware of the impact family and community have on a child’s school life and education. Working in a 'special measures' school within a tight-knit community of two and three generations unemployed, low levels of literacy, high levels of drugs, alcohol and domestic violence mean that the majority of our children have turbulent home lives.

Although our data shows 67% pupil premium across the school, the current Year 6 are at 81%. It is a constant battle to encourage the parents of our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and key stage 1 (KS1) to sign up if eligible for pupil premium, as they do not see the need since their children get a free lunch anyway. This year, under our new substantive head, we encouraged our new parents in to school and sat with them to help them fill in the forms.

Pupil Premium Policy

Our school ethos is to ‘raise standards, with every child having every chance’. With this in mind, our pupil premium vision is to ‘raise standards through breaking cycles’.

We have a large pastoral team in school consisting of a behaviour lead, a safeguarding lead and four learning mentors. One of the jobs they are relentless at is keeping our attendance figures above national average, driving out every morning to bring children in from their homes.

Every day of school is important to a child’s education, especially if they have a disadvantaged background. Our pupil premium policy helps support this hardworking pastoral team by ensuring our pupils are in classes learning, our families feel protected and safe, and our community feels understood and supported.

The pastoral team work tirelessly with our pupils and their families, ensuring our children are in the right mental state to learn. We have children who arrive late at school regularly, but who often need time to ‘offload’ the night before.

Our pastoral team nurture these children, preparing them for a day of learning by listening, talking and constantly reinforcing the message that every pupil is precious to us in school, and how much we want to keep them safe and learning.

We hold each child’s story, making sure we build up the knowledge of each child over time, detailing relevant information such as specific needs/barriers to learning, external agency involvement, provision, outcomes during the pupil’s time at school, progress information, attendance data, pastoral data, teacher comments each year and the impact this has on the child.

This file stays with the child during his/her school life at our school so that we can build a picture to help, and to measure our own impact.


Our pastoral team also regularly provides weekend food parcels when our families have nothing to feed their children. Our school recently forged links with Greggs, who help fund our breakfast club, and our local Tesco, who bring their unsold bread to our school for our families to take home. From this, local families, supporting the school’s pupils, their families and the community, have set up a community shop on the school premises.

We are currently washing one family's clothes because of a recent breakup. The siblings have been separated at home, so we give them time together at school. If the children are happy at school, our teachers have more of a chance to accelerate their learning.

As part of our pupil premium policy we have also set aside a communal space which some of our parents have converted into a community library. It is an ideal space as it has separate access and is lockable from the school.

As our community has low literacy levels, and often a lack of books, this, alongside the free bread that arrives at school on a near daily basis and the community shop, is having a big impact on the trust our families and community place in us.

Provision in school is carefully mapped to ensure we can accurately report our pupil premium policy and spending: external agency time; interventions provided; pastoral care by the team; attendance support; uptake of breakfast club, after-school clubs, booster clubs, holiday clubs and holiday trips for our families; uniform subsidy; school trip subsidy, booster clubs and any extra provision we provide.

Having established more trust amongst pupils and families, our learning mentors are now spending more time supporting our complex-needs children in class, as this is proving more effective

Our next steps are to maintain this list of children, identified through safeguarding needs, behaviour/nurture needs, SEN needs and/or progress data. These children are discussed at pupil progress meetings and at academy leadership meetings, where we identify who is best to break the cycle for that child.

To sum up, we use our pupil premium funding to help our families living on our estate in many different ways, both in and out of school. Ultimately, we need our children in school so that they can learn: that is the goal. We use that funding to ensure high attendance and settled learners, whatever it takes.

Lesley is a graduate from our 2016 Future Leaders cohort, and a current participant on our Headship Programme (with NPQH).

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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