Pupil Premium: Extra tuition interventions

Written by: David Rowan-Robinson | Published:
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Using extra tuition is an effective way of supporting Pupil Premium and other students at risk of falling behind. David Rowan-Robinson explains how his school has implemented this approach

Hatch End High School is a large urban school situated in Harrow, just outside of London. The school has a diverse range of students, many of whom are living in challenging contexts. On average, 50 per cent of pupils are classed as disadvantaged (eligible for Pupil Premium funding) and there are an above average number of SEN and EAL students.

Having worked at Hatch End for several years as a head of faculty, I joined the senior leadership team in September 2015, the same year I joined the Future Leaders programme. In my new role I was given responsibility for Pupil Premium.

My target was to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils achieving A* to C in GCSEs in English and maths, and their peers.

In 2015, disadvantaged students made outstanding progress in English, achieving above the national average for non-disadvantaged students – but expected progress in maths was not at the same level and was lower than the national average.

Overall, 37 per cent of disadvantaged students achieved A* to C in English and maths, compared with 60 per cent of non-disadvantaged pupils. It therefore became a priority that disadvantaged students made accelerated progress in order to close this gap.

Identifying the problems

Our school provides additional support for those students that require it, including after-school tuition in small groups and additional revision sessions during school holidays and on Saturdays. These work well as intervention methods, preventing students from falling further behind and giving them an opportunity to practise and become confident with the curriculum.

Analysing the data from the previous year, it became clear that the percentage of disadvantaged students attending these interventions outside of the school day (compared to their non-disadvantaged peers) was low. It also became clear that careful and strategic management was required to ensure the right students were being targeted and the impact rigorously measured.

I felt that staff could capitalise on some of the excellent CPD provision that the school provided. The CPD would help staff become more aware of the complex barriers disadvantaged students faced and equip them with strategies to overcome these barriers.

Setting key targets

Objective 1: Improve percentage of disadvantaged students achieving A* to C in English and maths.

I targeted students in waves using current internal data based on their most recent exam results. Students were targeted if they were making below expected progress in either English or maths and if they achieved a C or above in English but not in maths and vice-versa.

There were four waves of the programme throughout the year: the first consisted of all disadvantaged students, while waves 2 to 4 included a minimum of 50 per cent disadvantaged students (representing the school cohort). Each wave consisted of 40 students and included: a parental engagement workshop, additional tuition outside of school learning hours, and a personal action plan.

To ensure all parents and students attended the workshop, I met with the students as a group beforehand and explained that we would be launching the intervention programme at the workshop. I explained the power of the programme and how it would support them to make accelerated progress.

We also communicated to parents via email, letter and text and I made personal calls to parents who didn’t reply, explaining why it was important for them to attend. Attendance throughout was monitored by myself as well as the English and maths departments and pastoral team.

The most important factor was this close monitoring and constant following through. Both students and parents knew that we cared and realised that they could benefit from being part of a group that was getting intense support.

During the parental engagement workshops, parents along with their children met with the heads of departments. At these meetings the heads explained the syllabus and structure of the exam papers and demonstrated techniques which parents could use to help improve their child’s grades.

For example, parents were shown how to navigate and use an online maths website to help their child. We also distributed resources, such as revision guides and tailor-made workbooks, and gave out personalised feedback from students’ last assessments.

For additional tuition, students were grouped together based on the common areas they needed to improve on according to the analysis of their papers. The students targeted in each wave changed depending on the most recent data.

As each wave was completed, students who made accelerated progress were taken out of the programme, and replaced by others who met the criteria for inclusion. Due to the unpredictable nature of grade boundaries, any students who achieved a C3 were included in all the interventions.

Objective 2: Ensure that disadvantaged students maintained excellent overall Progress 8 (above the national average for non-disadvantaged students).

I put together a toolkit of strategies to support disadvantaged students and shared with heads of department and teachers across all subjects to enable them to make targeted interventions.

When disadvantaged students were underachieving, I met with the heads of department and we agreed on specific actions and set-up a meeting four weeks later to review progress.

Heads of department were very receptive in these meetings as it provided them with the opportunity to look at specific reasons for underachievement and meet with teachers to ensure they were aware of which students required help and whether appropriate strategies were being put in place.

In some cases, I was able to provide access to Pupil Premium funding. For example, to raise engagement and aspirations in PE we paid for disadvantaged students to go to Loughborough University.

To ensure that disadvantaged students attended interventions during holidays, individual timetables were put together for students so that they knew where they needed to be each day and at what time.

I personally went around tutor groups and gave out the timetables, tutors reminded the students, and the timetables were posted home along with text messages sent out to parents the day before every intervention.

On the day of the interventions, reception called parents if any students did not attend. On average, at least 50 per cent of the students who attended the interventions were disadvantaged.

The teachers delivering sessions measured impact with clear grades at entry and exit of the programme. A post-intervention report evaluated the impact (the percentage of students who made a full grade or more improvement). This ensured that the interventions were delivered to a high standard and that progress and attendance of disadvantaged students was made explicit to the staff.

Results

When the year 11 final exam results came out in August, the overall percentage of students achieving A* to C in English and maths improved from 51 per cent (2015) to 69 per cent (2016). The gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students closed from 23 to nine per cent. The percentage of disadvantaged students who achieved an A* to C in English and maths rose from 37 to 64 per cent.

In terms of overall progress, disadvantaged students achieved a Progress 8 score of 0.41, with virtually no gap between non-disadvantaged students who scored 0.46.

It was a combination of many factors that led to these improved outcomes. Not only was the quality of teaching very high, but the whole staff body, academic and pastoral, worked together to remove barriers for disadvantaged students. Many staff, especially heads of department, appreciated having the time to discuss barriers and possible solutions.

One head of department was overjoyed when she received additional funding for revision books to support disadvantaged students, but this was only possible when areas of communication were opened.

This year the reformed English and maths GCSEs, limited awareness of the grade boundaries and a smaller cohort present a new set of challenges, but I am proud of how far we have come and look forward to tackling the new challenges and reducing the gap further.

  • David Rowan-Robinson is an assistant headteacher at Hatch End High School in Harrow, where he teaches psychology. He joined the Ambition School Leadership Future Leaders Programme in 2015.

Ambition School Leadership

Ambition School Leadership is a charity that runs leadership development programmes in England to help school leaders create more impact in schools that serve disadvantaged children and their communities. You can find out how you and your school can work with them at www.ambitionschoolleadership.org.uk


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