Diary of an NQT: The Pupil Premium, ALFs and seating plans

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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As part of our Pupil Premium special, our NQT diarist discusses some of his classroom strategies, including the importance of seating plans

My school has a fairly high number of Pupil Premium students, with around 25 per cent of our student body on the Pupil Premium register.

There is at least one Pupil Premium student in every class that I teach, and some of my groups have considerably more than that.

For instance, in my set five year 9 English class, just under half of the students are on the register.

Since starting my NQT year, I have been impressed by my school’s approach to ensuring that Pupil Premium students are appropriately supported.

Within weeks of taking up my post, I had attended a CPD session focusing closely on working with Pupil Premium students. This was very useful and ensured that my practice chimed with the school’s high standards.

As a staff group, we are expected to put in place interventions designed to support the learning of those on the Pupil Premium register; it is crucial that students do not fall behind academically as a result of their circumstances. As such, we use various tools to identify and monitor the students, allowing us to closely track their progress and support their learning.

One such tool is the online MINTclass seating plan programme. I did not use this tool during my training year but have found it to be really helpful this year. It allows me to design and alter my seating plans, ensuring that all of my pupils – especially those on the Pupil Premium register – are situated in an appropriate place within the class.

My Pupil Premium students are generally seated close to the front so that I can access them easily during lessons. This is crucial, as it allows me to approach them in class and make sure that they are accessing the work. When designing seating plans, many other factors must also be taken into account (such as SEND or behavioural issues).

As well as seating the Pupil Premium students strategically, I use a lot of directed questioning to encourage their engagement. I visit Pupil Premium students frequently in lessons, discussing the work and making sure that they are appropriately challenged by the tasks set.

Pupil Premium students must be relentlessly challenged in class. Throughout my NQT year, my in-class questioning has been a key focus for my professional development and this is something that I am trying to improve upon, specifically with regards to these students.

All teachers in my school must have an Active Learning Folder, which contains our seating plans and details of the interventions that we have put in place to support individual students. Again, this is a valuable tool and gives a clear indication of the strategies that I have implemented to close the gap between Pupil Premium students and their peers – and their impact.

Our “ALFs” must be updated regularly and have to be easily accessible to senior colleagues who may enter my lessons. I have been commended on the thoroughness of my ALF and the intervention strategies that I have used throughout the year.

I am a firm believer in the “every child matters” mantra and this informs my practice at all levels. I am dedicated to ensuring that all of my pupils’ additional needs are met, and my school’s strict guidelines regarding Pupil Premium students have pushed me to implement myriad strategies to ensure their progress.

My recent assessment results indicate that the majority of Pupil Premium students in my classes are making progress on a par with their peers, and I will continue to do everything that I can to close the gap entirely.

  • Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of history at a comprehensive school in the North of England.

Pupil Premium Special Edition

This article was published as part of SecEd’s Pupil Premium Special Edition. The edition, published on March 22, 2018, offers a range of specialist best practice advice for Pupil Premium work in schools, including classroom and whole-school interventions, advice for school leaders and more. The entire edition is available to download as a free pdf document on our website supplements page: www.sec-ed.co.uk/supplements


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