A priority area for most schools in the country is the performance and attainment of disadvantaged students, these are the students that fulfil the Pupil Premium (PP) descriptors. At Tor Bridge High the PP students are attaining above that for similar schools but crucially there is still gap that we are adamant to remove. Clearly this is a huge question in education and there is a large amount of information that is published on it. What were are concerned with is how we distill the vast amount of nationally published research into what works for our students at Tor Bridge High.
The action research leads for this area are Ian Goldsmith (Head of Humanities) and Robbie Williams) Teacher of PE).
One of the difficulties staff encountered when researching this area is that the term ‘PP’ does not describe a homogenous group of students, in our school it is roughly one third of all students. Some of our best performing students are in this group. It goes without saying that each one of our PP students is a highly valued individual and getting to know them is the key. However, there are also some general considerations when reviewing the progress and attainment of PP students that are widely discussed in research.
What we found out from the action research projects carried out from staff are some approaches that are more likely to work in our school setting.
What makes a difference?
Classroom based strategies.
- PP students have increased engagement and understanding through challenging and differentiated tasks.
- Marking the work of PP students can lead to enhanced feedback and understanding.
- Collaborative work between PP students and suitable peers can increase engagement and understanding.
- Collation and display of class performances for class tests, can motivate high attaining PP students, whereas low attaining PP students can lose confidence and then engagement.
- Seating placement of high attaining PP learners with high attaining non-PP learners enriches metacognition.
- Visual resources and strategies enhances the understanding, confidence and reduces the anxiety of PP boys in the research group.
- Freedom of writing choice and topic does increase enthusiasm for the writing task in PP boys.
- Self esteem of PP students is generally enhanced when working collaboratively with similar ability peers.
- Metacognitive strategies can support KS5 students with extended writing.
Out of classroom based strategies.
- Attendance at homework clubs improved reading ages.
- Proactive parental dialogue resulted in end of unit assessment performance in line with or above PP students target grade.
- Participation in mandatory and optional fieldwork trips has seen a greater uptake following positive home communication.
- Parental engagement has supported students progress.
The action research that was carried out raised almost as many questions as it did provide answers. Areas for further action research projects are.
- How do we overcome language barriers to improve progress?
- How do engage all parents?
- What opportunities can we build at lunchtime for students to develop cultural capital?
- How can continue to improve students mental health?
- How can we adapt teaching to promote good attendance and proactively support missed lessons?