Regional winners in the 2014 Pupil Premium Awards have been announced this afternoon.
They include Park Junior, Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire, which has introduced a behaviour reward system so successful that year six children can now hold weekly assemblies for 400 pupils with no adults present.
De Lisle College in Loughborough is among the secondary winners and has given all of its disadvantaged pupils access to a bursary that enables them to go on extra-curricular “trips, activities, expeditions and adventures”.
A total of 21 schools are regional winners. They will now have the chance to win £10,000 each as they go through to the finals of the awards – run by the Department for Education in association with TES – on June 25.
The awards are designed to raise the profile of the pupil premium, a policy that this year saw schools receive around £900 extra in government funding for each disadvantaged pupil on roll.
By rewarding schools that make the best and most innovative use of the premium money, the hope is that the awards will spread good ideas on how to close the achievement gap suffered by many disadvantaged pupils.
John Dunford, the government's national pupil premium champion, said: “School leadership teams have a great opportunity with pupil premium to really address the issue of underperformance of pupils on free school meals where the gap between them and other pupils is so much wider than it is in other countries.
“The most important thing they have got to look at is ‘What strategies will work best in this school?’ because there is no single answer to this question.”
Three schools – one from each sector – will win a top £10,00 prize at the finals ceremony, being held at The Corinthia Hotel in London. There will also be three runners-up prizes of £3,000 each.
The judging panel was co-chaired by Dr Dunford and Kevan Collins of the Education Endowment Foundation, which has produced advice for schools on how to spend the pupil premium.
The awards for 2015 will be even bigger with a total of £4m in prize money, going to up to different 500 schools, with a top individual prize of £250,000.