Schools in England that are making the best use of pupil premium money to help their poorest students reach their potential were celebrated at an awards ceremony in Westminster this week.
The inaugural Pupil Premium Awards, started by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in collaboration with TES, gave #163;10,000 each to the three schools judged to have made the best use of the additional government funding, which aims to help narrow the gap between the richest and poorest students.
The pupil premium gives schools an extra #163;900 a year for each student who has received free school meals in the past six years. By 2015, the government will be spending #163;2.5 billion a year on the flagship Liberal Democrat policy.
At this week's awards ceremony, Longford Park School in Manchester, Pakeman Primary School in North London and Westminster Academy in West London picked up prizes for their innovative use of the cash.
Mr Clegg said that seeing the impressive work schools are doing with pupil premium money is something that he, as a politician, has "long dreamed of".
"This money is genuinely opening up opportunities for those youngsters who would otherwise be deprived of the chances to fulfil their dreams and potential," Mr Clegg said. "You have no idea how incredibly proud it makes me to see the pupil premium being spent, and so I would like to congratulate you on how well you have done."
Louise Rogers, chief executive of TSL Education, the parent company of TES, said that she was equally happy to back the Pupil Premium Awards because too often the hard work of teachers goes unnoticed.
"TES was really pleased to be able to be part of the pupil premium because we think it is the ultimate enabler that allows people like you to do what you do best," Ms Rogers told the audience.
PUPIL PREMIUM AWARD WINNERS
Special needs school of the year
Longford Park School, Manchester
The special school, for students aged 5-11 who have emotional and behavioural problems, has been spending its pupil premium money on music, which helps students to cope with making mistakes.
Headteacher Andrew Taylor said that learning an instrument builds students' self-esteem. "The ultimate aspiration among the students is to play in the brass band, and it allows them to see themselves as being successful," he said.
Primary school of the year
Pakeman Primary School, North London
The primary school said that it was using the additional money to extend and expand its existing projects based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck.
Principal Lynne Gavin said that she is basing her approach on Dweck's assertion that even preschool children believe they are unable to do certain things because they lack the innate ability or natural talent.
"We have children in nursery who think that certain things are beyond them. This money has meant that we can work with them more closely to unpick their mindset and teach them that they can get better at anything," Ms Gavin said.
Secondary school of the year
Westminster Academy, West London
At the secondary academy, 73 per cent of students receive free school meals, while 89 per cent speak English as an additional language.
Vice-principal Saima Rana said that the pupil premium money has allowed the school to tailor its curriculum to the students most in need of help and to provide additional classes in literacy and numeracy.
"We personalise the curriculum by making sure our students develop not just academically but socially, morally and culturally," Dr Rana said. "As we have 89 per cent of students with English as an additional language, we really focus on English and maths, with small classes and often one-to-one tuition."