A secondary school which employs former members of the Royal Navy to manage classroom discipline is among the winners of today’s Pupil Premium Awards.
The awards, which are sponsored by TES, also recognised the achievements of a primary school which tackles problems with punctuality by sending a “walking bus” to pick up children for school.
The annual awards recognise schools that have made the best use of the money allocated to them under the government’s pupil premium policy. At a ceremony in central London this morning, 500 schools received a share of prize money totalling £4 million.
ITN newsreader Nina Hossain hosted the awards, along with Rob Grimshaw, chief executive of TES’ parent company, TES Global.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg also addressed the assembled school staff. “The British education system has always had this abiding problem of not serving kids from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as kids from privileged backgrounds,” he said.
But, he added, the pupil premium has been “one of the most rewarding things I’ve come across, over half a decade in government…The way in which you’ve used the freedom and opportunity and money of the pupil premium to emancipate pupils to dream the dream which they are now dreaming.”
Schools minister David Laws was also present. He used the ceremony to announce that an additional £800,000 would be made available to fund 10 beacon schools, to spread advice on best pupil-premium practice across their regions. “It will give every single young person, whatever their background, the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life,” he said.
Ark Charter Academy, in Portsmouth, was handed the £250,000 prize for winning the secondary school category. The school is in one of the poorest areas of the country, with 62 per cent of pupils – more than twice the national average – receiving the pupil premium.
In 2014, 82 per cent of these pupil premium students achieved five or more good GCSEs, including English and maths: 18 percentage points higher than the national average for children who do not receive the pupil premium.
The school runs a longer-than-average day, to ensure that there is sufficient curriculum time to give pupils the maths and literacy support they need. And pupil premium funding is used to provide a range of extra-curricular activities, including sailing and boxing clubs, and subsidised trips to universities and the theatre. The school has also recently built its own theatre.
And – as befits a school in a coastal town – Charter has employed former Royal Navy personnel as pastoral support workers. The ex-seamen conduct home visits, as well as supporting teachers in the classroom, and modelling discipline for pupils.
Parkfield Community School, in Birmingham, was awarded the £100,000 prize for winning the primary category. In 2014, 78 per cent of the school’s pupil-premium students achieved level 4b – above the expected level for the age. This is significantly higher than the national average of 53 per cent reaching the same level.
Parkfield staff had noticed that pupils without a computer at home had begun to fall behind in maths lessons. So they launched a maths breakfast club for those pupils, which significantly improved maths results. And, to resolve a serious problem with children’s punctuality, they launched a “walking bus”, picking pupils up at designated times, so that they reached school before the start of the day.
Among the other schools recognised were Queensmill School, in west London, which works with children with severe autism. The school works closely with pupils’ families, supporting them in the home and providing respite overnight care, as well as accompanying parents to appointments with external agencies.
And Belle Vue Infant School, in Hampshire, was recognised for its summer club, which helped children to settle into the new school year more quickly, and with increased confidence.
During the ceremony, two pupil premium students from Goff School in Buckinghamshire, a previous award-winner, addressed the audience. One said: “I’m planning to go to university and, when I achieve this goal, I will be the first in my family.”
The second then discussed her own ambitions. “When I leave university, I would like to be a tattoo artist," she said. "I’ve always loved the idea that my art will mean something, and will be with someone for ever.”
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