A school where staff make sure that even pupils who cannot afford to bring a pen to school are able to learn is among the winners at the Pupil Premium Awards this afternoon.
Sponsored by Tes, in partnership with the Department for Education, the awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of schools and early years providers, in using the pupil premium – worth £2.5 billion this year – to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged pupils.
The awards were presented at a champagne reception, held on a terrace at the Houses of Parliament, overlooking the Thames. While nominees from schools around the country piled their plates with scones, strawberries and fondant fancies, the new minister for children and families, Robert Goodwill, opened the ceremony.
“I’m just two weeks into my new job and this is the first time they’ve let me out in public,” he said.
Then he praised nominees. “The work you’re doing in your schools is exceptional,” he said. “It demonstrates that, when used innovatively and effectively, the pupil premium can transform the lives of disadvantaged pupils.”
James Turner, deputy chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said how much he enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with teachers at the awards ceremony. “A lot of our work is about data and research,” he said. “It’s nice to actually come out and see the people who are affected by it all.”
And Rob Grimshaw, chief executive of Tes, praised the 23 finalists. “You’ve all demonstrated innovative use of pupil funding to directly support pupils who need most help,” he said.
Debra Wood, headteacher of Rose Bridge Academy, in Wigan, was among the winners: her school won the pupil premium plus category, awarded to the school that has done the most to help looked-after children.
“These children go through all sorts of difficulties in their lives,” she said. “Sometimes these students need extra-special care.
“It’s about making sure that every teacher in the classroom understands the needs of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We don’t let not having a pen to bring to school become a barrier to learning."
The pupil premium was introduced in 2010, offering schools additional funding for every pupil who has been entitled to receive free school meals (FSM) at any point over the last six years.
"We should probably give some credit to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, because it was their idea," Mr Goodwill said, of the pupil premium. "Of course, it was the only good idea they had."
Special/alternative-provision category: Bristol Gateway School (South-West)
Pupil premium plus category: Rose Bridge Academy (North-West)
Early years category: Comet Nursery School and Children’s Centre (London)
Primary category: Springfield Junior School (East of England)
Secondary category: Sacred Heart Catholic School (London)