Pupil Premium: Tracking progress, challenges and involvement – a case study

Written by: Jess Hawley | Published:
Premium strategies: Markeaton Primary School has more than 440 children on roll with 25 per cent Pupil Premium
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A small sheet of paper completed four times a year has transformed one primary school’s approach to Pupil Premium support and intervention. Jessica Hawley explains

At Markeaton Primary School, we have been consistently monitoring not only the academic progress of our Pupil Premium children but also their behaviour, participation and the enhanced opportunities that they receive in the hopes of achieving wide, long-lasting benefits.

Markeaton Primary, built 1910, is a well-established and popular school serving a diverse socio-economic area of north west Derby. There are 441 children on roll in 14 classes with 25 per cent identified as Pupil Premium – a figure which continues to rise each year. We are an Enhanced Resource School specialising in the teaching of children with a visual impairment.

About four years ago, I was appointed co-Pupil Premium leader after previously leading PE. “Closing the gap” for disadvantaged pupils had been a school priority for a couple of years. We had a robust system to track reading, writing and maths, which went hand-in-hand with termly progress meetings, but we were now interested in tracking the children’s wider involvement within school.

In an effort to accomplish this, we came up with termly “Pupil Premium Progress Trackers”. We created a table on an A4 sheet which tracked behaviour in class, behaviour on the playground, participation in class and participation in a group for each disadvantaged child. These were rated by the class teacher from 0 to 5 – five being the most positive result.

We also asked for the number of behaviour incidents that term and any enhanced opportunities that the children has been involved in. This assisted in the monitoring of the Pupil Premium budget and helped us to critically analyse if the interventions we were delivering were having a positive impact.

In September, after a few weeks of teaching and learning, class teachers submit their baseline tracker. They then update and submit again at the end of the autumn, spring and summer terms. At these data collection points, the Pupil Premium leaders identify any significant differences to their baseline scores and then seek reasons as to why they might have decreased.

Undertaking this new approach then led us to include another box on the tracker to explain where appropriate any movement in scores, as the class teacher is best placed to notice these.

Big picture: An example of a completed Pupil Premium Progress Tracker for two pupils at Markeaton Primary School

If we notice that a child’s score has decreased, we discuss this with the class teacher and they then put a support system in place in the hope that this will improve their overall behaviour and/or participation in the coming term.

If this decrease continues the next term, then further action could be taken such as having a parental meeting or bringing in further intervention.

The information is documented and then shared with the headteacher and governing board to monitor in line with the School Development Plan.

How do we know it is helping?

Since introducing the trackers, we have found that there is consistency across the entire school in the way that we track progress and wider involvement for our disadvantaged pupils.

It has enabled us to ensure that all disadvantaged children, regardless of their academic ability, receive access to termly enhanced opportunities such as free extra-curricular clubs like yoga, kick-boxing or multi-sports, additional music and language lessons, as well as discounts on trips and access to visitors to the school.

When there is a significant change in a child’s behaviour or participation, staff report feeling more confident to monitor and intervene. When there is a challenging situation that they may need extra support with, we as the Pupil Premium leaders are there to give advice. We are working as one big support system for these children and it means that we see long-lasting results.

We have seen an increase in lesson participation from our disadvantaged children, both in small groups and whole class. Likewise, we have seen a reduction in total behaviour incidents, as these rapid interventions and support systems are put in place as soon as the class teacher detects an issue.

Ultimately, we have begun to see a closing of the academic gap between our Pupil Premium children and their peers. Our disadvantaged children make comparable if not accelerated progress on average compared to their peers and pupil voice suggests that their wellbeing has improved as well.

When asked three years ago, 50 per cent of our disadvantaged children answered “yes” to the statement “I am happy”. After introducing the trackers for a year, this turned into 60 per cent of children and after three years, 80 per cent of our disadvantaged pupils said they were happy.

Have we encountered any challenges?

In the beginning, we found some teachers’ perception of what a “five” in the scale looked like was very different to that of other teachers. We looked to address this by having a short staff briefing on what zero to five would look like typically. We then found that the scoring was more consistent across the school.

As mentioned above, sometimes the children’s behaviour/participation would change and we would need to consult with class teachers to understand why this may have happened. This could take a lot of time and could potentially interrupt lesson time, so we added an extra box onto the tracker for teachers to share causes for score movements. This was a good solution for class teachers as well as the Pupil Premium Leaders.

Elsewhere, we were finding that some disadvantaged children who had only recently become eligible for Pupil Premium funding could be omitted from the trackers. To overcome this, we appointed a designated member of admin staff who sent out Pupil Premium updates to class teachers when changes occurred. We have not encountered this issue since.

As this was a new thing for the staff, we ensured that we introduced it via a staff meeting, when we showed detailed examples and reassured them that we were there to support and that they could share any and all concerns without judgement.

This was a school priority and so we got backing from the headteacher, senior leadership team and governing board to make this a “golden thread” in the staff’s performance management for the first year (a target which every member of teaching staff had). We did this to make sure that staff had the time, training and support needed to engage well with this project.

After one year, we found that we did not need to add this to performance management as it was embedded into whole school teaching practice.

Making this work

If you want to adopt and adapt this approach in your schools, make sure that you have a leader in place monitoring these trackers. The data can take a couple of hours to go through and it is best if there are two of you. If you do not monitor the trackers then the project will have less of an impact.

Show examples to staff of how you want the tracker to be completed. Make sure you explain the zero to five grading system so that staff are consistent in their approach. Let the staff know that you are there to support them in this and if they are struggling with what enhanced opportunities to offer then share ideas.

Furthermore, ensure you give feedback to staff, even if it is just a “thank you” for completing it. They are doing an important job and it is important to recognise that.


The trackers have been a huge success. It may only be a small sheet of paper completed four times a year but it has a substantial impact on the children’s lives in terms of the rapid support and enhanced opportunities they receive from school.

  • Jess Hawley is the designated senior Leader for mental health and co-Pupil Premium leader at Markeaton Primary School in Derby.

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