New Pupil Premium guidance urges focus on high-quality teaching above all else

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The link between Pupil Premium spending and high-quality teaching should be the priority for all schools, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has said.

New guidance from the charity offers schools advice on spending the Pupil Premium funding for disadvantaged students effectively.

Drawing upon the range the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit meta-analyses and research reviews, the guidance offers five key principles for Pupil Premium spending, including effective implementation, a focus on high and middle attainers, quality teaching, and evidence-informed interventions.

It says that schools should take a tiered approach, with teaching considered the top priority, including issues such as recruitment, retention, support for early career teachers, and CPD.

The second tier is then targeted academic support for struggling pupils, including linking one-to-one or small group interventions to classroom teaching.

The third tier focuses on strategies relating to non-academic factors including attendance, behaviour and social and emotional support.

The guidance states: “Good teaching is the most important lever schools have to improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. Using the Pupil Premium to improve teaching quality benefits all students and has a particularly positive effect on children eligible for the Pupil Premium. While the Pupil Premium is provided as a different grant from core funding, this financial split shouldn’t create an artificial separation from whole class teaching.”

On implementation, it adds: “The challenge of implementation means that less is more: selecting a small number of priorities and giving them the best chance of success is a safer bet than creating a long list of strategies that becomes hard to manage.” (The EEF also offers a guide to implementation – see below.)

The latest guidance also debunks four Pupil Premium myths, including that the funding must be spent on “interventions” and that Pupil Premium strategies can be separated from whole-school strategies.

It states: “While interventions may well be one part of an effective Pupil Premium strategy, they are likely to be most effective when deployed alongside efforts to improve teaching, and attend to wider barriers to learning, such as attendance and behaviour.”

The new guidance was cited by education secretary Damian Hinds earlier this month as he set out his response to the Department for Education’s (DfE) recent Children in Need Review.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the EEF, said: “By acknowledging the relationship between family income and educational success, the Pupil Premium cuts right to the heart of the reason most of us became educators.

“It’s great to see the secretary of state emphasise the government’s commitment to the policy. The Pupil Premium is the key lever for closing the attainment gap and greater security of funding supports schools to plan ahead with confidence. We know that it has enabled headteachers to focus attention and make a difference for their most disadvantaged pupils. This is achieving results in schools across England, but there is undoubtedly more to do to.

“We’ve published new guidance to help schools spend their Pupil Premium to maximise the benefit for their students. Crucially, we want to strengthen the ways the Pupil Premium can be spent to recruit, retain and develop great teachers for all children.”

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