Education Endowment Foundation:Attendance and reading key barriers to disadvantaged pupils’ progress say three in four schools

Attendance and reading key barriers to disadvantaged pupils’ progress say three in four schools


EEF publish updated resources to support pupil premium spending

Press Release •2 minutes •

Three quarters of schools in England say poor attendance and low-reading levels are the biggest challenges affecting their socio-economically disadvantaged pupils’ academic achievement.

This is according to analysis of Pupil Premium statements conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and undertaken to support their suite of new resources to help schools use their Pupil Premium funding in the most effective ways.

Analysis of a representative sample of 300 schools’ Pupil Premium strategy statements found that 75% cited attendance and 74% mentioned reading as the main barriers to attainment for their pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding.

Supporting schools to tackle the factors hindering socio-economically disadvantaged pupils’ progress has never been more important. The gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates remains stubbornly wide, and more families are falling below the poverty line as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Just over 2.2 million pupils were eligible for Pupil Premium funding in January 2023, an increase of around 2% on the previous year.

The analysis also found that an overwhelming majority of schools are using education evidence to identify the best ways of supporting disadvantaged pupils in their school communities. Almost 9 out of 10 (88%) of the statements analysed referred to using EEF resources to guide their Pupil Premium spend, with greater take-up in schools with higher proportions of eligible pupils.

To further support schools, the EEF has published a suite of resources to help maximise the impact of Pupil Premium spending.

The EEF Guide to the Pupil Premium is a comprehensive resource for school leaders looking to maximise the impact of their spending. It provides step-by-step, time-saving advice on how to develop and implement an effective Pupil Premium strategy.

The guide recommends a tiered approach, where schools focus their Pupil Premium resources on three areas:

  • High quality teaching, including approaches to support recruitment and retention.
  • Targeted academic support, such as small group or one to one tuition.
  • Wider strategies, including support for attendance and behaviour.

The resources include accessible guidance on using evidence to inform planning; quick links to high-quality research findings; and advice for governors on how to champion purposeful Pupil Premium spending in their context. They also bust common myths about the Pupil Premium.

Access the resources here.

Professor Becky Francis CBE, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: