‘We must hold our nerve over the pupil premium’ - Sir Kevan Collins in TES

It is seven years since the Pupil Premium - additional money designed to help boost the attainment of disadvantaged young people and close the gap - was introduced in schools. 

Sir Kevan Collins, the EEF's chief executive, has written for TES explaining why he thinks it's a policy which merits sticking with. Here's an excerpt:

... The pupil premium’s strength lies in both its purpose and its clarity. The idea of providing additional ring-fenced resources to meet the needs of the poorest pupils has gained support across the political spectrum, and has been used as a model for similar reforms across the world. ...

But, at a time when school budgets are under real stress, we need to know that the pupil premium is making the biggest possible difference in young people’s lives. It is right to ask how we can do more to give the premium the best chance of achieving its ambitious goals.

I have three suggestions.

First, we must strengthen the link between the pupil premium and teaching. While the premium should remain a ring-fenced part of school budgets, this financial separation should not cause it to become isolated from the core business of schools. We can be obsessed with add-ons. There is undoubtedly still a place for targeted support, but high-quality first teaching is the most powerful driver of educational equity.

Second, schools should regard it as absolutely legitimate to spend their pupil premium to get – and keep – the teachers they need to deliver that high-quality teaching. In 2015, the NAO found that fewer than 5 per cent of schools used the premium to support recruitment. But using the premium to tackle the recruitment and retention challenge – and evaluating new approaches as we innovate – must make sense at a time when it is schools’ biggest worry.

Third, more should be done to encourage schools to share successful strategies. Increasing the level and quality of school-to-school support, as recommended this month by the NAHT headteacher union’s Accountability Commission, is crucial to creating a consistently excellent system.

You can read Sir Kevan's article in full here.