Pupil Premium: Ensuring Equality of Outcomes.
Our Pupil Premium leader recently gave a very powerful presentation. Two students from last years Year 11. Both girls. One girl who we call Lucy (not her real name) started in set 3 in Year 7, one girl who we will call Sarah (again not her real name) started in set 4. Lucy came to us with almost a level higher from her Key Stage 2 results.
However Sarah left with far better GCSEs. And I mean far better. Lucy's progress while she was with us wasn't good enough. She was not able to access level 3 courses at college.
Fortunately we have far more Sarahs than we have Lucys at our Academy. Our progress is roughly in the top third of all schools nationally. But it begs the question about why Sarah performed better than Lucy. One factor has to be that Lucy was identified as a Pupil Premium student and Sarah was not. In fact Lucy would have been classified as a free schools meal student under the stricter criteria from a few years ago i.e. She qualified at the time and not at any time in the last five years.
This takes us into some awkward areas. One of our core values is equality. I have had conversations with teachers where they have said that "all students are treated equally in my class". On the face of it this is a noble mantra.
But what about an SEND student in that class are they treated the same as all other students? The debate over this is long over. Of course we treat these students slightly differently. We personalise and differentiate our lessons and activities to meet their needs. SEND students have educational barriers that need to be take into account.
However should we also do this for Pupil Premium students who have possible social, emotional, financial and aspirational barriers? The difficulty is that the definition of Pupil Premium is so broad. Just because a student comes from a family that had difficulty 3,4 and 5 years ago does not mean their circumstances are the same as now. Just because a student comes from a low income family does mean that he or she lacks ambition or aspiration or indeed has parents that will not push them. But we cannot get away from the fact that students who are in receipt of Pupil Premium achieve far less than their non-Pupil Premium counterparts. Morally I find this really difficult to swallow. Everything I stand for is to level the educational playing field regardless of background.
So in answer to my own question earlier, whether we need to treat Pupil Premium students differently in the classroom, my answer is yes. We need to make sure that they understand our feedback, that challenging work is set, that their homework is completed and is high quality. It's the only way we will ensure an equality of outcomes.