The Pupil Premium Grant (PPG): Questions for Governors to Ask

13 Apr

In the 60th issue of Governors’ Agenda (see pages 27 to 29) we set out what the Premium was about, how much schools entitled to the grant will receive and the manner in which Ofsted judges whether the pupils (and taxpayers) are securing value for money.

In the March/April 2015 issue of Governing Matters, produced by the National Governors’ Association, John Dunford, the National Pupils’ Premium Champion, praises governors for the manner in which they ensure that their schools are using the resource well quoting the three reports that Ofsted has written on the subject.   In HMCI’s annual report in 2013/14, Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote: “Governing Bodies offer heads challenge as well as support. They are increasingly aware of their responsibility to evaluate how the Pupil Premium funding is used and monitor the school’s performance management process.”

However, there is more to be done.  Many governors know little about the amount of funding that their schools are receiving by way of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), less about how it is being used and hardly anything about whether it is being used well.   Besides, there is no single method for using it well, but rather several methods depending on the schools’ contexts. 

While it is not necessary for governors to advise their headteachers about how to spend the PPG (they are likely to be criticised if they do because governors don’t have pedagogic roles), governors should know what questions to ask.

Dunford sets out 18 questions for governors to pose to their headteacher, which are as follows.

(1)        How many pupils are eligible for the PPG?

(2)        What is the amount the school receives for the PPG?

(3)        How is the funding used?

(4)        Are all staff aware of which pupils are eligible for the PPG and the strategies they should be using to support these pupils?

(5)        Have all staff received the training they need to support the disadvantaged children effectively?

(6)        How is the school evaluating the effectiveness of its Pupil Premium (PP) strategy?

(7)        Is the school checking the impact it is making with the PP funding against impact in successful schools in the country?

(8)        Is the school using its best teaching and support staff with PP-eligible pupils?

(9)        How much progress is being made by each pupil receiving the PPG, given that she/he must make at least good progress?

(10)      What is the school’s ambition for the attainment and progress of PP-eligible pupils and is that in line with the national average?

(11)      What are the barriers to learning that staff members have identified for PP-eligible pupils?

(12)      What specific outcomes does the school aim to achieve with PP funding in relation to raising attainment, accelerating progress, improving attendance, reducing gaps and increasing opportunities?

(13)      Because high expectations of pupils are so important, what is the school doing to raise expectations for what PP-eligible pupils can achieve among the children themselves, their parents and the school staff?

(14)      What evidence has the school used to learn about the most effective strategies in the context in which it works?

(15)      Is the school using the PPG to improve the engagement of parents with the educational progress of their children; if so how and is it effective?

(16)      Looked-after children (i.e. children in care) need particular support with the PPG. What interventions are making a positive difference for them?

(17)      How does the school promote awareness of eligibility among the parents so that all eligible pupils claim and are supported?

(18)      On the school website, how good is the account of the PPG, how much is being received and how well it is used?

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) – an arm of the DfE – has set out here how much the nation’s schools were allocated in 2015/16 for the Pupil Premium. The Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) –produced a very useful toolkit to guide schools in ensuring that the PPG is used well for our disadvantaged pupils.

One of the key functions of governors is to act as the school’s “critical friends”.    Inspectors will review this facet of governors’ work by looking into how they monitor PPG spending.

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