Callum is in year 3 and I met him and six of his class mates last year in a Northampton primary school.
Since then I've had a lot of conversations with schools about their use of Pupil Premium funding and have listened to Ofsted voices talking about the need for more robust measurements regarding the use of the money.
Without getting into the politics of school funding (and I recognise that for some schools it can't be regarded as additional funding when they are struggling to pay for staff and everyday overheads), I think learning which are the good investments and which aren't (and therefore stop doing more of the same) is no bad thing.
The money is to support children with barriers to learning and to help them achieve, so we need to know and get best value for money.
When I initially met Callum and his mum it was obvious that literacy was not a favourite of either of them. There were often battles at home over getting Callum to do his writing homework and learning at home had become quite wearisome. In school he often used ‘distraction’ behaviour to avoid engaging in literacy tasks.
So in partnership with the school I set up a small intervention group of year 3 and 4 pupils who had been identified as 'Can do' - 'Wont do' children. I suspect most schools have some of those.
Just six weeks later Callum had a completely different outlook and attitude to literacy and numeracy – indeed learning in general. When I visited the weekly Thinking Child session, run by a TA using the Literacy and Numeracy Box cards, he was bubbling with enthusiasm and bursting to tell everyone about the Top Trumps game he and his dad had made at home. All the children in the group were lively and enthusiastic to share what they had done with the cards they had borrowed that week - and eager to take home some fresh ones.
When I spoke to Callum’s mum after the six weeks she told me ‘I can’t believe it’s the same boy. He writes so much now and learns things without even realising sometimes!’ Life is so much happier and we get on as a family better – we’ve all learnt a lot since being involved with the Thinking Child boxes’
There's was still work to be done, to build upon this fresh perspective and enthusiasm for learning but with a mind that's more receptive the chances of achieving are increased immensely.
Children who have become de-motivated and openly resistant to literacy in early Key Stage 2 are all too common. In fact statistics show that children who are de-motivated at this early stage of education frequently carry this attitude into secondary education and beyond.
The Pupil Premium funding is designed for schools to run small intervention projects just like this: using data and observations as 'before and after' evidence of attitudinal change and increased motivation. Ofsted looks favourably on the use of Pupil Premium in this way so long as the tracking evidence (not an onerous task) is in place.
If you recognise children like this, and agree that just over £300 of Pupil Premium funding is a worthwhile investment in children like Callum - order your boxes today.
A free selection pack of cards taken from The Literacy and Numeracy Box can be requested on the right hand side of the literacy box/ numeracy box webpages:
P.S. Don’t hesitate to email me in person with any questions and I would love to hear of your own creative uses of Pupil Premium Funding.