The winners of four categories in the Pupil Premium awards have been announced. Sam Gyimah, the Minister for Education and Childcare, presented awards to the schools deemed to have the best Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 programmes for disadvantaged children, as well as an award for the category of ‘Special and Alternative Provision School’.
The winner of the Key Stage 2 category, Northern Saints Church of England Primary School, was named victor for several reasons, one of them was that it took the initiative to partner with local museums. This in turn allowed them to use heritage materials for problem solving exercises.
Greenfylde C of E First School was named as the winner of the Key Stage 3 category because it demonstrated, “innovative and effective uses of the funding,” according to Sam Gyimah.
Greenfylde reportedly ensures a wide range of opportunities for all disadvantaged pupils, ranging from after school clubs and breakfast clubs to educational trips and experiences of art such as the theatre. This not only increases the aptitude for learning in students, it increases attendance as more students are interested in what there is on for offer.
The premium that all state schools have to work with this year is £2.5 billion. The panel of judges, made up of headteachers of previous winning schools in their respective categories, celebrated the level of initiative taken and the innovation that schools employ in their efforts to use the budget in order to achieve the best results.
The panel of judges, for the first time in the competition’s history was made up of an eclectic mix of headteachers, most of whom were from different backgrounds. Arts, Culture, Science and Technology were the primary sectors that these headmasters specialised in as the competition focuses largely on ‘culturally enriching’ opportunities for teachers and pupils.
The award for the best ‘Special and Alternative Provision School’ was given to The Link School Pillion, for their efforts to create, “opportunities for every student,” as their headmaster puts it. The school has also received a prestigious Platinum award for their commitment to their anti-bullying scheme.
The award for the Key Stage 4 category now belongs to La Retraite RC School in London. The award was given to them in lieu of their philosophy, “stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves,” which is expressed on their website. They too hold several other titles such as ‘Ofsted Outstanding School’ and it is a member of the London Schools Gold Club.
It appears that the void between privileged and disadvantaged school experience is closing as, from 2011 when the premium was introduced, the attainment gap has been rapidly closing. The latter being dealt with efficiently by some pioneering, all-inclusive, award-winning schools.
This is however just one aspect that school systems need to account for. After the tentative U-Turn that the school Academisation scheme first proposed in 2013 by Michael Gove took, a new premium must continue to support the disadvantaged and push the boundaries of equalisation under Nicky Morgan, the current Secretary of Education.
This will hopefully inject some innovation into educational reform as opposed to augmenting previously proposed reforms based on political ideals. A better look into the operating styles of these praised school systems as well as using them to model other potential systems could provide MP’s in the education sector with a much better idea of how to proceed with reforms.