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Mind the gap, bridge the gap: Blog from Clive Robson, I CAN’s Senior Education Adviser and additional Ofsted inspector

Just looking back over the excellent presentation given by Stefano Pozzi, Assistant director, Department for Education National perspectives on the pupil premium to raise attainment at the end of last year, it makes a powerful case for early and targeted interventions that have a proven track record of making a difference.

Pozzi points out that the gap between the attainment of those pupils who receive Pupil Premium and their peers gets wider as pupils get older: 16% gap in level 4 at 11 and a 26% gap in 5A-Cs at 16.

There are also significant geographical variations in the extent of the gap- for example the level 4 gap is 6% in Tower Hamlets and 26% in West Berks.

We know too that the government has earmarked a spend of £2.5billion for the Pupil Premium for 2014-15: funding will increase from £900 to £1,300 per pupil of primary school age.

Ofsted’s evaluation of what’s working well within Pupil Premium spend (1) and the DfE commissioned independent evaluation of Pupil Premium spend (2) drew out key characteristics of successful schools:

  • good use of data to measure and analyse progress
  • use research evidence to identify interventions
  • use best teaching staff for intervention groups
  • ensure teachers know who their disadvantaged pupils are
  • ensure teachers are responsible for accelerating progress
  • monitor and evaluate impact on pupil results

It was less successful where schools were

  • not sufficiently clear about who their disadvantaged pupils were and
  • where the choices about what interventions or training to invest in are not evidence-based.

I CAN offer intervention programmes that will support schools to meet these characteristics of best practice. Talk Boost is an evidence based intervention that is proven to narrow the gap between 4-7 year olds with language delay and their peers – which impacts on progress in literacy and numeracy. It has a built in assessment system so that progress can be measured.  It is delivered by teaching assistants whose class teacher must attend the training to ensure that the teacher can build on the work that is being done in the small group session: this addresses a shortcoming in many previous intervention programmes.

We know that a focus on those early communication skills can help stop the gap widening and impacts on literacy and numeracy. We also know that better talk can lead to better behaviour and better self esteem. Talk Boost can be part of an excellent way to spend your Pupil Premium funding.

Visit www.talkboost.org.uk or call 0207 843 2515.

(1)  The Pupil Premium How schools are spending the funding successfully to maximise achievement 2013

(2)  Evaluation of Pupil Premium Research Report July 2013