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Disadvantage: widening the lens

Spotlight on disadvantage: pupil premium research

Report exploring the governing board’s role in spending, monitoring and evaluating the pupil premium

Pupils-learning young pupil checking out a book in the library

Since the introduction of the pupil premium in April 2011, little has been done to recognise the role of the governing board in spending the pupil premium and more needs to be done to understand the impact of governance on supporting disadvantaged pupils.

Research overview

Between February and April 2018, NGA undertook a self-selecting survey of 875 governors and trustees and the thematic analysis of 36 pupil premium strategies.

This revealed that governing boards often know their pupil premium pupils well, are heavily involved in championing the needs of pupil premium pupils and work closely with senior leaders to decide how to spend, monitor and evaluate the pupil premium. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement – with the findings revealing some important factors for schools, policy makers and researchers to consider going forward.


Key findings

  1. While the majority of schools are making evidence-driven decisions when spending their pupil premium, some are still too inwards looking.
  2. Schools should adopt a more holistic outlook when deciding how to spend the pupil premium.
  3. There was clear variation in the quality of pupil premium strategies published on schools’ websites.
  4. Pupil premium usage is not the only determinant of disadvantaged pupil progress and attainment.
  • “The NGA report should be read by all with an interest in improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils...The recommendations, particularly those for more widespread use of evidence to inform decisions...deserve careful consideration”.

    Mike Treadaway, Associate Research Fellow at FFT Education Datalab

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