St. Giles C.E. Primary School is a larger than average primary school, which serves an area of significant deprivation indicated with approximately 35% of pupils eligible for the pupil premium grant (PPG). The percentage of pupils with SEND and complex needs is broadly in line with national averages.
The pandemic and the lockdown have led to a huge learning loss and loss of motivation for many pupils. Pupils have faced great disruption to their learning journeys compounded by mental health and wellbeing challenges, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds
Access to appropriate devices and connectivity is essential for technology-led approaches to remote education. However, securing access for all pupils is a significant challenge in many contexts. We’ve maintained an up-to-date record of which pupils and families do not have device or internet access and considered how school technology resources could be used to support pupils without sufficient remote facilities. This has included preparing to provide laptops and chargers to identified families
In addition, our catch-up funding has been invested in buying good quality Chromebooks for the pupils, thus creating an environment for tutoring which is conducive to learning: distraction-free and calm.
We gravitated towards the values and vision Action Tutoring holds, and their commitment to helping the most disadvantaged.
Following the Government’s announcement about catch-up funding and the National Tutoring Programme, the school leadership team ensured curriculum recovery was a key priority in the school improvement plan. This was followed by setting a clear strategy to support pupils and staff in school as well as remotely during the lockdowns.
The SLT looked into the work of Action Tutoring. We gravitated towards the values and vision the charity holds and their commitment to helping the most disadvantaged, as it resonates with our vision and Christian ethos to raise the attainment of all the pupils we serve.
Action Tutoring’s baseline assessment tool was useful in identifying learning gaps in core subjects. This diagnostic analysis data was shared with teachers who continue to tailor their approach to address these gaps through quality-first teaching.
We’re also accessing tutoring with FFT Education, another NTP Tuition Partner. 80 children across Years 2, 3 and 4 are taking part in the Lightning Squad programme, focussing on improving reading skills, fluency, comprehension, spelling and phonics.
For the pupils working with our Academic Mentor, there has been tangible progress. They’re showing more mathematical and academic resilience. This is the best thing that could have happened.
Our Teach First Academic Mentor is actually a former St Giles pupil! She had done her placement with us while studying at Aston University. We submitted a headteacher nomination to Teach First to have her back with us, and it’s lovely to see her inspiring other pupils to succeed.
Our mentor works with 22 pupils in Year 5 eligible for the pupil premium, as well as three looked after pupils and five who have English as an additional language. She’s been supporting them in Mathematics and has also run booster classes over Easter.
Pupils have engaged really well with the tutors supporting the programme and this has led to high motivation, which has contributed to its success. Action Tutoring has contributed to making sure our disadvantaged Year 6 pupils are on track to meet expected standards in English and Mathematics. We have seen the difference it has made to improving our pupils’ attainment as well as improving their study skills; they have become more independent in their decision making. They’re motivated and enthusiastic to attend as they buy into it as an opportunity to help them improve as independent thinkers and learners. It has also prepared our Year 6s for transition into Year 7.
Communication is the key to success. Action Tutoring is in regular communication and has addressed every query raised in a highly professional manner. Pupils are committed to the programme as a result of SLT personally approaching their parents and explaining the benefits of their children engaging with it.
Similarly, the calibre of the FFT’s Lightning Squad programme has been fantastic. Regular tutor checks are built into the tutoring programme. Pupils complete a set of reading activities with their tutor related to what they have been learning. The tutor will then decide whether pupils are ready to move on to the next story in the tutoring programme. The reports from the first cohort demonstrate a high impact on reading fluency and pupils’ comprehension skills, which is brilliant. We send reports to share with parents to celebrate the progress.
The calibre of the FFT’s Lightning Squad programme has been fantastic. The reports demonstrate a high impact on reading fluency and pupils’ comprehension skills.
For the PPG pupils in the two Year 5 classes working with our Academic Mentor, there has been tangible progress. In the first Year 5 class, 58 % of the PPG group was working at age-related expectations in Mathematics at the end of autumn term. This increased to 75% by the end of spring term. Similarly in the second Year 5 class, 70% of the PPG group was at age-related expectation at the end of autumn term. This increased to 80% by the end of spring term. In addition, there has been a marked improvement in their study skills with the high-quality input from the Teach First Academic mentor. The children are showing more mathematical and academic resilience. This is the best thing that could have happened. Pupils now know how to solve problems without crumbling into thinking they can’t, but have become comfortable in knowing they won’t always get things right.
We are committed to investing in tutoring for years to come. It is such a fantastic resource based on research from the Education Endowment Foundation. In the future we envisage running over the holidays to maintain a learning continuum for our pupils.
We are very grateful to the NTP that we can use the full spectrum of support to suit our pupils. The NTP is one of the best practical tools schools have been given. We are very grateful for the subsidy as there is no way we could have afforded it on our own.