Disadvantaged Pupil Strategy
Our lens: our disadvantaged benchmark
Our disadvantaged lens allows us to see a truth about the effectiveness of our provision. It is through this lens that we will judge our impact, our capability, our ability to make a difference, beyond that which may be attributed to advantage. It is for this reason that we choose disadvantaged groups, because this is our lens; the indication that we are moving the dial for disadvantaged learners.
We will actively preference and privilege disadvantage in all areas of provision, seeking greater equity. Principals and senior teams will be guided by their Pupil Premium Lead, to deliver a disadvantaged strategy that has demonstrable impact, ensuring that the strategies associated with effective teaching of oracy, increased sense of belonging and accumulating advantage are effectively implemented, quality assured and shared more widely so that practice becomes embedded.
Ultimately the attainment, progress and attendance of disadvantaged children is a key measure for the Trust and each Academy; as an indicator of the effectiveness of provision for those who most need it.
'Learning without Limits': The 8 Key Elements of our Disadvantaged Strategy
We want all students to be inspired and excited to attend school and to actively and positively engage in school life. Attending school regularly is fundamental to improving life chances and accumulating advantage. School attendance is a powerful predictor of pupil outcomes. 
Vocabulary and Literacy:
We understand the impact that limited vocabulary can have on all literacy and proactively as a Trust to reverse the negative effects of poor language and literacy with early identification and effective interventions.
Mastery and Mindset:
Mastery learning approaches aim to ensure that all pupils have mastered key concepts before moving on to the next topic – in contrast with traditional teaching methods in which pupils may be left behind, with gaps of misunderstanding widening. Mastery learning approaches address these challenges by giving additional time and support to pupils who may have missed learning, or take longer to master new knowledge and skills. We adopt mastery approaches with mastery mathematics schemes but also look to implement this strategy across our connected curriculums. What stands out in an advantaged upbringing is the level of expectation from birth. It permeates language, attitudes and mindset. It establishes the locus of control to be with the child and not the environment, it gives the power of control to each child to be the commander of their destiny; it is an advantage that is demanding, but also liberating. Our disadvantaged pupil strategy demands our teachers and staff to be unswerving in their expectations of what disadvantaged pupils can do. Their expectations should be resolute.
“Enabling children to attain higher than would be expected based on their starting points.”
Attainment Mobility is the reversing of delayed attainment, linguistic under-privilege and lack of early opportunity, so that children self-select (not self-de-select) and accumulate advantage (not disadvantage) through life. Having the highest of expectations of all pupils, irrespective of background. Remembering that disadvantaged pupils don’t lack talent or ability, but can lack opportunity and support over time. Prior attainment should not set limits on our ambitions for all pupils.
We believe it is attainment that matters.
To be clear, progress may well not be enough; it is attainment that counts, it is attainment that opens doors and provides the future opportunity and the empowerment and agency to make decisions.
“The importance of knowledge is not in question, but knowledge alone is not enough.” (Mick Waters)
Our curricular are not built to consider just knowledge and retrieval but also about explanation although not in that order. We teach about concepts, threads, big ideas, narrative because these have a much greater chance of developing and deepening schema so that learning is much more about being memorable, structured and connected. Knowledge is judiciously selected to deepen understanding beyond memory and abstract recall. This is particularly important for disadvantaged who will make no sense of abstract compilation of knowledge – they need the narrative and schema that advantaged learners have accumulated through time as part of their enhanced access to cultural capital.
We understand that the biggest single variable (30 per cent), that explains in-school variation is the effect of teachers. Teaching strategies, professional characteristics and classroom climate explain the disturbing levels of variation in some schools. Achieving consistency means eliminating variation and that in turn involves identifying aspects of teaching and learning that are essential to raising performance and achievement. In very broad terms, our high-performing schools are schools that will have the lowest levels of variation, i.e. the highest levels of consistently outstanding practice. The leadership of all teaching starts and ends with the issue of consistency and variation.
Equity of opportunity
Built into our strategy is the fundamental characteristic to seek equity over equality in order to support disadvantaged learners to have the (supported) opportunity and (leveraging) experiences that will allow them to feel success. We aim to give each individual disadvantaged pupil what they need to achieve.
“Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need.” (Rick Lavoie)
Therefore, our disadvantaged pupil strategy has been created with the sole purpose of accumulating advantage. To understand what it is to be disadvantaged (previously or presently) we need to understand the forces within society, culture and within our schools that accumulate advantage and disadvantage over time. To do this we need to see pupils and students as the outcome of everything they have interacted with; we tell stories to ourselves about who we are and these are a result of our (positive) interactions, (supported) opportunities and (rich) experiences over time. The result is that only an equitable approach has a chance of offering individual children what they (actually) need.
Our seven-point strategy embedded into our whole school improvement model:
We prioritise the following actions in all our academies because they are evidence based to make the biggest difference.
- Leaders at all levels, including governors, should prioritise the achievement of disadvantaged pupils
- CAT values pupils’ personal development, behaviour and welfare needs and does not use them as excuses for low achievement
- CAT strategic plans at points of transition to consolidate the impact on outcomes and destinations
- All pupils access a broad and rich curriculum – support is given to ensure that all pupils have full access to broad educational experiences
- CAT gives priority to consistently good and outstanding teaching as the first point of intervention for disadvantaged pupils
- Leaders should promote and deliver high levels of parental engagement and good attendance is expected and is pursued relentlessly.
- CAT leaders never confuse eligibility for the pupil premium with low ability
- Our academies do not rely on interventions to compensate for less than good teaching
- Leaders track and monitor achievement data to check progress and if any interventions are working –then made adjustments if necessary
- Leaders and governors ensure that the allocation and spending of the pupil premium is given high priority.
- Our academies employ a designated senior school leader linked to a governor in order to have a clear overview of how the funding was allocated and what difference it was making
- We guarantee that all teachers know which pupils were eligible so that they take responsibility for accelerating their progress to secure age related expectations.
- CAT leaders make sure that support staff (particularly teaching assistants) are highly trained and understand their role in helping pupils to achieve and flourish.
- Our academies thoroughly involve governors in the decision-making and evaluation process.
 Being Present: the Power of Attendance and Stability for Disadvantaged Pupils: NfER
 Sutton Trust 2011
 Addressing Educational Disadvantage in schools and colleagues: The Essex Way Marc Rowland, Unity Schools Partnership