Approaches to Support

Approaches to Support

Evidence and experience of working in schools that perform well by their disadvantaged pupils tells us the following:

  • Pupil need, not labels; assessment, not assumption should be informing our approach to tackling disadvantage.
  • Schools need to adopt and embed a culture where all staff hold disadvantaged pupils in high regard and believe they can attain well, irrespective of background or barriers to learning. Everyone needs to feel an ownership and responsibility for the strategy.
  • Start off with diagnostic assessment around pupil need: What is the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on learning? How does it present in the classroom. Use diagnostic assessment, pupil voice, teacher voice, observations, etc. The impact of disadvantage on learning is a process, not an event.
  • The biggest issues are interlinked:
    • how to create a sense of belonging for all pupils, in and out of the classroom. Relationships are key, and a collective ownership of the school's strategy by all. All have to believe that disadvantaged pupils can attain well. Everyone in school, from governors to midday supervisors. Unconscious bias is tackled.
    • language comprehension, feedback, and self-regulated learning are often prominent issues.
  • The most effective strategies focus on improving *learners* through early intervention and a focus on the classroom. What is the experience of our less fortunate pupils in lessons? Is it something where they get the emotional uplift overcoming difficult learning tasks through inclusive teaching? Or is the lesson something to ‘get through’, to hide away and feel a sense of relief when it's over? Thinking about of the learning experience through the lens of disadvantaged pupils is important.
  • The tiered model, focussed on Teaching, Academic Intervention, and Pastoral Approaches (that are intertwined), and a long-term view underpinned by early intervention is critical.
  • Effective, inclusive teaching is the best lever for improving school and disadvantaged pupil outcomes.
  • New habits, behaviours, routines, and approaches are likely to make teaching more difficult in the short term – e.g. mixed attainment teaching, collaborative learning, modelling, metacognition, and emphasis on subject knowledge.
  • Meaningful assessment is part of great teaching, identifying the need for intervention and monitoring implementation.
  • Robust impact evaluation – about whether the strategy is working, not setting out to prove that it is – is fundamental to securing better outcomes / making changes where necessary.

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