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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 20th April 2015

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

Pupil Deprivation Grant Funding

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To respond to a request by Councillor Ian Johnson to provide information on how the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) is used to provide additional support to children from a disadvantaged background.  To ensure the money is used effectively to improve the life chances of these children. To identify best practice and high impact strategies amongst schools including the deployment of funding in the 2014-15 financial year.

Recommendations

1.         To note the information on how the PDG funding is allocated.

2.         To note the impact of the PDG in Vale schools.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure Members are informed with regards the wide range of PDG funding allocated to our schools.

2.         To ensure Members are apprised of impact of the creative and effective use of the grant in schools in the Vale of Glamorgan in closing the gap in achievement for children eligible for a free school meal.

Background

2.         A request was made by Councillor Ian Johnson to provide information on how the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) is used to provide additional support to children from a disadvantaged background.  To ensure the money is used effectively to improve the life chances of these children.  To identify best practice and high impact strategies amongst schools including the deployment of funding in the 2014-15 financial year.

Relevant Issues and Options

Funding Financial Year 2014/15

 

3.         The allocation of the PDG to schools is administered from the Central South Consortium.

4.         The marker for PDG is based solely on a pupil's eligibility to receive free school meals (eFSM) as recorded in the school's Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) return every January.  For personal reasons not all parents of children who are eligible will apply for free meals indicating that in some schools the take up is less than the entitlement.  This in turn means that for those schools less than their full entitlement under the grant will be received.  Added to this in some of our high mobility schools where cohort sizes fluctuate during the year, the grant awarded does not always accurately reflect the demographics of the school.

5.         In all schools not all children in receipt of a free school meal are necessarily the most needy pupils; pupils who are more able and talented may also be eFSM whilst lower ability pupils may not be eFSM.  This is the challenge for schools in how best to use the additional funding given that the PDG must only be used to improve attainment in literacy and numeracy for eFSM and LAC learners.  It is intended to overcome the additional barriers which prevent learners from disadvantaged backgrounds from attaining as well as their peers, whatever their ability.  (Pupil Deprivation Guidance Document Welsh Government December 2013.)

6.         A total of £23,082,192 for PDG plus Looked After Children (LAC) pupils aged 4-15 was allocated to eligible consortium schools for financial year 2014-15.

7.         The number of pupils from 5-15 recorded in the Vale of Glamorgan was 16,555 of those pupils 2,404 are eFSM (14.52%).  A total of £2,206,872 was allocated to the Vale of Glamorgan schools through the Central South Consortium for PDG excluding LAC.

8.         Payments to school under the PDG funding has increased since 2012/13 when the payment was £450 per pupil eFSM, this amount was raised to £918 in 2014/15 and schools will receive another increase to £1,050 in 2015/16.

9.         The amount allocated to individual primary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan in the financial year 2014-15 range from £0 where there are no pupils in receipt of free school meals to one school receiving £100,062.  Secondary school payments range from £49,572 to £260,712 and special schools £11,016 to £28,458 (payment records are against the three special schools prior to their amalgamation).  See Appendix 1 for a breakdown of individual school PDG funding.

Financial Year 2015/16

 

10.      For the financial year 2015/16 schools will receive an enhanced PDG budget of £1,050 per pupil eligible for FSM.

11.      Nursery schools and non-maintained settings funded for education will also be eligible for funding for the first time with a nominal £300 per pupil eFSM; the formula for funding is yet to be determined.  Nursery aged pupils attend on a part time basis and therefore are not in receipt of a lunch, consequently eligibility of the individual for a free school meal is unknown. Welsh Government is currently working through proposals gathering the most accurate information to determine the level of funding.

12.      Schools will need ratification of their plans from their Challenge Advisor prior to publishing their plans on their websites.

Best practice and high impact strategies

 

13.      Reducing the impact of poverty on educational attainment is now the Welsh Government's top education priority.  It has introduced a number of policy initiatives to help local authorities and schools improve outcomes for disadvantaged learners. Alongside the policy initiatives to reduce the impact of poverty on pupils' attainment, the Welsh Government introduced the School Effectiveness Grant followed in 2012 by the PDG.

14.      The Vale of Glamorgan shares the high priority that Welsh Government places on strategies to increase the life chances for disadvantaged learners.  Our Corporate and Service Plan objectives reflect these priorities.

15.      The Learning and Skills Directorate working closely with the Central South Consortium recognise the fundamental role schools have in ensuring no child is disadvantaged educationally because of their background.  The Head of Service for School Improvement and Inclusion together with the Senior Challenge Advisor have brought together a group of KS4 senior teachers from the Vale and Bridgend, to identify strategies that are effective in closing the achievement gap, and enhancing the life chances of our most vulnerable learners.

16.      Many of our schools use The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit to assist in their strategic planning for deployment of the grant.  The Toolkit is an accessible summary of educational research which provides guidance for teachers and schools on how to use their resources to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

17.      Although we have seen an increase of 100% in the PDG awarded to schools over the last two years the improvements seen across the phases are marginal, there is still a lot of work to be done especially in KS4.

18.      The schools in the Vale of Glamorgan, with the exception of the nursery schools and funded preschool settings, are all eligible for funding under the PDG if they have children of five to fifteen years of age and eligible for a free school meal or are looked after children (LAC) based on the information supplied by the individual schools on the PLASC return each January.

19.      Schools have put the PDG to a wide range of uses such as whole staff development activities, intervention activities for individual pupils, effective tracking systems, working with parents and carers, pupils' Meta cognition (learning to learn).

20.      Two of the most effective recognised approaches adopted in our schools are Meta Cognition (learning to learn) and quality feedback, the two are intrinsically linked. Essential to both is creating a climate where pupils are given strategies to think more clearly about their own learning.  When learning to learn pupils are taught to set achievable goals and monitor and evaluate their own educational development with the intention that they develop a greater understanding of how to succeed and increase their responsibility for their own learning.  Teachers provide the pupils with tactics on how to plan, monitor and evaluate their own learning.  Feedback is essential to pupils' progress; giving guidance on how to improve, rather than focus on negative aspects.

21.      In many schools effective early invention programmes are proving beneficial to pupils' learning; nurture groups giving children a structure and stability to their day in order to affect their learning, these groups are run by well qualified and trained staff specifically in the field of nurture and benefit some of most disadvantaged pupils.

22.      Whilst the focus is on reducing the gap in performance of literacy and numeracy between the two groups.  Many schools in order to engage pupils in their education tackle the wider issues which impact on self-esteem and wellbeing.  Diversifying pupils' experiences by giving access to residential and day trips both home and abroad, instruments for music lessons, and after school clubs.

Impact of PDG funding

 

23.      The wide range of uses of the PDG in schools makes it difficult to gather data on specific programme impact across the local authority, our only means at this time is end of phase teacher assessment, test data and examination results.

24.      The improvement of performance albeit marginal of eFSM compared to nFSM is evident from the end of phase data.  The gap in performance is decreasing in Foundation Phase to KS3 whilst both groups make progress; however, the concerning fact is the older the pupils the wider the gap.  In KS4 the gap between the two groups has widened this year, in the Vale and one other local authority in comparison with the rest of the region where the difference in performance is decreasing alongside the other phases. See Appendix 2a, b and c

25.      Reflecting on Foundation Phase Indicator (FPI) in the Vale of Glamorgan, the difference in performance of eFSM and nFSM pupils, in 2012 stood at 21pt compared with the Wales average difference of 18pt. In 2014 that gap had narrowed to 12.5pt in the Vale of Glamorgan compared with a 16pt average difference for Wales.

26.      A similar picture is reported in Key Stage 2 for the core subject indicator (CSI) with the difference narrowing from 16pt in 2012 to 14pt in 2014 comparing favourably with the Wales average of 18pt in 2014.

27.      This 'closing the gap' in performance is replicated in the Key Stage 3 CSI where the difference in performance in 2012 was 29pt this decreased gap in expected level of attainment for eFSM compared to nFSM has closed considerably over the last three years to 17pt compared with the Wales difference of 20pt.

28.      The greatest challenge currently in the Vale of Glamorgan is the widening gap in performance between the two groups in KS4.  From 2009 until 2013 the Vale of Glamorgan achieved in diminishing the gap in performance between those eFSM students and nFSM students to 27.5pt below the average for Wales at 33pt; however this year the gap has widened for both the Vale and Wales to 37.6pt and 34pt respectively.  We are not complacent about this significant difference in performance and will be working with individual schools and the consortium in prioritising and tracking KS4 eFSM students' achievements over the coming months.

29.      KS4 along with the more able eFSM pupils in every phase will be the priority for the LA working with the Central South Consortium this academic year.  

30.      When comparing performance data to individual PDG plans it is evident that the additional funding is being used by schools as the criteria states, to ensure all pupils no matter what their background have equality of opportunity in their educational experiences and so enhance their life chances.  One primary school plan is cited as Appendix 3  to this report together with data impact from a cluster of schools at Appendix 4.

31.      Appendix 4 illustrates the quantitative impact on a cluster of schools in the rural Vale, including two secondary schools.  Here we have some of our smallest schools with low take up of free school meals, statistically an eFSM pupil could proportionally be 20% against 1% for a nFSM pupil, which makes year to year comparison difficult when measuring the gap in performance.  The cluster also includes schools with higher than average mobility due to their location near the Service Base which could see a high percentage of cohort change from the end of one phase to another making statistical analysis of data impractical.  Therefore in our smaller schools and high mobility schools it is more realistic to reflect on numbers and individuals attaining from both sectors when judging impact.  An essential tool common to all these schools is an effective tracking system to monitor the progress of the individual.

32.      Primary School A with an FSM of 46% was allocated £99,144 in 2014/15; the effective use of the grant has reduced the gap in performance for Foundation Phase pupils from 34pt difference in 2012 to equal performance in 2014 for Language Literacy and Communication and Mathematical Development.  KS2 illustrates a similar picture, from 36pt in 2012 to 2.5pt difference in English and 26pt to 2.5pt difference in Mathematics.

33.      It should be noted that there is a requirement, from the Education Minister, that all schools publish their PDG plans on their website.  The only exceptions being if the school is so small that individual pupils can be identified because of the low cohort size if specific year groups are targeted.  The wide range of creative uses of the PDG in schools makes it difficult to gather data on impact across the local authority, our only means at this time is end of phase teacher assessment and test data and examination results.

PDG for Looked After Children (LAC)

 

34.      In 2014/15, £116,586 was allocated for 127 Looked After Children, of statutory school age.  In 2013/14, the allocation was £450 per child and increased to £918 in 2014/15.

35.      The LAC education team work in partnership with social services and schools to ensure the funding is used to narrow the gap.  In 2014/15, schools submitted plans and when the plans were approved, the spending was distributed to schools.  This process ensured schools were more focused on areas of underachievement and what was needed to improve outcomes for looked after children.  In biannual LAC reviews, the impact of PDGLAC continues to be discussed in this multi-agency meeting.

36.      In the Vale, this PDG LAC is allocated on a termly basis.  Most local authorities allocate this funding on an annual basis; however, annual allocation did not allow the flexibility for the funding to follow the child.  The Welsh Government guidance stipulates the need for the funding to follow the child.

37.      Performance of Vale Looked After Children (LAC) who are educated both in and out of county.

38.      The LA recognises that LAC pupils are the most vulnerable group of pupils in terms of achievement.  There were relatively few LAC pupils within the 2014 performance year groups and so comparisons will not be statistically valid.  Performance varies between years and is consistently good in the Foundation Phase; however, performance deteriorates from Key Stage 2 to 4.  Since 2011, the year on year performance illustrates improved attainment for Vale LAC.  Performance of an individual is monitored through personal education plans, these plans enable the team to be proactive in identifying children at risk of underachieving.

39.      In 2012/13, Vale LAC ranked third in Wales for external points score however Looked After Children do not perform well in comparison to their peers in the Vale.  However Vale LAC perform well compared to other LAC figures on a LA and all Wales basis.  In the Vale of Glamorgan as a result of the decline in performance in Key Stage 3 and 4, the pupils are closely monitored to provide needs led packages, particularly in KS4. See Appendix 5.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

40.      The PDG is a yearly fluctuating funding source for schools; schools are dependent on the grant available from Welsh Government.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

41.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

42.      Child Poverty Strategy for Wales.

43.      The Children and Families (Wales) 2010 Measure.

Crime and Disorder Implications

44.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

45.      PDG gives opportunities for vulnerable groups of children in Welsh and English medium schools.

Corporate/Service Objectives

46.      LSO3/M018a /M019a/M020a/M023a/M023b/M024a/M024b

47.      CYP1/CYP3/CYP4/CYP5/LS5

Policy Framework and Budget

48.      The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

49.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

50.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Meryl Plummer, Lead Officer for School Improvement

 

Officers Consulted

Officers of the Central South Consortium

Mr Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Mrs Martine Coles, Looked After Children Education Coordinator and Lead Professional

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills

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