Education and Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah today (5 February 2016) praised the efforts of schools across the country to tackle disadvantage as he launched the Pupil Premium Awards.
Prizes include the chance to see Shakespeare productions and visit museums, such as London’s world-renowned Science Museum, to take part in exclusive activities and learning programmes.
The awards will be presented by Tracey Emin, one of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists at a ceremony in May; while internationally respected education expert Andreas Schleicher, who is Director for Education and Skills at the OECD, will chair the high-profile panel of judges.
The pupil premium - worth £2.5 billion this year - has enabled schools across the country to provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable children in their care.
Minister Gyimah praised schools across England that have used the funding to combat disadvantage and raise the aspirations of their pupils.
Education and Childcare minister Sam Gyimah said:
I am determined to ensure all pupils can achieve their potential and I will not accept that pernicious assumption that some children, because of where they’re born or what their family do, deserve less than others.
Education is our biggest tool for extending opportunity, and we know many schools are doing an excellent job of boosting aspiration and tackling disadvantage. I want to thank them for all their efforts.
I am delighted that figures show the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates has fallen at both primary and secondary level - but there is still more to do. That is why I am calling on schools to ensure all their pupils can access and benefit from wider cultural activities and experiences that will help raise aspirations and build character.
At the heart of this government’s commitment to extending opportunity is the belief that all pupils, whatever their background, should have access to an excellent, well-rounded education. The latest attainment statistics show that more disadvantaged pupils than ever before are reaching the expected standard at age 11 and age 16.
Minister Gyimah has written to over 550 primary and secondary schools to congratulate them on their efforts to boost achievement and raise aspirations among their disadvantaged pupils. Those schools will all have a shot at winning prizes in the national awards in May.
These schools have consistently shown high levels of attainment or significant rates of improvement among their disadvantaged pupils over time, particularly in English and maths. Study groups and one-to-one tuition are just some of the ways the pupil premium has been used by schools to meet this aim.
Among 20 organisations offering prizes this year are the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Science Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts.
The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Schools Festival will work directly with award-winning schools to help pupils gain a deeper appreciation of England’s greatest playwright - marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
Note to editors
1) The list of successful regional finalists is available from the Pupil Premium Awards website.
2) The pupil premium is worth up to £1,900 per child and can be used however schools see fit to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.
3) The government has committed to maintaining pupil premium funding throughout this Parliament. Since April 2011, around £6 billion has been given to schools to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
4) In the national awards, there will be winners in 4 categories:
- key stage 1 (KS1) and key stage 3 (KS3)
- key stage 2 (KS2)
- key stage 4 (KS4)
- special and alternative provision (AP) schools
In addition, we will also announce 7 regional winners in the KS2 and KS4 categories, so 22 schools will be honoured in total.
5) Applications for the awards open today (Friday 5 February) in the following categories:
KS1 and KS3 schools
- special and AP schools
6) Ark Charter Academy, in Portsmouth, was last year’s secondary school pupil premium national winner.
In 2014, more than 4 out of 5 of their disadvantaged pupils (82%) achieved 5 or more A* to Cs, including English and maths - compared with a national average of 36.5%.
The school runs a longer day to make sure there is additional time to help pupil premium students with core academic subjects, including study groups on maths and literacy for struggling pupils.
Pupil premium funding is also used beyond the classroom to give pupils a broader life experience to build character - and they offer sailing, boxing classes, and subsidised trips to universities and the theatre.