Planned usage in 2017-2018
For the 2017/18 financial year, when (including funding for LAC), ATA is due approximately £426,000 by way of pupil premium to support the education provision of those most disadvantaged. Aside from the provision of Free School Meals (FSM), for which support funding is provided separately within the main grant allocation for those entitled, ATA also continues to support qualifying students with financial assistance in the purchase of ATA uniform at the start of both Year 7 and Year 9 (£55 per relevant year); with a contribution towards the cost of a residential trip once in their time at ATA ( £95 contribution) and in subsidising the cost of music lessons by 50% from which some 7 students continue to benefit in 2017/18. This latter number has dropped in recent years and a new targeted approach with Year 7 is being developed to seek to increase interest.
The majority of this funding continues to be devoted to staffing focused on disadvantaged students and in particular with the continued provision of Learning Mentors and Assistant Learning Mentors, as well as funding a proportion of the time spent by senior staff and pastoral heads in specific monitoring of these and of LAC students. The funding is also used to support the progress of the most vulnerable students in ATA through raising their literacy and numeracy and by allowing focused groups to operate. This has taken on a stronger focus both last year and this with the introduction of study hall and the extended use of both the Easter and May term breaks for exam revision sessions.
Mentoring benefits not only those who are removed from whole class situations for individualised study but also those remaining within the class setting, allowing them to work more effectively as a group of students without disruption. Those who have individualised study are reintegrated into mainstream settings, when appropriate, and those absent from ATA for various reasons are provided with catch-up opportunities, again run with dedicated staff support.
Attendance and punctuality are key to progress and attainment. The employment of a full time Education Welfare Officer is fundamental to maximising these essential requirements, which can be a particular concern with those from disadvantaged backgrounds. ATA has introduced a number of incentives to reward excellent attendance and uses a detailed, internally developed attendance tracker across all Year’s 7 to 11. Students, form tutors, year heads and senior staff make significant use of this with a robust emphasis on the need for students (and staff) to be present at all times. Such focus continues in 2017/18 with an updated Attendance & Punctuality Policy and Procedures to underpin this. With a target for attendance again set at 97% (significantly above the range of 92.7% achieved for a school with similar levels of disadvantaged students in 2016/17). ATA also utilises the services of two Counsellors who each work a day per week with a number of vulnerable students. ATA also buys in an additional freelance mentoring support worker on a further day per week to work with certain vulnerable students with a specific focus on behaviour, boundaries and relationships.
The range of interventions referred to for Year 7 that took place in 2016/17 either directly through PPG or through other targeted funding support also continue into 2017/2018, although these students now have an extended day two times per week, along with all other Year 7 and Year 8 students. ATA also has more teaching groups across Year 7 and 8 within English and Maths to provide for smaller class sizes and to aid learning. ATA has some 48 students in Year 7 who are below the newly defined expected standard in both or either English and Maths in 2017/2018.
ATA continues to make the Learning Resources Centre available from 7.30 in the morning. This is overseen by the Learning Resources Manager as well as the provision of additional mentor support at the end of the Academy day in this same well-resourced facility to support students with their learning and to provide a dedicated and focused space for homework completion and catch-up opportunities. This is of significant benefit to those disadvantaged through a lack of available resources and learning environment at home.
ATA’s extensive support provision, together with its unstinting focus on the requirement for traditional values, courtesies and expectations, enhances the attainment and progress levels of those for whom such funding is targeted. This has helped to narrow the outcomes achieved in public examinations and other attainment and progress measures. Attainment for disadvantaged students is negligibly below that of other students, while disadvantaged students actually outperform others on a number of Progress 8 measures. As such, ATA remains a strong advocate of government priorities in what is a key area for schools to channel educational support. This can only assist in raising the levels of attainment for this particular group of students and to reduce the large attainment gap that exists nationally between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged student examination success. ATA maintains that it provides an excellent role in this area.