Planned usage in 2018-2019
For the 2018/19 financial year, when ATA is due approximately £400,000 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 when purchasing 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 2 students continue to benefit in 2018/19. This number has dropped in recent years but it’s a provision that the Academy continues to offer.
The majority of this funding continues to be devoted to staffing focused on disadvantaged students - in particular 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. 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.
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, departmental power hours, catch up sessions in the Learning Resources Centre (LRC) overseen by a Learning Mentor and a member of the LRC staff and the extended use of both the Easter and May term breaks for exam revision sessions. The LRC is also available from 7.30 in the morning each day for students who lack study space and the correct environment at home to complete work. This is overseen by the Academy Librarian. The Academy is looking into refurbishment of this facility in readiness for 2019/20 so that it is better equipped to host these extended opportunities and to provide a dedicated, supported and focused space for completing homework and catch-up activities. This is of significant benefit to our disadvantaged who lack the resources and the learning environment at home.
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 amongst those from disadvantaged backgrounds and checking absences is rigorously carried out. ATA has introduced a number of incentives to reward excellent attendance and uses a detailed, internally developed attendance tracker across all Years from 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. This focus continues in 2018/19 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 2017/18). ATA also benefits from the services of two Counsellors who each work a day per week with a number of vulnerable students. ATA 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.
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. Progress for disadvantaged students is negligibly below that of the Academy student population as a whole, but when compared to the national picture, they significantly outperform on both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged platforms. 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.